What a game it was. Super Bowl LI was an instant classic. It was once a blowout, but it certainly didn't remain that way. Facing adversity for the majority of the game, the New England Patriots never wavered. They ultimately earned "One for the Thumb" with a comeback victory. This year's Super Bowl certainly had many moments that stuck out.
1. Tom Brady - Duh. The quarterback earned his status as the greatest of all time. Not only did he set a record with his fifth career Super Bowl win and fourth career Super Bowl MVP award, but Brady did it while coming back from a 25 point second half deficit. The game tying drive late in the fourth quarter saw Brady orchestrate a 91 yard drive AND a two point conversion to just tie the game. In the victory, Brady set a Super Bowl record with 466 passing yards.
2. James White - When he was a rookie two years ago, White was inactive for Super Bowl XLIX. In that game, Shane Vereen was a force out of the backfield. Tonight, White played that role and did so beautifully. He set a Super Bowl record with 14 catches. Those 14 catches were good for 110 yards and a touchdown. White also added two more rushing touchdowns. He became the first player since Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII to score three touchdowns.
3. History - When New England won Super Bowl XLIX they needed to tie history to do earn the victory. In that win, the Patriots came back from a 10 point fourth quarter deficit to achieve the victory. Tonight, they were trailing by as many as 25, and 19 entering the fourth quarter. The victory tonight set the Super Bowl record for largest come from behind victory.
4. Trey Flowers - The second year defensive lineman continued his blossoming in the Super Bowl. He added two and a half sacks of Matt Ryan in the victory. One of those sacks proved to be crucial as it put Atlanta right on the edge of field goal territory.
5. Julian Edelman - Brady's go to receiver proved to be critical during the comeback. Edelman had five catches for 87 yards in the victory. No catch was bigger than his David Tyree-esque shoestring catch late in the fourth quarter to fuel to Patriots comeback. If Edelman doesn't manage to hold on to that ball then the Falcons may very well have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
6. Play Differential - Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that New England wound up victorious was the difference in offensive plays tonight. The offense of the Patriots ran a whooping 93 plays compared to the Falcons' 46 plays. Keeping Atlanta's defense on the field for so long proved to be vital as the Falcons defense appeared to be gassed by the time overtime rolled around.
Extra Point - This may have been the best game ever played in NFL history. Such a large comeback, in the game's biggest stage isn't something to sneeze at. New England deserves tremendous amounts of credit for this comeback. It may not have been capable if it weren't for the genius of Bill Belichick and the greatness of Tom Brady.