Turning point No. 1

 

Situation: The Falcons, leading 28-12 in the fourth quarter, had a third-and-1 at their own 36 with 8:31 left when Dont’a Hightower strip-sacked Matt Ryan.

 

What happened next: Hightower’s teammate Alan Branch recovered the Ryan fumble, and the Patriots were in business at the Atlanta 25-yard line/

 

Which led to: Five plays later, New England was in the end zone on a 6-yard pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola. A two-point conversion made it 28-20.

Turning point No. 2

 

Situation: The Falcons, leading 28-20 and going for the dagger, had moved the ball from their own 10-yard line to the Patriots 23. But on second-and-11 with 3:56 left, Ryan was sacked by Trey Flowers for a 12-yard loss.

 

What happened next: The Falcons’ drive, and momentum, fizzled after a 10-yard holding penalty negated a gain and was followed by an incomplete pass.

 

Which led to: The Falcons, now out of field-goal range, were forced to punt on fourth down, giving the Patriots the ball with 2:33 left, albeit at their own 9-yard line.

Turning point No. 3

 

Situation: The Patriots, still trailing 28-20, had the ball at their own 36-yard line with 2:28 left.

 

What happened next: On a first-and-10, wide receiver Julian Edelman — surrounded by three Falcons — somehow kept a tipped pass off the ground with a diving catch at the Atlanta 41.

 

Which led to: Four plays later, James White scored on a 1-yard TD run, capping a 10-play, 91-yard drive. A two-point conversion tied the score at 28-28.