2017 Super Bowl: Here's the underrated play that saved the Patriots' chances

The New England Patriots are Super Bowl LI champions.

They wouldn't have won without Tom Brady, obviously. Likely the greatest quarterback any of us has ever seen, Brady completed 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on his way to his (NFL-record) fifth Super Bowl ring and (NFL-record) fourth Super Bowl MVP award.

They wouldn't have won without James White, obviously. White set an NFL record with 14 catches in the Super Bowl, taking those grabs for 110 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the football six times for 29 yards and two scores -- the game-tying touchdown with less than a minute left in regulation and the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

They wouldn't have won without Julian Edelman, obviously. Edelman had one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history, snatching the ball about a millimeter away from the ground after it was tipped in the air and nearly picked. White tied the game later in that drive.

But it should not be forgotten that the Patriots would not have won without Trey Flowers, who made a play that may go unnoticed in history but that actually wound up saving the Patriots' season. Here's how it went down:

The Falcons had the ball, facing second-and-11 from the Patriots' 23-yard line. The clock was running after Devonta Freeman ran for a 1-yard loss on first down. The ball was snapped with 3:56 on the clock and Matt Ryan dropped back to pass. That's when Flowers stepped up.

Flowers' sack of Matt Ryan knocked the Falcons back to the 35-yard line, just at the edge of Matt Bryant's field goal range. A hold by tackle Jake Matthews on the ensuing play knocked the Falcons back another 10 yards, forcing them to punt the ball back to Brady for the eventual game-tying drive. New England still had to march 91 yards for a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game, but without Flowers making his huge play on the previous drive, it might not have been enough.

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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