2. Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 (Super Bowl XLIX)
Bill Belichick’s team had dropped its previous two Super Bowl appearances in 2007 and 2011, both narrow losses to the New York Giants. In 2014, the Patriots got off to their somewhat traditional 2-2 start. This time it felt a bit different. In Week 4 on a Monday night at Kansas City, the team was rolled by Andy Reid’s Chiefs, 41-14. There was rumbling about Tom Brady, especially with a rookie named Jimmy Garoppolo waiting his turn.
After the game, Belichick uttered the words, “we’re on to Cincinnati.” That was the first of seven straight wins and an eventual 12-4 record. The Pats were the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They survived the Baltimore Ravens, 35-31, in the divisional round and humbled the Colts, 45-7, in the conference title game.
The Seattle Seahawks were not only 12-4 but were the defending Super Bowl champions. They boasted a fearsome defense, emerging quarterback Russell Wilson and relentless runner Marshawn Lynch.
The teams were tied at 14-all at intermission. Seattle responded with 10 straight points and owned a 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. Brady rallied his team to a 28-24 lead with 2:02 to play, but Pete Carroll’s club wasn’t done. They managed to reach the Patriots’ five-yard line with 1:06 to play. Lynch ran four yards to the one, and it seemed inevitable that he would get the ball again.
Instead, Carroll opted to pass and Wilson threw the ball to Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler. It was a heart-stopping finish that changed the course of NFL history in more ways than one. And yet…