New England Steals Super Bowl XLIX

The New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 on Sunday to claim their fourth Super Bowl championship in the last 14 years. Super Bowl XLIX is already being remembered by many as one of the best Super Bowls to ever be played. Tom Brady, who claimed his fourth Super Bowl ring and tied Joe Montana as the winningest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history, may have cemented himself as the best quarterback to ever play the game. But much of the talk surrounding the game is the call that sealed the victory for the Patriots. With 20 seconds left on the clock and the ball on the one-yard line, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back and attempted to complete a quick slant to wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, but Patriots rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in and intercepted the pass. This puzzling play call has been dubbed the worst play call in NFL history.

A long first quarter drive by the Patriots had them poised to put six points on the board. On third down inside the ten yard line, Tom Brady dropped back to pass but was under pressure and his pass was intercepted by Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane. Lane suffered a broken arm on the play and left the game for good. The first quarter ended at 0-0. 

The second quarter saw two scores by each team. After a Seahawks punt, Brady led another Patriots drive that ended in a Brandon LaFell 11-yard touchdown catch. The Seahawks answered with a Marshawn Lynch three yard scamper into the endzone. A two-minute drill by the Patriots led to a Rob Gronkowski 22-yard touchdown catch that put the Patriots up 14-7 with just 31 seconds left in the half. The Seahawks quickly drove the length of the field and Wilson hit wide receiver Chris Matthews with an 11-yard strike for the touchdown, tying the game at 14-14 going into halftime.

The Seahawks dominated the third quarter. A Steven Hauschka 27-yard field goal and a three-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin put the Seahawks up 24-14 heading into the final quarter. But the fourth quarter saw two Patriots drives that culminated in short touchdown passes to both Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, the latter putting the Patriots up 28-24 with only 2:02 remaining in the game. The Seahawks, who clawed their way back from a 16-0 deficit in the NFC championship game just two weeks prior, would have to come from behind once again in order to repeat a Super Bowl win.

The Seahawks took over possession at their own 20-yard line, and Wilson completed a 31-yard pass to running back Marshawn Lynch with the first play of the drive to put Seattle in New England territory. After a short pass to Lockette for 11 yards, Wilson hit WR Jermaine Kearse on what could have been the play of the game. Kearse leaped for a deep pass down the right sideline which he bobbled and then proceeded to catch while lying on the ground with defender Malcolm Butler. After a Lynch four-yard run, the Seahawks sat on the one yard line with the clock ticking down under one minute. Neither team chose to stop the clock with a timeout and in what some have referred to as the worst play call in NFL history, the Seahawks chose to throw a pass instead of run the ball with Marshawn Lynch, one of the most powerful running backs in the league. Wilson’s pass was intercepted by rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler to seal the victory for New England. No words can describe the angst that many feel for Russell Wilson throwing the ill-advised pass, but debate will continue in the coming weeks if head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made the right call.

After battling questions throughout the week surrounding “Deflate-Gate” (allegations that surfaced after the AFC championship game that the Patriots had tampered with the air pressure in the game balls), New England seemed focused and ready for the task ahead right from the opening kickoff. After starting the season 2-2, the Patriots finished the season 13-2 in their last 15 games to win their fourth championship. 

“Every team has a journey and a lot of people lost faith in us early. But we held strong. We held together,” Brady said.

Natural leader Tom Brady threw four touchdowns in the game, pushing his career Super Bowl touchdown pass total to 13.  Brady now surpasses Joe Montana in Super Bowl touchdown throws, as Montana only threw for 11 in his career. Brady is now 4-2 in the big game and has cemented himself as potentially the best to ever play the game. At age 37, Brady still has a few more years of elite football left in him, and with a strong core returning once again for the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick, we could see the Lombardi Trophy stay in New England in 2016.