The Super Bowl is just 3 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 3 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!
Glendale, Arizona hosted Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015. The game pitted the AFC champion New England Patriots against the defending World Champion Seattle Seahawks of the National Football Conference.
Seattle Seahawks 3 Years Ago
The Seahawks started their season with a bang by defeating the Packers on opening night easily 36-16. Two weeks later, they beat Denver 26-20 in overtime. They finished the season by winning nine of out 10 to claim the NFC’s top seed. Michael Bennett and Bobby Wagner emerged as superstars on defense.
In the Divisional round of the playoffs, Seattle humbled the Carolina Panthers 31-17. Safety Kam Chancellor was the player of the game. First of all, he made an all-world effort at blocking a Panthers’ field goal attempt right before the intermission. He followed that up with a pick six that put the game out of reach.
Epic in Seattle
There are no words to describe the 2014-15 NFC championship game. The Packers controlled the action to the tune of a 16-0 lead. Frankly, the score should have been much more lopsided. Russell Wilson was throwing just as many passes to the players in a white jersey as he was throwing passes to people wearing a dark one. Finally, Seattle showed a pulse when a fake field goal resulted in a TD cutting the lead to 16-7. With the score 19-7, Wilson threw another interception. On this one, Green Bay’s Morgan Burnett downed the ball when he could have returned the pick for several more yards.
The Seahawks received the ball back with about four minutes to go. They drove the length of the field for a TD that cut the lead to 19-14. Seattle’s season was on the line now. On the onside attempt, Brandon Bostic mishandled the Stephen Hauschka kick. Seattle recovered and there was life. It only took Seattle 30 seconds to find the end zone on an easy Lynch run. The 2-point conversion was absurd. Wilson under much duress lofted a rainbow toward Luke Willson. Haha Clinton-Dix misjudged the pass and Wilson caught it. It was 22-19 for the Seahawks.
Aaron Rodgers calmly guided the Packers back to field goal range. Mason Crosby nailed the game-tying kick and it was on to OT. Wilson threw two gorgeous passes in the overtime period. The second one to Jermain Kearse propelled the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl. If you have not watched the last 15 minutes of this game lately, this is required viewing for a real football fan. Simply put, this was unreal. However, the Seahawks would have one more drama-filled affair at Super Bowl XLIX.
New England Patriots 3 Years Ago
The Patriots limped out to a 2-2 start. In a week 4 Monday Night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Tom Brady was flustered and off target. He played so poorly, Coach Belichick was even asked if he would consider benching him. Belichick scoffed at the notion.
Brady had a tremendous game the following Sunday night against the Bengals. In fact, New England would only lose one more meaningful game over the course of the 2014-15 season. The Patriots’ offense was at full-strength with receivers Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola. Rob Gronkowski, maybe the greatest tight end in NFL history, had a marvelous season. At running back, Shane Vereen was the pass catcher. The Patriots also acquired LeGarrette Blount during the season to add a power running dimension.
Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner were signed to bolster the defense. Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower and Vince Wilfork keyed a one-year rise in defensive rank from 26th to 13th overall. The Pats cruised to the top seed in the AFC and played Baltimore in the Division round. The Ravens were ready.
Patriots Back to the Super Bowl
They pounced to a 14-0 lead. New England tied it. Early in the third, Baltimore reestablished their 14-point lead. Again, New England nodded things up as they went to their bag of tricks. They used an unusual formation where they would line up a running back or tight end outside and then announce him as ineligible while using just four offensive linemen. It worked as the Patriots drove the field easily. Then, they allowed Edelman to throw a pass. He found Amendola streaking down the far sideline wide open and tossed a perfect throw. Gillette Stadium went off its gord. In the 4th quarter, Brady hit LaFell to put the Patriots ahead 35-31. They prevented Baltimore from scoring on their last drive and advanced despite another tough home playoff game verses the Ravens.
The AFC championship game was a smash down. The Pats humiliated Andrew Luck and the Colts in a driving rainstorm. The Pats won 45-7. However, the real story from this game was the accusation that the Patriots purposely deflated footballs below the legal weight limit. Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft were inundated with press reports that they were cheating. For normal teams, this would have been a distraction. For these Patriots, it was merely noise on the outside. Belichick was distracted in the sense that he endeavored to figure out why the balls may have been underinflated. But, the Patriots look fully prepared to battle the defending champions tooth and nail.
Seahawk Power vs. Patriot Skill
In the first half of Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots moved the ball handily against the might Seahawks. On their first scoring opportunity, though, Jeremy Lane picked Brady off in the end zone. Sadly, Lane broke his wrist on the play. Right away, Brady went after his replacement Tharold Simon. Lafell scored on a slant-in while covered by Simon giving the Pats the 7-0 lead. Seattle tied it on the strength of a tall receiver by the name of Chris Matthews of all people.
The Patriots regained the lead on a beautiful pass and catch from Brady to Gronk. The Seahawks used a linebacker in man to man on Gronkowski and got burned. Seattle, though, marched down the field on a remarkable drive in response. With 6 seconds left, the Seahawks decided to throw once to the end zone. Matthews could not be covered by Kyle Arrington. Hence, the Seahawks scored tying the game at the half 14-14.
The Seahawks owned the third quarter as Brady threw another interception. Doug Baldwin scored to put Seattle up 24-14. Things looked dire for New England. But, Rob Ninkovich got a clutch sack and Julian Edelman picked up a crucial third down. Thus, the Patriots had life.
Seattle switched to a zone defense and Brady like a great maestro went to work. Even Seattle’s top-ranked defense was not capable of stopping him when he reached this level of play. His two touchdown passes went to Amendola and Edelman on perfect short tosses. Gronkowski and Vereen were super-clutch as well. But, Seattle never goes away.
Butler to the Rescue
Thanks to a miraculous pitch and catch from Wilson to Kearse in which the ball bounced off of most of his body before he caught it, Seattle had a first and goal from the five-yard line with less than a minute to go. On first down, the ‘Hawks ran Lynch to the one. The clock kept ticking…40 seconds left…35, 30…no time out taken. Finally, the Seahawks lined up in shotgun. The Patriots brought in all their big bodies and three cornerbacks. Revis lined up on the right side. Browner coached Arrington’s replacement, rookie Malcolm Butler as the teams got set for the play. Wilson took the snap and fired inside. Butler jumped the route and made possibly the most significant interception in NFL history.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick captured their fourth Super Bowl championship in one of the most dramatic Super Bowls ever. Tons of controversy ensued following this game for both sides. However, watching these two teams with so many all-stars in their prime was a treat. The 2014 Patriots and Seahawks both deserved to win the Super Bowl.
We’ll discuss tomorrow how a superstar from the Denver Broncos’ defense stole the show at Super Bowl 50!
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills