The former Badgers tailback had a night to remember in Super Bowl 51, scoring three touchdowns – including the game-winner in overtime – to lead the New England Patriots to a 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston.
"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," White told reporters after the game.
It’s the second Super Bowl title for White, who was inactive two years ago when the Patriots won Super Bowl 49. He was much more active in this one.
Helping his team erase a 25-point deficit (the biggest in Super Bowl history), White scored 20 of the game’s final 31 points, including the game-winning two-yard run in overtime to seal New England’s fifth title – most in the Super Bowl era.
"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 finished with 14 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns (74 yards coming after the catch), six carries for 29 yards and two scores and a two-point conversion that made the score 28-20 with 5:56 remaining. White had a hand in the Patriots’ final three touchdowns, including a 1-yard run with 57 seconds remaining (his first rushing touchdown of the season) to make the score 28-26.
The 14 catches and 20 points set a new Super Bowl record while his three touchdowns tied a Super Bowl record held by several others.
"James White is just — he's everything you want in a teammate and football player," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who won his record fifth Super Bowl. "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."
White’s scores were the first made by a former Wisconsin player since Minnesota Vikings tight end Stu Voight capped the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown catch in Super Bowl XI.
The third-year taillback was the first player in N.F.L. Postseason history to have 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and two rushing TD in a game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Seventeen Super Bowls have ended with a former Wisconsin athlete being on the winning side, including the last four.
It was the first time a N.F.L. championship was decided in overtime since 1958. That game also ended with a former UW tailback scoring the winner, as Alan Amache's 1-yard plunge gave Baltimore a 23-17 win over the New York Giants.