There have been some amazing endings to Super Bowls, most notably the Kevin Dyson tackle at the 1-yard line following the 1999 season. I remember watching that live, and this one topped that game. The Seahawks appeared to have their second-consecutive championship in the bag, following an amazing reception off a deflection to Jermaine Kearse. One play later, Marshawn Lynch push forward to the 1-yard line. With a timeout in hand, Seattle had three chances to ram the ball into the end zone.
With all of the momentum, the Seahawks seemed to be guaranteed a victory. Lynch ran tough all evening, gaining more than four yards per carry. He would've absolutely pummeled the ball into the end zone. Instead, Seattle inexplicably decided to pass. A safe Russell Wilson pass would've been fine, but the third-year quarterback fired the pass into coverage. Rookie Malcolm Butler picked off the ball, icing the inexplicable victory for the Patriots.
The decision was mind-boggling, and Darrell Bevell should be fired. There was no reason for Wilson to force a pass into tight coverage; let alone throw the ball. Lynch had already scored a touchdown, and New England was baiting the Seahawks to throw. In fact, both Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were talking about the Patriots letting the Seahawks score so they could have some time left for their possession. I still can't believe what happened, and I have a feeling NFL people will be dissecting Seattle's decision for years to come. The Rams-Titans Super Bowl also went down to the wire like this, but it didn't involve an awful coaching decision, nor did one team throw away a sure victory.
The Patriots did win though, meaning Tom Brady is now one of three quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls, joining Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. That, however, is overshadowed by the fact that the team still has to deal with Deflate-Gate. If the Patriots are ultimately found guilty of deflating the footballs in previous contests, it's going to look incredibly bad for the NFL. Many of those I was watching the Super Bowl with opined that Tom Brady or Bill Belichick shouldn't have been a part of this game, and there were some who thought the Colts should've taken New England's spot in Arizona.
The Patriots got to the Super Bowl by cheating, and they won it by cheating a bit. They got away with so many offensive pass interference penalties. They ran an incredible amount of Peyton Manning-type pick plays, yet they were whistled for just one infraction. Julian Edelman also got away with pushing off on what was ultimately the game-winning touchdown. The Patriots had to rely on lots of these sorts of gadget-type plays, as Brady didn't show any sort of ability to push the ball downfield. I wrote in my Live Super Bowl blog that Alex Smith could've piloted New England's offense. Brady was named the MVP, but all he did was dink and dunk.
Brady should get credit for erasing a 10-point deficit in the second half, but it must be noted that he was going against a defense missing two key players. Jeremy Lane was injured on Brady's first interception, which occurred in the end zone as the quarterback was getting hit. Lane's absence was huge because he was charged with covering Edelman, and his replacement, Tharold Simon, didn't have a chance. Cliff Avril later suffered a concussion on Brady's second pick, which was forced into coverage. Avril missing was also big because he provides a strong pass rush, and Brady suddenly had tons of time in the pocket once the former Detroit Lion was gone.
Brady finished 37-of-50 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and the two interceptions. Brady, as mentioned, had to dink and dunk the ball for the most part. He made some clutch third-down conversions in the fourth quarter, but Seattle's defense was reeling without its star nickel corner and edge rusher. Brady, though, was unimpressive for the most part, but he did come through in big moments, which hasn't been the case for him ever since he won his third Super Bowl following the 2004 season.
With Brady throwing mostly short passes, Shane Vereen led the team with 11 receptions for 64 receiving yards. Edelman managed to pace the Patriots with 109 receiving yards off nine catches. He and Rob Gronkowski (6-68) both scored touchdowns. Gronkowski beat K.J. Wright downfield on the score, leaving me wondering why Kam Chancellor wasn't covering the monstrous tight end.
Brady's other touchdowns were fired to Brandon LaFell (4-29) and Danny Amendola (5-48). LaFell scored the first touchdown of the evening, for those who were betting on that prop. And perhaps most importantly, the Gatorade color that drenched Belichick was blue.
The Patriots ran the ball well in the first half, but Seattle put the clamps on LeGarrette Blount following Katy Perry's halftime show. Blount, who finished with 40 yards on 14 carries, mustered just three rushing yards on four attempts in the second half. Vereen (4-13) didn't have success either on the ground.
As for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson had fewer pass attempts (21) than Brady had completions. That's because the Patriots controlled the ball in the first half, and once Seattle established the lead following intermission, Bevell took the air out of the ball. Wilson did take some shots with a lead, but there were two big opportunities that the team couldn't convert. The first occurred when Kearse dropped the ball in the red zone. Seattle would've gotten at least a field goal on that possession, meaning the team could've just kneeled down and kicked at the very end to win 30-28. The second happened when Ricardo Lockette was tripped by a defensive back with about seven minutes remaining. The officials missed a blatant pass interference call, which seemed to give Collinsworth an aneurysm.
Wilson finished 12-of-21 for 247 yards, two touchdowns and the back-breaking interception at the very end. He scrambled just three times for 39 rushing yards, as the Patriots used a spy on him. Wilson made his usual deep completions and outplayed Brady until Seattle's final offensive play of the game. Unfortunately for Wilson, he'll always be remembered for that brutal pick.
Wilson's top target was someone no one had ever heard of. A tall receiver named Chris Matthews nearly tallied half of Wilson's yardage, catching four balls for 109 yards and a touchdown. Had the Seahawks won, Matthews would've been second in MVP consideration after Lynch. He came out of nowhere; in fact, it was revealed that Matthews had previously worked at a Foot Locker.
Only two other Seahawks had more than one reception: Lockette (3-59) and Kearse (3-45). Doug Baldwin managed just one catch, but that happened to be a touchdown.
Lynch, as mentioned, had a big evening, especially after halftime. Lynch finished 102 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Of course, he could've had a 25-103-2 line had the Seahawks wanted to win the game, but stupidity prevailed. It's also worth noting that Lynch made a 31-yard reception down the sideline on the final drive of the game. The gain brought the Seahawks to midfield in a flash, and it gave them a chance to blow a potential Super Bowl victory in the most epic of fashions.
I'll have a recap of the commercials in the Super Bowl on my NFL Power Rankings page in a bit.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.