his was not supposed to be the year. The Patriots found a way to win this season first without Tom Brady and then without their star tight end.
So imagine how a Patriots team could be down 25 points in the second quarter, when no team had ever come back from more than 10 points down to win the Super Bowl. They saw it as simply another obstacle in this path of Super Bowl destiny - shattering records for most passing yards in the Super Bowl, rewriting history books for the largest comeback in the game, and becoming the first team to win an overtime Super Bowl game along the way.
"To get down 28-3, it was just a lot of mental toughness by our team,'' said Brady. "And we're all going to remember this for the rest of our lives.''
And they will be remembered for a season that wasn't supposed to happen. Oh, and that exclusive fifth ring.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a man full of focus heading into the game against the Falcons and his seventh Super Bowl appearance.
Deion Sanders, a former football and baseball star in the city of Atlanta in addition to Super Bowl-winning stops with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, makes his way inside the stadium.
Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, a native of Houston, arrives at the stadium and heads into the locker room before Super Bowl LI. Bennett, who played for Texas A&M, returns home with big shoes to fill after Rob Gronkowski was placed on injured reserve in December.
Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount heads toward the locker room before his second Super Bowl appearance. Blount, a undrafted free agent out of Oregon, rushed for over 1,000 yards this season for the second time in his pro career.
A maintenance worker at NRG Stadium watches the Falcons players arrive ahead of Super Bowl LI.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan heads in to get ready for his first appearance in a Super Bowl. Ryan threw for 9.3 yards per attempt this season and a career best quarterback rating of 117.1 en route to earning NFL MVP honors.
The Willow Ridge Mighty Eagle Marching Band drum major steps to the beat as the band performs outside of NRG Stadium.
Barbara Bush, a former first lady of the United States, arrives with her husband President George H. W. Bush prior the the start of Super Bowl LI. President Bush would take center stage as part of the ceremonial coin toss prior to the game.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan leads his team from the locker room to the field for some last-minute preparations before Super Bowl LI.
NFL side judge Dyrol Prioleau and head linesman Kent Payne make small talk as they walk through the tunnels toward the field.
The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders line up and take a moment to soak in the moment.
Pro Football Hall of Fame member Michael Strahan puts on his yellow jacket as he heads out to the field as part of a pregame ceremony to recognize players from historically black colleges and universities.
Newly announced future Hall of Famers Jerry Jones, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson and Kurt Warner watch the first quarter from the end zone.
Lady Gaga makes a grand entrance into NRG Stadium at the beginning of the halftime show.
The Super Bowl is a grand affair, complete with lights, dancing and fireworks during halftime performances, such as Lady Gaga's concert.
Before the Patriots' comeback, there were some fans who were doubting the possibility of another Lombardi trophy going to Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Matthew Slater celebrates after Patriots running back James White scores the game-winning touchdown on the first drive in overtime.
Patriots fans can't believe what they just saw as their team wins the Super Bowl in overtime.
Tight end Martellus Bennett celebrates the win with his girlfriend after the Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28 in the NFL's first overtime Super Bowl. Bennett finished the game with five catches for 62 yards.
Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is reflected in the shine of the Lombardi trophy as former Patriot Willie McGinest carries it to the stage for the awards ceremony.
Coach Dan Quinn takes the long walk back to the locker room following his team's overtime loss.
Gisele Bündchen, Brady's wife, flashes a peace sign as she leaves the field following the Patriots' win.
Tom Brady is escorted to the locker room on a golf cart following the game. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the third time in his career, after throwing for a Super Bowl record 466 yards and two touchdowns.
It's all smiles as Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers celebrates with some of his family, including daughter Styler.
Falcons players and personnel head to the locker room amid a sea of media and fans.
Brycen Bolden, the son of Patriots defensive back Brandon Bolden, sits in his dad's locker while the rest of the Patriots celebrate.
Awash in glee and laughter, Patriots players Alan Branch and Chris Long lead the spraying of champagne in the locker room celebration.
Running back LeGarrette Blount and his son head toward the locker room in the tunnels of NRG Stadium. Sunday's win in Houston marks Blount's second Super Bowl title.
Patriots team equipment managers escort bags that are packed for a long trip back to Foxborough.
How about a victory cigar? Patriots receiver Julian Edelman celebrates his second Super Bowl championship.
After addressing his team and the media, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and girlfriend Linda Holliday make their way to the team bus.
Paul Nickerson loads up a truck heading back to Atlanta, marking an end to Super Bowl LI festivities from Houston.