By Shawn Sailer
In the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, the New England Patriots came back from 25 points down to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl 51. It was also the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Down 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter, the Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to come away with the Lombardi Trophy.
“As a Patriots fan I knew the beginning of the game wasn’t looking good for us, but if anybody was going to pull off a comeback like that, it would be the Pats, so I never counted them out,” said junior Danielle Guth.
The Falcons got up 21-0 before the Patriots got on the board. The first quarter was scoreless as neither team could get much going offensively.
Devonta Freeman got the scoring started with a five-yard run with 12:15 left in the second quarter to put Atlanta up 7-0.
Austin Hooper caught a 19-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan with 8:48 left in the half to put the Falcons up 14-0.
With 2:21 left in the half, Robert Alford picked off Tom Brady and returned it 82 yards for the touchdown to extend the Falcons lead to 21-0.
The Patriots finally got on the board with two seconds left in the half on a Stephen Gostkowski 41-yard field goal to cut the Falcons lead to 21-3 at the break.
The Falcons came out and pushed their lead to 28-3 on a Tevin Coleman six-yard touchdown reception with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
With 2:06 left in the third, Patriots running back James White caught a five-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good so the Falcons lead was 28-9. That would be the score heading to the fourth quarter.
Gostkowski hit his second field goal of the game with 9:44 left to cut the deficit to 16, 28-12.
A Danny Amendola six-yard touchdown and White two-point conversion run make it a one-score game with 5:56 left.
The Patriots came all the way back to tie the game with just under one minute left as White ran in from a yard out with 57 seconds left to cut the deficit to two, 28-26. Brady connected with Amendola on the two-point conversion to tie the game at 28.
On that 91-yard drive, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman made a circus catch that bounced off Falcons defender Robert Alford multiple times and Edelman was able to trap for a 23-yard reception. It gave the Patriots a first down at the Falcons 21 yard-line with 2:03 remaining.
The winning score came on a two-yard run by White with 11:02 left in overtime.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft stood on the podium, smiling while Commissioner Roger Goodell shouted into the microphone so he could be heard above the raucous boos raining down on him during the trophy presentation.
Goodell is Public Enemy No. 1 in New England because of “Deflategate” and the four-game suspension he handed Brady to start this season.
Brady was named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player.
“Tom Brady cemented his legacy as not only the greatest signal-caller ever, but possibly the greatest football player ever,” said alumnus, Brian Fitzsimmons, class of 2008.
Overall, many students felt that this game was a success for the Patriots.
“That game will go down in sports history as the greatest Super Bowl ever played. I am glad that I was able to watch it and am blessed that the team I have loved since I was little was able to win another Super Bowl,” said sophomore Brandon Levesque.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Students React to the Results of Super Bowl LI from Perspectives
“It was insane. Everyone was counting them out, including some of their fans. But people forget they’re the Patriots and it kills me to say it, but when you have the GOAT under center you can’t lose faith,” – senior Eddie Caperna
“As a Sports fan, you realize that every once in a while there are teams that dominate for a few years. Growing up as a Pats fan, I’ve been lucky enough to have that for almost two decades now. The only thing I can compare it to is the Yankees of the 1990s and early 2000s. You just have an unbelievable level of confidence in every single game that you’re going to win. Yesterday that was certainly tested, but it was amazing to watch with my friends, and see that miracle unfold,” – senior Jake Friar
“This years super bowl was definitely one of the best Super Bowls ever. I don’t think we will ever see a comeback like that again. There were so many memorable plays the catches by Julio jones and Julian Edelman alone were just crazy. But it was great seeing Tom Brady get that 5th ring and solidify himself as the greatest QB of all time,” – junior Michael Kearns
“I think the game resonated with the entire football community in a way that validated how Patriots fans have felt for a long time, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriot Way are one of the greatest dynasties in the modern sports era. The Patriots engineered a statistically impossible comeback in a game that even if it’s own fans had lost hope on, I had lost hope on.The Patriots won this game and held the lead for zero seconds, zero. It’s incredible and despite all the criticism, all the hate, I think Patriot Nation and those of us here at SHU are just proud to represent the fan base of one the greatest franchise’s in sports history. Everyone should appreciate the greatness that took place last night, I can’t wait to watch it again, maybe a little happier knowing the outcome” – senior Andrew Kalach