Super Bowl 49: New England Patriots Greatest Games

Super Bowl 49
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01 : Malcolm Dutler #21 of the New England Patriots intercepts the pass at the goal line late in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX February 1, 2015 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots won the game 28-24. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Remember when the New England Patriots hadn’t won a Super Bowl since Spygate? After an excruciating 10-year stretch of near misses, the Patriots finally had a chance to end their championship drought in Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks. Tom Brady and the Patriots faced off against arguably the best defense of the time, and this matchup had the chance to be one of the best games ever played. The game lived up to its’ promise as Brady cemented his legacy as the greatest to ever do it.

On to Cincinnati: The Birth of Another Dynasty

New England Patriots Greatest Games: Super Bowl 49

The Buildup

For the third time in a decade, Tom Brady and the Patriots were headed to the Super Bowl to grab that elusive fourth ring. After near-misses against the New York Giants, Brady was now 37 years old and knew he wouldn’t have too many more opportunities to get another ring. The Week Four Kansas City game served as a reminder that Brady won’t be around forever, but the rest of the 2014 season showed that Brady still had plenty left to give.

Winning the fourth ring wouldn’t be easy, as Brady and company had to go up against the greatest defense in the league. Boasting a secondary featuring Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor, the Legion of Boom was in the midst of establishing themselves as a true dynasty. The unit led the league in points allowed, DVOA, and just about every defensive category. The secondary stole the show, but players like Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril combined to form a defense with no true weakness on any level.

Of course, Seattle’s offense was nothing to overlook. Russell Wilson was already beginning to establish himself as one of the best young passers in the league while Marshawn Lynch was perhaps the most physically dominant running back at the time. Doug Baldwin hadn’t quite reached his ceiling at this point, but he was still one of the better slot receivers in the NFL. In all, the reigning Super Bowl champions were one of the most complete teams in recent memory and looked primed to begin a dynasty of their own.

First Half

New England’s 2014 defense was one of their best in a long time, and this game started out as a defensive-minded affair. The Patriots started with the ball but punted early in the possession. Seattle got it back, but couldn’t even get a first down. New England drove down the field and made it all the way into Seattle’s red zone and seemed destined for at least a field goal. However, Brady threw a bad interception to Jeremy Lane, keeping New England off the scoreboard in the first quarter.

Seattle didn’t do much better, as they punted it right back. New England got the ball back and went to work. Brady piloted a nine-play drive, culminating in a Brandon LaFell touchdown to give New England the first points of the game. New England faced two separate third downs on the drive, including a third and nine. However, Brady converted both third downs on passes to Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman, respectively.

After exchanging punts, the Seattle offense finally woke up. Wilson completed his first pass of the game to Jermaine Kearse before uncorking a 44-yard bomb to Chris Matthews two plays later. This play jumpstarted Seattle’s offense, and Marshawn Lynch carried it in three plays later.

New England still had 2:16 left on the clock, which was more than enough time for another score. Brady led the Patriots on a quick eight-play drive, culminating in a 22-yard touchdown strike to Rob Gronkowski. With just 36 seconds left in the half, it looked like New England would enter halftime with the lead.

However, Seattle wasn’t willing to give up that easily. Robert Turbin led off the drive with a 19-yard carry, and the Seahawks took their first timeout. Wilson scrambled for an additional 17 yards before finding Ricardo Lockette for a gain of 23. A Kyle Arrington facemask penalty pushed the ball down to New England’s 11-yard line with six seconds left on the clock. Instead of going for the field goal, Seattle opted to try one last shot to the endzone. The gamble paid off, as Chris Matthews beat Logan Ryan for the score. Just like that, the teams entered halftime tied at 14.

Super Bowl 49 Second Half

Seattle got the ball to start the second half and picked up right where they left off. Wilson brought the offense deep into New England territory on yet another deep completion to Chris Matthews. Arrington was in coverage, and this was the last straw for the coaching staff. Belichick benched Arrington for the remainder of the game, replacing him with rookie undrafted free agent Malcolm Butler. Seattle made it down to New England’s eight-yard line but had to settle for a field goal. The Seahawks had a chance to get another touchdown, but Marshawn Lynch was unable to convert on a third-and-one.

Seattle had the lead, and things took a turn for the worst for New England. Brady threw his second interception of the day on the ensuing drive, this one to Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks took over right at the 50 and Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a three-yard touchdown.

New England entered the fourth quarter trailing by 10. No team in history had overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit in the Super Bowl, especially not against a defense this good. The Patriots were facing astronomical odds, but Tom Brady never let the odds stop him before. Taking over with 12:10 left in the game, New England knew they needed a scoring drive. After two plays, things didn’t look good. Bruce Irvin sacked Brady on first down and Bradon LaFell only picked up four on second down. Facing third and 14, Brady stepped up in the pocket and fired a laser to Edelman. Edelman got rocked by safety Kam Chancellor but managed to hold onto the ball for the first down.

This shift in momentum was all New England needed, as New England methodically drove all the way down to Seattle’s 25-yard line. Facing third-and-eight, Brady once again found Edelman for the conversion. Two plays later, Brady connected with Danny Amendola to make it a 24-21 game.

The defense did its’ job, holding Seattle to a three-and-out and giving Brady the ball back with 6:52 left in the game. In what might be the greatest drive of his career, Brady completed all nine of his passes for a combined 71 yards and the go-ahead score to Julian Edelman. Just like that, Brady dropped 14 points in one quarter against a defense which allowed an average of 15 per game. New England had the lead, but the defense still had to do their job.

The Final Drive

Seattle got the ball back with 2:02 left in the game and all three timeouts. Starting at their own 20, Wilson started off the drive by hitting Lynch for a 31-yard gain. Now on New England’s side of the field, Seattle used a timeout before Wilson converted yet another first down to Ricardo Lockette. One play later, it looked like New England was going to lose another Super Bowl in a painfully familiar fashion.

Wilson looked deep for Jermaine Kearse, but Malcolm Butler was in tight coverage. Butler deflected the pass away, but the ball landed on Kearse’s body. After bobbling it around, Kearse snatched the ball before it ever hit the ground. This was the latest in a series of ridiculous catches by journeymen receivers that would end up costing New England a title. Butler somehow had the awareness to push Kearse out of bounds, but it looked like too little, too late. Seattle used their second timeout but still had the ball at the six with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. After Lynch picked up five on the ensuing play, everyone knew how this one was going to end.

Despite the familiar script, fate had a different ending in mind for Super Bowl 49. With Wilson in shotgun, Seattle tried to run a pick play to Ricardo Lockette. However, New England practiced against this play and the defense was ready for it. Brandon Browner jammed Kearse at the line, freeing up Malcolm Butler to undercut the route and haul in the interception.

Just like that, New England snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Nobody could believe it, as everyone ran onto the field to celebrate this unlikely victory. New England got a flag for excessive celebration, but the penalty was well worth it. For the fourth time in history and the first time in a decade, the New England Patriots were Super Bowl champions.

Super Bowl 49 Lasting Ramifications

The Seattle Seahawks were one yard away from repeating as Super Bowl champions, but instead, New England launched their second dynasty. Just two years after pulling off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, Tom Brady did it again by famously erasing a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons. Two years later, New England won yet another championship against the Los Angeles Rams.

Seattle, meanwhile, has never made it back to the big stage. While they’ve made it to the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, they’ve yet to even make it to the NFC Championship Game. The Legion is Boom is now dissolved, and Bobby Wagner is the only star remaining from that elite defense.

Prior to this game, there was still a genuine debate as to where Brady belonged among the league’s best quarterbacks. The former sixth-round pick put that argument to bed against Seattle and made it a joke after Atlanta. New England has never had a down season under Belichick and Brady, but the 2014 season officially marked the birth of New England’s second dynasty.

On to Cincinnati: The Birth of Another Dynasty

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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