Never in Super Bowl history had we seen what the Patriots did against the Falcons. As has been well-documented, no team had ever come back from more than 10 points to win until Tom Brady and the Pats erased a 25-point deficit by scoring 31 unanswered points.
In that respect, Super Bowl 51 was a rarity in an annual championship that’s got plenty of history. Since Super Bowl I was played in 1967, we’ve seen close games, blowouts, upsets, snoozers and everything in between.
Yet here’s another fun tidbit to emerge from Super Bowl LI: In the 51-year year history of the Super Bowl, only twice has the game ended on a walkoff — meaning a game-winning score on the final play of the game. Both of those games were Patriots wins.
Adam Vinatieri became the first to do it when he hit a 48-yard field goal to lift the Pats past the Rams with no time left in Super Bowl XXXVI. On Sunday, James White’s overtime touchdown marked the second occurrence.
This stat shouldn’t come as a major surprise given that Super Bowl LI was the first Super Bowl to go into overtime, and OT games are more prone to yield walkoff plays.
There have been close calls, of course. In Super Bowl V, Jim O’Brien kicked a 32-yard game-winning field goal for the Baltimore Colts with five seconds left. A kickoff and Cowboys interception followed that play.
Then, of course, there was Adam Vinatieri’s kick in Super Bowl XXXVIII with four seconds left. That game ended on the ensuing kickoff return by Rod Smart.
Though it’s tough to quantify which games actually came down to the wire (is it just when the losing team was within six late, and how late?), these games are among those that were sealed in the game’s final seconds. There was also Scott Norwood’s missed field goal with eight seconds in Super Bowl XXV, Malcolm Butler’s interception with 20 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX and One Yard Short in Super Bowl XXXIV.