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The Historical Super Bowl LI

How this year's Super Bowl between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots set multiple NFL records and was a complete thriller.

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The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons squared off on February 5th, 2017 for the highly anticipated Super Bowl LI, or Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas.  It surely didn’t disappoint. It’s a little difficult to even list why this Super Bowl was one of the best.  Because so many records were broken, it’s hard to know where to start.

The Falcons, who were representing the NFC, came into the Super Bowl with an 11-5 record, while the Patriots, who were representing the AFC, came into the Super Bowl with a 14-2 record. The Falcons had previously beaten Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship, and the Patriots had previously beaten Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Any fan of the NFL had expected the Patriots to win prior to the game, with Tom Brady, a 4 time Super Bowl Champion and arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, leading their team. The Falcons weren’t necessarily considered an underdog though, as they had Matt Ryan as their quarterback who was crowned as the NFL’s MVP the night before the big game. Most NFL fans didn’t necessarily want the Patriots to win. Most people I know weren’t fans of either teams, but they hated the Patriots so much, they’d rather root for the Falcons. Personally, I hated both teams, but I rooted for the Falcons because the Patriots are my least favorite team.

The game started off with a good defensive performance by both teams in the first quarter, with neither team scoring any points. However, with 12:46 left in the 2nd quarter, the Falcons struck first; Devonta Freeman scored a 5 yard rushing touchdown. After the Patriots punted with their next possession, the Falcons scored again with a 19 yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to tight end Austin Hooper. On the ensuing Patriots possession, Brady and the offense were driving down the field, but with 2:36 to go in the half, Brady threw a pass that was intended for his wide receiver Danny Amendola.  Instead the pass was intercepted by Falcons cornerback Robert Alford and returned for an 80 yard touchdown. Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski scored a 41 yard field goal for the Patriots, but the Falcons were still up 21-3 at halftime, which is a score that no NFL fan would’ve predicted.

Coming out of halftime, neither team did anything on their first possessions. Then, with 8:36 left in the 3rd quarter, Matt Ryan threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to running back Tevin Coleman, putting the Falcons up 28-3. At this point in the game, everyone was certain that the Falcons would win. No team in Super Bowl history had come back from a 10 point deficit or greater. However, the one thing that most people forgot about is the fact that Brady should never be underestimated. The next drive for the Patriots, Brady threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to his running back, James White, with 2:12 remaining in the 3rd quarter. However, Gostkowski missed the extra point, making the score 28-9, leaving the Falcons still with the lead. Gostkowski made a 33 yard Field Goal with 9:48 remaining in the 4th quarter, making the score 28-12. Then, with 6 minutes left in the game, Brady threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola. The Patriots then scored a 2 point conversion, which made the score 28-20. At this point in the game, fans were astounded by the fact that the Patriots even made the game close. They had scored 17 unanswered points, which had already broken a record for the biggest comeback attempt. The Patriots got the ball back with 3:30 left in the game. They drove down the field, and with 1 minute left, James White scored a 1 yard rushing touchdown for the Patriots.  However, they had to go for a 2 point conversion, and they converted it, making the score 28-28. The Falcons had just under a minute to try and drive down and win the game, but they failed to do so.  This meant that the game was getting sent to overtime (OT). This was another historical event that took place in Super Bowl LI, as this was the first Super Bowl in NFL history that had an overtime.

The Patriots got the ball in OT first, and on their very first possession, James White scored a 2 yard rushing touchdown to end the game. The Patriots won Super Bowl 51 with a final score of 34-28.  Whether or not you watched the Super Bowl this year, it was arguably the best Super Bowl in NFL history.

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