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The All-Time Greatest Super Bowl: Fantastic Comeback for Brady Led Patriots

By Chris Malumphy

We've probably just witnessed what is likely to be the greatest Super Bowl ever. Down by 25 points shortly after the half, the Tom Brady led New England Patriots rallied with 31 unanswered points in a fantastic comeback that required two two-point conversions and a trip into overtime before ending in a 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

The reason why the Patriots were able to overcome adversity, the coolness of coach Bill Belichick and the affect of Tom Brady's grace under fire are best described in Peter King's MMQB column at SI.com: "Funny thing," said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after the game. "When we came out after halftime, "Bill [Belichick] said to me, 'We'll be okay. Our guys believe. They will fight their ass off.' I think when you've got Tommy, you feel like there's never going to be any kind of panic in him, so there's never going to be any kind of panic in us."

The combination of Brady / Belichick has now won a record five Super Bowls in seven appearances. I've noted in the past that the Patriots have triumphed in the Super Bowl games even though Brady has often been outplayed, at least statistically, by his opposing quarterback. Super Bowl LI was yet another example. The Falcons' Matt Ryan had a passing rating of 144.1, the highest in any Tom Brady Super Bowl and the fourth best of all-time, completing 73.9 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady was a more pedestrian 95.2. Ryan gained 12.3 yards per attempt versus 7.5 for Brady. Ryan's average net yards per attempt adjusted for touchdowns and interceptions was 10.0 to Brady's 6.5. Where Brady sorely outplayed Ryan was in avoiding sacks and minimizing losses on those plays. Both Brady and Ryan were sacked five times each, but Brady had 62 pass attempts compared to just 23 for Ryan. While Brady was sacked 7.5% of the time he contemplated passing, the Patriots got to Ryan 17.9% of the time. Brady limited his sack losses to 24 yards. Ryan lost 44 yards on an equal number of sacks with the most important coming late in the fourth quarter when avoiding a loss could have permitted a field goal attempt that would have iced the game. Ryan had a great game statistically. Brady had a great game when it mattered most.

Super Bowl for 2016 Season
Patriots 34 - Falcons 28
NameTeamAttCPctYdsYds
Att
Yds
Comp
TDPct
TD
IntPct
Int
SacksYds
Lost
Pct
Sacked
RatingANY/ARush
Yds
Team
Rush
Yds
Matt RyanFalcons231773.928412.316.728.700.054417.9144.110.00104
Tom BradyPatriots624369.44667.510.823.211.65247.595.26.515104
Julian EdelmanPatriots100.000.00.000.000.0000.039.60.02104

Super Bowl Passing Statistics -- The Tom Brady Super Bowls
NameTeamAttCompPctYdsAvg
Att
Avg
Comp
TDPct
TD
IntPct
Int
SackedYds
Lost
Pct
Sacked
RatingANY/APct
Sack
Int
Rush
Yds
Matt RyanFalcons231773.928412.316.728.700.054417.9144.110.0017.90
Jake DelhommePanthers331648.53239.820.239.100.042810.8113.69.5910.80
Russell WilsonSeahawks211257.124711.820.629.514.831312.5110.69.5416.739
Eli ManningGiants744966.25517.411.234.111.46227.596.26.808.83
Tom BradyPatriots30920767.020716.710.0154.951.6161034.995.36.296.526
Kurt WarnerRams442863.63658.313.012.324.53286.478.35.6810.66
Donovan McNabbEagles513058.83577.011.935.935.94337.375.44.5312.70
Julian EdelmanPatriots100.000.00.000.000.0000.039.60.000.02

A somewhat unsung offensive hero for the Patriots was running back James White who had been playing in the shadow of teammate Dion Lewis since Lewis returned to action from injury. White had his biggest day of the season, amassing more receptions, more receiving yards and more yards rushing in the Super Bowl than in any other single game. White put three touchdowns and a two-point conversion on the board for 20 points in all. Belichick goes with the hot hand at running back and is never afraid to change his lineup when it's best for the team.

Rushing and Receiving by Week for James White
WeekOppAttYdsAvgTDTargetsRecPctYdsYds
Rec
Yds
Target
TDScore
01Cardinals144.007571.4408.05.70W 23 - 21
02Dolphins4194.804250.0105.02.50W 31 - 24
03Texans3124.002150.022.01.00W 27 - 0
04Bills4123.0055100.05010.010.00L 0 - 16
05Browns5265.206466.76315.810.50W 33 - 13
06Bengals7192.709888.9475.95.22W 35 - 17
08Bills2157.505240.0147.02.80W 41 - 25
10Seahawks252.5044100.0328.08.00L 24 - 31
13Rams3175.705480.0184.53.60W 26 - 10
14Ravens231.5033100.08127.027.00W 30 - 23
15Broncos3113.708337.5248.03.00W 16 - 3
16Jets11414.004375.03210.78.01W 41 - 3
17Dolphins294.5044100.0215.25.30W 35 - 14
20Steelers100.004375.082.72.00W 36 - 17
21Falcons6294.82161487.51107.96.91W 34 - 28
Total   461954.22866575.65528.56.44  

The Falcons also played a great game in many regards. However, the team's high octane defense, which did so well early in the game, could not overcome the time of possession differential that saw the Patriots with the ball for 40 minutes 31 seconds compared to 23 minutes 27 seconds for the Falcons. Being on the field for the equivalent of more than an extra quarter inevitably wore them down and the Falcons' offense was unable to lend assistance near the end when it could have cemented a victory.

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