3. Robert Alford’s Tip Goes Horribly Wrong
Robert Alford nearly sewed up Super Bowl MVP honors just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady threw a risky pass deep over the middle and Alford went up looking to make his second interception of the game.
Alford’s first pick came in the second quarter and it was a huge one, returned 82 yards for a touchdown that put Atlanta up 21-0. But the fourth-year cornerback, a second-round pick from Southeastern Louisiana in 2013, mistimed his jump and instead of catching the ball merely popped it into the air.
In the middle of three Atlanta defenders, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman grabbed the ball, bobbled it inches off the ground, grabbed it again and got it under control.
The play was ruled a catch on the field, a 23-yard gain that moved the ball into Atlanta territory. Falcons coach Dan Quinn challenged the call, but the replay booth confirmed the catch.
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That cost Quinn not only his final challenge–not a big deal at the 2:03 mark of the fourth quarter and the booth about to take over all replays–but more importantly, his final timeout.
The Patriots finished the 10-play, 91-yard drive with 57 seconds remaining in the fourth period on a 1-yard run by James White. Brady connected with Danny Amendola for the two-point conversion to tie the game.
After the kickoff, the Falcons had the ball at their own 11-yard line with 52 seconds and no timeouts remaining.
The drive stalled at the Atlanta 27, the Falcons punted, the Patriots killed the clock, won the toss in overtime and Atlanta lost without ever possessing the football again.
It was the most gut-wrenching defeat in the history of the Super Bowl, a loss snatched from the jaws of victory by a franchise that had every reason to believe its 51-year championship drought was over.
Instead, they go into the offseason trying to figure out how to move on from the stigma of being the team that blew the biggest lead in the history of the Super Bowl. A bitter pill of which the aftertaste will linger for a long time.