Houston (CNN) — For the first time, a Super Bowl needed overtime, and for the fifth time, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions.
This time, it took the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history to do it, rallying from a 25-point deficit and defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 at NRG Stadium in Houston in Super Bowl LI.
Tom Brady became the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl titles. He was named Super Bowl MVP for the fourth time, the most all time.
“It was a hell of a football game,” Brady said.
Atlanta had a 28-3 lead midway through the third quarter. But a costly Atlanta fumble by quarterback Matt Ryan midway through the fourth quarter helped set up the Patriots to come all the way back to tie it at 28.
In overtime, Patriots running back James White rushed in from two yards for the game-winning touchdown. He finished with 139 total yards and three touchdowns. Brady threw for 466 yards – a Super Bowl record – and two touchdowns.
“I saw a crease,” White said on the final play of the game. “You have to find a way to make a play for your team at that point in the game – at the 3-yard line, 2-yard line, you just have to find a way in.”
All five of those Patriots’ titles have come with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, but this one had some slightly different circumstances. Brady missed the first four games of the regular season, serving his Deflategate suspension that was imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Ultimately, Brady’s absence didn’t negatively impact the Patriots, who went on to a 14-2 record and the top spot in the AFC.
“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years, you know?” Brady said. “We were in the AFC Championship Game last year and won the Super Bowl two years ago, so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots.”
When asked if there was any feeling of redemption: “This is all positive,” he said. “This is unbelievable.”
New England had returned to the Super Bowl for the ninth time, an NFL record, with Belichick and Brady leading seven of those appearances.
In addition to winning the most championships as a quarterback, Brady matched Charles Haley for the most Super Bowl titles by a player. Belichick now has the most Super Bowl wins by a head coach, surpassing Chuck Noll. Belichick and Brady also now have the most Super Bowl appearances as a head coach and as a player.
“Chuck Noll is a tremendous coach, with a tremendous legacy,” Belichick said. “I coached against Chuck in his final game. I always admired Chuck and his style and the way that his teams played. It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Noll, but tonight’s really about our team. It’s not about some record. … It’s about what our team accomplished.”
Top: Edelman dove for the ball, as did Atlanta defenders Ricardo Allen, left, and Keanu Neal. Photo: CNN
Inset: New England wide receiver Julian Edelman, center, made a spectacular catch late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, and it might become one of the game’s most replayed highlights. Photo: CNN
SOURCE: CNN’s Jill Martin