The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI with a final score of 34-28 in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. Here are the winners, because the only losers from that game are the Falcons for choking away a 28-3 lead.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
Brady threw 62 attempts, completing 43 (69.4%) for 466 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Those attempts, completions, and passing yards are all the most in Super Bowl history. Brady led as clutch a 4th quarter and overtime as humanly possible and overcame an ugly pick-six to win an NFL-record 5th Super Bowl and 4th Super Bowl MVP award.
Brady has now attempted 50+ passes in 27 games over his career, the most in NFL history; Saints QB Drew Brees ranks second with 19 games. Brady holds an incredible 18-9 record in these games. Brees is 4-15.
That was Tom Brady's 27th game throwing 50+ attempts (62), most in NFL history. 18-9 record.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) February 6, 2017
No other QB has a winner record (min. 8 games) pic.twitter.com/sp23fVOn37
Of quarterbacks with 8 or more games with 50+ attempts, Brady is the only one with a winning record. Warren Moon is 5-5 in his 10 games. Brees and Peyton Manning combine for an 8-28 record in their games.
Brady is better at carrying his team than any other quarterback in NFL history.
Winner: Head coach Bill Belichick
Belichick has earned his fifth Super Bowl trophy as head coach of the New Egland Patriots, the most by any head coach in NFL history. Add in his two championships with the New York Giants and Belichick will have to rename his boat “VII Rings.”
Winner: RB James White
Was White snubbed from winning Super Bowl MVP? That’s a legitimate question as White set a whole list of Super Bowl records of his own. Three touchdowns tie for the most in Super Bowl history, and when you include his two-point conversion, White was responsible for 20 points- a Super Bowl record.
White also set the Super Bowl record with 14 receptions, beating out Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas (13). White stepped up after Dion Lewis tweaked his hamstring early in the game and played the role of Shane Vereen, just like how Vereen sliced up the Seattle Seahawks defense in Super Bowl XLIX.
Winner: WR Danny Amendola
The Patriots clearly stashed Danny Amendola so they could save him for the most important game of the season, right? Amendola served as the team’s #4 receiver for the entire regular season. His season-high 4 receptions and 48 yards came in week 2 before Malcolm Mitchell took his job.
Well, Amendola caught 8 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown in easily his most productive game all season.
I’m going to use this section to highlight the other five receivers that picked up 50+ yards on the day. White we already covered, but WR Julian Edelman (5 for 87) stepped up with the most incredible and important offensive catch in Patriots history; WR Malcolm Mitchell (6 for 70) stepped out of his rookie shoes with a huge 5-catch second half; TE Martellus Bennett (5 for 62) played through the pain and made a few huge passes that could’ve hit the dirt; WR Chris Hogan (4 for 57) didn’t have the same impact as during the AFC Championship Game, but he came through when the team needed him most.
Winner: EDGE Trey Flowers
If the Patriots had a defensive MVP, it would be Flowers who put forth the best game of his career. He collected 2.5 sacks, hit Matt Ryan twice more, knocked the Falcons out of field goal range on what could have been a game-clinching drive, and added another tackle for loss that didn’t count due to an offensive holding call.
Flowers was gaining steam for consideration as the Patriots best defender by those in league circles. This game certainly puts Flowers on notice and he could use his success to put forth a dominant 2017 campaign, just like CB Malcolm Butler did after his Super Bowl.
Winner: LB Dont’a Hightower
The Falcons gashed the Patriots defense in the first half and while Brady and the offense turned it around in the second half, New England needed to force a turnover to swing the game back in their direction.
With the Patriots trailing 28-12, Patriots defensive captain Hightower crushed Falcons QB Matt Ryan on a 3rd and 1, forcing a fumble which DT Alan Branch recovered on the Falcons 25-yard line. Five plays later and the Patriots pulled within a score with 5:56 left on the clock.
Hightower has a knack for making these huge game-changing plays and he has come through with incredible plays in both of his Super Bowls.
Winner: Super Bowl ratings
The playoffs for the 2016 season were terrible. Awful. Very bad. Only two of them were competitive, and only one of them was any fun to watch (Cowboys vs Packers). Well, Super Bowl LI offered the first overtime game in Super Bowl history, the best comeback in NFL history, and the most clutch performance by the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
What more do you need?