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Snap Judgments: Tom Brady directs greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, Patriots win their 5th Lombardi Trophy in OT 02.05.17 at 10:29 pm ET
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The Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in overtime.(Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in overtime.(Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — The Patriots made history in the most dramatic way Sunday night in Super Bowl LI.

James White scored his third touchdown of the night on a 2-yard run with 11:02 left in the first overtime in Super Bowl history, giving the Patriots their fifth Super Bowl title with an unbelievable 34-28 win over the Falcons.

The winning touchdown came after a 14-yard pass interference call on the Falcons.

After being handed the Lombardi Trophy by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (who was roundly booed while delivering his congratulatory speech), Patriots owner Robert Kraft called the victory, “unequivocally the sweetest” of all the team’s championships.

Brady finished 43-of-62 for 466 yards and two touchdowns and earned his fourth Super Bowl MVP. White had a pair of touchdown runs and a touchdown catch.

Down 28-3 with two minutes left in the third quarter and 19 points in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL playoff history.

Julian Edelman got his hands under a tipped pass just before the ball hit the ground before the two-minute warning. The miracle catch put the Patriots at the Atlanta 41. Several plays later, James White ran it in from two yards with 57 seconds left, followed by a two point conversion from Brady to Danny Amendola.

Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes and the Falcons turned two turnovers into scores as the Falcons appeared on their way to their first world championship in their 51-year history. Ryan played the first three quarters with a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating.

The Patriots played their most uncharacteristic game at the worst time. LeGarrette Blount fumbled deep in Atlanta territory in a scoreless game and Tom Brady had a nightmare of a first half that included a pick-6 by Robert Alford.

Picked by nearly every national expert to lose, the touchdown underdog Falcons certainly didn’t play like it. Led by a Super Bowl-tying three sacks from Grady Jarrett, they manhandled the Patriots on both sides of the ball.

The Patriots finish the season 17-2 and are now 5-4 in their nine Super Bowl appearances.

The game started after an emotional rendition of “America The Beautiful” from the cast of “Hamilton” and the national anthem from Luke Bryan. Following that, President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara were carted onto the field and made their way to midfield for the coin toss. Both had been recently released from the hospital after battling various medical issues.

Matthew Slater called heads and the former President flipped the coin and it turned up tails. The Falcons deferred and the Patriots received to open Super Bowl LI.

Brady targeted Julian Edelman on the first two plays of the game. The first was an incompletion over the middle followed by an inside slant for nine yards. But the Patriots were forced 3-and-out when LeGarrette Blount ran to his right and was stopped for no gain.

Ryan Allen boomed a big punt and, after a holding call, pinned the Falcons inside their 10. On the first play, Devonta Freeman broke loose for 37 yards when he went to his left and cut back up the middle. But the Patriots quickly recovered, with the key play coming on a Patrick Chung tackle on Patrick DiMarco in one-on-one coverage. On the next play, Rob Ninkovich broke through for the drive-ending sack.

The Patriots got the ball for a third time in the first quarter but not before it ended, extending the first-quarter scoreless streak in Super Bowls to seven. In all seven Belichick-Brady Super Bowl appearances, the Patriots don’t have a single point in the opening 15 minutes.

Following a 27-yard completion from Brady to Edelman, the Patriots had the ball first-and-10 at the Atlanta 33. But on the very next play, Falcons linebacker Deion Jones made a huge play, powerfully stripping the ball from LeGarrette Blount. Defensive back Robert Alford recovered at the Atlanta 29. The Falcons wasted no time capitalizing. Matt Ryan fired a 19-yard bullet over the middle to Julio Jones, who wrestled the ball from Logan Ryan.

On the next play, Ryan targeted Jones on the left sideline. He was wide open for 23 yards to the Patriots 29. Freeman followed with gashing runs of 15 and 9 off right and left tackle, respectively. The Patriots were obviously on their heels against the hurry-up Falcons. The Patriots called time out on 2nd-and-1. But it didn’t help. Jones came in motion to the inside but Freeman ran a misdirect and jogged untouched to the goal line before diving in for the first score of the game.

The Falcons made it 14-0 against a reeling, backpedaling and seemingly winded Patriots defense. Ryan found tight end Austin Hooper on an in-slant from 19 yards. It marked the biggest Super Bowl deficit in the Belichick-Brady era.

Desperate for a score, the Falcons young secondary aided the Patriots’ cause immensely on the ensuing drive. The Falcons committed three defensive holding fouls on third down and the Patriots looked ready to capitalize, with the ball at the Falcons 23. But on yet another third down, there was no bail out from the officials, only a telegraphed pass to Julian Edelman on an slant that Robert Alford stepped in front of at the Falcons 18 and raced 82 yards for the second-longest pick-6 in Super Bowl history (James Harrison, 100 yards, Super Bowl XLIII), falling behind 21-0.

The Patriots, in desperate need of a drive and some big breaks, got one on the next drive. Brady dropped back to pass and was hit. The ball wobbled. But instead of another turnover, the ball landed in the hands of Martellus Bennett, who gained 19 yards. Then several plays later, Brady hit James White in the right flat. White made 28 yards. The Patriots made it down to the Atlanta 3 on another completion to White. But a holding call on Bennett brought it back to the 23. On the next play, with 12 seconds left, Brady threw to Bennett in the left flat on a screen. The clock nearly ran out as Bennett was tackled. But the Patriots were able to execute a 41-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to make it 21-3 Atlanta at the half.

The Falcons ran just 19 plays in the first half to New England’s 40.

Closing Time noteTom Brady becomes the first quarterback to win 5 Super Bowls.

[For a full box score and stats, click here.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick New England Patriots, James White, Matt Ryan
Michael Floyd among inactives for Super Bowl LI, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t contribute this week at 4:42 pm ET
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Michael Floyd is inactive for Super Bowl LI. (Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports)

Michael Floyd is inactive for Super Bowl LI. (Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — The following Patriots players are inactive against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI: offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, running back DJ Foster, quarterback Jacoby Brissett, wide receiver Michael Floyd, cornerback Cyrus Jones, cornerback Justin Coleman and safety Jordan Richards.

These are the same players who were inactive against the Steelers in the AFC title game, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise.

Floyd is the biggest name, but with Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola healthy there wasn’t a need for him in the game.

Although he won’t be active, it’s worth noting he played a major role this week in practice as he was Julio Jones on the scout team offense along with Matthew Slater.

Floyd played in the final two regular-season games and divisional round playoff game against the Texans. His biggest game was the regular-season finale against the Dolphins when he had three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. He’s a free agent after the season.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Marshall Faulk: There’s an asterisk next to Tom Brady’s name for greatest of all-time at 3:13 pm ET
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Marshall Faulk loves to hate on the Patriots. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Marshall Faulk loves to hate on the Patriots. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — This is the week of Marshall Faulk hating on the Patriots.

He had his rant on Thursday, and then was back at it Sunday morning on the NFL Network’s Gameday Morning when asked if Tom Brady if the greatest of all-time, as he said it’s more complicated than some think.

“I like it,” Faulk said. “It’s like the Olympics now, getting the silver helps. I would say yes, but there’s always that little asterisk when you start talking about greatest ever.”

Host Rich Eisen asked what is the asterisk?

“Come on Rich,” Faulk said, “I don’t even want to get into that. Man is about to play in his seventh Super Bowl, he has a chance at winning five, it’s been great. But some things has happened and we know what those things are — when you talk about Super Bowls and things that has happened along the lines with the Patriots and we just cannot pretend like they didn’t happen.”

Faulk is likely referring to his comments earlier in the week when he still claimed he believes the Patriots taped the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: marshall faulk, Super Bowl LI, Tom Brady,
Super Bowl scene-setting from Houston: Tom Brady, Bill Belichick look to make Super Bowl history at 3:11 pm ET
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IMG_2714

The scene inside NRG Stadium, hours before kickoff for Super Bowl LI. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

HOUSTON — The moment is finally here for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady – and the New England Patriots.

Their shot at Super Bowl history comes this afternoon on the turf of NRG Stadium in Houston where the Patriots aim for their fifth Super Bowl title in franchise history against the upstart NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.

On a warm, humid day in Houston, conditions inside the 71,000-seat retractable-roof facility will be ideal as the Patriots look to join the 49ers and Cowboys for the second-most Vince Lombardi trophies. Pittsburgh sits atop the mountain with six in the Super Bowl era.

The 49ers won their five in 14 seasons from 1981-94. With a win, the Patriots would claim their fifth in 16 seasons from 2001-16.

Belichick would surpass Chuck Noll for the most Super Bowl wins with his fifth while Brady would break a tie with his childhood hero Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. All three quarterbacks own four Super Bowl rings.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Sunday morning that the Patriots believe Brady when he says he has a desire to play 3-5 more seasons, and at a high level. Rapoport reported that the team would pursue a contract extension after the 2017 season, making it more likely they trade backup Jimmy Garoppolo in the offseason. Garoppolo has been rumored to be atop the wish list of the Cleveland Browns this offseason.

Another story that broke Sunday morning was the news that the Patriots wanted to trade Jamie Collins to the Texans for DeAndre Hopkins in October before settling on the deal that landed the former Patriots star linebacker in Cleveland.

There are injuries on both side of the ball worth monitoring early on. The more serious appears to be with the Falcons. Starting Pro Bowl center Alex Mack is dealing with a chip fracture of the fibula in his left leg. The Falcons believe he can start and play effectively but head coach Dan Quinn admitted Thursday that there is a good level of concern about how it would hold up. Likely, it will come down to pain threshold. Julio Jones is battling a toe injury but said this week he expects to be full go for the game. Both players were limited all week but will start in the game.

For the Patriots, Alan Branch had his toe stepped on in the first practice of the week on Wednesday. A day later Branch said the toe was “a little sore” but that he was feeling good and should be fine in the game. Another defensive lineman could be more of a concern as rookie Vincent Valentine had back pain on Thursday and was limited the last two practices. Valentine also had back issues early in the season. He is expected to be available.

Then there’s Martellus Bennett. Like Alex Mack, the Patriots tight end has been dealing with a bone chips in his right ankle since suffering the injury against the Browns on Oct. 9. He will likely have a procedure once the season is over. As he has been throughout the playoffs, he will play through the pain for the Super Bowl.

Chris Price has the complete scouting report and breakdown of Super Bowl LI while Ryan Hannable has 51 fun facts to consider going into the game.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI
Patriots reportedly expecting Tom Brady to play into his 40s, contract extension to come at 12:04 pm ET
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It looks like Tom Brady will be the Patriots quarterback for multiple more years. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

It looks like Tom Brady will be the Patriots quarterback for multiple more years. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — Tom Brady has always said he wants to play into his 40s, and now it looks like the Patriots want him to too.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots believe Brady will play three to five more years and the team will look to extend his contract in the next offseason.

Brady is 39 years old now and is signed through the end of 2019.

If the Patriots believe he can play five more seasons, then they likely would add two years to his current contract, signing him through the 2021 season.

This also factors in to Jimmy Garoppolo’s situation this offseason. It increases the likelihood that he will be traded. If there were any questions about Brady’s long-time future then the organization might be more likely to hold on to Garoppolo, but this is a sign Brady will be part of the long-term plan and thus Garoppolo can be dealt.

Many teams including the 49ers, Browns, Bears and even Jets have shown interest.

Brady’s current contract has him with a base salary of $14 million in 2018 and 2019 and could be altered like it was the previous time he re-did his deal.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Duron Harmon knows Super Bowl LI could be his last game as a Patriot, but he hopes it’s not at 10:34 am ET
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Duron Harmon hopes to return to New England next season. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Duron Harmon hopes to return to New England next season. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — Super Bowl LI could be the last game in a Patriots uniform for a number of players. Some could retire, some might not re-sign in the offseason, or some might even get released.

One of those players is safety Duron Harmon, who will be an unrestricted free agent after being drafted by the team in the 2013 NFL draft.

Harmon acknowledged it could be his last game with the Patriots, but he hasn’t thought about it.

“No, not really,” Harmon said this week. “I am enjoying myself so much. I really am. Being with all my brothers, being in the Super Bowl, it’s something I wish would never end.”

Harmon would like to return to New England next season.

“Definitely. I love it here. I definitely love it here,” he said. “I like playing for this organization. I love this organization. They do things the right way and I know they play the game the right way. I’ve learned so much being here. I’ve become a good player here and I wanted to continue to grow here.”

The 26-year-old has emerged as a solid NFL safety and has learned from the best in Devin McCourty, who also went to Rutgers. Playing with so many former teammates is making reaching the Super Bowl a second time that much more special.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s something special playing in the Super Bowl. Rarely anybody in the world gets to do this and I get to participate it in it with the guys I’ve known for eight years. Guys that I continue will have relationships with — Log [Logan Ryan], [Jonathan] Freeny, Dev [Devin McCourty]. All those guys that I really consider my brothers and my kids call them uncle. It’s amazing we all can experience this together, and enjoy it together at the same time.”

Harmon also hit on how much he’s learned in New England and has improved a great deal since coming into the league as a rookie.

“A lot. A ton,” Harmon said. “I remember coming here as a 22-year-old rookie and you think you know football and you learn from Coach [Bill] Belichick and you realize you don’t know anything. From the bottom up, being a better player and getting better each and every year. Seeing where I am at now is great. It lets me know that hard work really does pay off.”

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WEEI.com predictions for Patriots-Falcons in Super Bowl LI at 10:00 am ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going for another Super Bowl title. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going for another Super Bowl title. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots and Falcons will meet Sunday night in Super Bowl LI. It will feature the No. 1 scoring offense in football in Atlanta against the No. 1 scoring defense in New England.

Here are WEEI.com’s predictions for the game.

Chris Price: Patriots 38, Falcons 28.

I have gone back and forth on this over the course of the week, and having watched plenty of film and talked to people who know far more about the game than I do, everything seems to suggest a New England win. The question? A Patriots win or a Patriots blowout (14 points or more). Of the four personnel groupings — Patriots offense, Patriots defense and Falcons offense and Falcons defense — I think the weakest of those four is the Atlanta defense. And that group will ultimately be Atlanta’s undoing. That’s not to say it’s going to be a blowout. This Falcons’ offense is the deepest and most complete group that the Patriots’ defense will have faced all season. And I believe that the defense will be competitive. But there’s going to come a breaking point early in the second half where it won’t be able to hold on anymore, and that’s when New England will start to separate. In the end, I expect a massive game for Lewis. It won’t be good enough to wrest the MVP trophy from Brady, but he’ll be the difference-maker. Lewis will have over 100 yards from scrimmage. Brady will throw three touchdowns and Trey Flowers will finish with a sack.

Mike Petraglia: Patriots 45, Falcons 28.

Tom Brady throws three touchdown passes. LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis score and Malcolm Butler records a pick-6 as Patriots roll, 45-28.

Ryan Hannable: Patriots 31, Falcons 24.

While it may finish as a one-score game, the Patriots should be in control of this one throughout. It will be more of a run-heavy offensive attack with both LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis seeing a lot of action. Look for James White to be an under-the-radar star catching passes as a receiver out of the backfield.

John Tomase: Patriots 31, Falcons 17.

I mean, what do I know, but I can’t fathom this game even being close. Brady’s fifth title is simply meant to be.

Alex Reimer: Patriots 35, Falcons 27.

The Patriots will get ahead early, forcing Atlanta to play catch up for almost the entirety of the game. Tom Brady exposes mediocre Falcons defense, which won’t make a single play.

Scott McLaughlin: Patriots 30, Falcons 24.

The Patriots’ defense comes up with a couple big stops and that winds up being the difference. Tom Brady wins a record fourth Super Bowl MVP and Julian Edelman goes over 100 yards for the fifth time in his last six playoff games.

Rob Bradford: Patriots 44, Falcons 10.

We’re all over-hyping the Falcons. They beat up on a horrific Packers defense. Yippee! They aren’t that good. And in case you haven’t heard, they have the most apathetic fans in pro sports.

Ty Anderson: Patriots 34, Falcons 29.

I’ve read all the quotes and the comparisons telling me why both the Falcons and Patriots should turn this game into a blowout. But I just feel like Tom Brady is back in that assassin mode and will not be stopped. At the same time, I know better than to think a Patriots Super Bowl is going to be a blowout. I’ll take Marty from the Imagination Agency to have a big night, too.

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