Super Bowl XLIX
Glendale, Ariz. · Feb. 1, 2015
New England Patriots - 28
Seattle Seahawks - 24
This one was pretty special. And I'm not saying that just because I finally got to witness a Super Bowl with my own eyes.
After winning three out of four Super Bowls between 2001 and 2004, the New England Patriots seemed bound for further gridiron glory. And indeed, they advanced to the Super Bowl in the 2007 and 2011 seasons. But strange and even miraculous finishes by the New York Giants denied the Patriots a couple more Lombardi trophies for their display case.
Super Bowl XLII stung the most because the Patriots were playing to cap off the longest undefeated season in NFL history—18 straight games. They just couldn’t close the deal for the 19th. That game happened at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Now the Pats were back at the scene of that crime for Super Bowl XLIX, looking for "redemption in the desert" against the defending Super Bowl champs the Seattle Seahawks.
Our NEWS CENTER Super Bowl crew began the adventure by calling an audible. Our original travel plans to Phoenix had us flying out Tuesday, but a blizzard was coming to Maine, and it was a big one.
So we made arrangements to grab a 3 a.m. bus to Logan Airport in Boston on Monday and get out of Dodge before the storm stranded us, maybe for days. That also gave Lee Goldberg, Johnny Mehler, photographer Kirk Cratty, producer Ted Varipatis and me more time to spend covering the buildup to the game.
Getting a first-hand look at all of the hoopla surrounding America’s biggest sporting event was exciting, and telling the stories of so many transplanted Mainers and other New Englanders who have settled in Arizona gave us plenty to talk about as the game drew closer.
Super Bowl XLIX was a dream matchup. The Seahawks were the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots were the top seed in the AFC. Identical 12-4 records in the regular season. And to add to the drama, Seattle coach Pete Carroll just happened to be Bill Belichick’s predecessor as head coach of the Patriots.
As in every one of their Super Bowl championships, the Patriots failed to put up any points in the first quarter, but neither did Seattle. Tom Brady had the Pats up 14-7 late in the second quarter.
Seattle had the ball with less than 40 seconds in the half, and Russell Wilson got them to the New England 11-yard line with 0:06 on the clock. Rather than take the easy field goal, Carroll went big and Wilson fired a strike to the unheralded Chris Matthews, a name we previously associated only with loud political talk.
14-all heading into the locker room.
Seattle’s defense was the best in the NFL, and they lived up to the hype, picking off Tom Brady twice. The Patriots began the 4th quarter down 24-14. No team in a Super Bowl had ever rallied from that large a deficit in the final frame.
The cool, efficient Tom Brady did what he does best, and with passes to Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, came up big for 14 unanswered points. Patriots are up by four at the two-minute warning. Can New England fans relax now? Oh no.
Russell Wilson reminded us why the Seahawks were the defending champs. He went deep to Jermaine Kearse, who bobbled the ball several times, fell on his back and somehow managed to make the catch. Shades of David Tyree’s circus catch that drove a stake through the Patriots’ perfect season here in Glendale in 2008!
Seattle first down on the New England 5-yard line with a minute left to play. A Marshawn Lynch run gets the ball to the one. A touchdown seems like a sure thing. This can’t end so badly for the Patriots on such a crazy play again, can it?
Lee Goldberg and I were watching from the press box right above where the game was on the line. Feeling somewhat deflated, we realized there was little need for us to get ready to go on the field for the post-game celebration.
Suddenly, as everyone in the stadium and the known football world waited for Lynch to get the ball and bull through to the end zone, Wilson threw a pass. A play that surprised everyone. Everyone, that is, except Malcolm Butler, an undrafted free agent rookie.
Butler recognized the formation across from him from practice sessions. He zipped in front of receiver Ricardo Lockette, nabbed the ball, and became New England’s newest sports hero.
Lee and I looked at each other, asking “did that just happen?” A look at the on-field celebrating (penalized, of course) and the replay on the giant screen confirmed that, indeed, it did happen. We hustled through the stands down toward the field as quickly as we could, to be ready to go out and capture the giddy championship moments.
Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl ring and his third MVP award. But he gave Malcolm Butler the brand new pickup truck that comes with the MVP trophy. Good call.
Standing on the field as the red, white and blue trophy-shaped confetti flew, I felt that the blizzard back in Maine had followed us to Arizona after all. No shovels necessary.
Average price for a ticket to Super Bowl XLIX from a broker? Over $10,000. The experience of watching a game for the ages unfold in front of you? Priceless!