In one of the most exciting Super Bowls in NFL history, the Falcons watched Tom Brady and the Patriots rally from a 25-point second half deficit to win 34-28 in overtime.
The Falcons took control of the game early behind a strong defensive effort in the first half, and an offense that came to life in the second quarter. Atlanta's defense pressured Tom Brady early, and forced two takeaways including an 82-yard pick six by Robert Alford that gave the Falcons a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
But after increasing the lead to 28-3 on a Tevin Coleman touchdown in the third quarter, things began to turn. Atlanta's offense suddenly began to stall, and the Patriots put points on the board on five consecutive drives to score 31-unanswered points in the second half and overtime, pulling out the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
The Atlanta Falcons defense was put to the test early, and they passed with flying colors. Tom Brady and the vaunted Patriots had three possessions to take the first lead of the game, but the Falcons young playmaking defense pressured Brady, forced takeaways and set the tone as Atlanta built a 28-3 lead.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Falcons defense began to take matters into their own hands. Deion Jones got things going for Atlanta, forcing a LeGarrette Blount fumble that Robert Alford recovered. The Falcons offense capitalized on the opportunity, getting on the board first at NRG Stadium with a five-yard Devonta Freeman touchdown.
While Atlanta's offense went scoreless in the first quarter, they did find success on the ground, rushing for 56 rushing yards on their first two possessions. That set up the play-action pass, which set Atlanta's offense loose for in the second quarter.
On the Falcons second possession of that quarter, Ryan found rookie TE Austin Hooper in the end zone for 19-yard touchdown pass, extending Atlanta's lead to 14-0.
And the Falcons young defense continued to come up with big plays, as De'Vondre Campbell, Keanu Neal, Hooper and Jones all made impact plays in the first half. With 2:36 left in the first half, Atlanta's defense came up with their biggest play of the game. Tom Brady had the Patriots driving with a chance to cut the Falcons lead to seven. But Robert Alford changed the way the game looked.
On third and six, Alford stepped in front of a Brady pass intended for Danny Amendola and returned it 82-yards for a touchdown, giving Atlanta a 21-0 lead.
And their two takeaways gave Atlanta a 14-0 advantage in points off of turnover in the first half. The Falcons went to the half up 21-3.
And Atlanta's offense kept their foot on the gas pedal as the second half began. Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel showed his illusive speed when he juked Patriots CB Malcolm Butler and Ryan found him deep. A six-yard touchdown play by Tevin Coleman capped of Atlanta's scoring drive, and the Falcons extended their lead to 28-3 in the third quarter.
At that point, Atlanta was in complete control, and it was almost inconceivable what would unfold over the next 20 minutes.
Brady found James White for a five-yard touchdown on New England's first drive after Coleman's touchdown, but the PAT was missed.
After the Falcons went three-and-out on their next drive, the Patriots marched 72-yards in 12 plays, and a Stephen Gostkowski 33-yard field goal cut the lead to 28-20 with 9:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Atlanta still had a firm grip on the game until their ensuing possession.
On the Falcons next drive, Ryan was hit by Dont'a Hightower as he was throwing, and the resulting fumble was recovered by the Patriots. Five plays later, Brady found Danny Amendola for a six yard touchdown pass, and after White took the two point conversion in, the Patriots trailed just 28-20 with less than six minutes remaining.
After an amazing 27-yard catch by Julio Jones gave the Falcons the ball at the New England 22, it looked as though the Falcons might be able to score move it back to a two-score lead. but a loss of yardage on a rush, a holding penalty and a sack moved the Falcons out of scoring position.
The Patriots then marched 91-yards on 10 plays, capped by a James White rushing touchdown. When Brady found Amendola for the two-point conversion, the Patriots had scored 25-unanswered points, and the score was tied 28-28 with under a minute remaining. The game was headed to overtime.
The Patriots took the opening possession of overtime 75-yards on eight plays, capped by James White's third touchdown of the game, and the New England Patriots began celebrating their fifth Super Bowl Championship.