By Ron Griffitts
On February 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, the Atlanta Falcons coached by Dan Quinn with his assistants, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Richard Smith met the New England Patriots playing in their fifth Super Bowl in the Brady-Belichick era.
The Pats were coached by Bill Belichick, whose assistants were offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
The Falcons were led on offense by quarterback Matt Ryan who threw for 4944 yards and 38 touchdowns with a 117.1 passer rating and in rushing by running backs Davonta Freeman (1079 yards, 11 TD’s) and Tevin Coleman (520 yards, 8 TD’s) and in receiving by Julio Jones (1409 yards, 6 TD’s) and former Bengal Mohamed Sanu (653 yards, 4 TD’s).
They were led on defense by Dion Jones with 75 tackles, Keanu Neal with 72 and Ricardo Allen with 61. Vic Beasley had 15.5 sacks.
Their kicker was Matt Bryant who converted on 34 of 37 field goal attempts.
The Patriots were led on offense by quarterback Tom Brady who threw for 3554 yards and 28 touchdowns with a 112.3 passer rating while his backup was Jimmy Garoppolo who threw for 502 yards, 4 touchdowns and had a 113.3 passer rating.
Their leading rusher was LeGarrette Blount (1161 yards and 18 TD’s) and the leading receivers were Julian Edelman (1106 yards, 3 TD’s), Chris Hogan (680 yards, 4 TD’s) and Martellus Bennett (701 yards, 7 TD’s).
The defense was led by Logan Ryan with 74 tackles, and Devin McCourty with 67. Trey Flowers had 7 sacks and Malcom Butler had 4 interceptions. Their kicker was Stephen Gostkowski who made 27 of 32 field goal tries.
There was no scoring in the first quarter of play but, Atlanta got on the board first in the second quarter on a five-yard touchdown run by Davonta Freeman set up by passes of 23 and 19 yards from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones. The extra point was good and the Falcons led 7-0.
Atlanta scored two more touchdowns in that quarter, one on a 19-yard completion to Austin Hooper and the other on an 82-yard interception return of a Tom Brady pass by Robert Alford for a 21-0 Falcon lead.
New England did get on the board with a 41-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in the half and the teams go into their respective locker rooms with the score 21-3 in favor of Atlanta.
Atlanta scored first in the third quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Coleman from Matt Ryan set up by a 35-yard pass play from Ryan to Taylor Gabriel and the score was 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
The Patriots scored a touchdown on a five-yard pass from Brady to James White which was set up by a 17-yard pass play to Danny Amendola but the extra point was not good and the score was 28-9 in favor of Atlanta after three quarters of play.
At the 9:48 mark in the fourth quarter, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 33-yard field goal to bring the score to 28-12 Atlanta.
Then in a key play with 6:00 left in the quarter, Danny Amendola scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady and James White ran the ball in for a two-point conversion and the Pats are only eight points behind at 28-20.
The Pats continued their comeback as at 1:00 left in regulation, James White scored on a one-yard touchdown run and Brady converted the two-point conversion with a pass to Danny Amendola and the score is tied and the teams go into overtime.
New England got the coin toss and took the kickoff and Tom Brady led them down the field with James White scoring on a two-yard touchdown run and the Patriots won Super Bowl LI 34-28 after having been behind 28-3 with less than ten minutes left in the third quarter.
The two two-point conversions, which are usually not attempted and even more seldom successful, made the difference for the Pats as well as the field goal just before halftime.
Tom Brady got his fourth game MVP and fifth Super Bowl win with him as starting quarterback. They were back the following year in the Super Bowl while Atlanta has not been back.
Statistics for this article were from pro-football-reference.com