Brady leads biggest comeback, Patriots win 34-28 in OT

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HOUSTON (AP) Tom Brady led one of the greatest comebacks in sports history lifting New England from a 25-point hole to the Patriots’ fifth NFL championship in the first Super Bowl overtime.

The Patriots scored 19 points in the final quarter, including a pair of 2-point conversions, then marched relentlessly to James White‘s 2-yard touchdown run in overtime to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 Sunday night.

Brady, the first quarterback with five Super Bowl rings, guided the Patriots (17-2) through a tiring Atlanta defense for fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 6-yard pass to Danny Amendola and a 1-yard run by White, which came with 57 seconds remaining in regulation. White ran for the first 2-pointer and Amendola did the deed with a reception on the second.

Brady, winning Super Bowl MVP for a record fourth-time, finished 43 for 62, the most attempts in Super Bowl history, for 466 yards, also a record, and two touchdowns.

“You know, we all brought each other back,” Brady said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle. They have a great team. I give them a lot of credit. We just made a few more plays than them.”

[MORE ON SUPER BOWL LI: MATT RYAN — WE HAD OPPORTUNITIES AND MADE SOME MISTAKES]

Before the stunning rally – New England already held the biggest comeback in the final period when it turned around a 10-point deficit to beat Seattle two years ago – the Falcons (13-6) appeared poised to take their first NFL championship in 51 seasons. Having never been in such a pressurized environment, their previously staunch pass rush disappeared, and Brady tore them apart.

“Deflategate” far behind them, Brady and coach Bill Belichick won their 25th postseason game, by far a record. It’s hard to imagine a tenser victory.

Belichick became the first coach with five Super Bowl crowns.

The Patriots won the coin toss for overtime and it was no contest. Brady completed six passes. A pass interference call took the ball to the 2, and White scooted to his right and barely over the goal line.

His teammates streamed off the sideline to engulf White as confetti streamed down from the NRG Stadium rafters.

It was almost an impossible dream for the Patriots a bit earlier. But helped by Matt Ryan‘s fumble on a sack, a spectacular catch by Julian Edelman , and Brady’s passing, they never stopped coming.

White had 14 receptions for 110 yards as the key weapon, but Brady hit seven different receivers.

Until the Patriots took charge with their late surge, league MVP Ryan was outplaying Brady. It didn’t last.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Football is back! Here are five things to watch this NFL season

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After an offseason filled with players returning from retirement, celebration rule changes, and Gronk being Gronk, football is back!

Before the Hall of Fame game gets underway, here are five storylines to watch as the new football season approaches.

Heavy is the head that wears the Star

Dallas entered last season with a rookie backup quarterback that wasn’t expected to see a lot of time until Tony Romo got injured and a rookie running back that was supposed to make an immediate impact. Now, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott enter this season with expectations the size of Texas. The Cowboys are looking to win the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995, or when TLC’s “Waterfalls” was the No. 2 song on the Billboard charts.

Undefeated Patriots? It could happen…

Even Seahawks fans can admit that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever and Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time. The amazing thing about the Patriots is their ability to reload (specifically from the Buffalo Bills, but that’s a longer story). Lose Martellus Bennett? Bring in Dwayne Allen. Lose LeGarrette Blount? Pick up Rex Burkhead. Top it off with an electric Brandin Cooks and the NFL’s best offense may be even better in 2017.

Falcons’ Super Bowl hangover recovery

28-3. The rallying cry of Patriots fans everywhere that makes Falcons fans cringe and want to crawl into a hole. Everyone talks about the Super Bowl hangover, but will a series of changes, including offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan departing to run his own team in San Francisco, be enough for the Falcons to return to the Super Bowl? Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will have a major role in that.

Kaepernick’s role

As of this post, Colin Kaepernick is still without a spot on an NFL roster. That could change at any moment. Kaepernick potentially has two landing spots: Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco has been dealing with a back injury in camp, and the Dolphins are fearing the worst with Ryan Tannehill‘s knee injury Thursday. On the field, Kaepernick makes sense for both teams as a backup quarterback. But will one of these teams actually sign the former 49ers quarterback?

Raiders’ Resurgence

Before the Falcons’ brutal Super Bowl collapse, the Raiders held the crown for the most devastating way to have your season end, with quarterback Derek Carr breaking his leg two games before the playoffs started. Now, with Carr back and healthy, the Raiders look poised to make a big run and make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2002. One person who remembers that run well? Oakland native and new Raider Marshawn Lynch, who was a student at Oakland Tech high school.

Just think of it this way-you’ll now have football every Thursday until January, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the season.

Keep up with all of NBC Sports NFL coverage on Apple News and on the NBC Sports app

Cowboys favored over Cardinals to kick off preseason in Hall of Fame Game

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The Dallas Cowboys have not been a lock against the spread recently or in recent preseasons, yet they are the favorite against the Arizona Cardinals at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night.

The Cowboys are listed as a one-point favorite against the Cardinals with 35-point total in their NFL preseason betting matchup at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

While the Cowboys are a contender to represent the NFC at Super Bowl LII next February, they are just 3-13 against the spread and 5-11 straight-up in the preseason since 2013. Dallas also went just 1-6 ATS over in its final seven games last season, when it reached the divisional playoff round.

The Cowboys, who were 13-4 SU and 10-6-1 ATS overall in 2016, are unlikely to play any starters, based on how coach Jason Garrett has approached preseason games in the past. They will be running out some seasoned quarterbacks, with backup Kellen Moore likely to start while Luke McCown (10 career starts), and Cooper Rush will also play. McCown has a tidy 11-to-3 TD-to-interception ratio in the preseason over the last four years, but he has also had just barely a week to learn the Cowboys’ offense.

Dallas is 7-2-1 SU and 5-5 ATS in its last 10 games against the NFC West according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Cardinals, who were 7-8-1 SU and 6-10 ATS during a down year in 2016, have also confirmed that no starters will play, while Carson Palmer‘s understudy at quarterback, Drew Stanton, will also sit this one out. Blaine Gabbert, a former starter in Jacksonville and San Francisco, is due to play the first half. Gabbert, going off the fact his career-high average per attempt in preseason is 7.3 yards (set in 2015 with the 49ers), might not go downfield often.

Trevor Knight is expected to quarterback the Cardinals in the second half. While it’s difficult to know whether regular-season trends can be applied to preseason games – especially the first one – the Cardinals are 9-1 SU and 9-0-1 ATS over their last 10 games against NFC East teams.

The total went over in all four of the Cowboys’ preseason games in 2016. The total has gone over in seven of the Cardinals’ last eight preseason games, as well as their last seven games overall. Ten of the last 16 Hall of Fame games have had a total of fewer than 35 points. That’s dating back to 2000, since last year’s game was cancelled due to poor field conditions.