All signs leading up to Super Bowl XLIX pointed towards the match-up between the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots being a thriller for the ages, and it certainly did not disappoint.
On one side of the game, all attention was focused on how the Patriots would react to “Deflate Gate.” On the other side, media attention circled around the always-entertaining Marshawn Lynch and his “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” comments. All questions aside, it was the final NFL game of the season for all the marbles in front of a crowd of 70,288 in Glendale, Arizona, and a record setting 114.4 million US viewers tuning in to watch the big game.
After defeating the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game, Tom Brady led the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the sixth time in his career, bringing a record of 3-2 into the matchup, with both losses coming at the hands of Eli Manning and the New York Giants. After a thrilling 28-22 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to their second straight Super Bowl appearance in his young three-year career, trying to make a repeat of last year’s 43-8 victory over Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos.
It didn’t take long for the game’s first big play, as Tom Brady drove the Patriots down the field during an eight-minute drive. Jeremy Lane picked off Tom Brady at the goal line with a leaping interception, and kept it knotted up at 0-0 late in the first quarter. It was Lane’s first career interception, but unfortunately for the Seahawks, he was out of the game following a gruesome wrist injury, after being tackled by Julian Edelman following the interception. He was replaced by Tharold Simon, and Brady made sure to exploit that for the rest of the game.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks could not capitalize off of the interception by Lane, as he did not complete a pass in the entire first quarter. Brady opened up the scoring in the game with his 50th post-season TD pass, on an 11-yard throw to Brandon LaFell, who was guarded by Simon. The Seahawks called upon the bench to get some offense going, and receiver Chris Matthews was up to the task. Matthews made his first career reception on a 44-yard throw from Wilson, setting up Lynch for a three-yard rush to knot it up a 7-7. Like clockwork, Brady drove the Patriots down field and found Rob Gronkowski in the end zone with 29 seconds left in the first half to put them out front 14-7. In a serious turn of events, Wilson drove the Seahawks downfield to the 10-yard line with six seconds remaining in the half. Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll wouldn’t be pleased with a field goal, and went for it all, and it paid off. Wilson found the unsung hero Matthews in the end zone to tie it up 14-14, capping off a five-play, 80-yard drive. In a half that was completely controlled by New England, the Seahawks could not ask for a better score heading into the half.
The third quarter was a completely different story. Wilson and the Seahawks stormed out to a 10-point lead in the third, thanks to a Steven Hauschka field goal and a Doug Baldwin TD catch. The touchdown put Seattle up 24-14 with 4:54 to go in the third, and New England followed that up with a three-and-out. Seahawks had two chances to seemingly put the game out of reach, but failed to do so when Jermaine Kearse dropped a lob pass on the New England 20, and then followed that up with an ugly three-and-out on their next drive.
The game was now in Brady’s hands, and he really had to dig his team out of a hole to come back in this one. The Patriots were left with 12 minutes to score twice, coming off a pitiful performance thus far in the second half, going interception-punt-punt on their first three possessions in the half. They were trying to become the first team to win the Super Bowl after being down by eight or more in the fourth quarter. Brady started the comeback when he found Danny Amendola on four-yard touchdown pass to bring New England within a field goal 24-21.
After New England’s defense stopped Wilson and the offense, Brady started a drive from his own 36-yard line with 7:00 remaining in the game. With a few short passes to Shane Vereen and Amendola, the Patriots were quickly in Seahawk territory. Next play, Brady finds Gronkowski for a 20-yard gain to put the Patriots in field goal range with 4:47 to go. Two minutes later, Brady found Edelman for the go ahead three-yard TD pass with 2:02 to go. Brady had broken history in more ways than one during the game, he passed Joe Montana for all-time Super Bowl TD passes with 13. On his last two drives, Brady went 13-for-15, 124 yards and two touchdowns. “He’s Tom Brady,” Edelman said. “He’s the greatest quarterback on the planet.”
With the game on the line, Wilson started the final drive of the game on his own 20. Driving into Patriot territory, Wilson threw up a 33-yard bomb to Kearse and he made one of the greatest catches of all time. A pass that seemed to be broken up, bounced on Kearse while he was lying on the ground and ended up in his hands and the Seahawks were on the Patriots five-yard line with 1:06 remaining. After Lynch ran to the one-yard line, Seattle opted not to call timeout with second-and-goal with 26 seconds remaining. In one of the most unlikely play calls in recent memory, Pete Carroll opted to throw the ball on the goal line. On a quick slant to Ricardo Lockette, rookie Malcolm Butler jumped the route and made an incredible game-winning interception.
“I knew what was going to happen. I don’t know how I knew. I just knew. I just beat him to the point and caught the ball,” the rookie Butler stated on his interception. Nine times out of 10 that ball is probably intercepted, and 10 times out of 10 the defense would think Lynch would pound the ball in on that play. “It’s the worst result of a call ever. The call would have been a great one if we’d caught it,” Carroll said of his controversial play call. Brady took a knee and secured his fourth Super Bowl victory in six attempts. He now all but secures his spot as the G.O.A.T.(greatest of all time) when it comes to quarterbacks, and he’s far from done. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, his third time receiving the honor. “It’s been a long journey. It’s just a great win. We left it all on the field,” Brady said.
Dylan Harrison is a third-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at DH785892@wcupa.edu