Of the first 55 Super Bowls, only one went into overtime, the New England Patriots’ 34-28 comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
The Falcons famously held a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter before the Patriots, three-point favorites, scored three touchdowns and a field goal on their final four drives of regulation to tie the score 28-28.
New England won the overtime coin flip and easily moved down the field, covering 75 yards in eight plays, the last of which was a two-yard touchdown by running back James White, his third of the game. Under the NFL’s overtime rules, a touchdown on the opening drive automatically ends a game. This has become a great source of controversy in recent years, especially in the 2022 postseason.
Three Super Bowls have nearly gone to overtime, but were decided by field goals in the final 10 seconds of the game. They include:
- Super Bowl V: Jim O’Brien kicked a field goal with five seconds left to give the Baltimore Colts a 16-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys in a game otherwise so non-descript that the MVP was a defensive player from the losing team, Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley.
- Super Bowl XXXVI : Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard goal as time expired to give the Patriots a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. When the Rams tied the score at 17-17 in the final minute, most viewers expected New England to run out the clock and take their chances in overtime. Instead, Tom Brady led the Patriots 54 yards to set up Vinatieri’s game-winner and launch his own legend.
- Super Bowl XXXVIII : Vinatieri and Brady were again the heroes in the Patriots’ second Super Bowl title in three years, a 32-29 defeat of the Carolina Panthers. After Carolina’s Jack Delhomme hit Ricky Proehl with a 12-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 remaining to tie the score, Brady — with the benefit of a kickoff that went out of bounds and gave the Patriots the ball on their 40—moved New England 37 yards to set up Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal with nine seconds left.