With the Seattle Seahawks sitting on the 4 yard-line with one minute remaining and down by four points, it looked as though the New England Patriots were headed to another disappointing Super Bowl finish. But the Seahawks made the controversial decision to throw the ball, the Patriots intercepted on the 1-yard line and New England went on to win, 28-24.
With 1:06 left, Seahawks wideout Jermaine Kearse hauled in a miraculous, juggling catch while going to the ground. That gave Seattle the ball inside the 10-yard line and looked to seal the Seahawks' late comeback. But Malcolm Butler stepped inside on a slant on the goal line and made the pick.
Trailing by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, the Patriots were on the ropes. But as he's done so many times before, Tom Brady mounted a comeback, throwing two touchdowns in the final eight minutes to guide his team to the win.
With just over two minutes left in the game, Brady found Julian Edelman for a 3-yard touchdown, putting the Patriots on top for the first time since late in the second quarter. Brady, who picked up his fourth career Super Bowl ring with the win, finished 37-of-50 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and two picks.
The two teams came out of halftime tied, but the third quarter was all Seattle. Alternating big throws over the top from Wilson and downhill runs from Lynch, the Seahawks piled up 155 yards of offense and 10 unanswered points to climb in front, 24-14. Wilson notched his second touchdown pass of the game late in the third quarter, finding Doug Baldwin for a 3-yard score.
But New England wasn't going quietly. Brady engineered a critical scoring drive, completing 5 of 7 passes and finding Danny Amendola for a 4-yard score with just under eight minutes left in the game.
After a scoreless first quarter, the game started heating up in the second. The Patriots got on the board first, using a string of short dump off passes to move 65 yards for a 7-0 lead. Brady completed the first of his two first-half scores, threading the ball to Brandon LaFell for an 11-yard touchdown.
A flurry of points just before halftime tied up the game. A long pass play from Wilson to Chris Matthews helped jolt the Seahawks out of an offensive funk midway through the second quarter and Marshawn Lynch punched it into the end zone three plays later to tie the game at 7. Brady capped a quick two-minute drive with a dime of a pass to Rob Gronkowski down the sideline to go back up by seven with 31 seconds left in the half, but once again, the Seahawks had a response. A trio of chunk plays moved Seattle quickly downfield, setting up a game-tying touchdown from Wilson to Matthews with just two seconds on the clock.
SB Nation presents: Final thoughts on the unbelievable finish to Super Bowl XLIX
1) Julian Edelman was the Patriots' star.
Edelman was Brady's go-to guy all night, tallying nine catches for 109 yards. He w,as the key spark for the Patriots' critical fourth-quarter touchdown march to pull back within three, catching a pair of drive-extending passes. On the first of those catches, he took a hard helmet-to-helmet hit that left him wobbly and he struggled to climb back to his feet on several occasions after that. Edelman was never checked for a concussion and stayed in the game.
With just under five minutes left, Edelman shook free of his man on the goal line and hauled in the go-ahead touchdown from Brady.
2) Introducing Chris Matthews.
The Patriots have a bad history with unheralded wide receiver breakouts in the Super Bowl and that continued on Sunday night. Undrafted fourth-year man Chris Matthews, who came into the game without a single NFL reception, made two monster grabs in the first half to help the Seahawks climb back into the game.
Midway through the second quarter, the Seahawks were struggling offensively and Wilson had yet to complete a pass. But on second-and-5 from midfield, Matthews got behind the defense and made an acrobatic, twisting grab to set Seattle up on the New England 11-yard line.
Three plays later, Lynch plunged in for a game-tying score.
Matthews came up big again just before halftime. Sitting on the 10-yard line with six seconds remaining and trailing, 14-7, the Seahawks made the gamble to forgo a field goal and throw for the end zone. Matthews made another leaping grab to pull back even with just two seconds on the clock.
Matthews finished the game with four grabs for 109 yards and a score.
3) Marshawn Lynch was the key to the second half.
Big plays in the passing game were the spark to the Seahawks second-quarter rallies, but it was Marshawn Lynch's consistent output on the ground that allowed Seattle to take control of the game in the second half. The Patriots owned the line of scrimmage early, but Lynch's pounding running style began to wear them down as the game wore on. He ran rampant in the third quarter, and it's now coincidence that the Seahawks outscored the Patriots 10-0 during that same span.
But the Patriots began bottling him up in the fourth quarter. Unable to move the ball on the ground, the Seahawks offense floundered, going three-and-out to start the quarter and watching New England surge back in front with 14 unanswered points.