Last-minute interception gives Patriots Super Bowl victory over Seahawks
The Seahawks were 1 yard from a repeat Super Bowl victory but an interception gave New England a 28-24 win.
Seattle Times staff reporter
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Seahawks were a yard away from a repeat Super Bowl victory Sunday night, with less than a minute to play.
But instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch on second-and-goal at the 1-yard line, the Seahawks threw, and Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted by Malcolm Butler. The play sealed an improbable 28-24 victory for New England at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Patriots star Tom Brady cemented his legacy as one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks, with one of his best performances.
Brady threw for 328 yards and engineered a brilliant 10-play, 65-yard game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, hitting Julian Edelman with a 3-yard touchdown pass — his fourth of the game.
For a moment it seemed as though the Seahawks might pull off another late-game miracle in the final two minutes.
Wilson hit Lynch on a 31-yard completion to put the Seahawks into Patriots territory. And then on a first-down play, Jermaine Kearse appeared unable to come up with a deep pass from Wilson as he fell to the turf. Inexplicably, the ball bounced off Kearse’s leg and into his arms. The 33-yard miracle put Seattle on the New England 5-yard line, poised to take the lead.
Lynch ran for four yards to the 1-yard line and it seemed a winning touchdown was inevitable. But on second down, Butler stepped in front of Wilson’s pass for an interception to thwart the comeback.
Well more than half of the 70,288 fans seemed to be screaming Seahawks fans, giving it a home-field feel for Seattle.
But they exited shortly thereafter in stunned silence.
It was the Seahawks’ first loss in eight games. It was a game they seemed poised to win despite a sluggish start.
After squandering a prime first-quarter scoring opportunity in the red zone, a silly interception thrown by Brady, the Patriots went up 7-0 with a methodical nine-play, 65-yard scoring drive, punctuated by a 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.
Seattle’s offense was abysmal in the first quarter and a half. Lynch was getting little to nothing on the ground and Wilson couldn’t complete a pass or find an open receiver.
The Seahawks mustered a total of 27 yards offense their first two drives.
With just less than six minutes left in the half, Wilson finally connected with Kearse on a 6-yard completion. It ended the drought. Two plays later, Wilson completed his second pass of the game — firing a pretty ball deep down the sideline where little-used wide receiver Chris Matthews had a step on cornerback Kyle Arrington. Matthews made a brilliant catch — the first of his NFL career — hauling it in as he was falling to the turf. The huge chunk of yards set up Lynch’s 3-yard touchdown run.
And like that, the game was tied at 7-7 with 2:16 left in the first half, despite all the early issues.
It looked as though New England would take a 14-7 lead into halftime. Brady took over and picked apart the Seattle defense, navigating the Patriots 80 yards on eight plays and hitting tight end Rob Gronkowski on a pretty 22-yard touchdown pass.
With 31 seconds left in the half and getting the ball to start the third quarter, the Seahawks looked as if they might run the clock out. But on the first play of the possession, running back Robert Turbin exploded through a crease and scrambled 19 yards. That burst allowed Seattle to reassess its chances.
Wilson scrambled for 17 yards and then hit Ricardo Lockette on a 23-yard completion. A face-mask penalty on Arrington put Seattle on the 11-yard line with six second left. After debating the possibilities in back-to-back timeouts, the always-aggressive Seahawks coach Pete Carroll gambled and sent his offense on the field. The Seahawks decided to run one play before possibly settling for a field goal. Wilson made it pay off, zipping a pass to Matthews for an 11-yard touchdown.
Seattle would take the lead in the third quarter, settling for 27-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka to go up 17-14. They quickly pushed the lead to 24-14. Bobby Wagner picked off Brady and Seattle needed just six plays to find the end zone as Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on 3-yard touchdown pass.
But Brady answered with a nine-play, 68-yard drive and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola to cut it to 24-21.
The Seahawks went three and out, giving the ball back to Brady. And they would never lead again.