When we think of Super Bowl XLIX – three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now – we’re likely going to come back to the same thing: what Seattle did to lose the game rather than what New England did to win it.
“I think that you have to start with the collapse by the Seahawks,”USA Today NFL writer Tom Pelissero said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The Patriots are down 10 points in the fourth quarter. It was really sort of almost a mirror image of what happened in Seattle two weeks earlier when the Packers had everything in their hands. Everything completely came apart against Seattle and allowed them to get to the Super Bowl. You had to have so many different things go wrong in the final seven, eight minutes of that game – and every single one of them did right up until you had Malcolm Butler (make) the interception. If you look back at that play – I know everybody’s killing the play call – but that is an unbelievable play by an undrafted rookie from West Alabama.”
Butler, 24, also made the game-saving tackle following Jermaine Kearse’s improbable 33-yard catch, which put Seattle in business inside the 5-yard line.
“He wasn’t even in the game plan,” Pelissero said of Butler. “They put him in in the third quarter because they didn’t have any answers for another undrafted player, Chris Matthews, another guy who came into the game with no career NFL receptions. And so, they had to make some adjustments. So they brought in a guy who was maybe a little bit more physical in Butler.
“I talked to his coaches out of West Alabama late last night,” Pelissero continued, and they’re saying you walk outside, you walk around campus, and you hear people yelling ‘Malcolm.’ It’s UWA. This is not something that happens to that university a whole lot.”
While Butler made the money play, Tom Brady had a pretty big hand in the game as well, finishing 37-of-50 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Twenty of those Super Bowl-record 37 completions went to Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen.
“It was just underneath throw after underneath throw,” Pelissero said. “I don’t know how many of them traveled five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.”
The Seahawks did a great job stopping the run, allowing just 57 yards on 21 carries (2.7 yards per carry), but they had no answer for Brady in the fourth quarter.
“I think one thing that you can’t overlook was the injuries that they suffered in that game – not just coming in with Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman all a little bit dinged up, but they lost Jeremy Lane,” Pelissero said. “He makes an interception early on, suffers a gruesome arm or wrist injury running it back and you got to go to Tharold Simon, who just got exposed the entire day. Got killed on the ensuing drive, gave up two touchdowns in the game. Then you also lost Cliff Avril to a concussion in the fourth quarter. So that alters what you’re able to do from a pass rush perspective.”
Nevertheless, Seattle had the ball on the New England 1-yard line with three chances to win the game. Instead, the Seahawks were denied their second consecutive Super Bowl because of Butler – a junior-college transfer who received almost zero interest during the pre-draft process.
“No singing bonus, and he wins the Super Bowl,” Pelissero said. “Pretty amazing.”