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Historic comeback carries Patriots to Super Bowl victory

The New England Patriots produced the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime and claim a fifth title in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots recover from record deficit to beat Atlanta Falcons

The Patriots trailed by 25 points in the third quarter but recovered to level at 28-28 and force the extra period – the first in Super Bowl history.

Quarterback Tom Brady led the recovery, finishing with a record 466 yards en route to being named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player for a fourth time.

The turnaround was completed when James White scored on a two-yard run – taking his personal haul for the game to 20 points.

The previous biggest deficit overcome by an eventual Super Bowl champion was 10 points, a record emphatically shattered by the Patriots on a quite incredible night at Houston’s NRG Stadium, which also featured a spectacular half-time show by Lady Gaga.

The singer opened her set with Woody Guthrie’s civil rights anthem This Land Is Your Land, “a gentle but pointed rebuke to the Trump administration”, BBC Music reporter Mark Savage says.

Other notable statistics from the game:

  • Tom Brady became the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl rings – and just the second player in history along with Charles Haley
  • He broke his own Super Bowl record with 43 pass completions
  • Brady also became the first player ever to win four Super Bowl MVPs on what was a record seventh appearance in the game
  • Brady’s 466 passing yards surpassed the previous record of 414 set by Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV
  • James White finished with 14 receptions, the most by any player ever in the Super Bowl. His 20 points is also a record
  • New England’s Bill Belichick set a new record for Super Bowl games as head coach (7) and wins (5)
  • The Patriots scored 19 unanswered points in fourth quarter – including a pair of two-point conversions

Brady, 39, admitted afterwards that the outcome could have been very different had any part of the Patriots team not done its job.

A key moment came with the Patriots trailing 28-20 with 2:28 remaining in the final quarter when Julian Edelman made a miraculous catch for a first down, somehow grabbing the ball under pressure from three opponents after it was tipped into the air by Falcons cornerback Robert Alford.

“There were a lot of plays, probably about 30 of them, and if any one was different the outcome would have been different. It was unbelievable. I’m so proud of these guys,” Brady said.

“It’s going to be a great celebration tonight. Thanks to everyone back in Boston, we love you, we’re bringing this sucker home!”

He added: “That was exactly the way we didn’t plan it. It was a hell of a football game.

“This is an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it. We overcame a lot of different things and it’s all worth it.”

“To be 28-3 down, it was a lot of mental toughness from our team and we’re all going to remember this for the rest of our life.” BBC Sport