|Brady expands legacy, Branch adds key play|
|Written by Matt Pargoff|
Tom Brady may well have already made his case as the best NFL quarterback of all-time even before Sunday evening, but the former Wolverine added another big point to his resume, leading the New England Patriots to a 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Setting a litany of records in the game, Brady was the first quarterback to start in seven Super Bowls, the first to win five, claiming the MVP honor for an NFL-best fourth time. His 43-of-62 passing effort for 466 yards and two touchdowns set new high marks in the game for passes attempted, completed and passing yardage.
Also expanding on several career passing highs in the Super Bowl, Brady overcame heavy pressure throughout the contest, leading the game’s biggest comeback ever.
Further cementing his place as the best all-time quarterback if not player, many of Brady’s admirers already handed him that crown going in, including current head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“Tom Brady is the greatest football player to ever play,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday following the Signing of the Stars event. “You can play that good, that consistently great year after year, game after game, nobody’s ever done it. Nobody’s ever done it like Tom Brady has. He is the best of all time.”
The head coach took to Twitter following the game to further reiterate that point.
Of course, Brady was not the only Wolverine to contribute to the championship, with Alan Branch also stepping up at a key moment in the game.
The tenth-year defensive tackle won his second Super Bowl ring, making three total tackles, including half a sack.
Trailing still by 16 points with eight and a half minutes left, Branch was involved in a critical play that swung momentum in the direction of the Patriots. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower sacked Matt Ryan to force a fumble, with Branch pouncing on the loose ball.
Brady completed four straight passes on the possession that followed, bringing New England within striking distance of sending the game to overtime, a goal they ultimately reached.
Receiving arguably the best protection he had gotten all night from his offensive line in closing moments, Brady completed 5-of-6 passes for 50 yards in overtime, setting up the game-winning plunge from running back James White.