New England Patriots clinch Super Bowl XLIX
Malcolm Butler’s interception thwarts Seattle’s hopes of a last-second comeback
Tom Brady threw for 328 yards including 4 touchdown passes to 4 different receivers to lead the Patriots to an epic 28-24 victory over the reigning champions, the Seattle Seahawks. While Brady was instrumental in helping the Pats overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, the game-clinching play belonged to undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler.
With 20 seconds remaining and the Seahawks a yard away from the end zone, Pete Carroll made what has been dubbed the worst call in Super Bowl history. Instead of going to Marshawn Lynch who had already run over 100 yards by then, he went for a pass play. Butler anticipated it brilliantly and with his first interception of the season gave the Patriots their fourth SB in the Kraft-Belichick-Brady era.
Despite an MVP-caliber performance it was by no way a display of perfection from Tom Brady as he threw two costly interceptions at the beginning of each half. Russell Wilson had his struggles too, and was held to zero completions in the first quarter. The Patriots managed to take a 14-7 lead with two minutes to go in the first half. Brandon Lafell and Rob Gronkowksi scored for the Patriots while the Beast Mode got one for Seattle.
But just when it seemed the Patriots would go into the locker room with a lead, Russell Wilson stepped up, first by scrambling for a first down and then finding receiver Chris Matthews for a touchdown with two seconds remaining. With Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse kept in check by Pats star corners Revis and Browner, it was Matthews who had zero catches for the season to rack up 109 yards on 4 catches and a touchdown.
The third quarter was a different story, one where the momentum had clearly shifted to the Seahawks. Baldwin for once escaped Revis for a touchdown and a Hauschka field goal gave the defending champions a two-possession advantage going into the fourth quarter.
By then Brady had thrown two interceptions, but the clutchest quarterback in history showed his true mettle, first finding Amendola with a bullet and then Julian Edelman on a cleverly designed route to give the Patriots a 28–24 lead.
With 2:02 left on the clock and all their timeouts intact, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks needed to be sharp and clinical. Instead, they got a most bizzare catch from NFC Championship game hero, Jermaine Kearse. Russell Wilson went deep to Kearse, who was well covered by Butler. However, the rookie corner’s tip-off never hit the ground and Kearse juggled but kept his concentration to get Seattle to within 5 yards and a new set of downs.
Pats fans must have had that sinking feeling. It was David Tyree of the Giants who had in this very stadium at Glendale, Arizona, made an audacious catch to deny them the Super Bowl in 2008. However, there was more drama left.
Lynch got the Seahawks to the one-yard line and with a timeout and two plays remaining, Pete Carroll called a pass play to the shock of everyone watching. Bill Belichick’s emphasis on situational football paid rich dividends as Butler anticipated the slant pass from Wilson from the Hawks’ formation and beat intended receiver Lockette in an interception that won the Super Bowl.
Russell Wilson got off to a slow start but made timely scrambles and accurate, deep throws to get Seattle on the verge of back-to-back SB triumphs. The Beast Mode ran for over a hundred yards and looked more ominous as the game went on. Chris Matthews stepped up for the Hawks when their more heralded receivers were kept in check, but one dubious call ended their golden chance to become the first team since the New England Patriots of 2004 to win back-to-back world championships.
The Pats had a simple game plan: get rid of the ball quickly. Vereen had 11 receptions, Edelman went for over 100 yards and Gronk won his match-ups to get those important first downs. It wasn’t Brady’s best performance, but once again in the times it mattered most, in the most clutch situations, he threw with pinpoint precision and rightfully bagged a third Super Bowl MVP.
Brady joined Montana and Bradshaw with 4 Super Bowls as a starting QB, tied Montana with 3 SB MVPs and went past Montana for most SB touchdown passes. With so much that has gone on over the past fortnight surrounding Deflategate and Brady’s integrity openly called into question, what a way to silence the critics and make an almost indisputable case for being the greatest QB to have ever played the game!