Sideline Report: Super Bowl XLIX (Why would you pass it?)

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Each February brings the biggest game on the sports calendar. It brings the best teams in the National Football League together to duel for the ultimate crown. The Super Bowl is the most watched and one of the most beloved television events, this year garnering 114 million viewers. It is the end of the NFL season, but it always adds to the legacy of the best sports league in the United States. Albeit not all of the games are the most entertaining, I never regret tuning in to the big game. The Super Bowl might be my favorite day on the sports calendar.

But enough with the nostalgia and build-up – it’s time to get to this year’s affair. Super Bowl XLIX (or 49 for those of you who don’t like Roman numerals) was a fantastic matchup between two No. 1 seeds, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. Both teams were counted out at one point in the season but rose to occasion and made a run for the title. Both teams have won before, with Seattle looking to repeat and New England looking for their fourth ring since the turn of the century.

It was a back-and-forth battle, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady surprisingly throwing two interceptions and constant shifts in momentum. It was so hard to tell which team would eventually gain the upper hand, with Seattle punting multiple times in the first quarter and Brady not being on the same page as his receivers. However, the first half flew by, ending with a score of 14-14 and Brady setting a Super Bowl record with 20 completions in the first half. The teams went into their respective locker rooms at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona with lots to ponder and improve upon.

As the highly anticipated halftime show of Katy Perry (which I was not a particular fan of) came and went, New England and Seattle came back onto the field looking to make a change and win the title of world champion. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson didn’t even complete a pass until there was 5:30 left in the second quarter, so Seattle was looking to start off stronger. So far, this had been somewhat of  a defensive game. But, of course, Seattle running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch helped to lead the charge and, quietly, wide receiver Chris Matthews caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.

But counting Tom Brady out is never the correct decision, especially in the playoffs. Brady kept New England afloat with only two big mistakes in the entire game: One ridiculous pass to cornerback Jeremy Lane in the first quarter and the other a great play by linebacker Bobby Wagner in the third quarter. Once the game got into the waning minutes, both teams had to get momentum onto their sides. And one of the strangest, greatest and most ludicrous events in Super Bowl history happened.

With Seattle down 28-24 and only 1:16 left in the game , Wilson needed a big break for his Seahawks. It came with a crazy throw and catch down the sideline to his receiver, Jermaine Kearse.  Kearse was covered by undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler and both players reached for the ball. It was tipped, deflected off Kearse’s legs, and somehow, someway was ruled a completion. It definitely blew my mind. I thought for sure at this point, since the clock was winding to the 20-second mark, Seattle would score a touchdown and march off into the sunset.

But the unthinkable happened just two plays later. Seattle was, of course, in the red zone due the catch and a short run by Lynch. For some reason, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell thought it would be a brilliant idea to call a passing play to score instead of use one of the best running backs in the NFL to bulldoze his way in. Instead of an easy touchdown, what Seattle got was a slant route that the aforementioned Butler jumped and easily picked off Wilson to assuredly send New England to victory. This call will be questioned for years to come and will leave Seattle head coach Pete Carroll questioning himself as to why he allowed that play to be called. Why did you pass it?

As the confetti came down, the New England Patriots were back in the limelight. Tom Brady earned his fourth ring, third MVP trophy and a shiny new Chevrolet truck. Debate over whether he is the greatest quarterback of all time automatically came up, but let’s just let the dust settle before we bring that up. Overall, this was a fantastic way to end a glorious NFL season, even with the subpar commercials (except a few gems starring Bryan Cranston and Liam Neeson) and halftime show.

 

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