In a corner of Tom Brady’s locker is a statue of the elephant-headed Hindu god, Ganesha, a harbinger of good fortune and, in Brady’s words, ” the remover of obstacles”. I don’t know who is responsible for the New England Patriots pulling off a most stunning and improbable victory— whether it was Lord Ganesha or Pete Carroll and his inexplicable play call or something else entirely. Whoever it was, whatever it was, it made an already great contest a game for the ages, one that will be talked about for a long time to come. Already, some are calling it the greatest Super Bowl ever.
Prior to the game, I didn’t hold out much hope for the Patriots. Not after the NFC championship game when the Seahawks overcame five Russell Wilson turnovers and a double digit fourth quarter deficit to beat the Packers. While the Pats did roll over a clearly overmatched Colt team, I felt that it would be different against the Seahawks. I just didn’t think the Patriots defense would be able to negate Marshawn Lynch, that he would eventually wear them down and run amok in the second half.Even when the Patriot defense confused Russell Wilson and jumped out to 7-0 and 14-7 leads, I was not persuaded otherwise. And so it proved, when Seattle scored just before the half to knot the game 14-14.
The third quarter confirmed my worst fears as Lynch started battering the Patriots line and Wilson threw some bullet passes to Chris Matthews (who was this guy?) who had never caught a TD pass in his nascent career and had been signed off the practice squad only in December. Meanwhile, Brady was being harassed and pounded into incompletions and the Patriot ground game was completely stalled. When the Seahawks scored two quick touchdowns, it seemed like a reprise the previous game against the Packers. I was almost ready to throw in the towel and write off the Pats .. and then it happened. Edelman and Amendola started getting free and Brady fired in some seeing eye passes and the Patriots were ahead by four. There were only two minutes left and I was feeling comfortable in the thought that Seattle would have to score a TD to win; a Field goal wouldn’t be enough.
I was quickly disabused as Wilson threw to Lynch for a 24 yard gain. Suddenly, the four point lead didn’t seem so secure. It seemed even more vulnerable when Jermaine Kerse pulled off a remarkable juggling catch ( I thought it was even more impossible than David Tyree ‘s catch against these same Pats a few Super Bowls ago) to put the Seahawks at the 6 yard line; Seattle then punched to the 1 yard line. I , and the whole world, expected Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch, to pound the ball in with ease and what happened next flabbergasted me and everyone else who was watching. I am not a particular fan of Pete Carroll but I feel for him. That play call of his made him the goat of this Super Bowl and will cause him to be talked about for years to come and not in a good way.
Reading the above, you might think that I am a Patriots fan. Not true. I think Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches ever( if not the greatest) and that he has a keen eye for football talent.I admire the way he has kept the Patriots in the thick of the title race for the past fifteen years even when he did not always have the best personnel. I also think he is a cold, ungracious, humorless jerk who is a sore loser. He also skirts the boundaries of legality, and sometimes oversteps them, in his desire to win( Spygate). If I was rooting for the Patriots, it is because I abhor the Seahawks. Of the seahawks, I like Russell Wilson who I think is a classy guy and a hardworking , never- say- die, QB. I dislike most of the other Seahawk stars particularly Lynch and Richard Sherman. Lynch’s behavior is despicable. Even if the TV interviews players have to suffer through are tedious and boring, he should understand that fans want them and that they are needed to publicize the game that pays his $6 million salary. Richard Sherman’s taunting of defeated opponents and his on-camera rants are also infuriating and we saw him at his worst after Darrelle Revis was burned for Seattle’s go ahead TD. Sherman signaled 2 and 4 with his fingers ( Revis’s jersey number) , no doubt to disparage a player he sees as a rival for the best CB in pro football. I will however give him props for going up to Tom Brady and shaking his hand after the game. Most of all, I root against Seattle because of their stadium which was built to funnel crowd noise and deafen visiting teams when they have the ball. It is an unfair advantage and I wish it could have somehow been
1. It was great to see Tom Brady jumping for joy when a game he had thought was lost suddenly turned in the Pats favor. He is normally the most unflappable of players and this reaction was out of character and therefore stunning. He fully deserved the MVP for standing up to the relentless Seahawk pass rush and throwing those four TDs against a terrific Seattle secondary. Met pitcher Tom Seaver used to be known as Tom Terrific but I think that sobriquet should now be bestowed on Tom Brady.
2. No doubt, Brady was helped by injuries to the Seahawk secondary. Sherman and Chancellor were hurting even before the game ( though they didn’t play like they were hurt) and when Jeremy Lane was injured making a first quarter interception, Brady was able to pick on his replacement Tharald Simon all day.
3. Deflategate; I find it difficult to believe that no one in the Pats organization knew of the under inflated footballs. QBs like footballs to be customized to their grip and liking and I can’t believe that some ballboy or other underling took it on himself to let the air out of the footballs that Brady used. At the same time, I don’t think that deflating the football to slightly below the allowable limit was such a big deal. Underinflated footballs may give better control but , as I understand it, they have less zip and don’t travel as far. If Deflategate had happened with any other team, it would have been a non-issue. Because of Spygate, however, Goodell will have to hand out a punishment and it will be interesting to see how hard he comes down on the Patriots. After having threatened to suspend Marshawn Lynch for the championship game if he wore gold-colored shoes, Goodell cannot be seen as seen as going easy on the Patriots.
4. With the Patriots win, one thing that all of us football fans can be thankful for is that we don’t have to suffer through the antics of Lynch and Sherman. At least a little while.