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Unlikely Late Interception Seals Patriots’ 4th Title

New England’s Danny Amendola (80) looks in a touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of New England’s 28-24 victory in Super Bowl XLIX. (Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots, Patriots.com)

New England’s Danny Amendola (80) looks in a touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of New England’s 28-24 victory in Super Bowl XLIX. (Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots, Patriots.com)

With under two minutes to go in Super Bowl XLIX, it appeared it was deja vu all over again for the New England Patriots.

Having taken a 28-24 lead on a 3-yard Julian Edelman touchdown reception with 2:02 remaining, the Patriots were a defensive stop away from winning their first Super Bowl since 2004, but a highlight reel catch by Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse seemed to dash all those hopes.

On a play that looked all but over, a deep pass from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was knocked up in the air by Patriots rookie safety Malcolm Butler and hit off Kearse’s leg before landing in the hands of the Seahawks receiver. The reception was good for 33 yards and put the Seahawks on the New England 5-yard line with just over a minute remaining in regulation.

The catch was eerily reminiscent of a pair of past receptions that helped down the Patriots in Super Bowls past, the famous “Helmet Catch” by David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII and Mario Manningham’s remarkable catch in Super Bowl XLVI. Both catches led the New York Giants to wins over the Patriots, coming on what would turn out to be Super Bowl-winning drives.

History, however, would not repeat itself, as two plays later, Butler came up with an unlikely interception right on the goal line on a pass attempt to Ricardo Lockette that sealed the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl title, all coming within the past 14 years, with a 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

The Patriots got on the board first a little over five minutes into the second quarter as Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady found receiver Brandon LaFell in the end zone for the game’s first points. The 11-yard strike gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead.

Seattle answered however, as running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch punched one into the end zone from three yards out with 2:22 left until the half to even the score. The score capped an 8-play, 70-yard drive and appeared to be sending the game to the half knotted at seven.

Brady’s two-minute offense performed to perfection as Tom Terrific led his offense 80 yards in 1:45, capped by a 22-yard touchdown catch by star tight end Rob Gronkowski. The touchdown came with 36 seconds remaining until halftime, but that proved to be plenty of time for Wilson and the Seahawks.

A gutsy Seattle play call paid dividends for the Seahawks with six seconds left in the second quarter, as Wilson found Chris Matthews in the corner of the end zone to tie the game with two seconds left in the half. Rather than taking the free three points and kick the field goal, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll went for the tie and it worked out to perfection for the Seahawks, who would get the ball to start the second half with all the momentum on their side.

Seattle was forced to take just a field goal on the opening drive of the second half as New England came up with a big stop on third-and-1 from their own 8-yard line. The field goal gave Seattle their first lead of the night at 17-14.

After Brady’s second interception of the night, Seattle extended their lead to ten on a three-yard touchdown reception by Doug Baldwin. Momentum seemed fully on the side of the Seahawks as they began to control both sides of the ball and it appeared that Seattle would hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy for the second straight year.

New England’s defense settled down over the next few series barely allowing Seattle’s high powered offense to get going, and the offense got rolling as well, and with exactly eight minutes remaining in regulation, the Patriots pulled to within three. Brady found wide receiver Danny Amendola in the back of the end zone from four yards out. Seattle still held a 24-21 lead, but again, New England’s defense held strong, forcing a Seattle three-and-out on the consequent series.

New England followed the key defensive stop by capping a 10-play, 64-yard drive with Brady’s fourth touchdown pass of the night, a 3-yard strike to Julian Edelman that proved to be the Super Bowl-winning score.

Wilson and the Seahawks marched down the field following the New England score, but were unable to punch in the winning touchdown as a questionable play call allowed for Butler’s interception that will undoubtedly go down in Patriots lore. After the game, many questioned why Carroll had Wilson throwing with twenty seconds left and a time out in his pocket rather than going to Lynch, who had his way with the Patriots defense all night long.

The Super Bowl victory caps off a ten-year championship drought for the Patriots, and makes the Celtics the Boston team that has gone the longest since winning a championship in 2008.

The victory comes after a slow start to the season that had many questioning if Brady and head coach Bill Belichick were past their prime. Sunday’s victory, however, shows that they are anything but. A few months ago a Vince Lombardi trophy seemed unlikely for the struggling Patriots, but Sunday, New England truly proved that they earned it with an impressive victory.

Curtis Fraser is the sports editor of The Hub. He can be contacted at fraserc@emmanuel.edu.

Posted by on February 2, 2015. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.