Dave Klein was the Giants' beat
writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books
and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls.
Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.
PATRIOTS OVERCOME 28-3 MARGIN IN SECOND HALF OF SUPER BOWL LI
HOUSTON - The Atlanta Falcons held a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in
Super Bowl LI with 8:37 left in the third quarter.
"The Patriots have been
through a lot this year, said quarterback Tom Brady, who for the fifth time in
his seven Super Bowls was named the game's Most Valuable Player, "but somehow
we manage to get through it all." And then it began, as the Patriots continued
to chip away and chip away and in the first overtime period of the 51-year history
of this mega-game, Brady delivered the knockout punch. With 3:52 left in the overtime,
Brady capped a 75-yard drive by tossing the ball to running back James White,
who took it over for a two-yard dagger in the hearts of the Falcons.
For Giant fans, of course, Eli Manning remains the only quarterback to defeat
Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl -- and he did it twice.
Head coach Bill Belichick, who was once told by former Giant general manager George
Young that "you're not ready to be a head coach in this league," won
his fifth Super Bowl.
kept coaching," said Belichick. "We kept trying to find a little crack
in the armor. We never flinched, even when the score got so one-sided. We have
great players and an even greater mind-set. Those guys think we can never lose,
and most of the time they're right.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola, who made a batch of impossible catches, just gazed
in awe at Belichick and Brady on the other side of the locker room. "Tom
was the same as he always is," he said. "He's cool, calm and collected.
He's the leader, the general, the best ever and that's the end of the story."
The other wide receiver, Julian Edelman, caught five passes for 87 yards, and
he kept two drives alive late in the game with miraculous catches. "Tom knows
where to throw the ball and I have learned to catch it," he said. "I
don't think I'll ever forget this game, and I know I will never forget the honor
and privilege of playing with Tom and coach Belichick and this team."
Patriots' defense, which is overseen by Belichick and given a hands-on assist
by coordinator Matt Patricia, had one major goal going into the game - take away
Falcons' wide receiver Julio Jones. He caught only four passes for 87 yards, but
he was never the threat, the game-killer, that he had been all season.
"Yes, we kind of concentrated on him," said Belichick. "He's a
great, great player and you have to know where he is every minute and make sure
you have enough guys around him."
But the story seemed to be Brady, who set Super Bowl records with 43 completions
in 62 attempts for 466 yards and two touchdowns. "It's my guys," he
said. "I could throw the ball all day and if I didn't have these receivers
I wouldn't even be here talking to you guys. It's a thrill and it's an honor and
when you work this hard for things, usually you get them."
Brady was openly weeping at the end of the game. His mother had been sick, he
was suspended for the first four games of the season for the notorious deflate-gate
incident, and he finally got his family at the game - all of them brothers and
sisters and in-laws and his kids and, most of all, his parents.
"We know what we're all about," he said. "We believe in each other,
everyone does their job and we never stop somehow knowing we're going to pull
Atlanta head coach Dan
Quinn, clearly upset and fighting to maintain his composure (which he managed
to do), reflected on the Patriots. "I think at the end, when we go back and
watch it tomorrow, there will be things that we could have done better or differently.
I'll look at that part of it for sure. I was impressed with how hard the guys
fought and battled. That's why we're hurting so bad right now. We knew it was
going to come down to the end, we knew that for sure."
Defensively, the Patriots maintained some measure of control over Falcons' quarterback
Matt Ryan, and limited his outside options by taking Jones away. But the inside
pressure that continued to chase Ryan into the arms of the outside and edge rushers
wasn't accidental, it was orchestrated. At the end, after his tears and his flood
of relief, Brady summed it up simply. "It was a hell of a game, wasn't it?"
he said. "They are all sweet and they're just a great group of coaches and
players and we overcame a lot of different things. It was just a lot of mental
toughness and we're going to remember this for the rest of our lives."
Ryan acknowledged the defeat and the heroics of Brady. "There's really nothing
to say, it was a tough loss and obviously we're very disappointed. But you can't
take anything away from that New England team. Now if you'll excuse me, it's a
little hard to find words right now."
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