A week ago, the New England Patriots were dealing with the saga of “Deflate-gate”. Now, they can celebrate one of the biggest victories in team history. In a game where names like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman were on the field, unknowns such as Chris Matthews, and ultimately Malcolm Butler made the difference.
The Patriots entered the game with many doubting what they were capable of. As they had done all season long, the Patriots overcame adversity, this time to the tune of a ten-point deficit in the third quarter, to win Super Bowl 49, by a score of 28-24. The finish was as crazy as it gets, with more twists and turns than any Breaking Bad episode. But the game was not nearly as loaded early on.
Neither team scored in the opening quarter, in which the Patriots saw a near eight-minute drive end when quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception from the Seahawks ten-yard line on third down. He had an open receiver, but got greedy, went for the end zone, and was picked off by Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane in the end zone.
Despite the interception, Brady led his team down the field on the Patriots next drive, and capped off the drive with an 11-yard pass to Brandon Lafell with 9:47 to go in the half.
The Seahawks answered after each team had a three-and-out, and did so when quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 44-yard pass to unknown wide receiver Chris Matthews, and the drive was capped off with a three-yard touchdown run, and the score was tied at seven apiece with 2:16 remaining. Each team scored a touchdown in the final two minutes of the half, as the Patriots went 80 yards in 1:45 to tie take the lead with 31 seconds remaining in the half, and the Seahawks answering with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Chris Matthews. The game was tied at 14 at the half, and while the ending of the half was crazy, the game only got wilder thereafter.
In the third quarter, the Seahawks began to take over. They decided not to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Patriots eight-yard line, and kicked a field goal on the second half’s opening drive to take a 17-14 lead, their first of the game. Then, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner intercepted Brady’s pass, and the Seahawks went 50 yards to score another touchdown. The touchdown, a three-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin, extended the Seattle lead to 24-14 with 4:54 to go in the quarter. The score stayed that way for the rest of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, madness ensued. After each team punted soon after getting the ball, the Patriots began to get hot. Facing a third-and-fourteen from his own 28, Brady completed a 21 yard pass to Julian Edelman. A few minutes later, he repeated the feat and, Edelman took the ball to the Seahawks four-yard line. Two plays later, Brady threw a pass to Danny Amendola for a touchdown, and with 7:55 remaining in the game, the deficit was cut to 24-21.
The Seahawks punted after three plays yet again, and the Patriots had their defining drive. They never faced third down in the drive, and was culminated by Brady’s fourth touchdown pass of the game, this time to Edelman, with 2:02 remaining in the game. But, of course, it was not over yet.
On the final play before the two-minute warning, Wilson threw and completed a 31-yard pass to Marshawn Lynch, and the Seahawks were in New England territory. Then, he completed a third-down pass to Ricardo Lockette for eleven yards.
Then, it looked over for the Patriots. Just as David Tyree did seven years ago, and Mario manningham did three years back, yet another crazy pass was completed against the Patriots. Wilson threw a pass up for Jermaine Kearse, and it was tipped away. However, it hit Kearse’s leg, bounced around his body, and the pass wound up getting caught at the Patriots five-yard line! Surely, the Seahawks would win.
On first down, Lynch ran it to the one-yard line. Then, they melted down. On second down, with the clock running and timeouts remaining, the Seahawks did the unthinkable: they passed the ball. And, the pass was intercepted by undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler. It was the first interception of Butler’s career, and the game was virtually over.
However, the Patriots were basically in their own endzone, and the game was not completely over. However, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was called for encroachment, the ball was advanced to the six-yard line, and a kneeldown later, the Patriots became the Super Bowl 49 champions.
Tom Brady was named the Super Bowl 49 MVP, throwing for 328 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. His 37 completions set the record for most completions in the Super Bowl, and the win game him his fourth Super Bowl, tying him with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for most ever by a starting quarterback.
Statistically, the Patriots had their ups and downs. Julian Edelman caught nine passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, Danny Amendola caught five passes for 48 yards and a touchdown, and Brandon Lafell caught four passes for 29 yards and a score. LeGarrette Blount ran for just 40 yards on 40 carries, but Shane Vereen ran for 13 yards on four attempts, while leading the team with 11 catches for 64 yards. Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Darrelle Revis each garnered a sack, while undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler forced the only Seahawk turnover in the game.
For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 12 of his 21 pass attempts for 247 yards, two scores, and the fatal interception. He also ran for 39 yards on three attempts. Marshawn Lynch ran 24 times for 102 yards and a touchdown, and added the 31-yard catch. Undrafted rookie Chris Matthews came out of nowhere to catch four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, while Ricardo Lockette and Jermaine Kearse added three catches for 59 and 45 yards. Doug Baldwin had his lone catch go for a three-yard touchdown.
Defensively, the Seahawks were up and down. Bruce Irvin garnered the team’s lone sack, but the team picked Brady off twice. They allowed 320 passing yards, but did well on rush defense. The Seahawks outgained the Patriots 396 yards to 377, and had less turnovers, but lost the game on two boneheaded plays. the decision to pass the ball from the one-yard line will be one that will be discussed for years to come, and the encroachment is, well, stupid.
The game ended with a fight, something rarely seen in the Super Bowl. Alas, the game was just that grand.
In the end, congratulations the the New England Patriots for winning their fourth SUper Bowl in 13 years. They are the face of success in the NFL over the past decade-plus, and the future looks bright for both sides. What a way to end the 2014 season. Few Super Bowls have been this great, and this one will go down as a monumental classic.