HOUSTON — James White sure waited a long time to get his first rushing touchdown of the season.
It came with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl Sunday night, leading to a 2-point conversion for the Patriots to tie the game at 28, forcing the first ever overtime in the history of the big game.
He didn't wait very long to get his next rushing score. It came about four minutes into overtime and won the Super Bowl for New England 34-28 over the Atlanta Falcons.
"Felt like everything went in slow motion," White said. "That's dream about as a kid, ball in my hands with the game on the line, I've got to find the end zone."
White, who didn't have a rushing touchdown all season, immediately popped up and sprinted around the end zone before being tackled by teammate LeGarrette Blount.
"All the hard work you put in all season long just for that moment, just trying to get a victory for my teammates, is really amazing" said White, who had no idea he was the only player in the NFL's 51 Super Bowls to score a touchdown on the game's final play.
The third-year running back from Wisconsin also had a TD reception and a 2-point conversion as the Patriots rallied from down 28-3.
White, who had one rushing attempt for no gain and four catches in New England's two AFC playoff games, also finished with a Super Bowl-record 14 catches for 110 yards. His 5-yard TD catch in the third quarter started the rally, cutting the lead to 28-9.
The Patriots often get performances from little-known players in big games. In the AFC championship, receiver Chris Hogan surprised the Steelers with 180 yards receiving.
White's 20 points were a Super Bowl record, and included his run for a 2-point conversion that got the Patriots within one score after Brady's 6-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola, who then caught the overtime-forcing 2-point conversion after White's touchdown.
"James White is just — he's everything you want in a teammate and football player. Dependable, consistent, durable, the best attitude," Brady said. "He brings it every day and we just kept going to him so I think that speaks for itself."
Brady set a Super Bowl record with 466 yards passing and the Patriots had the biggest comeback ever to win the NFL's signature game. If not for that performance, White would have been a strong contender for MVP.
Asked if he expected to be such a big part of the game plan, White responded, "I just wanted to be a viable option for my team.
"The ball came my way. Blocking, running, I just wanted to do whatever it takes to get a victory," he said. "It's a Super Bowl, you've got to lay it all on the line."