By Leland Stein III
Photos by Gary Montgomery, VOICE Sports
With Deflate-Gate looming over Super Bowl Week, the New England Patriots, with certified regulation game-balls, deflated the Seattle Seahawks . . . no, the entire state of Washington to win its fourth Super Bowl title, 28-24.
Having an elite quarterback is a proven formula for getting a team to the pinnacle of the NFL wars, and, it was vindication for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLIX that he indeed is one of the best to ever play this game.
Okay all, indeed it is time to put deflated footballs in the rear view mirror and look with a non-jaundice eye and give the Patriots the respect they have won on the field of play with an unmatched stretch of consistent football.
In the end, it was vindication for Patriots quarterback Brady, although in the post-game interviews he did not acknowledge it, he just let his play speak for himself.
He went out and tossed four touchdown passes and hoisted his fourth Lombardi Trophy, putting him on par with NFL greats Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.
“It’s been a long journey,” said the 37-year-old Brady, whose first three Super Bowl victories were followed by two losses to the New York Giants on the NFL’s biggest stage. “I’ve been at it for 15 years, and we’ve had a couple of tough losses in this game, and this one came down to the end. This time, we made the plays.”
The 15-year NFL quarterback from the University of Michigan completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards, was named the game’s most valuable player joining Montana as the only three-time Super Bowl MVPs. His 37 completions were a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 34 of Peyton Manning last year.
Thirteen years have passed between Brady’s first Super Bowl victory and the win Sunday.
“He’s the best and showed it again tonight,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said of Brady. “He never got disappointed or discouraged when we had a couple turnovers in the course of the game. He just kept fighting.”
The Seahawks, meanwhile, were left to ponder what might have been. Trailing by four points late in the game, they moved into position for a fantastic finish thanks to an unbelievable juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse, the ball popcorning in and out of his hands before he finally reeled it in while flat on his back for a 33-yard reception to the New England five-yard line with 1:06 to play.
Next most people now blame Coach Pete Carroll for blowing the Seahawks miraculous last-second drive to the one and a chance to snatch victory from New England.
But these Patriots — the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls, in the 2003 and ‘04 seasons — weren’t going to let the defending champion Seahawks pull off the same feat.
Carroll fell to the franchise that fired him, and to Bill Belichick, the coach who replaced him in New England.
“Our defense, what can you say about them?” exclaimed Brady. “Malcolm (Butler), what a play. For a rookie to make a play like that and win us the Super Bowl is unbelievable. I saw the interception and I couldn’t believe it. It was an incredible play, a championship play.”
Instead of giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the one yard line, many blame Carroll for calling the Russell Wilson pass that was intercepted by Butler.
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said that the “personnel the Patriots had on the field wasn’t conducive to running the football.”
He continued: “I can’t even tell you, I can’t even feel it. For it to come down to a play like that, I hate that we have to live with that!!”
The humble Butler was overwhelmed in the post-game locker room: “This is crazy . . . can’t believe what has happened. Right now it hasn’t all set in. I guess it will take on more meaning when I get home. But I can say I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play and it came true.”
Brady was not perfect on this day, unleashing a pair of critical interceptions, but for him the ending was immaculate.
And for Butler, 24, his personal vision did come true and Patriot Nation could not be happier.
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII