The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champs for the fourth time in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. In a wild finish, the Patriots edged the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to earn their first championship in 10 years.
A Wild Ending
Let’s start with the finish. First there was Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse’s bobbling, bouncing, beyond-belief catch. It sent New England fans traveling back in time to the crushing Super Bowl defeat at the hands — and helmet — of David Tyree in 2008.
Then the Seahawks were on New England’s 1-yard line with less than 30 seconds left. Trailing the Patriots by 4 points, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back to pass.
“We didn’t call a timeout and the clock was running down, and I realized, you know, this is basically it if we stopped them," said Tom Brady, who was watching from the New England sideline. "I saw the interception and couldn’t believe it. It was just an incredible play.”
Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler made the interception. If you’re saying, “Malcolm who?” right now, you’re not alone. Butler is a rookie who was an undrafted free agent from the University of West Alabama in Division II. Wilson threw the pass, but his coach Pete Carroll took the blame for not calling for a handoff to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
“They busted their tails. They did everything they needed to do to put us in position, and unfortunately,it didn't work out right," Carroll said. "It's a very, very hard lesson. I hate to learn the hard way. But there's no other way to look at it right now. Unfortunately that’s what happened.”
During the game, fans of both teams were loud, but Seattle supporters — who are known as the "12th Man" — went into a full roar every time the Patriots had the football.
Despite the ‘Hawks fans' best efforts, the Patriots offense clicked for most of the night. Brady’s 37 completions set a Super Bowl record. His four touchdown passes pushed him past Hall of Famer Joe Montana for most Super Bowl passing touchdowns. Despite his two interceptions, Brady collected his third Super Bowl MVP award.
But he was more concerned with ending the Patriots’ 10-year title drought than considering his place in history.
“You know, we’ve been on the other end of this twice now — and being ahead late and not being able to make the plays to win," Brady said. "This time we made the play to win. It's just awesome. What an experience.”
The Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit, retaking the lead on a Julian Edelman touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
“This is a great team, a great group of competitors," Belichick said. "Never gave in. Never lost their will. Mentally and physically, as tough a group as I've been around. And I've been around some. I've been around some. But these guys, they're really special.”
A Tarnished Victory?
The Super Bowl victory follows two weeks of questions, press conferences and more questions about "deflate-gate" and underinflated footballs. Belichick was asked if the controversy tarnishes Sunday’s achievement.
“I’m not really concerned about that and I've already spoken on that," the coach said. "I don't really have anything to add to it. I'm happy for our team. I'm happy we won. I think our team deserved to win. We're the No. 1 seed in the AFC. We played the No. 1 seed in the NFC. We won tonight in a tough game, so I don't know what more we need to do. This team deserves to be champions, and that's why they're up here."
This is wide receiver Brandon LaFell's first season with Patriots. After the game, he remembered riding home from an offseason workout with a fellow New England newcomer, cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“Man, they must have worked us to death that day," he recalled. "And we said it at the same time: if we don't win the Super Bowl after doing all this work we're going upstairs to the front office and telling somebody something. Just the way we worked in OTAs, the way we worked in camp, I believe in this team and I knew we had enough talent to get here and win this game.”
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was a rookie when the Patriots won the Super Bowl after the 2004 season. Last week he said he couldn’t describe the feeling all these years later. And after his second title he still can’t.
“It’s something you have to experience to understand what we feeling right now," he said. "But it's an awesome, awesome feeling and it's amazing. The stuff that we went through and the things that were said about us as a team and as an organization and to look back now and tell everybody, we Super Bowl champs, that's the best feeling of it all.”
This segment aired on February 2, 2015.