By Conor Harrington
Sports Business Writer
Just three months after he finished serving his controversial four-game suspension for his alleged involvement in the New England Patriots’ Deflategate scandal, with his gravely ill mother watching him in person for the first time this season, and with an average of 111.3 million people watching in the United States, Tom Brady delivered his magnum opus.
Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 466 yards as he led the Patriots with an epic rally from 28-3 down to stun the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime, sending me and the rest of my beloved hometown of Boston back into jubilation and the city of Atlanta back into heartbreak. Although Brady won his fourth Super Bowl MVP award, another record, it was James White who took over the game in its later stages, being responsible for a Super Bowl record 20 points, and hauling in 14 receptions, yet another record. In the first half, Atlanta’s number 1 offense looked the part, scoring 21 points in the second quarter, culminating in Brady’s only true mistake of the game, an interception returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Robert Alford.
Late in the third quarter, various win probability charts had the Patriots’ odds of winning under 1%. However, Brady masterfully kept his composure, leading the Patriots to 31 points on their final five possessions. With 2:06 left in the third, White recorded his first touchdown, a 5-yard pass from Brady, to cut the score to 28-9. With 9:44 left in the fourth, Stephen Gostkowski, who missed the extra point following the previous touchdown, hit a 33-yard field goal to cut the lead to 28-12.
The defense made their biggest contribution by forcing a fumble, leading to a touchdown from Danny Amendola with 5:56 left, as well as the first of two necessary two-point conversion to tie the game, a 2-yard run from White. The defense responded again, as questionable play-calling took Atlanta out of field goal range. After starting from their own 9 yard line with 3:30 left, White scored his second touchdown with 57 seconds left, and Amendola converted the two-point attempt to level the score incredibly.
After the Pats won the in overtime toss, White ended the game with a 2-yard run with 11:02 left. The record-breaking match was the first Super Bowl to reach the overtime period, proving especially lucrative for the Fox network, allowing them to generate an additional $20 million in ad revenue after the end of regulation, adding to the approximately $500 million they generated prior to overtime.
While Fox proved to be a big winner in the event, no one came out more on top than Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. With an unprecedented fifth Super Bowl ring in seven trips to the big game, Brady becomes just the second player ever, and only quarterback, who will be able to wear a ring on every finger. Belichick also claimed his fifth title, and the greatest coach and quarterback tandem have cemented their legacy as NFL legends, and beloved Boston sports icons.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 print edition.
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