Brady stages greatest Super Bowl comeback
MVP Brady leads Patriots to fifth title in greatest comeback in Super Bowl history
With four Super Bowl victories in his previous six appearances, Tom Brady had already carved himself onto the Mount Rushmore of quarterback icons.
But, after inspiring the New England Patriots to the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history at Houston's NRG Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time), the 39-year-old earned a monument all to himself.
Brady's fifth Super Bowl ring, after the Patriots stunned the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in an epic overtime duel, wiped away any lingering doubt that the veteran deserves to be regarded as the best quarterback the sport has seen.
The pulsating victory took Brady one clear of his childhood idol, Joe Montana, and Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who both won four Super Bowls.
Yet, it was the manner of Brady's fifth Super Bowl triumph, as much as the statistical milestone of a fifth ring, that confirmed his place at the head of the quarterback pantheon.
Down 28-3 in the third quarter, Brady and the Patriots looked dead and buried.
A bruising first half had seen Brady get roughed up relentlessly by Atlanta's aggressive pass rush. He was sacked five times in the game, and hit many times more.
"There was a lot of s*** tonight. And I got hit pretty hard," Brady said later as he tried to recall the details of his game.
"Down 25 points, it's hard to imagine us winning. It took a lot of great plays and that's why you play to the end. It's a 60-minute game."
But, like many other times in his career, Brady's sheer will carried him through what had been a brutal ordeal, until he could sense the tide turning in his team's favour.
5 rings can’t be deflated #Brady #Muse.Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, in reference to the four-game ban handed to Tom Brady by the NFL over the Deflategate saga
"At half-time, we weren't down at all, we were disappointed in the way we played and knew that we could go out and do a lot better in the second half.
"The one positive was we had the ball for 20 minutes in the first half and I think as the game goes on, that gets tough on the defence in these Super Bowls, everyone's expending a lot of energy, when we got it rolling in the second half, it was tough to slow us down."
"He was motivating us the whole game, even when we were down," said Patriots' running back James White, who scored a Super Bowl record-tying three touchdowns and ran in a two-point conversion in a sensational performance, setting a Super Bowl record with 14 catches.
"He just willed us to another victory."
Patrick Chung, the Patriots' outspoken safety, said Brady's performance had ended the debate about his standing among the best quarterbacks.
"He just proved to you guys that he is the greatest, period," Chung said. "So all of you haters need to shut up and just own up to it that he is the greatest. We all saw that today."
Brady, who finished the game with 466 passing yards - a new record for the Super Bowl - and two touchdowns to earn the Most Valuable Player award, shied away from suggestions that he had carried the team, hailing the Patriots' mental toughness.
"We all brought each other back," he said. "We're in the locker room with each other every day and we know what we're all about. That's what it comes down to."
The win completed a tumultuous season for Brady, who was banned at the start of the season for four games over the "Deflategate" saga.
He shrugged off suggestions that the win amounted to a personal redemption.
"This is all positive," he said. "We're going to remember this for the rest of our lives.
"I've got my family here and it's the end of a long marathon. I usually wear them on my sleeve."
Head coach Bill Belichick, who picked Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, declined to be drawn into ranking the quarterback's performance, emphasising victory had been a team effort.
"Tom has had a lot of great ones; tonight was one of them," Belichick said. "There were a lot of great players playing out there tonight."
But, for Danny Amendola, the long-serving Patriots receiver, there was only one verdict.
"He was the same as he always is, cool, calm and collected," Amendola said of Brady's second-half display.
"He's the leader, the general, the best ever and that is the end of the story." - WIRE SERVICES
How the match went
- 7-0: After a scoreless opening quarter, it was the Atlanta Falcons who struck first when Devonta Freeman rushed it in from five yards out early in the second quarter.
- 14-0: Atlanta added to their lead less than four minutes later when Matt Ryan found Austin Hooper with a 19-yard pass.
- 21-0: The Falcons blew the game open late in the first half when Robert Alford picked off a Tom Brady pass that he returned 82 yards for the touchdown with just over two minutes left in the half.
- 21-3: The Patriots got on the board when Stephen Gostkowski made a 41-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half.
- 28-3: It got worse for the Patriots early in the third quarter. Their offence again squandered possession and Atlanta were back on the charge, powering forward with a nine-play drive that ended with Ryan lobbing a six-yard pass to Tevin Coleman for a touchdown.
- 28-9: New England grabbed what looked like a consolation score when Brady found running back James White to make it 28-9. But Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point.
- 28-20: It seemed as if all Atlanta had to do was ride out the clock. But a Gostkowski field goal made it 28-12 and when Tom Brady hit Danny Amendola for a six-yard touchdown, with a successful two-point conversion, it had suddenly become a one-score game.
- 28-28: An epic drive hinged on a logic-defying 23-yard reception to Julian Edelman, who somehow gathered a deflected pass to put the Patriots in enemy territory. Brady marched his team forward and White scampered in from one yard to make it 28-26. Another two-point conversion followed to make it 28-28 and take the game to overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history.
- 34-28: The Patriots won the toss and elected to receive and, with momentum on their side, it was left to White to score his third touchdown of the night to clinch an amazing victory. - WIRE SERVICES
Falcons coach: We ran out of gas
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn admitted that the 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots was hard to take.
"No doubt that was a tough one for us," said Quinn. "That's a hard one in the locker room."
Atlanta led 28-3 but the Patriots refused to give up and scored a remarkable 31 unanswered points for the greatest comeback ever in a Super Bowl or any post-season game. The defeat came in the first sudden-death overtime Super Bowl decision.
Quinn felt the Falcons were worn out by the end by the pressure the Patriots applied.
"I think for sure we ran out of gas," Quinn said.
"They executed terrifically. That was one of the things that we don't talk about with them a lot, is the way they can execute.
"When they got hot, it was hard for us to deal with."
That said, Quinn was proud of the way his team battled together in their quest for their first NFL title in the 51st season for the Falcons.
"I am proud of the fight that these guys have. The brotherhood that this group has built, it's as strong as I've seen," he said. - REUTERS