Bill Belichick hailed the mental toughness of the New England Patriots after they completed the biggest Super Bowl comeback of all time to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28.
The Falcons looked to be soaring to victory when they opened up an emphatic 28-3 lead in the third quarter, but Tom Brady and the Patriots showed why they should never be written off in Houston.
Brady proved to be the man for the big occasion once again, with James White also playing a starring role as he scored three touchdowns – including one to seal the greatest fightback after the Super Bowl went to overtime for the first time in history.
It was a record fifth Super Bowl success for Belichick, while quarterback Brady became the first player to be named Super Bowl MVP four times on another famous night for the Patriots.
Patriots head coach Belichick was full of praise for his players’ persistence after they dug themselves out of a hole to pull off the most dramatic of wins.
He said: “What a game. I can’t say enough about our team. We got some really good coaches. I thought that our coordinators; Matt [Patricia, defensive coordinator], Josh (McDaniels, offensive coordinator) and Joe [Judge, special teams coordinator] did a tremendous job in handling the game.
“There was a lot of great situational football, adjustments and they just kept coaching. We just kept trying to find a little crack in the armour and keep plugging away. Our team showed great mental toughness throughout the game, never really flinched even though the score was…
“I guess for so long that we just kept plugging along, just kept fighting, just kept trying to make plays and, fortunately, we were able to make enough at the end there to get it back to a two-score game at 16 points and then the touchdowns and the two-point conversions.
He added: “In the end we had plays from a lot of different guys. Our backs. Our tight ends. Our receivers. Our defense. Our offensive line did a tremendous job against their pass rush.
“They hit us, but we were able to gain quite a few yards in the passing game. Special teams, Steve [Gostkowski] gave us a couple great kicks that put the Falcons in poor field position and we covered well, so that was important too.
“A couple extra points in the game that were two-point conversions so that added a little intrigue to the score and the way the scoring went. In the end, I can’t say enough about our players and how hard they competed and what a good job our coaching staff did battling all the way.”
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