By: Matt Horn, KCOU Sports
“That was the worst play call I’ve ever seen in the history of football.”
The disappointed sad face emoji that followed Hall of Fame Running Back Emit Smith’s Super Bowl tweet looked just like Pete Carroll’s face after the game. But unlike Coach Carroll, Smith knows how to score from the one-yard line.
While Twitter erupted with mixed responses from football fanatics and commercial lovers alike, there was one common element to the responses around the country, shock. One of the greatest Super Bowls… scratch that, one of the greatest football games in history came down to the wire and had 114 million viewers on the edge of their seats.
Anticipation had been building for weeks. Making it to the season’s finale was something that both the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots were used to. But with a carousal of storylines to talk about, there was no lack of excitement.
Bill Belichick was chasing his fourth Lombardi Trophy, and Russell Wilson was looking for his second title since entering the NFL three years ago. Tom Brady was after his third Super Bowl MVP in the pursuit of becoming the greatest ever, but the Legion of Boom had shut down just about every quarterback they faced in 2014. And don’t forget, everyone’s new favorite expression, deflated balls.
Contrary to last year’s blowout, Super Bowl XLIX lived up to the copious amount of hype that led up to kickoff. After a scoreless first quarter, both teams found the endzone twice in the second to tie the score at 14 at the break. After a roaring halftime performance from Katy Perry and Left Shark, the crowd was ready for a second half that would prove even more exciting than the first.
The Seahawks opened the second with a Steven Hauschka field goal, a Bobby Wagner interception, and a Doug Baldwin touchdown catch. Everything was going Seattle’s way going into the fourth quarter with a ten point lead, forcing Tom Brady to attempt what would be one of the greatest Super Bowl comebacks of all time.
Only twice had a team come back from a double-digit deficit to win a Super Bowl, and both times the lead came in the first quarter. In Super Bowl XXII the Washington Redskins trailed by ten before scoring six unanswered touchdowns to win 42-10. More recently in Super Bowl XLIV, Drew Brees led the New Orleans Saints to a comeback victory over the Indianapolis Colts 31-17.
Teams trailing by ten or more points in the fourth quarter were 0-29 in previous Super Bowls. Tom Brady did not want his team to become team number 30.
Brady would throw two of his four touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the game. Catches by Danny Amendola and Julian Edleman gave New England a four point lead with the two minute warning forthcoming.
Russell Wilson had all three timeouts in his pocket. In less than a minute, Wilson had his team at the New England 38-yard line, where he would complete a pass that would leave Dwight Clark, David Tyree, and even Odell Beckham Jr. with their jaws dropped. 33 yards down the field, Jermaine Kearse missed the ball at first, kept the ball in the air, and finally somehow came down with one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history.
With the ball now sitting at the five-yard line, the Seahawks strategy seemed as straightforward as it could be, hand the ball to Beast Mode.
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch wanted nothing to do with reporters all season. Thus, Lynch was at the forefront of media attention all week. The five-time Pro Bowler was coming off his second consecutive season leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns and he made it perfectly clear to reporters, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”
On second down and goal from the one-yard line, Lynch was quieter than he had been all week.
What happened next took the air out of the Seahawks. Wilson threw a slant intended for Ricardo Lockette that resulted in a perfect pass to Malcolm Butler for the interception and the clincher.
If you’re like me, it took a few seconds to believe what had just happened. Seattle was so close they could taste the victory, and were just one handoff to the league’s best back away from a Super Bowl repeat.
Call it the worst play call ever, call it the biggest moment in Patriots history, call it the craziest ending the Super Bowl had ever seen. Regardless of what you call it, there is no denying the thrill that captivated the country, and the security of the Brady/Bellichick legacy.
After the classless fight that ensued in the games waning seconds, Super Bowl XLIX was over. While Butler got credit for the deciding interception and Brady won his fourth championship ring, the game’s true MVP stood on the sidelines all night.
Matt Patricia is far from a household name. When thinking of the Patriots coaching staff the first two names that pop into one’s head are Bellichick and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels. Patricia has been New England’s Defensive Coordinator for the last three years, and it was his scheme on second and goal that won the game for the Patriots.
It was almost as if Patricia knew they would throw it. New England dropped six men into coverage to defend five Seattle receivers. Former Seahawk now Patriot cornerback Brandon Browner jammed Jermaine Kearse at the line of scrimmage preventing him from releasing outside and occupying Butler. When Kearse broke to the inside, Butler read Wilson perfectly, jumped the route, and came away with the ball.
After the interception, NBC flashed a shot of Brady embracing McDaniels on the sideline. Brady was hugging the wrong coach.
Patricia’s defense finished the game by forcing three punts and an interception. While Brady and Bellichick cemented their legacy as the greatest duo of all time and there is little doubt that #12 deserved his third Super Bowl MVP, the timeless cliché stood true on Sunday: Offense wins games, defense wins championships.