Tom Brady Reveals How He Really Felt Down 28-3 In Super Bowl LI

'You're not thinking about winning the game at that point'


Dec 28, 2021

Tom Brady never lost faith in Super Bowl LI, right? Even down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons, his confidence in the New England Patriots’ ability to come back never wavered?

Well, not exactly.

In Episode 7 of his “Man in the Arena” docuseries, which premieres Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN+, Brady admits that, once the Patriots fell by 25 points in the third quarter, his focus shifted to making the final scoreline respectable, not rallying to win.

“28-3, man,” the quarterback sighs. “I was like, ‘We need a lot of (expletive) to go right now.’ 28-3, man. Coach (Bill Belichick) said 21 points ain’t going to be enough to beat us. Twenty-eight points might be enough to beat us today. … You’re not thinking about winning the game at that point. You’re thinking about, ‘How do we not embarrass ourself at this point?’ It’s a different mentality. We’ve got to score, man. We’ve got to be proud of the fight.”

Of course, New England did rally, scoring 31 unanswered points to win 34-28 in overtime. In the episode, Brady narrates that historic comeback, from Dont’a Hightower’s strip sack to Julian Edelman’s circus catch to James White’s game-winning touchdown.

“We had been in situations where we’d been down,” he said. “Now, we had never been down that much. Usually, if you’re down 10 in the Super Bowl, it’s tough to overcome. We were down 25 with three minutes left in the third quarter. I just kept saying — and it’s easier said than done — that we’ve just got to get one score. Like, let’s maintain our poise, maintain our execution, do our (expletive) jobs, and we’ll score.”

The Hightower play, Brady says, was when his outlook on the game shifted. The Patriots scored four plays after that turnover to cut the deficit to 28-20.

“My man Hightower blasts Matt Ryan, knocks the ball (out),” Brady says, “Alan Branch picks it up. And we’re like, ‘We’re in business.'”

Brady also correctly believed Atlanta’s defense would tire based on its heavy first-half workload and unfamiliarity with the Super Bowl’s drawn-out gameday schedule. The Patriots wound up running 93 offensive plays to the Falcons’ 46.

“Yeah, we were down 21-3 at half, but yeah, we had an advantage because we ran a lot of plays and we felt like they were going to be pretty gassed,” Brady said. “It’s a long game from the beginning of warmup, it’s a long first half, then there’s a long halftime. It’s a long day. Indoors, in a dome, you’re going to overheat. Let’s go make something. Let’s go make it happen.”

The 25-point comeback was the largest in Super Bowl history.

Episode 7 of “Man in the Arena,” a co-production by ESPN, Religion of Sports, 199 Productions and NFL Films, premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images
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