HOUSTON — Two years ago, James White was inactive when the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl over Seattle in the final seconds.

Sunday night, he was arguably the difference in the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium.

White scored three touchdowns, including the winner when he bulled over two Falcons defenders from the 2-yard line 3:58 into the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

He also caught a Super Bowl-record 14 passes for 110 yards. Tom Brady was named MVP, but White certainly made a case for it as well.

“James makes all the plays we ask him to make,” said running back LeGarrette Blount, New England’s leading rusher in the regular season. “And he made them on the greatest stage tonight.”

The 5-foot-10, 205-pound White was a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 out of Wisconsin. He played little as a rookie but really blossomed the last couple of years as a change-of-pace back, coming in on third down but also when the Patriots wanted to give a different look to their offense. And he always showed talent.

“James is a good runner with good vision and does a good job finding the hole,” said Bill Belichick. “He’s got good balance and good vision.

“He did a good job, just like he always does for us.”

White didn’t take much credit. Afterward he said, “Great plays calls by (offensive coordinator Josh) McDaniels. We had great teamwork. The offensive line did a great job blocking. I just found a way into the end zone.”

White began the comeback when he caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady with 2:06 left in the third quarter. White took a swing pass on the right, made a move and dove into the end zone to make it 28-9. Stephen Gostkowski missed the PAT, his kick hitting the right upright.

After Danny Amendola scored on a 6-yard pass from Brady with 5:56 left in regulation, White took a direct snap on the 2-point conversion attempt and plunged in to make it 28-20.

Then, on the tying drive in the final minutes, he stepped up again.

He caught a 12-yard pass to give New England a first down at the Atlanta 8, followed by a 7-yard catch to the 1. On the next play, White went in over left guard to pull the Patriots within 28-26 with 57 seconds left. Brady threw a 2-point conversion pass to Amendola to tie it up.

In overtime, the Patriots won the coin toss. White caught a 12-yard pass on the first play, and later, on first down from the Atlanta 25, took a swing lateral from Brady around the right end for 10 yards to the 15. After a pass interference penalty put the ball on the Atlanta 2, Brady threw an incompletion.

On second down, White took the handoff right, bulled over Atlanta’s Robert Alford and Ricardo Allen and scored to complete the miraculous comeback.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said White. “We have a great group of guys on this team. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way with these guys.”

And they certainly appreciated his efforts on Sunday.

“He was balling today for us,” said running back Dion Lewis, who was injured on the last play of regulation. “He’s work so hard for this. He really deserves it. And we’re all happy for him.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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