No team has appeared in more Super Bowls than the Patriots' nine trips. After Sunday night's epic 25-point comeback and eventual 34-28 win over the stunned Falcons in the first overtime in Super Bowl history, it can be argued that no team has brought more drama to the big game than New England.
After stunningly trailing 21-3 at halftime, 28-3 in the third quarter and 28-9 in the fourth, Tom Brady got hot to lead an historic comeback to claim his fourth Super Bowl MVP in New England's fifth Super Bowl win.
Brady took MVP honors thanks to Super Bowl records in yards (466), completions (43) and attempts (62) as the Patriots needed 99 offensive plays to eventually get the job done just under four minutes into the extra period, never giving Atlanta a chance to touch the ball in overtime.
James White could easily have taken home the hardware himself. Not only did he notch the 2-yard game-winning touchdown, but it was one of his three scores to go along with a two-point conversion on a night when he caught 14 of 16 passes thrown his way for 110 yards. White also had 29 yards rushing on just six attempts, two of which were scores.
Overcoming a tough start that included a LeGarrette Blount fumble to set up a short-field Falcons score and an 82-yard pick-six interception by Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford, New England never gave up and in the end the fight to the extended finish paid off for Bill Belichick's team.
"What a game. Can't say enough about our team," Belichick said, collecting his fifth Lombardi Trophy as New England coach. "We just kept trying to find a little crack in the armor and keep plugging away. Our team showed great mental toughness throughout the game, never really flinched. In the end, I can't say enough about our players and how hard they competed and what a good job our coaching staff did battling all the way. Playing in overtime for the championship, doesn't get any closer than that."
Though Brady and the offense scored 31 unanswered points in the Super Bowl-best comeback, the New England defense certainly made its share of major contributions. Twice in the third quarter, New England notched sacks that essentially knocked Ryan and Co. out of field-goal position, extra points that could have been the difference for Atlanta. And Dont'a Hightower's strip sack of Ryan, recovered by veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch, gave Brady a short field to a Danny Amendola touchdown grab -- the second touchdown for New England in barely three minutes -- that cut the deficit to 28-20 with just under six minutes to play.
"What we needed to do was to create some positive plays and execute some things and get a drive finished into the end zone," Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said of the comeback for the ages. "That's what we didn't do very well in the first half and then eventually we got one score there in the third quarter. From there, we knew we were a couple of scores away. We just wanted to get it to a one-score game and put some pressure on them and make them have to make some plays so that there was some pressure in the stadium. They were playing the whole game without that and that was our fault. We didn't do a very good job of taking care of the ball and we put ourselves in a hole. But the guys grinded it out. I always had confidence."
"We played our tails off all season to get to this point and it's hard to win a game in the NFL. And to beat this team and to get down 28-3, it was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we're all going to remember this for the rest of our lives," Brady concluded.
So will the rest of the football world. Once again the Patriots are world champions. Once again the victory came in storybook fashion as the legend of Brady, Belichick and the Patriots continues to grow with the lineup of Lombardis in the trophy room at Gillette Stadium.