Pats amazing! Brady wins No. 4 in thriller

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

lendale, Ariz. — The final moments of Super Bowl XLIX would be impossible to fully describe with words, but in the end Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were champions.

With the Patriots trailing the Seattle Seahawks, 24-21, with 6:52 left in regulation, Brady led a perfect game-winning drive, going 8-for-8 for 65 yards and capping it with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman in a 28-24 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Patriots became the first team in NFL to win after trailing by 10 points in the second half of a Super Bowl.

Whether Brady — the game's Most Valuable Player for the third time — is the best quarterback in NFL history is completely subjective, but there's no longer any doubt he has the credentials. With the win, the former Michigan quarterback now has won four Super Bowls, tying him with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most in NFL history. In the game, Brady set a record with 13 career touchdown passes in Super Bowls, breaking Montana's previous mark of 11.

"Tom's the best ever," Edelman said. "I'm a big Joe Montana fan. I love him to death. I thought he was the best and everything. He won four; he was undefeated in four. But they didn't have a salary cap back then."

Brady finished the game 37-of-50 for 328 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He's the sixth quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a Super Bowl, but the first to have each of them to a different receiver — his ability to spread the ball has been among the trademarks of his career.

"It's just a great win," Brady said.

After the touchdown to Edelman, though, there was a chance the Patriots would have their title pulled away yet again because of an indescribable catch as they did against David Tyree and the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

In the last 2 minutes of a 60-minute never-ending roller coaster, there was a catch by Seattle's Jermaine Kearse rivaling Tyree's as the best in the 49-year history of the game. But two plays later, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw an interception to cornerback Malcolm Butler, the man who could only watch as Kearse made his circus catch.

"After Malcolm Butler caught that interception, I immediately started crying right there on the field," Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones said.

Even after the turnover with 20 seconds left and New England leading 28-24, the game wasn't over as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the Patriots inside the 1-yard line, preventing them from taking a knee.

Brady managed to draw defensive end Michael Bennett offsides, a play that gave the Patriots the opportunity to end the game, but before that would happen, a brawl broke out in the end zone. Officials declared Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin the instigator, ejecting him from the game, but Bennett and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski both tussled — including a punch from Gronkowski — until both were on the ground.

After the bitter end, though, the Patriots reclaimed the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time in franchise history, all of which came since 2001 with Brady as the quarterback and Bill Belichick as head coach. Belichick joins Chuck Noll as the only coaches to win four Super Bowls.

Wilson, who finished 12-of-21 for 247 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, had played well after a rough start and began the final Seattle drive with a 31-yard pass to running back Marshawn Lynch. On a third-and-10 that followed, Wilson hit Ricardo Lockette for an 11-yard gain, and on the next play Kearse had incredible 33-yard catch.

Wilson lofted the pass and Kearse and Butler both tipped it in the air. On the way to ground, the ball hit Kearse's left leg and right hand, and he somehow corralled it on the ground, putting the Seahawks at the 5-yard line with 1:06 remaining.

Lynch ran for 4 yards on the next play. But from the 1, Wilson threw a pass intended for Lockette that Butler caught instead, ultimately sealing the win for New England.

"We played lights out for the most part," Wilson said. "We fought so hard. You've got to give the Patriots credit. Tom made some great plays out there, and he was clutch at the end of the game."

Of course, with the fight breaking out, the confetti couldn't fall until a few more minutes. The defending-champion Seahawks made a valiant effort, and unknown rookie wide receiver Chris Matthews was heading toward super stardom before the loss as he finished with four catches for 109 yards and a touchdown after never catching an NFL pass before Sunday. Instead, New England erased the lead Seattle had built in the second half.

The Patriots were dominating early. They outgained the Seahawks with 75 yards compared to 17, and Wilson didn't complete a pass until there were less than 6 minutes left in the second quarter.

However, New England couldn't take advantage of a great scoring opportunity in the first quarter. On their second drive, the Patriots drove to the Seattle 10, using mostly short passes to move down the field, but on third-and-6, Brady threw an ugly interception to cornerback Jeremy Lane. Brady seemed to be looking for Edelman in the back of the end zone, but panicked and threw the ball right to Lane, who suffered a broken bone on the play in his left arm that held him out of the remainder of the game.

The Patriots made up for it on their next drive. Once again, New England attacked the Seattle defense with short passes, and this time, the Patriots scored the first touchdown of the game with an 11-yard pass from Brady to Brandon LaFell, taking a 7-0 lead with 9:47 left.

Seattle's offense finally started to move on its drive starting with 7 minutes left in the first half. On a third-and-6, Wilson hit Kearse for a 6-yard gain, and his first completion clearly provided a lift for the Seahawks.

Three plays later, Wilson threw deep to Matthews, who made an impressive leaping catch over Kyle Arrington for a 44-yard gain. Three plays after Matthews introduced himself to the mostly unknowing football world, Lynch scored on a 3-yard run, tying the game at 7-7 with 2:16 left in the second quarter.

And suddenly, both teams found an offensive rhythm after the early defensive slugfest. New England marched down the field with a nearly perfect 2-minute drill, scoring on a beautifully lofted 22-yard pass from Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski.

The only problem was the Patriots left 31 seconds on the clock, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn't content to head to the locker room. First, Robert Turbin ran for 19 yards. Then, Wilson ran for 17 yards to put the Seahawks quickly into New England territory. Two plays later, Wilson threw a 23-yard pass to Ricardo Lockette, who drew a face mask that moved Seattle to the 11-yard line.

With 6 seconds left, Carroll rejected conventional wisdom to kick a field goal, and Wilson threw a quick strike to Matthews to tie the game at 14-14 just 2 seconds before the break.

The Seahawks started with the ball in the second half, and Matthews again caught a deep pass, this time 45 yards. Seattle eventually settled for a 27-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka to take their first lead, 17-14, with 11:09 left in the third quarter.

Seattle's sudden dominance continued on the next two drives. Linebacker Bobby Wagner caught an interception on a Brady pass intended Gronkowski.

And the early offensive struggles were clearly in the rearview as the Seahawks marched to another touchdown, a 3-yarder from Wilson to Doug Baldwin set up by a 15-yard scramble by Wilson and a 14-yard run by Lynch over multiple defenders. With 4:54 left in the third quarter, Seattle's 17 unanswered points helped it take a 24-14 lead.

New England cut it to 24-21 with a 4-yard pass from Brady to Danny Amendola with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter. The score was Brady's 12th career touchdown pass in a Super Bowl, breaking Montana's record of 11.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Patriots defense gave the ball back to Brady with a chance to win.

"I couldn't be prouder of this team," Belichick said. "These guys have been counted out many times through the course of the year by a lot of people, but they always believed in themselves and just kept fighting."