HOUSTON -The Atlanta Falcons were in complete control through 30 minutes of Super Bowl 51 in Houston.
The Falcons scored 14 points off turnovers in building a 21-3 halftime lead over the New England Patriots. Robert Alford gave Atlanta a three-touchdown lead by returning a Tom Brady interception 82 yards for a TD with 2:21 remaining in the second quarter.
The Falcons went ahead on a five-play, 71-yard drive that was set up by LeGarrette Blount’s forced fumble. Devonta (deh-VAHN’-tay) Freeman cashed in the turnover with a five-yard scoring run 2:45 into the second quarter.
Matt Ryan padded the lead by hitting Austin Hooper for a 19-yard TD with 8:48 left before Alford killed a Patriots drive that was prolonged only by three defensive holding penalties on the Falcons.
According to Elias Sports, no team has won a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.
Ryan was sharp in the first half, completing seven of eight passes for 115 yards and no interceptions. Ryan is playing one day after being named the NFL’s most valuable player.
Brady was 15 of 25 for 175 yards and one costly interception.
The Falcons are seeking their first Super Bowl crown. They lost their only other Super Bowl appearance, falling 34-19 to Denver in 1999.
Brady is seeking a record fifth Super Bowl ring. He and coach Bill Belichick have combined to reach seven Super Bowls, going 4-2 so far.
New England will have the ball to start the second half.