NFL: Patriots make record-breaking comeback to win fifth Super Bowl
Timothy A. CLARY (AFP)
Tom Brady inspired the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history as the New England Patriots stunned the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in the first ever overtime game on Sunday.
Brady became the first quarterback in history to win five Super Bowls after the Patriots overturned a 28-3 third quarter deficit to snatch a sensational victory at Houston's NRG Stadium.
Brady, 39, collapsed to the turf with emotion after James White burrowed over from close range to score the winning touchdown on the opening drive of overtime.
"We all brought each other back," Brady said. "We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle. They have a great team."
It completed an incredible comeback for the Patriots, who had looked dead and buried after the Falcons scored three first half touchdowns and an early score in the third quarter to power 25 points clear.
No team had ever come back from more than 10 points to win the Super Bowl before, and the Patriots looked to be heading for a crushing defeat as the Falcons ran riot.
But Brady, who had looked a pale imitation of himself for much of the game, suddenly fired into life in the second half to produce a performance that will go into National Football League folklore.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was similarly non-committal on whether this was Brady's greatest performance. "Tom's had a lot of great ones -- tonight was one of them," Belichick said.
Running back James White -- who finished with three touchdowns -- said Brady had been the catalyst. "He's a great leader," White said. "We followed his lead. He was motivating us the whole game, even when we were down. He just willed us to another victory."
US President Donald Trump, who has regularly referenced his friendship with Pats quarterback Brady, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, was quick off the mark in tweeting his praise of the New England Patriots
"What an amazing comeback and win by the Patriots," Trump tweeted. "Tom Brady, Bob Kraft and Coach B are total winners. Wow!"
What an amazing comeback and win by the Patriots. Tom Brady, Bob Kraft and Coach B are total winners. Wow!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2017
The Falcons, who had gone into the game boasting one of the most potent offenses in history, were left distraught and still waiting for their first ever Super Bowl.
"There's nothing you can really say," said a dejected Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. "That's a tough loss. Obviously very disappointed, very close to getting done what we wanted to get done, but it's hard to find words tonight."
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn summed up the mood: "For sure hurts like hell."
It was the second time in two years Quinn has tasted an agonizing Super Bowl defeat to the Patriots. He was an assistant coach for the Seattle Seahawks when the Patriots snatched a dramatic late win in 2015.
Quinn admitted the Falcons would struggle to deal with Sunday's loss.
"No doubt that was a tough one for us," Quinn said. "That's a hard one in the locker room. No one place to put that mentally for us.
"But I'm proud of the fight that these guys have," added Quinn, admitting that his team "ran out of gas some" in the second half.
"I think at the end, when we go back and watch it tomorrow, for sure, there were things that we could have done different or played differently.
"I was impressed with how hard the guys fought and battled for it. That's why we're hurting so bad right now.
Lady Gaga dazzled the Super Bowl with a high-tech, tightly choreographed celebration of American diversity and unity as she chose the power of show business over direct provocation.
Performing at the halftime show of American football's title match -- generally the most watched US television event of the year -- Lady Gaga turned the stadium in Houston into a sea of lights as she let hundreds of drones into the sky.
Before the performance, all eyes were on Lady Gaga to see whether she would use the platform to rip into President Donald Trump at a tense time in US politics.
Even with Vice President Mike Pence in attendance, Gaga -- a sworn foe of Trump -- kept with the game's guidelines to steer clear of overt politics.
Instead the singer, known for her audacious outfits, delivered what by her account could be a subtle message.
She opened with "This Land is Your Land," the anthem by leftist folk legend Woody Guthrie that has come to be seen as an alternative national anthem for the United States.
Gaga was backed up by an upbeat, ethnically diverse cast of dancers, who at one point joined in a group hug. At other points dancers performed reverse somersaults and hoisted her onto a disco-like walkway.
"How are you doing tonight, Texas? How are you doing tonight, America?" Gaga asked.
"We're here to make you feel good," she said. Gaga played a medley of her hits including "Born This Way," an anthem of inclusion in which she speaks of acceptance of people regardless of ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Super Bowl performances are rarely directly provocative, although last year Beyonce startled many by playing her single "Formation." Its video had a message against police brutality.
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