August 21, 2017

Super Bowl XLIX

After two weeks of waiting and non stop talk about “deflategate,” it was time for Super Bowl XLIX to start.  This game featured the AFC champion New England Patriots and the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks.  The Seahawks won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Steven Hauschka sent the opening kickoff five yards deep into the end zone and it was returned by wide receiver Danny Amendola to the 18-yard line.  Short completions from quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski and Amendola set up a third and two from the 26.  From the 26, Brady tossed a short pass to running back Shane Vereen that was good for five yards and a first down at the 31-yard line.  After that, they only gained four yards on three plays and were forced to punt.  Punter Ryan Allen got off a nice 49-yard punt and the ball was downed at the Seattle 16-yard line.  There was a flag on the play and the Seahawks were flagged for running into the kicker.  But it wasn’t enough to give the Patriots a first down and they declined the penalty.

The Seahawks went to work from the 16 and didn’t get much done.  Three runs by running back Marshawn Lynch gained eight yards and punter Jon Ryan punted the ball right back to the Patriots.  Starting at the 32, Brady continued to throw short passes.  On second and seven from the 35, Brady tossed a short pass to the left and wide receiver Julian Edelman caught it for a gain of 11 yards.  Two runs by running back LeGarrette Blount and another completion to Gronkowski moved the ball to the Seattle 43-yard line.  Three more carries by Blount and a short completion to Vereen moved the ball to the 26-yard line.  Blount continued to pound the ball and it was looking like the Patriots would get the first score of the game.  On third and six from the ten, Brady fired a pass down the middle that was picked off by cornerback Jeremy Lane.  He ran it out of the end zone and was dragged down out of bounds at the 14.  That was the good news for the Seahawks.  The bad news was Lane was injured on the play and would not return to the game.

The Seahawks still couldn’t get their offense going in the right direction and punted again.  The Patriots took over at their 35 and Brady quickly moved his team into Seattle territory with completions to Amendola, Vereen and wide receiver Brandon LaFell.  On third and nine from the Seattle 35, Brady completed another short pass to Edelman and it went for 23 yards and a first down at the 12-yard line.  Two plays later, Brady looked for LaFell in the end zone and he hauled in the pass for an 11-yard touchdown.  Kicker Stephen Gostkowski made the point after and the Patriots led 7-0 with 9:47 to go in the second quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions and the Seahawks got the ball back at their 30-yard with 7:07 remaining.  Two carries by Lynch gained nine yards.  On third and one from the 39, the Seahawks were flagged for a false start.  That moved them back five yards.  From the 34, quarterback Russell Wilson finally completed a pass.  It was to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and it was just enough for a first down.  Lynch ran up the left side for five yards on first down.  On second and five from the 45, Wilson threw a deep ball up the right side that was caught by wide receiver Chris Matthews for a gain of 44 yards.  Three plays later, Lynch ran up the left side for a three-yard touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the game was tied 7-7 with 2:16 to go in the second quarter.

The Patriots started at the 20 and got the drive off to a good start with an 11-yard pass to Amendola.  That was followed by a nine-yard run by Blount, a five-yard pass to Vereen and a seven-yard run by Edelman.  On third and three from the Seattle 48-yard line, defensive end Cliff Avril jumped offside and that gave the Patriots a first down at the 43.  Two passes to Vereen gained 21 yards.  On second and five from the 22, Brady looked for Gronkowski and found him in the end zone for a touchdown.  Gostkowski made the point after and the Patriots led 14-7 with 31 seconds to go in the second quarter.

The Seahawks had all their timeouts and started at the 20.  It was pretty obvious the Patriots were expecting a pass on first down and the Seahawks caught them off guard with a run up the middle by running back Robert Turbin.  It was good for 19 yards and the Seahawks called their first timeout.  From the 39, Wilson scrambled up the left side for a gain of 17 yards.  Two plays later, Wilson went deep up the left side for wide receiver Ricardo Lockette.  He hauled it in for a 23-yard gain.  There was also a flag on the play and cornerback Kyle Arrington was flagged for a facemask penalty.  That put the ball at the 11 with six seconds remaining.  Instead of sending Hauschka in for a field goal attempt, the Seahawks decided to go for the end zone.  Wilson took the snap and quickly threw to the left side.  The ball was picked out of the air by Matthews for a touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the score was tied 14-14 at halftime.

The Seahawks started their first drive of the second half at their 20-yard line.  Things got off to a good start as Lynch gained 18 yards on two carries.  From the 38, Wilson went deep for Matthews yet again.  The receiver who didn’t catch a single pass in the regular season hauled in another one.  This one was good for 45 yards and a first down at the New England 17-yard line.  Lynch got the call on first down and gained seven yards.  Turbin carried the ball on second down and gained two yards.  That set up a third and one from the eight-yard line.  Lynch came back into the game.  Wilson was in the shotgun with Lynch on his right side.  Instead of bringing in the big guys for a third and short situation, the Seahawks went with four receivers and no fullback.  I guess this was some kind of deceptive plan to make the Patriots think a passing play was coming.  It didn’t work.  Lynch got the call and the Patriots quickly swallowed him up for no gain.  Hauschka was brought into the game and his 27-yard field goal attempt was good.  The Seahawks led 17-14 with 11:09 to go in the third quarter.

The Patriots took over at their 20 and on third and six from the 24, Brady found Gronkowski for a gain of seven yards.  The next two plays gained one yard and on third and nine from the 32, Brady looked for Gronkowski again.  The pass was picked off by linebacker Bobby Wagner and returned to the 34-yard line.  But cornerback Richard Sherman was flagged for an illegal block above the waist and that moved the ball back to the 50-yard line.  From the 50, Wilson competed a nine-yard pass to Matthews.  Lynch ran up the right side for three yards and the Seahawks had a first down at the New England 38.  From the 38, Wilson scrambled up the left side for a gain of 15 yards.  Cornerback Brandon Browner was flagged for defensive holding and that five-yard penalty was tacked on at the end of the run.  That gave the Seahawks a first down at the 18.  From the 18, Lynch ran up the middle for a gain of 14 yards.  Two plays later, Wilson found wide receiver Doug Baldwin wide open for a touchdown.  After he caught the ball, he was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  That penalty would be enforced on the kickoff.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks were up 24-14 with 4:54 to go in the third quarter.

After that score, the defenses for both teams started playing very well.  Neither offense could do much with the ball until the 12:10 mark of the fourth quarter.  That’s when the Patriots got the ball back at their 32-yard line.  On first down, Brady was sacked for a loss of eight yards by linebacker Bruce Irvin.  On third and 14, Brady went deep for Edelman across the middle and that play was good for 21 yards and a first down at the 49.  From the 49, Brady completed a short pass to Vereen who took the ball into Seattle territory.  As he was heading out of bounds, he was greeted rather rudely by safety Earl Thomas.  The flags would fly and that moved the Patriots down to the Seattle 27-yard line.  On third and eight from the 25, the Seahawks once again failed to contain Edelman and he caught another pass for a gain of 21 yards.  Two plays later, Brady found Amendola in the end zone for a touchdown.  Gostkowski made the point after and the Seahawks now led 24-21 with 7:55 to go in the game.

The formula for the Seahawks was simple.  Get some first downs on this drive and take some time off the clock.  They started at their 20 and instead of giving the ball to Lynch, Wilson went deep for Lockette on first down.  The pass was incomplete.  Lynch ran up the middle for a gain of five on second down and that set up a third and five from the 25-yard line.  Wilson had time to throw and Lynch was open, but they obviously weren’t on the same page and the pass was incomplete.  So, instead of grinding out some tough yards and killing the clock, the Seahawks ran three plays, gained five yards and took exactly 1:03 off the clock.  Ryan’s punt went only 39 yards and the Patriots took over at their 36-yard line.

Brady completed two passes to Vereen that gained 13 yards.  From the 49, Brady found Edelman for a gain of nine yards.  From the Seattle 42, Brady completed a six-yard pass to Vereen for what appeared to be another first down.  But Amendola was flagged for offensive pass interference and that moved them back to their own 48-yard line.  From the 48, Brady hooked up with Gronkowski for a gain of 20 and a first down at the Seattle 32-yard line.  Another completion to Gronkowski, a run by Vereen and a pass to LaFell moved the Patriots to the five-yard line.  Two plays later, Edelman beat cornerback Tharold Simon and Brady connected with Edelman for a touchdown.  Gostkowski made the point after and the Patriots led 28-24 with 2:02 to go in the game.

From the 20, Wilson hooked up with Lynch for a gain of 31 yards.  On third and ten From the New England 49, Wilson found Lockette for a gain of 11 yards and a first down at the 38.  From the 38, Wilson went deep up the right side for Kearse.  After the ball bounced all over the place, Kearse somehow managed to keep it from hitting the ground and corralled it for a gain of 33 yards.  That was truly an amazing catch.  The Seahawks called their second timeout with 1:06 remaining.  From the five, Lynch ran up the left side and was dragged down by linebacker Dont’a Hightower.  With 26 seconds remaining, the ball sat at the one-yard line.  I think everyone in the world thought Lynch would get another carry.  It would make sense.  If Lynch was stuffed on the next play, they could call their final timeout.  Wrong.  Russell took the snap and instead of handing the ball to Lynch, he threw for Lockette in the end zone.  The pass was picked off by undrafted rookie strong safety Malcolm Butler.  He was brought down at the two-yard line. I honestly couldn’t believe what I just saw.  Passing from the one-yard line with a timeout remaining made zero sense.  The Patriots were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and they took over at their one-yard line.

That’s when things got ugly.  The Seahawks were flagged for being offside and a brawl ensued.  Irvin was ejected from the game for throwing a punch.  That resulted in a personal foul penalty on the Seahawks and that gave the Patriots a first down at the 20-yard line.  Brady took a knee and the game was over.  The Patriots erased a 24-14 deficit and won Super Bowl XLIX 28-24.

For the Patriots, Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady completed 37 of 50 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.  Shane Vereen led the team in receptions with 11 and Julian Edelman had the most receiving yards with 109 and a touchdown.  The Patriots had little success running the ball.  As a team, they rushed for a total of 57 yards on 21 carries.  LeGarrette Blount was the leading rusher with 40 yards on 14 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Jamie Collins led the team in solo tackles with six.

For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 12 of 21 for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one very costly interception.  He also had 39 yards rushing on three carries.  Chris Matthews led the team in receptions with four and receiving yards with 109 and a touchdown.  Marshawn Lynch led the team in rushing with 102 yards on 24 carries.  As a team, the Seahawks rushed for 162 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright tied for the lead in solo tackles with ten apiece.

There you have it.  The season is over and the Patriots are now four time Super Bowl champions.  I enjoyed writing these post season articles and I hope to continue to do it again next year.  I’ll be returning in the off season as the Raider Guy and I’ll probably do a write up on Tim Brown.  He’s finally heading to Canton to get his well deserved gold jacket.  Until then, take it easy.

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