Here’s How the Patriots Won Their Fifth Super Bowl
There were plenty of pundits predicting a Falcons victory, but few could have seen a blowout in Atlanta’s favor on the horizon. That is just what happened in the first half, as the Falcons raced to a 21-3 lead in a game that seemed even more lopsided than that.
That the Patriots even scored was somewhat surprising after some tremendous work by the upstart Atlanta defense that produced a pair of turnovers, both by Robert Alford who has to be the early favorite to be named the game’s Most Valuable Player should the score hold up.
On New England’s final drive of the half, Tom Brady salvaged some respect with a series of completions. No further room could be found, but the team was close enough that Stephen Gostkowski was able to put the Patriots on the board with a 41-yard field goal.
Brady did not seem like himself for much of the half, missing badly on several passing attempts, likely as a result of constant pressure from Atlanta’s defensive line. In one sequence late in the half, he found Martellus Bennett for a 15-yard completion but paid for it with the type of truly jarring hit that New England’s offensive line is nearly always able to protect him from.
With Atlanta set to receive the ball to start the second half, New England needs to find answers on both sides of the ball. The Falcons are winning the turnover battle, moving the ball easily on offense following a sluggish start, and seem to have no problem penetrating the Patriots’ offensive line.
Pick-Six Gives Falcons 21-0 Lead
Repeatedly given extra chances to succeed on a drive that seemed doomed, the Patriots looked like they would at least get a field goal prior to halftime, but Robert Alford had other ideas, stepping in front of Tom Brady’s pass for an interception and running it back 82 yards for a touchdown. Along with the extra point, Atlanta now has a commanding 21-0 lead with less than three minutes left in the first half.
It was the first postseason pick-six of Brady’s career, and was Alford’s second turnover of the game.
That the defense came through for Atlanta once again was fairly surprising as the unit’s youthful exuberance had reared its head earlier in the drive. Three times they appeared to have ended the drive by not allowing Brady to convert on third down only to have the drive extended each time thanks to defensive holding penalties.
But thanks to Alford, none of those mistakes matter.
Falcons’ Defense Has Patriots Reeling
With the Patriots clearly reeling, the Falcons are continuing to push hard on both sides of the ball, and Matt Ryan found Austin Hooper in the left side of the end zone for a diving 19-yard touchdown catch. After a botched attempt at an extra point was brought back thanks to a penalty, the Falcons made the second attempt and now lead 14-0.
Atlanta’s defense delivered the ball back to its offense with yet another three-and-out and the offense wasted no time, going 62 yards on 5 plays with less than two minutes running off the clock.
Matt Ryan started the drive with a 24-yard completion to Taylor Gabriel and then an 18-yard completion to Julio Jones. A 1-yard run by Tevin Coleman got the ball back into the red zone, and after Ryan’s first attempt to Hooper fell incomplete thanks to great coverage by Patrick Chung, Ryan threw to his tight end on the other side of the field for the score.
The Falcons now have a 189 to 111 advantage in total yards.