Twenty weeks of heart-pounding football came to a head this past Sunday. The Super Bowl pitted the two top teams from this season. On one side, you had the New England Patriots. This coming soon after the events of what some has become known as “Deflategate,” where 11 of the 12 balls used in the AFC Championship game, between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, were found to weigh less than the required 12½ pounds per square inch. The Patriots, being the home team, were the ones who provided the game balls. It is believed that this act was done in order to give the Patriots an unfair advantage by allowing quarterback Tom Brady to get a more ideal grip on the ball.
On the other side of this matchup were the reigning champions. The Seattle Seahawks were looking to get their second championship in a row. Seen by some as the bad boys of the league, they came into this game led by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and the media nightmare himself, Marshawn Lynch. Lynch has been known to be very closed off to the media. He was the headline of this year’s Super Bowl Media Day. To each of the 29 questions he was asked by reporters, Lynch answered with some variation of, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” He was referring to the league threatening to fine him a hefty $500,000 if he didn’t participate in the press conference. Though his answers could barely be seen as cooperation, Lynch effectively avoided the half of a million dollar fine.
When 6:30 p.m. arrived Sunday, none of the extracurricular events mattered anymore. It was all about football. Sixty minutes to crown this year’s best team. Sixty minutes for the players to leave it all out on the field and lead their team to the Promised Land.
The first quarter was all about defense. New England quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field and just when it appeared that they would score a touchdown, Brady threw an interception into the endzone to Seahawks’ cornerback Jeremy Lane. The quarter ended with the teams deadlocked at 0.
The second quarter was a completely different story. Brady put the first points on the board with an 11-yard TD pass to Brandon LaFell. The Seahawks marched down the field and ended their drive with Lynch punching it in with a 3-yard touchdown run. Brady was not done putting points on the board for the quarter. He proceeded to throw another TD pass at the end of the quarter. This time the recipient was Rob Gronkowski.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was not satisfied with going into the half down 14-7. With 35 seconds left in the half, Wilson led his team on an amazing drive. With six seconds left in the half, the Seahawks made the gutsy call to not kick the easy field goal but instead go for the touchdown and the tie. The call paid off as Wilson threw a touchdown strike to Chris Matthews, who recorded his first-career catch earlier in the game.
The second half featured some more offense and some pretty good defense. The third quarter included Brady throwing his second interception and Wilson throwing his second touchdown pass, this time to Doug Baldwin. Going into the final quarter, the Seahawks were winning 24-14.
The fourth quarter might as well have been called Brady Time. His fourth-quarter performance was nearly impeccable. Brady threw two unanswered touchdowns: one to Danny Amendola and the other to Julian Edelman. This put the ball in the hands of the young Seahawk quarterback with two minutes left, down 28-24.
What followed was perhaps the most bizarre drive in Super Bowl history. It started when Wilson and Jermaine Kearse connected on a crazy 33-yard pass. The pass was well defended by Malcolm Butler and it appeared to be incomplete, but the ball bounced off Kearse’s legs a couple times and his hand before he proceeded to complete the nearly impossible catch. Following the circus reception, Lynch ran the ball and got the Seahawks to the Patriots’ 1-yard line. At this point, everyone had it in his or her mind that the game was over. Everyone watching at home and in attendance knew what was supposed to happen next.
What was supposed to happen, and what actually occurred, are two completely different entities. It didn’t take an expert to know that Wilson was supposed to snap the ball, turn around, and hand the ball off to Lynch, who had already recorded 102 rushing yards at that point. However, in one of the most controversial calls ever, the Seahawks decided to pass the ball on second down instead of handing the ball off to “Beast Mode.” The pass ended up being intercepted by the rookie corner, Malcolm Butler.
“I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play,” Butler told NBC reporter Michele Tafoya after the game. That play call has been subject to various conspiracy theories, such as the game being fixed by the odd-makers out in Las Vegas. One of the biggest theories holds the idea that head coach Pete Carroll made the call because he wanted Wilson to be the hero instead of Lynch. The theory branches off at that point. Some believe that it was personal disdain for Lynch and others believe that the call came from a higher power and was made for financial reasons. Wilson throwing a touchdown and winning the game would’ve definitely led to him being named MVP. Wilson being as endeared by the media and public as he is, there would’ve been a lot more money to be made with commercials and various other things than would be the case with Mr. “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” Whether you believe the theories or not, the call was made and it backfired. “There’s really nobody to blame but me,” explained Carroll when asked about his decision. I don’t think anyone would disagree with him on that one.
The game ended with the Patriots winning their fourth championship as a franchise (all under Bill Belichick as head coach and Brady as quarterback). Brady also won his third Super Bowl MVP award. He’s now tied with Hall-of-Famer Joe Montana for having the most of these honors. Brady was able to lead his team to victory despite his team’s atrocious rushing numbers. The Patriots finished the game with a mere 57 rushing yards. Brady threw for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. On the other side, Wilson threw two touchdowns on 247 passing yards. Lynch ran for 102 yards and a touchdown.
At the end of the day, Super Bowl XLIX definitely lived up to the hype. Both teams played a terrific game and the outcome literally came down to one play. This season has now come to a close and we, as football fans, can only hope that next year’s Super Bowl is just as good, if not better. Whether you believe that Carroll’s bonehead call was the result of a bigger conspiracy or not, the results of Super Bowl XLIX remain unchanged. Congratulations are in order for the entire Patriots organization. One may think they didn’t deserve to win or might even call them cheaters, but in this moment, only one title matters to them — Super Bowl champions.