HOUSTON — “Cut me, Mick.”

The New England Patriots were out on their feet, wobbly, unable to see what the Atlanta Falcons were doing.

The Patriots were down 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter. No team had ever won a Super Bowl from a deficit of more than 10 points. And yet …

Somehow, after being tossed all over the field for 45 minutes, after being unable to stop the body blows and the looping hooks thrown at them by Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett, the Patriots came back.

New England defeated Atlanta in overtime, 34-28, in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Tom Brady held the Lombardi Trophy for a record fifth time as red, white and blue confetti floated down from the ceiling.

“We all brought each other back,” said Brady. “We never felt out of it.”


This was perhaps the greatest game in NFL history. After all, no Super Bowl had ever gone to overtime. It will certainly be remembered as such by the thousands of Patriots fans who traveled to Houston. It will be remembered by the millions more watching at home – at least those who didn’t turn the game off in the third quarter.

How do you explain this?

I’m not sure I can. I had my column written when it was a 25-point deficit. The Falcons were too fast, too athletic, too good, too smart. Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia were all outcoached.

And then.

“Cut me, Mick.”

That memorable line from the “Rocky” movie, when all looked bleak for the hero, kept coming back to me.


Brady was at his most magnificent when it mattered. He finished with a Super Bowl record 43 completions for a Super Bowl record 466 yards and two touchdowns. But it was his stunning pinpoint precision, dropping passes in along the sideline that had almost no chance of getting there.

Julian Edelman, held in check throughout, made one of the most remarkable catches on the Patriots’ game-tying drive that you will ever see. On first down from the New England 36, Brady threw a pass that was tipped into the air by Atlanta’s Keanu Neal. Somehow Edelman reached out – as two other Falcon defenders jumped in – and not once, but twice, plucked the ball from the air, an inch off the ground.

James White, the sometimes overlooked third-year running back, scored the three biggest touchdowns of his life, as well as a vital two-point conversion on a direct snap.

Dont’a Hightower made a strip sack that led to a fumble recovery by Alan Branch that led to an 8-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola, followed by the two-point conversion by White.

White scored a touchdown with 57 seconds left in regulation, followed by a two-point conversion pass from Brady to Amendola, to tie the game at 28.

Then the Patriots won the coin toss to start overtime, took the ball and drove down, Brady an ice-cold killer with his completions. White bullied his way in from the 2-yard line, carrying three Falcons, to win it and induce a deafening roar from the crowd.


“Just a lot of mental toughness by our team,” said Brady. “We’re going to remember this the rest of our lives.”

This wasn’t a choke by the Falcons. It was simply history. Unstoppable history. It was the Patriots reaching down into that seemingly bottomless will of theirs and taking the championship away.

This was the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl championship since 2001, and their seventh appearance in the title game since then. Only two last-second losses to the New York Giants have prevented a perfect record.

Brady tied Charles Haley for the most Super Bowl victories by a player, and his five wins are the most for a quarterback. Belichick set the record with his fifth as a coach, surpassing the legendary Chuck Noll of Pittsburgh.

In a league that almost demands parity, in an era that defies excellence, with free agency and a salary cap, the Patriots have established a dynasty. Make no mistake about that, this team is a dynasty. Five Super Bowl championships, seven AFC championships, division titles hand over fist. No organization does it better than the Patriots.

Owner Bob Kraft continually referred to this team as his favorite and it was easy to see why.


Speaking the other day at an interview session, special teams captain Matthew Slater was asked what made this team so special.

“The genuine love and care we have for each other,” he said. “Honestly speaking, this is one of the closest groups I’ve been part (of). It’s not just what we do on the football field; we enjoy spending time together off the football field, our wives are friends, our kids are friends. We’ve seen guys have kids, we’ve seen guys get married, get engaged. It’s a family feel here.

“And I feel when you have that love and trust for a guy, when you go out on the football field, it carries over and allows you to play at a higher level together. We’re lucky to have that.”

They believed in each other. And once again, they’re Super Bowl champions.

Enjoy this one. It was special.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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