The Seattle Seahawks had three downs to gain the yard they needed to erase the New England Patriots’ four-point lead in the closing moments of Super Bowl XLIX Sunday. Marshawn Lynch, the NFL’s rushing touchdown leader, could have had three chances to cross the goal line and clinch the Seahawks’ second consecutive title.
But the Seahawks decided to pass, and unheralded Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was ready. The 24-year-old jumped Seattle wide receiver Ricardo Lockette’s slant route and intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to seal the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl title in the last 14 years.
“I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play and it came true,” an emotional Butler said after the Patriots' 28-24 victory. “I’m just blessed. I can’t even explain it right now.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns to earn Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors, joining former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana as the only players in NFL history to gain the distinction three times. The 37-year-old also won his fourth Super Bowl ring, becoming just the third quarterback in league history to accomplish that feat.
“I want to thank my family and all my friends that have supported me, all my teammates. This is for you guys, I love you guys,” Brady said after the game.
New England outplayed Seattle for much of the first half. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell’s touchdown catch gave the Patriots the game’s first score in the second quarter. Seattle answered, as rookie wide receiver Chris Matthews’ first career NFL catch set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Lynch.
Brady’s second touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski gave the Patriots a 14-7 lead with just 30 seconds remaining in the first half. But Wilson led a last-ditch drive and completed a jump-ball touchdown to Matthews, who earned early buzz as a dark horse MVP candidate.
The Seahawks’ vaunted secondary neutralized the Brady-led Patriots offense in the third quarter while a Stephen Haushka field goal and a Doug Baldwin touchdown reception gave Seattle a 24-14 lead as the game entered its final period. That’s when Brady went to work, orchestrating a pair of plodding, methodical drives that ended in touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.
The Patriots clung to a four-point lead as Seattle regained possession with about 2 minutes to go in the quarter. Completions to Lynch and Lockette brought the Seahawks to midfield, before a juggling, unfathomable 33-yard catch by Jermaine Kearse placed Seattle within five yards of the goal line. Two plays later, Butler’s interception saved the Patriots’ season.
“To all the Patriots fans out there, wherever you are, this is our fourth Super Bowl championship in the last 14 years,” Patriots team owner Robert Kraft said after the game. “The first one we won I thought was pretty special, because it happened at a unique time in our country when it meant a lot. I never thought another trophy could feel so special. But this one absolutely does.”