In Super Bowl LI, with little more than a quarter of the game remaining, the New England Patriots trailed the Atlanta Falcons 28-3. It looked for all the world as if the game was lost - the biggest deficit a team had ever overcome in a Super Bowl was ten points. But then the Tom Brady Show began, and the rest is history. New England triumphed after one of the most incredible sports occasions in recent memory thanks to an opportunistic touchdown from James White.
Footage emerged of Brady and Julian Edelman rallying the troops even when all seemed lost. The duo's belief that they would win - even when all seemed lost - was a telling insight into the strength of their mentality and conviction that they would achieve victory.
But just what was going through Brady's mind at those key moments in the game? The GOAT has been talking to Sports Illustrated's Peter King in Montana, where Brady has been kicking back after winning his fifth Super Bowl. King asked Brady to explain one segment of the aforementioned footage, when he is captured urging his team-mates to "show some fight! Let's play harder!" Brady said that was how he felt at half-time, when he felt the Patriots had "done a good job moving the ball up and down the field" and only had nothing to show for it because of errors and inteceptions:
We had over 200 yards passing in the first half (actually 184), so it wasn’t like we were in there at halftime saying, ‘Hey, how are we going to move the ball?’
Having played in four Super Bowls before, Brady had a fair idea of how they go. And it was this experience, he told King, that taught him that his team would still have a chance of victory even as time ticked away for them:
The Super Bowl is a strange game. I’ve been in a lot of them, and it may go one way and then it may go the other way, and I know at the end of all those games that I’ve played in the Super Bowls, the defenses have a hard time stopping the offense at the end, in every game.
And Brady said that with 9:48 left and the scoreboard at 28-9, he was confident.
I felt like, man, we’re back in the game.
The Falcons' Julio Jones pulled off an incredible catch in the fourth quarter, a catch that - even with the scores at 28-12 - made it seem that the Falcons were destined for victory.
— SCOTT WARNER (@ScottWarner18) February 6, 2017
Even Brady was impressed.
I saw Matt (Ryan) step up; it was right on our sideline … I kind of looked through a bunch of bodies and I saw him make the catch, and I saw both refs run in and signal catch and I said, ‘There’s no way!’ I looked up on those screens, and then they showed it once or twice, and I was like, ‘He frickin’ caught it!’ When you actually see the replay, I didn’t realize how close (Patriots cornerback) Eric Rowe was. Then I saw a picture in Sports Illustrated of the catch, in the early pages. It was insane. The height that he had to jump and the concentration to get two feet down … Fingertips. Sideline. Toe touch.
Apart from the obvious choice of James White's touchdown, arguably the key play in overtime was Brady's throw to Chris Hogan on the third play of overtime.
Brady told King of the huge importance of the trust he and Hogan have established between each other. And he compared himself to a certain former Indianapolis Colts QB:
It's such a Peyton Manning-type throw. I watched him for so many years make those throws. I used to be in amazement. Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne), they'd cut their route off, turn around, ball was in the air, in stride, 15-, 18-yard gain. How the heck did they do that? There's so much trust from the quarterback to the receiver. The DB can't get to the ball faster than the receiver can. You got to believe your receiver is going to get to the ball faster than their guy. That's what that play came down to.
It was a huge risk making that play - Jalen Collins could have so easily intercepted it - but then again, that's what makes champions.
Make sure you check out the full interview between Brady and King here.