Photo Courtesy : EA Sports
Super Bowl XLIX Recap
By: Aaron League
Malcolm Butler simply did his job.
The undrafted rookie from Western Alabama stepped in front of Ricardo Lockette to pick off Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line that sealed off the one of the wildest finishes in recent Super Bowl history.
It was just of one of many types of ebbs and flows in a Super Bowl for the ages, which saw the New England Patriots rally from a ten point, fourth quarter deficit to overcome the defending champion Seattle Seahawks by a final of 28-24.
While many will dissect the now infamous decision by Pete Carroll to throw from the one yard line on second and goal (which we will do as well), make no mistake: New England quarterback Tom Brady made his mark on this game in the fourth quarter when the lights were the brightest.
With Seattle leading 24-14 with about 12 minutes to play, Brady marched his team down the field twice on drives of 68 and 64 yards respectively, picking apart the infamous “Legion of Boom” Seattle defense. It truly didn’t matter how much air pressure was in the footballs; Brady was masterful when the pressure mounted. His two touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman late helped New England build a late 28-24 lead which helped set the wheels in motion for the ending.
Needing a touchdown to help seal their repeat, the Seahawks marched down the field, thanks in large part to a 33-yard Super Bowl catch for the ages by wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (against Malcolm Butler no less; you can watch the video of the catch here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKOLqM-LnA0).
Two plays after that tremendous juggling catch, the Seahawks were in prime position to score the game winning touchdown as time expired; a second and goal from the one-yard line with 20 seconds to go.
Then came the infamous decision; instead of handing the ball off to arguably the best pound for pound running back in the NFL, Pete Carroll instead elected for Wilson to quickly take the snap and throw to the wide receiver Lockette; instead, Butler read the play, stepped in front of Lockette and picked off Wilson to seal the deal for New England.
“I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play and it came true,” Butler said. “I’m blessed. I can’t explain it right now. It’s crazy.”
Many current and former NFL players took to Twitter to send out their thoughts regarding the final play from the goal line for Seattle; you can read some of the tweets here at http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/160678/twitter-reaction-to-seattle-seahawks-fourth-quarter-interception.
In the end, Carroll handled himself with dignity and class when delivering his explanation to the media following the loss.
“The plan was to throw it on second down, then run it on third and fourth down,” Carroll said. “I hate that we have to live with that, because we did everything right to win the football game.”
While we will all have our own thoughts on the final play from scrimmage, no one can overlook the job Brady and company did to rally late in this game. After all, this Patriots squad overcame TWO 14-point deficits against the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round.
They came out and dominated for three of the four quarters played. The newly revamped defense, led by Vince Wilfork, Darelle Revis, Rob Ninkovich and company, did not allow Seattle to score for nearly the final 20 minutes of the game. The offense came out and dominated the “Legion of Boom” for the good chunk of this game, despite their being virtually no rushing attack from the Patriots in this game.
This was a Patriots team that, for many, was left for dead after being bludgeoned by the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football earlier in the year. That loss left the Pats at 2-2 and caused much of the Boston media to question whether or not this was the beginning of the end.
The Patriots would silence their critics, losing only two more times in the season, once to the Packers and another to the Bills on the final day of the regular season when they had all but wrapped up home field advantage in the AFC.
It was through the season that many Patriots fans took to social media to start the mantra of the season: #DoYourJob.
“Whatever it takes,” Brady stated. “Every team has a journey and a lot of people lost faith in us, but we held strong, we held together and it’s a great feeling.”
Brady certainly did his part in the end to make sure the job was done, completing 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns (the 37 completions a new Super Bowl record). Consider that those 328 yards passing came with virtually no help from the running attack; the combination of LaGarrete Blount, Shane Vereen and Edelman were held to only 57 yards on 21 rushing attempts.
He was also picked off twice; both players who picked off Brady (Jeremy Lane and Bobby Wagner) were both injured on plays with which the interception occurred, ending both of their nights.
Four different players caught a touchdown pass for the Patriots ( LaFell, Amendola, Gronkowski and Edelman). Edelman had nine receptions for 109 yards, while Gronkowski (arguably the best tight end in the NFL) had six receptions for 68 yards.
For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 12 of 27 passes for 247 yards and two touchdown passes, along with his late game interception. Wilson did not attempt his first pass until nearly the five minute mark of the second quarter. Wilson also rushed three times for 39 yards.
Marshawn Lynch finished his night with 24 rushing attempts for 102 yards and a touchdown, though many Seahawks fans will forever wonder about the result had he been given the ball a twenty-fifth time.
For the Seattle receivers, Chris Matthews (who caught his first career catch and TD reception in this game) had four receptions for 109 yards, while Ricardo Lockette finished with three receptions and 59 yards and Jermaine Kearse (circus catch and all) finished with three receptions and 45 yards.
An excellent article on both Matthews and Butler can be found here at http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2015/2/2/7963199/super-bowl-malcolm-butler-interception-popeyes-chris-matthews-foot-locker. The article briefly details their lives before the NFL.
And thus puts another close on the NFL season. The New England Patriots are the champions for the first time in a decade and the fourth time in the twenty-first century. Tom Brady joins Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterback to win four Super Bowls, while head coach Bill Belichick ties Chuck Knoll for the most titles all time by a head coach with four. And for many Seattle Seahawks fans, they will spend eternity thinking about that call from Carroll, in what will likely go down as the biggest “questionable call” in the history of the ultimate game.
*All stats and quotes provided by ESPN*