It has been dubbed as “The Super Bowl That Took Everyone’s Breath Away.”
What a game. What a finish. The legacies of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have been further augmented after the tandem captured their fourth Lombardi Trophy, and first since 2004, when the Patriots came from ten points down as the final quarter began to defeat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Arizona last Sunday.
Yet before we focus on New England’s triumph, let’s take a closer look at Seattle’s defeat, which has to be one of the most agonizing losses in Super Bowl history.
The Seahawks played almost the entire game right and for a few moments on their final drive, it seemed as if the Patriots would suffer another improbable defeat in the Super Bowl.
Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse’s tumbling catch gave Seattle a first and goal and was easily one of the craziest catches ever seen in not only Super Bowl history, but NFL history as well.
For most of the game, the backfield tandem of quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch kept the Patriots’ defense at bay, especially in the second and third quarters. Undrafted wide receiver Chris Matthews, unheard of by almost every NFL fan until he recovered Green Bay’s onside kick attempt in the NFC Championship game two weeks ago, exploded onto the scene with four huge receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown reception that tied the game at 14 going into halftime.
Even though Brady had a good game (he did win his third Super Bowl MVP award), he didn’t have a dominant one. His longest completions were for 23 yards to wide receiver Julian Edelman and a 22 yard scoring pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The fact that Brady had to dink and dunk his way to victory speaks to the volumes that Brady, Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels respected Seattle’ defense, which has been the best in the league over the last two seasons.
The defense didn’t have an eye-popping, turnover-filled dominant performance like they did in last year’s triumph over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, but they still had a stout performance. Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was arguably the best player on the field, and was the very definition of a man playing amongst boys.
Furthermore, the Legion of Boom made their presence known from the first drive, as Brady only threw in Richard Sherman’s direction once, and cornerback Jeremy Lane intercepted an ill-advised Brady throw in the endzone.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who also received an MVP vote for his performance this season, had a great interception after he jumped a crossing route.
But Seattle’s performance will always be remembered for the play the clinched the game for the Patriots. After Lynch’s first and goal run that brought the Seattle offense to the one yard line, the Seahawks came to the line for second and goal. It seemed as if Seattle was poised to capture their second straight Super Bowl title. Wilson stood in the shotgun, with Lynch to his left. Kearse and fellow receiver Ricardo Lockette were lined up in a stack formation to the right.
The play was simple: Kearse would set a pick for the corner covering Lockette, and Wilson would throw an easy touchdown pass to Lockette for the go ahead score. It’s just too bad that nobody told Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler that.
Another undrafted rookie that had only played 190 snaps coming into the Super Bowl, Butler took over the game in the fourth quarter. It seemed as if every time that Wilson dropped back to heave a deep ball, Butler was there.
This time last year, Butler was playing for Division II West Alabama. On Sunday, he excelled on professional football’s biggest stage, and is now considered a hero.
So where do the Patriots and Seahawks go from here? The simple answer: it is time for each team to reload for another Super Bowl run. Both teams have won the past two titles by sticking to their formulas, and they should stick with it. Each team could afford to add more threats on offense, as the Seahawks’ receivers were largely invisible save for Matthews, while the Patriots could really use a lead running back to help them transition from Brady to whoever replaces him within the next few years.
Even though Brady led the Patriots from behind to win, New England did not win this game. Seattle shot themselves in the foot, especially in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the New England Patriots are once again NFL champions. Now comes to the long wait until next season. Let the absolute mayhem that is called the NFL offseason begin. .
Jordan Llanes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org