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Freeman 5-Yards Run Gives Falcons 7-0 Lead, Scoreless First Quarter Nothing New For Brady

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6:05 p.m.

While so many were expecting a shootout, a scoreless first quarter in the Super Bowl is nothing new for Tom Brady.

Brady, trying to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls, never led his team to a point in the first quarter of his previous six Super Bowls, including his four wins.

In the 2004 Super Bowl in the same building, when the Patriots beat Carolina 32-29, it was scoreless after the first quarter in Houston’s NRG Stadium.

Each team punted twice in the first quarter. The biggest highlight was Devonta Freeman’s 37-yard run for Atlanta. But the Falcons didn’t get another first down on that drive.

For the first time in 11 years, both teams punted on each of their first two offensive possessions in a Super Bowl.

— Schuyler Dixon reporting from Houston

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5:50 p.m.

It was a great start for the Atlanta Falcons with Devonta Freeman’s 37-yard run on their first offensive snap of the game.

Freeman then ran for 3 yards and they didn’t get another first down on the opening drive before MVP Matt Ryan was sacked on third down by Trey Flowers.

So the teams exchanged punts on their first two drives. It was the first time Atlanta hadn’t scored on its opening possession in nine games.

— Stephen Hawkins reporting from Houston

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5:35 p.m.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, took part in the pregame coin toss — and New England Patriots have the ball first in Super Bowl 51.

The Atlanta Falcons won the toss, but deferred their selection to the second half.

The former first couple got a huge ovation, including applause from coaches and players from both teams, when they came onto the field slowly with Barbara in a golf cart and the 92-year-old former president being pushed in a wheelchair next to her.

The Bushes often attend games of the Houston Texans, the host stadium for its second Super Bowl.

Bush, the nation’s 41st president, was recently released from Houston Methodist Hospital, where he received treatment for pneumonia for more than two weeks.

Vice President Mike Pence was also attending the game. He was seen applauding as well.

The teams were on the wrong sides when they lined up and had to be told to switch sides.

— Stephen Hawkins reporting from Houston

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5:05 p.m.

The teams have cleared the field and the Super Bowl pre-game festivities are close to beginning.

The New England Patriots jogged off the turf to cheers at Houston’s NRG Stadium while the Atlanta Falcons ran through some of their plays as part of final preparations Sunday.

Tom Brady got the biggest roar during warmups by running the length of the field and throwing some fist pumps at the crowd from the end zone with the Patriots logo. The 39-year-old New England star is trying to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls.

After the players left, workers began setting up speakers and a small stage that mirrored part of the NFL logo at midfield.

— Schuyler Dixon reporting from Houston

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4:35 p.m.

Tom Brady has taken the field for the Super Bowl, and fired up New England fans with a couple of fist pumps as he finished a run toward the end zone covered with the Patriots logo.

Brady is trying to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls. It would give him one more than Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.

The Patriots are going for their fifth title as well. From the sound of things during the pregame, they’ve got plenty of support at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

— Schuyler Dixon reporting from Houston

—-

3:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump is predicting an 8-point victory by the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Trump made the prediction during a Fox News interview taped Saturday and aired a few hours before the game.

While Trump counts Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as a friend and says he likes coach Bill Belichick and owner Bob Kraft, he also praises the Atlanta Falcons as a “fantastic team.”

But, Trump says, “You have to stick up for your friends, right?”

Trump tells Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that the Patriots are more comfortable because they’ve been to the big game before. He says, “Once you’ve done it, there’s a lot less pressure.”

The Patriots have won the Super Bowl four times while the Falcons have played for the championship once and lost.

——

3:15 p.m.

If you’re without a device in New York City and need an update on who’s winning the Super Bowl, find the Empire State Building.

At kickoff at Houston’s NRG Stadium, the famous tower in Manhattan will be split between the colors of the New England Patriots (blue, red and white) and the Atlanta Falcons (red and black). When each team scores, the building will sparkle in that team’s colors. It will remain lit in the colors of the team with the lead.

After the game, the winning team’s colors will sparkle for an hour before remaining lit in those colors until sunrise.

The Empire State Building did the same thing a year ago when Denver beat Carolina last year.

— Schuyler Dixon reporting from Houston

——

2 p.m.

Fans started entering NRG Stadium four hours before the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots are going for their fifth Super Bowl in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era. A win would give Brady the most Super Bowls in league history, breaking a tie with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.

The Patriots have overcome Brady’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension, star tight end Rob Gronkowski’s season-ending back surgery and the loss of two defensive stalwarts, Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins.

The Falcons, making their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, are going for their first title led by league MVP Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones.

Country star Luke Bryan will do the national anthem and Lady Gaga will perform the halftime show.

New England will enter the game as a 3-point favorite.

AP

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