Give the Atlanta Falcons credit for leaning into their place in NFL history. Down 28-3 to the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday, the Falcons' social media team posted a tweet that addressed the elephant in the room.
Yeah, yeah. We know.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 14, 2021
Super Bowl LI's enduring legacy is the Falcons squandering a 28-3 lead against the Patriots, who completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history while winning the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. The Patriots' comeback was fueled by Dont'a Hightower's critical forced fumble of Matt Ryan and Julian Edelman's clutch reception and slew of big completions from Tom Brady, who passed Joe Montana in the record books after being named Super Bowl MVP for a fourth time.
With the teams set to face off Thursday night, here's a look at five largely forgotten facts from one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.
Patriots' offensive dominance
New England's comeback produced one of the greatest offensive outings in Super Bowl history. The Patriots compiled 546 total yards, 37 first downs and were 8 of 15 on third and fourth downs. New England also joined the 1990 Giants as the only teams to control the ball for over 40 minutes in the Super Bowl.
Conversely, the Falcons picked up just 17 first downs, gained 344 total yards and were 1 of 8 on third down. Red-zone efficiency was the only area where the Falcons offense out-performed the Patriots. Atlanta was 3 of 3 in the red zone, while the Patriots were 4 of 6.
Identical rushing totals
Both teams finished with exactly 104 yards on the ground. Led by Devonta Freeman's 75 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, the Falcons finished the game with 104 rushing yards on 18 carries. The only other Atlanta ballcarrier that night was Tevin Coleman, who ran for 29 yards on seven carries.
The Patriots, who gained 104 yards on 25 carries, dispersed the workload between five players that included Brady, whose 15-yard run was New England's longest of the game. LeGarrette Blount led the way with 31 yards on 11 carries, while James White ran for 29 yards and two touchdowns that included the game-winning score. More on White in a second.
Jarrett ties NFL record
Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett tied Reggie White's Super Bowl record by recording three sacks of Brady. White, who starred as a member of the Eagles and Packers during his Hall of Fame career, sacked Drew Bledsoe three times during Green Bay's 35-21 win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI.
Then-Patriots linebacker Trey Flowers nearly matched Jarrett in the record books, as Flowers recorded 2.5 sacks of Ryan.
Alford's record-setting pick-six
Robert Alford's 82-yard pick-six of Brady (which stretched the Falcons' lead to 21-0 in the second quarter) stands as the third-longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history. The only Super Bowl touchdowns that covered more ground were James Harrison's 100-yard pick-six in Super Bowl XLIII and Muhsin Muhammad 85-yard touchdown catch in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
White's record-setting day
We saved the most unsung performance of Super Bowl LI for last. In one of the best offensive performances in Super Bowl history, White caught a Super Bowl record 14 passes for 110 yards. His three total touchdowns are tied for the most in Super Bowl history with Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, Terrell Davis and Ricky Watters. White also has the distinction of scoring the first overtime touchdown in Super Bowl history, a score that completed the Patriots' improbable comeback.
February 5th, 2017— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) February 5, 2019
Super Bowl 51
Trailing 28-3 in Q3, the Patriots scored 31 unanswered points, clinching the 34-28 OT victory on James White's third TD.
The Patriots (-3), ended up winning & covering. Truly a BAD beat for Falcons bettors.
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