It was a wild day, with no one knowing who would win the Super Bowl until the final moments. There were lead changes, dramatic plays, and a touch of controversy about a big hit just to keep things interesting. A week spent in Arizona ends as the University of Phoenix Stadium has closed its roof and the throngs of Seahawks fans have gone home disappointed.
The Patriots, with a fourth Super Bowl win, have taken another step up the dynasty ladder, and Tom Brady has forced his way back into the conversation for best quarterback to play the game.
With sustained success in the N.F.L. proving difficult for many teams, Seattle will now face an offseason answering questions about a strange play call that sealed their fate. And a defense that is bordering on legendary will have to try for a second Super Bowl win next year.
Brady’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman put the New England Patriots ahead with 2:02 remaining, while Butler’s goal-line interception with 20 seconds left preserved a 28-24 victory over the Seahawks in a Super Bowl XLIX that every bit lived up to its advance billing.
Making a record sixth Super Bowl start for a quarterback, Brady threw two of his four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to bring the Patriots back from a 24-14 deficit against the league’s most feared defense. New England’s own stop unit then came up with a game-saving play to sew up the AFC champions’ first NFL title in a decade.
The Patriots had twice came up short, including a painstaking 17-14 defeat to the New York Giants on this same University of Phoenix field seven years ago, since besting the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX to conclude the 2004 season.
For a moment, another heartbreaking setback appeared on the horizon. The defending world champion Seahawks moved down to the opposing 5-yard line in the final seconds on Jermaine Kearse’s miraculous 33-yard catch, which conjured up memories of the Giants’ David Tyree’s unforgettable grab that helped send New England to defeat in Super Bowl XLII.
Marshawn Lynch was stopped just short of the goal line on the ensuing play, but the Seahawks didn’t give the ball to their All-Pro back on the next snap.
Instead, Russell Wilson attempted a slant intended for Ricardo Lockette that Butler — an undrafted rookie from Division II West Alabama — jumped and hauled in to give Brady his fourth Super Bowl triumph, tying Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most by a quarterback in league history.
Brady also claimed his third career Super Bowl MVP, a feat previously accomplished only by Montana, after shaking off a pair of costly interceptions to complete a Super Bowl-record 37 passes for 328 yards on 50 attempts.
Pats head coach Bill Belichick, who spent most of the two weeks leading up to the title game fielding questions about his team’s use of under-inflated footballs in its rout of Indianapolis in the AFC Championship, reached a milestone as well by tying Pittsburgh Steelers legend Chuck Noll with his fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Seattle, bidding to become the first repeat champion since the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, held New England to just 32 total yards during a dominant third quarter in which they put up 10 unanswered points to break a 14-14 tie at the half.