Super Bowl 51: The breakout that was unexpected
By Brittany Webb
Trice Edney News Wire
On Sunday, Tom Brady walked away from NGR Stadium with his fifth Super Bowl Championship ring, and it was not, solely, because of him.
It was supposed to be because of Chris Hogan, who racked up nine receptions, 180-yards and two touchdowns in the AFC championship game. However, James White was the star of Sunday night’s game, breaking three records. White scored 20 of the New England Patriots’ 34 points, caught 14 catches for a total of 110 yards and ran the game-winning touchdown in overtime (this was the first time a Super Bowl game went into overtime). He’s responsible for the comeback of the Patriots.
“It’s preached to this team every day. ‘One week you may play five snaps, one week you may play eighty, so, you got to always be ready.’” White said in a post-game interview. “My number was called, and I just wanted to answer, no matter if it was catching the ball, blocking, running the ball—I just wanted to do whatever it took.”
The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl a total of seven times in the last 15 years, losing two of the seven games. For the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday was their second appearance in the championship game, having lost to the Denver Broncos in 1999. However, the way they played during the first half of the game would have made viewers believe they had been to the Super Bowl several times, but their inexperience showed during the second half.
Both teams failed to score during the first quarter, but come the second quarter, the Falcons began to dominate the field and scoreboard. The teams went into half time with a score of 3-21. The Patriots failed to successfully make a touchdown, forcing them to settle for a field goal.
On the other end of half time, the Falcons began to lose control of the scoreboard. Both teams scored a touch down in the third quarter, ending the quarter 9-28. The Falcons’ third quarter touchdown would be their last.
The Falcons had some momentum during the first half of the fourth quarter, as Julio Jones caught a pass downfield from quarterback Matt Ryan, bringing the ball within thirty yards of the Patriots’ end zone. However, the progression was reversed when Ryan got sacked beyond the 30-yard mark, followed by a flag against the Falcons. From there, the Falcons struggled to recover.
Although Brady struggled to make successful passes to receivers to get back on the scoreboard, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski kicked a field goal, to bring the score to 12-28. The Patriots would then go on to score two touchdowns with a conversion. With 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter and a 26-28 score, the Patriots scored a two point-conversion that tied the game. With the Falcons unable to respond, having the final possession, the game went into overtime.
The Patriots had the first and only possession of the ball in overtime. The team ran first down after first down. Then, Brady tossed the ball to White who ran the ball to the Falcons’ 15-yard line. Brady, then, threw the ball to Martellus Bennett for a touchdown, but Bennett could not get control of the ball. Upon completion of the play, officials threw a flag against the Falcons, citing pass interference during the play. The foul moved the Patriots to the 2-yard line.
Brady tried to throw another pass to Bennett, but the pass was blocked by Atlanta Falcon Vic Beasley Jr. It was then that Brady put his faith in White. After receiving the ball, White ran the game-winning touchdown, managing to get the ball over the end zone line, despite the Falcons’ defense trying to push him away from the end zone. Some may say his knee was down before the ball was in the end zone, but officials counted the touchdown.
“We knew we were in the game the whole time. We knew we weren’t playing as well as we wanted to that first half,” White said. “We went into half-time and just tried to get guys fired up. It’s going to be a long second half. Defense gets stops, offense just keeps putting points up and the lead will keep narrowing, and like I said we’ll be in the position to take that shot and win the game.”
And winning the game is what White did. Despite his contribution to the team’s victory, Brady walked away as the MVP.
“Looked at the Pats stats for the first time. Adding that to what I saw, James White got robbed on Super Bowl MVP. Three td’s and not MVP?” media personality Bomani Jones tweeted.
The Patriots’ quarterback and Super Bowl MVP agreed with Jones.
“I think James White deserves it,” Brady said. “It would be nice for him, but it took a real team effort.”
Brady plans to gift White with his MVP car.