The Super Bowl, one of America’s premier sporting events, brings millions of viewers together around the nation to watch the two best teams in the National Football League battle it out to determine the world champion. Boston natives know all about victory. However, they are also very familiar with defeat. When it comes to the New England Patriots, if Brady and Belichick do not at least guide the team to an AFC Championship, then the season is considered a waste.
Super Bowl 49 featured the NFL’s two heavyweights: the New England Patriots (15-4) and the defending champion team the Seattle Seahawks (14-5). The Patriots boasted one of the best offenses in the NFL, led by Tom Brady, who was heading into his sixth Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. The thirty-seven-year-old, who already garnered three Super Bowl rings, still had something to prove after two Super Bowl losses and a ten year gap from his previous Super Bowl victory. The Patriots were going up against the NFL’s new hot topic, dubbed “Legion of Boom”, Seattle’s number-one defense, lead by the loud-mouthed Richard Sherman and heavy-hitter Kam Channcellor.
In the first quarter, the Pats were able to stop Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, forcing the Seahawks to punt. In one key play, the Patriots drove the ball up the field all the way to the Seattle ten-yard-line. Brady was rushed to throw a pass that was intercepted by Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane, who returned the ball fourteen yards before being tackled by Julian Edelman. Lane suffered a gruesome arm injury, which knocked him out of the game and ended his season. Lane played a vital role for Seattle and his absence encouraged New England’s Edelman to take advantage of the empty space.
Scoring opened up in the second quarter. About six minutes into the quarter, the Patriots were able to drive sixty-five yards in nine plays, ending with an eleven-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Brandon LaFell. After a very slow start, Russell Wilson was able to get the Seattle offense moving. The most electrifying play of this drive occurred when Wilson threw a forty-four yard bomb to receiver Chris Matthews. This was the spark the Seahawks needed. The forty-four yard throw led to a Marshawn Lynch touchdown. With two minutes left in the half and Seattle getting the ball back at the start of the third quarter, Brady knew he needed to score. He drove New England eighty yards in eight plays, culminating in a twenty-two yard touchdown pass to star tight end Rob Gronkowski ,leaving just thirty-one seconds on the clock. The Patriots were ahead 14-7. Russell Wilson then handed the ball off to Robert Turbin, who was able to run for nineteen yards. Wilson led the Seahawks all the way to the twenty-one yard line with six seconds left on the clock, and then found Chris Matthews again for a touchdown, concluding the half with an eighty yard drive in less than thirty-one seconds.
New England started the fourth quarter down 24-14 and had to end the opening drive with a punt. The ball was spotted at the Seattle thirty-six yard line. The Patriots defense needed a big stop and they delivered, holding Seattle to only five yards and forcing a punt back to Brady. With twelve minutes and forty-one seconds remaining on the clock, it was time for the Patriots to score. Bruce Irvin sacked Brady for a loss of eight yards. After a quick four yard pass to LaFell, it turned into a New England third-and-fourteen. The game seemed to be over before Brady dropped back and fired a pass to Edelman for a gain of twenty-one yards. The Patriots were able to score by Brady finding Danny Amendola for a quick four-yard touchdown. Seattle got the ball back, but they quickly had a three-and-out. With roughly seven minutes to go in the game, the ball went back to the Patriots. With ten plays, the thirty-seven year old Brady was able to carve up the “Legion of Boom” Seattle defense with nine passes, finishing off the drive with a three-yard-pass to Edelman for the touchdown.
Note back to the Jeremy Lane injury in the first quarter, which led to Edelman having to go up against a much less experienced cornerback on the world’s biggest stage of American football. New England now had the lead 28-24, with two minutes left in the game. The drive started off with a thirty-one yard pass to Marshawn Lynch. Seattle was now on the New England forty-nine yard line with one minute and fifty-five seconds left on the clock. Another quick pass by Wilson brought the Seahawks to the thirty-eight yard line, with time running out. However, the next play Wilson dropped back and decided to heave the ball deep right. The pass seemed incomplete with the ball bouncing off Jermaine Kearse’s body, but on its way to the ground, Kearse magically snagged the ball before being touched by Malcom Butler. This play brought back bad memories for Patriots fans: David Tyree ruining the 2007 Patriots perfect season, a ridiculous Mario Manningham catch that extended the drive for Eli Manning and the Giants in 2012, and now this incident, which brought the Seahawks to the New England five-yard line with one minute six seconds left in the game. The “not again” type reaction on Tom Brady’s face said it all. A hand off to Marshawn Lynch was stopped by Akeem Ayers at the one yard line, which brought the clock down to twenty-six seconds. With the clock running, Wilson dropped back and threw the ball into the end zone toward his receiver Ricardo Lockette. The pass was intercepted by an unknown, undrafted safety named Malcom Butler, who brought the ball out to the two yard line, ending the game. The Patriots were once again Super Bowl champions, leaving both teams’ fans in disbelief. Butler jogged off the field crying, reveling in the fact that he was now a Super Bowl champion. When asked about the final play Butler said, “I just jumped the route. I just made a play. Just do your job — do it the best way you can. I just did my job” (ESPN Butler). Spoken like a true Pats football player. Do your job!