February 01, 2015

Patriots Win Super Bowl 0x31 After Epic Last-Second Interception: The Seattle Seahawks were one yard away from taking the lead with under 30 seconds left, but New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler jumped a route and intercepted a pass, closing out an epic 28-24 comeback win in Super Bowl 0x31. The Patriots trailed by 10 points in the second half -- the biggest deficit quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belicheck have faced in the Super Bowls they've played -- but they came back to win their fourth Super Bowl in 13 years.

posted by rcade to football at 02:43 PM - 80 comments

A well written article, and hope he's wrong.

Should this be the de facto game thread?

posted by hincandenza at 05:48 PM on February 01

Yep.

posted by rcade at 06:16 PM on February 01

Well, barring an offensive explosion in the 2nd half, I was obviously wrong to figure on any real scoring output. Exciting game, and love that the refs are staying hands off so far.

posted by hincandenza at 07:43 PM on February 01

That was an entertaining half time show. It had some songs I liked, it had some very striking visuals, it had a surprise (for me, as I didn't know that Missy Elliot was taking part), and it had dancing palm trees and sharks.

Can't ask for much more than that...

posted by grum@work at 08:28 PM on February 01

Hey, at least I get a point for that Ninkovich sack. So far, that's all I've got to root for... We'll see if Brady can do anything with this possession.

posted by hincandenza at 09:18 PM on February 01

Wow. Seattle chokes hard core.

posted by grum@work at 10:01 PM on February 01

That was a moronic play call.

posted by Hugh Janus at 10:08 PM on February 01

My wife (who was in another room) asked what happened.

My description was:
"Seattle just shit their pants, pulled the pants over their head, and then fell off a cliff with the shitty pants on their head."

"You could just say they choked...."

posted by grum@work at 10:09 PM on February 01

In the Seattle home I'm in, and on facebook, there is... some frustration with that play call. It makes no sense, and while I'm thrilled to have the Pats win, I was in shock because I expected a 30 second rush for a FG to tie it, not a sudden INT and win.

posted by hincandenza at 10:22 PM on February 01

I can't believe that call. I can't believe that pick. I can't believe that comeback. I'm feeling some of Stone Brewery's finest right now, but that was one of the best Super Bowls I've ever seen.

posted by rcade at 10:26 PM on February 01

Carroll's explanation after the game was that he had three receivers on the field and the Pats' goal line unit out there, and they were playing for 3rd or 4th down to give the Pats next to no time on the clock. So he wanted to run the next time when he had the right guys out there.

It's a pretty confusing position to take - they wanted to throw despite wanted not to score so there'd be no time left, but they also wanted to exploit the goal line unit, and yet didn't split out wide and ended up running a quick slant inside. If they just wanted to run time off the clock, there were better ways to do that than a passing play into the heart of the field.

My sense is - Pete Carroll wanted to outsmart everyone, the same way he did at the end of the 1st half going for a TD with six seconds left, and getting caught up in the moment didn't consider that a near-guarantee Lynch TD there was already plenty brilliant enough.

Chris Matthews was the intended receiver - what Superbowl folklore he would've been had he caught that ball.

posted by dfleming at 10:50 PM on February 01

The win probability graph for this game is damn sexy.

posted by tron7 at 10:52 PM on February 01

Chris Matthews was the intended receiver - what Superbowl folklore he would've been had he caught that ball.

It feels like we are going to forget about Chris Matthews because of the result of the game but what a crazy story. He was the entire Seattle offense in the first half.

posted by tron7 at 10:57 PM on February 01

If my brain only has room for one Chris Matthews, I'd happy exchange his performance for the collective works of Hardball Chris.

posted by dfleming at 11:13 PM on February 01

The scene near the end of the game with Belichick, Patricia, and McDaniels locked up in a circle hug and getting doused with Gatorade was strongly reminiscent of the Belichick, Crennel, Weis hug near the end of the SB win over the Eagles.

The encroachment penalty on Seattle after the interception was huge. The Pats had been penalized for celebration after the pick and were starting from almost on the goal line. They could have easily taken a safety trying to do a sneak or kneel down to run out the clock. The penalty gave the Pats some breathing room for a decent kneel down.

Also, anyone who has ever seen Joe Pisarcik's attempt to close out a game knows that anything can happen.

The fact that Butler hung onto the ball when he jumped the route for the pick is more stunning than the jump itself. The play happened so fast in such a small field area and in such close quarters with significant contact that the soundness of his form and technique was remarkable.

The theme being intoned by various announcers that there would soon be deep, serious business at hand to tend to regarding the ball pressure issue once the excitement of the Super Bowl has worn off is a stupid overreach. Crack investigative team or not. The ball pressure issue could end up being the most mundane non-story of the NFL season when all the info has been gathered. If the league is smart, they will not perpetuate a witch hunt, and will simply make themselves look like the brilliant, decisive administrators they aren't by declaring that from now on, the NFL would be in complete charge of all footballs used in all games. "So that nothing like this will ever happen again". Without ever saying what it was that actually happened.

posted by beaverboard at 11:21 PM on February 01

I don't understand what I just watched. The Good Lord bless and keep you, Pete Carroll. The stones to tie it at half time and the lack of brains to lose it at the end.

posted by yerfatma at 11:22 PM on February 01

We've got another foot of snow on the way starting in a couple of hours. I would say to the guys: stay in Arizona and party on. Fly back on Tuesday. Give us a chance to dig out again before we have the parade.

Businesses and schools closed tomorrow, bitterly cold outside, perfect conditions for a 24 hour post-game bacchanal.

posted by beaverboard at 11:46 PM on February 01

To all you Brady haters, it's time to shut up and realize who the best QB in football is, Tom Brady.

posted by Bradyman at 11:47 PM on February 01

Tom Brady, welcome to Sportsfilter! I hope you aren't trying to go incognito here. The "Bradyman" handle is a dead giveaway.

Good game!

posted by Hugh Janus at 01:50 AM on February 02

Hugh, if you look he's been here about a year. But hey, it's cool that he gets excited enough by a win to come post here. :) Go Pats!

Bradyman: To all you Brady haters, it's time to shut up and realize who the best QB in football is, Tom Brady.
While I'm not normally a fan of post-win hyperbole... shit, I think you're right. That is to say, I think the debate is now over. Who else do you argue for as the best of all time anymore? Even outside the Superbowl dominance, he's top 5- or higher, depending on how much longer he plays- in wins, passing yards, TDs, completions, and probably several other stats I didn't bother to look up.

I know it's from the what-if department, but it's stunning to consider that a total of maybe 4-5 inches of combined difference in the location of only two passes- one the improbable, heartbreaking "helmet catch" in 2007, and one the in-and-out of his hands incompletion to Wes Welker in 2011- and we would be talking about 6-time winner Tom Brady, owner of the only 19-0 season in history.

And the crazy part is, he still hasn't retired. Those counting stats will continue to grow and he has a chance to be #1 in a few key stats. It's not like this was Elway in 1999; he's still healthy and obviously very effective, and is working with unarguably the greatest head coach of all time.

I'm kind of glad I'm a Patriots fan, because I can honestly see how much other fans would hate them, and Brady in particular. The movie star looks, the gorgeous supermodel wife, a household net worth nearing a billion dollars, and on-field success beyond belief. He's literally living one of the most charmed lives in existence, and anyone else but him and I'd hate their guts on principle alone. :)

posted by hincandenza at 02:05 AM on February 02

Tweets from Harvard Sports:

The Pats allowed opponents to score 81% of the time in power situations (runs on 3rd/4th & <2, or w/i 2 yds of goalline). Dead last in NFL.

SEA was second in the league in power situations, getting stuffed just 17% of the time. Lynch converted 17 of 20 3rd/4ths & short this year.

In summary, Tom Brady won this Super Bowl by sitting on the sidelines and watching Pete Carroll (and his OC) make probably the biggest single boneheaded coaching decision in sports over the last 50 years. The only ones I can think of that might be close are Grady Little not pulling Pedro Martinez in 2003, and John McNamara leaving Bill Buckner at 1st base in game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Huh. Boston seems to play a prominent role in these stories.

I know it's from the what-if department, but it's stunning to consider that a total of maybe 4-5 inches of combined difference in the location of only two passes- one the improbable, heartbreaking "helmet catch" in 2007, and one the in-and-out of his hands incompletion to Wes Welker in 2011- and we would be talking about 6-time winner Tom Brady, owner of the only 19-0 season in history.

Of course, we could just as well be talking about 6-time Super Bowl loser Tom Brady, as today was the biggest Super Bowl margin of victory in his career (4 points).

For his 3 other wins, the margin of victory has been:

2005 - Vinatieri field goal with 0:04 left in the fourth quarter
2004 - Vinatieri field goal with 0:00 left in the fourth quarter
2002 - Vinatieri field goal with 8:40 left in the 4th quarter

This is the only Super Bowl win in Brady's career where the margin of victory/winning play is because of him, and I'm pretty damn sure no one is going to remember that drive any time soon...

posted by grum@work at 07:44 AM on February 02

I think that's what bothers me about this Super Bowl.

If Seattle doesn't score on that final drive because they rushed Lynch twice (thrice) and couldn't get in, or Wilson's attempt to loft one into the endzone goes incomplete after a couple of rush attempts, or even if Kearse doesn't make the circus catch and the Seattle drive dies quietly out near mid-field, I think this Super Bowl would have been labeled as one of the greats, and Brady would have had a crowning moment.

Instead, "the play call" happens, and the rest of the game is completely overshadowed, and Brady's victory is tainted with a "well, yeah but...".

posted by grum@work at 07:56 AM on February 02

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering why Jeremy Lane didn't come back into the game yesterday after that interception:

posted by grum@work at 08:00 AM on February 02

posted by Mr Bismarck at 08:58 AM on February 02

This is the only Super Bowl win in Brady's career where the margin of victory/winning play is because of him, and I'm pretty damn sure no one is going to remember that drive any time soon...

I'm not sure why you're so positive that drive will be forgotten. The ridiculous index of the last two minutes was off the charts for sure. Pete Carroll's play call (as well as Butler's interception) was ridiculous but so was the catch by Jermaine Kearse that led up to that. Two individual ridiculous plays. Do they overshadow Brady's achievements? I guess it might feel like that now, but over time Brady's performance will float to the top.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter Seattle had a 91% win probability which Brady methodically erased with 14 unanswered points. The last drive might be overshadowed by the later ridiculousness but it hardly will be forgotten.

Brady ends up winning MVP, made 37 completions (A Super Bowl record) and made his 13th Super Bowl touchdown pass (Super Bowl record) all pretty memorable stats. I guess time will tell if this Super Bowl goes down as one of the greats or if there's a "yeah, but" associated with Brady's performance. From where I sit though, this was one of the most amazing Super Bowls ever.

(Of course the 538 peeps disagree with me but there ya go.)

posted by jeremias at 09:17 AM on February 02

we would be talking about 6-time winner Tom Brady, owner of the only 19-0 season in history.

If the Pats had been able to hold their significant halftime lead and slow down Manning's Colts in the second half of the 2006-07 AFC title game, the Pats would have gone on to play the Bears in the SB, and then we'd be talking about 7 time winner Tom Brady.

posted by beaverboard at 09:19 AM on February 02

then we'd be talking about 7 time winner Tom Brady

Let's not forget that Brady avoided a chance to tie another record yesterday (thanks to Pete Carroll) - most Superbowl losses by a starting QB.

He had a decent game. He executed plays against a tough defense and overcame a few bad decisions. He wasn't even the best QB in the game.

Who else do you argue for as the best of all time?

Same answer until anything changes ...

Joe Montana. Not even close. Never lost a Superbowl. 4-3 is admirable, 4-0 is excellence.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:00 AM on February 02

Two individual ridiculous plays. Do they overshadow Brady's achievements? I guess it might feel like that now, but over time Brady's performance will float to the top.

Crazy/rare moments overshadow almost everything because they are easy-to-remember single moments, and unless a player has a transcendent game (Doug Williams, for example), consistency tends to be forgotten.

Remember the 100-yd interception/touchdown by Pittsburgh at the end of the 1st half against Arizona? Remember the great catch by Holmes for the winning touchdown in the back of the endzone (with the two-tippy-toe-touch to stay in bounds)? Now, do you remember which quarterback had the better game (statistically)?

At the beginning of the fourth quarter Seattle had a 91% win probability which Brady methodically erased with 14 unanswered points. The last drive might be overshadowed by the later ridiculousness but it hardly will be forgotten.

Of course, NE had a 79% win probability with less than 2 minutes in the game, and Seattle had a 88% win probability with a minute left in the game (and the score hadn't changed in between). That's a 67% change while Brady just looked at the jumbotron. That's how ridiculous that final drive is, and overshadows everything else in the game.

posted by grum@work at 10:13 AM on February 02

Remember the 100-yd interception/touchdown by Pittsburgh at the end of the 1st half against Arizona?

Interesting you bring that up. I was thinking at the end of the first half with Carroll having a reputation for running junk plays and Belichick always a step ahead in the thought process that history might repeat itself.

On that play at least Seattle threw an out to an isolated receiver. At least it wasn't a quick slant into traffic to a receiver who hasn't won the route off of the line. Guess Pete was saving his best for the end of the game.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:36 AM on February 02

Joe Montana. Not even close. Never lost a Superbowl. 4-3 is admirable, 4-0 is excellence.

That's an amazing standard. You're basically crediting Montana with losing earlier in the playoffs.

posted by yerfatma at 10:37 AM on February 02

Same answer until anything changes ...

Joe Montana. Not even close. Never lost a Superbowl. 4-3 (sic) is admirable, 4-0 is excellence.

So 5-0 in Super Bowls is the only criterion by which you would define another quarterback as better than Joe Montana? Is Jim Kelly's 0-4 record evidence of his complete incompetence? Surely Trent Dilfer should occupy his seat in the Hall of Fame.

posted by bender at 10:48 AM on February 02

Last night, I was puzzled by Doug Baldwin's unsportsmanlike conduct call after his touchdown. NBC didn't show it because he pretended to poop the football.

posted by rcade at 10:50 AM on February 02

and it had dancing palm trees and sharks.

Can't believe the same media that brought us 'deflategate' didn't create a storm over the fact that the fucking trees and sharks were lip-syncing.

posted by smithnyiu at 11:01 AM on February 02

Side note:

Any time the NFL tells me that concussions are down, I just have to remind myself that it's reported concussions.

Edelman seemed to be concussed after a helmet-to-helmet hit, when he put his forearm down (and his knee, on review) and then stumbled down the field.(I say "stumbled" because of two noticeable jerky head motions he makes when he's running. That looks like someone trying to compensate for his bell being rung.) Then, he was tackled on another play, and seemed to have a hard time getting up again (which the announcer said was because of his hip). Finally, he tried to catch a ball over his head by leaping backward, and he landed in such a way that his head bounced off the turf.

According to this article, at no point was Edelman ever taken off the field, or examined by a doctor in the "quiet room", despite independent medical doctors on the sideline requesting that he be examined.

posted by grum@work at 11:09 AM on February 02

Edelman's movements on the first play seemed suspect to me too. But he does grab his hip on the second as he's struggling to get up, and on the third it seemed like he was lying on the ground for an extra beat in frustration, not because of a possible concussion. In both the second and third plays his movements during the play were sharp.

posted by rcade at 11:16 AM on February 02

That's how ridiculous that final drive is, and overshadows everything else in the game.

Yep. The final interception is as momentous a play as Bart Starr punching it in from two feet in the Ice Bowl. Butler's speed on that play was inhuman.

posted by rcade at 11:17 AM on February 02

Crazy/rare moments overshadow almost everything because they are easy-to-remember single moments, and unless a player has a transcendent game (Doug Williams, for example), consistency tends to be forgotten.

I dunno, the argument that "consistency tends to be forgotten" doesn't ring true for me. If you look at the Hall of Fame for any given sport, they are filled with players who were consistently excellent and by extension, memorable.

Crazy/rare moments are one of the reasons we watch sports, however I don't believe these individual moments erase achievements over the long run.

posted by jeremias at 11:23 AM on February 02

Joe Montana. Not even close. Never lost a Superbowl. 4-3 is admirable, 4-0 is excellence.

Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors. He finished second in 19 majors.

Montana is an all time great without question. But the ultimate measure is how many times you put yourself in a position to win a championship. That's what it's all about. That's what Belichick and Brady have done. (And I admire Bill Walsh above almost all others).

Montana's greater achievement may be that he won 4 titles with two different head coaches. With the most dominant win coming in Seifert's rookie season as a HC.

After Elway's Broncos got crushed for the third time in the SB against no wins (in that dominant win by SF), he said he'd still rather be a participant in the game than be home watching it on TV.

posted by beaverboard at 11:31 AM on February 02

I don't think Joe Montana's perfect record in Super Bowls would have survived against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1993 season.

posted by rcade at 11:45 AM on February 02

(Of course the 538 peeps disagree with me but there ya go.)

Excitement index is one factor but it's not the only factor. The context of '07 and the ridiculousness of the helmet catch put that super bowl on top for me. Then '97 for personal reasons. This Super Bowl probably ranks third for me. The '08 and '12 Super Bowls are next in line. I found myself penalizing the games decided by a late field goal. It's a lot more exciting for me when offenses and defenses make the deciding plays.

posted by tron7 at 12:13 PM on February 02

Never lost a Superbowl. 4-3 is admirable, 4-0 is excellence.

So - by this logic - if a guy wins 5, but loses any others, he's not excellent? The only way to beat Montana is to win 5 and retire immediately?

I do not understand why people favour perfect records over dirtier, more successful ones, as though it's inconceivable in a bigger sample size that people regress to the mean.

Which Montana does, when you consider his 16-7 playoff record against Brady's 21-8 one (a lower win%), or Montana's 4 one-and-dones vs. Brady's 2 one-and-dones. It wasn't all Montana Playoff Magic all-the-time, if you have any memory at all.

posted by dfleming at 12:27 PM on February 02

Overall playoff record doesn't diminish Super Bowl record. If Brady had gone undefeated in the biggest game, you know that would have been used forever to rate him above quarterbacks who got there and didn't win 'em all. That's exactly what happened when he was 3-0 in the Super Bowl -- he was put an a pedestal alongside Montana.

Why are people talking about Brady being 4-3? Isn't he 4-2?

posted by rcade at 12:44 PM on February 02

the ultimate measure is how many times you put yourself in a position to win a championship

I disagree.

The ultimate measure is how you perform in those opportunities to win a championship.

Being the best in the biggest games is what defines greatness.

posted by cixelsyd at 12:54 PM on February 02

The third loss was in the Super bowl of the public's heart.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:57 PM on February 02

I needed that safety for my block pool. Lynch or a QB sneak/boot is the only play call option in my opinion. Ball cant be in the air.

posted by Debo270 at 01:11 PM on February 02

But the ultimate measure is how many times you put yourself in a position to win a championship.

This should be called the Levy Principle.

posted by rcade at 01:14 PM on February 02

I don't think Joe Montana's perfect record in Super Bowls would have survived against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1993 season.

They would never play each other in a Super Bowl...

posted by Debo270 at 01:14 PM on February 02

This should be called the Levy Principle.

*sob*

posted by grum@work at 01:17 PM on February 02

The ultimate measure is how you perform in those opportunities to win a championship.

Then why is Montana above Bradshaw in your ranking?

posted by yerfatma at 02:10 PM on February 02

Being the best in the biggest games is what defines greatness.

You realize that you're putting Eli Manning and Jim Plunkett in the top five of quarterbacks of all time, right?

posted by Etrigan at 02:55 PM on February 02

You realize that you're putting Eli Manning and Jim Plunkett in the top five of quarterbacks of all time, right?

Interesting you mention Eli Manning

More statistical analysis on Superbowl Quarterbacks

posted by cixelsyd at 03:27 PM on February 02

Overall playoff record doesn't diminish Super Bowl record. If Brady had gone undefeated in the biggest game, you know that would have been used forever to rate him above quarterbacks who got there and didn't win 'em all.

I am saying that isolating the "big game" when the entire playoff process is about win-or-go-home doesn't really do big game quarterbacking justice.

I mean, to simplifying it, Montana and Brady both won 4 championships in 14 seasons as starters. The only Super Bowl specific difference which some consider to be a negative is that Brady got there two more times. Which, when you consider every playoff game (by measure of every other QB in the game) a big game, means you actually value those deep playoff runs less than two of Montana's one-and-dones. Which is ludicrous.

posted by dfleming at 03:33 PM on February 02

Best Fan Reactions

posted by phaedon at 03:38 PM on February 02

The final interception is as momentous a play as Bart Starr punching it in from two feet in the Ice Bowl

Incredible play by a rookie defensive back who also saved a Seattle touchdown 2 plays earlier by having the focus to play to the whistle after his pass deflection dropped into the lap of the Seattle receiver.

posted by cixelsyd at 04:24 PM on February 02

Most of the commentary seems to be on the 2nd and 1 call on the interception. Carroll's explanation of his thoughts on the call is quite understandable. The field matchups were not favorable for a power run, the clock situation played into the selection, and the pass in this case seemed to be the better option. So Pete says the whole thing is his fault, but based on the factors that went into the decision, there's a case that it is not. That throws the onus onto Russel Wilson. Did he misread the defense? Did he throw a bad pass? The answer is no to both questions. Some say the primary receiver was Matthews. I have looked at the play numerous times (I'm a glutton for watching all the good things for the Patriots that happened in the game), and I paid particular attention to Matthews on the outside (on my 18th or 19th look that is). He was covered by Browner who jammed him at the line and proved to be strong enough to hold him up long enough that Wilson would not have had a lot of time left to make a throw. Browner was still with Matthews as the ball was released, and headed for the point of the catch/interception as the ball was in flight. Butler had been beaten in practice by the play when it was run by the scout team and Jimmy Garropolo. To the kid's credit, he learned his lesson well and recognized the look, jumped the route, and beat the receiver to the spot by about 1/4 of a stride. Wilson's pass was accurate, thrown with good velocity, and cannot be considered a bad throw. His decision making was sound as well. As he released the ball, the receiver was moving to the ball, and the defender was not directly covering him. It's a play that should have been a completion, but Butler made a hell of a play. So what's the answer to the question of who takes the blame? Simply enough, it has to come back to Pete Carroll. It was not a dumb call, it was not the wrong call. The problem was that Carroll over-coached the play. Bang away on 2nd down, and the worst thing that will happen is a 1-yard loss. This still gives you time to bang away one more time, and if you don't make that one, throw on 4th.

I don't remember Seattle ever trying to use the zone read play during the game. I fully expected to see it at least once or twice. Did I miss it? The zone read play might have been the ideal call on the goal line, even though New England had their jumbo defensive package on the field.

As the game went on, the thought I had most often was "who the hell is Chris Matthews?" At the end, it was "who the hell is Malcolm Butler?"

On Kearse's stop-drop-roll-kick-hey-I-caught-it act: My reaction was "if that proves to be the critical play in Patriots losing I think I might kill myself". When Butler made his play, my reaction was "Oh My God, he intercepted it". I didn't believe it at first, thinking he had merely broken up the play. The replay showed the play for what it really was, a classic case of "do your job".

Commercials and halftime show were lost on me. I never pay much attention to those. I wanted to throttle the singer of the Nation Anthem. Why do people treat it as a piece of performance art? It is the National Song, and it needs to be treated with the respect it deserves. Sing the notes as they were written, pronounce the words as they are meant to be pronounced, and please-please-please keep the tempo somewhat above Grave, probably around Andante. Please forgive the pet peeve of an old fart who wants the kids off the lawn (if I ever find it again under the snow).

The random thought occurred to me shortly after the game was that it was just like the NBA. That is, forget about the first 3 3/4 quarters. Just tune in for the last 5 minutes, and you'll see everything you need to see. Of course, that will never hold true for football, but how much action can you pack into the last 5 minutes of a football game? Wow!

The only really noticeable difference between the two teams that I could really notice was the difference in discipline between the Patriots and the Seahawks, particularly at the end of the game. It seemed that the Patriots went from play to play, were excited by the good things, shrugged off the bad things, and just went on. The Seahawks seemed to be more interested in trash talking and showing off. OK, I watched Gronkowski, but everybody knows he's an overgrown 12-year-old. Particularly unfortunate was the fight during the kneel-downs at the end. Regardless of cause, it did not reflect well on Seattle's players or their coaching staff. I fully understand that the frustration level for Seattle was incredibly high, but discipline needs to be maintained.

Seattle is a really good football team. One can easily make the case they are better than New England, but on this field on this day, Patriots won. Fluke? Maybe. At various times during the game Seattle deserved to win, then deserved not to win, then should have won, then lost the opportunity to win. Who was better yesterday? Coin flip.

Tom Brady needs to have a better title than "Tom Terrific". In homage to Reggie Jackson of Mr. October fame, how about the sobriquet "Old Man Winter" to salute Brady's incredible record in games played from the 1st of November on.

posted by Howard_T at 05:16 PM on February 02

a classic case of "do your job"

It was beyond that.

The corner's job on that play was simply to ensure the receiver did not catch the ball. Many corners have lost their jobs by attempting to jump a route and missing the ball or getting flagged for interference (which wouldn't have mattered in this situation).

posted by cixelsyd at 05:52 PM on February 02

The real secret to the Patriots' victory is revealed.

posted by Howard_T at 06:09 PM on February 02

Butler's in the game because Matthews is uncoverable and New England decided to shift its corner assignments in the second half, correct? This is my favorite Super Bowl ever.

posted by phaedon at 06:30 PM on February 02

In sizing up the current state of the Patriots' dark empire, cushy balls should be the least of any tin hatter's concerns. Those who have long felt that the team maintains an unseen hand that guides the inner workings of the NFL will not be surprised by the following item of interest.

Here are the Pats 2015 home opponents:

Bills
Dolphins
Jets
Jaguars
Titans
Washington
Eagles
Steelers

The pro equivalent of six Homecoming Weekend games plus two bowl eligible opponents.

Leaving nothing to chance, Belichick is already working on a plan to alter the magnetic field of the earth for the state of Pennsylvania.

posted by beaverboard at 09:21 PM on February 02

Nice conspiracy! Never mind that the "unseen hand" is a rotating schedule in which the NFC East plays the AFC South next season (plus in-division NFC East and the divisional winners of the AFC North and AFC West from 2014) but given that restriction I'm sure you could come up with a tougher schedule for them at home?

posted by jeremias at 10:52 PM on February 02

Being the best in the biggest games is what defines greatness.

Because this kind of thing interests me . . .

Montana

  • 1983: lost in Conference Championship: 27/48, 341 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int
  • 1985: lost in Wildcard: 26/47 296, 0, 1
  • 1986: lost in Divisional Round after bye: 8/15, 98, 0, 2
  • 1987: lost in Divisional Round after bye, split time with Steve Young: 12/26, 109, 0, 1
  • 1990: lost in Conference Championship: 18/26, 290, 1, 0
  • 1993: lost in Conference Championship, split time with Dave Krieg: 9/23, 125, 0, 1
  • 1994: lost in Wildcard: 26/37, 314, 2, 1
Brady
  • 2005: lost in Divisional Round: 20/36, 341, 1, 2
  • 2006: lost in Conference Championship: 21/34, 232, 1, 1
  • 2007: lost in Superbowl: 29/48, 266, 1, 0
  • 2009: lost in Wildcard: 23/42, 154, 2, 3
  • 2010: lost in Divisional Round after bye: 29/45, 299, 2, 1
  • 2011: lost in Superbowl: 27/41, 276, 2, 1
  • 2012: lost in Conference Championship: 29/54, 320, 1, 2
  • 2013: lost in Conference Championship: 24/38, 277, 1, 0
Brady's been to one more year of playoffs (the team missed in 2002 and 2008 though he missed the whole season in 2008). They both lost in 3 Conference Championships and 2 Divisional rounds. I don't see how Brady making it further makes him worse.

posted by yerfatma at 08:23 AM on February 03

Nutbar conspiracy theory time - the "play" was about making Russell Wilson, the more brandable guy, a hero.

posted by dfleming at 08:55 AM on February 03

Nutbar conspiracy theory time - the "play" was about making Russell Wilson, the more brandable guy, a hero.

The reason that theory falls apart is that if they really wanted Wilson to be the hero, they simply run an option-sweep play, giving Wilson the opportunity to pass it (small hero) or keep it and run it in (big hero). His scrambling ability was on display throughout the game, so it's not like they would be asking for something unusual (like making Peyton Manning do it).

posted by grum@work at 09:29 AM on February 03

I don't see ..

You can't because you are a dedicated Patriots fan. He's a great QB and the best New England has ever had. One of the best the NFL has ever seen.

Looking at the Patriots 2015 schedule and knowing how well he executes the game plan I can't see them not hosting another conference final.

But he is not the best ever.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:19 AM on February 03

But he is not the best ever.

Let's hold off for a year to pick up the discussion. Brady can pass his childhood idol for good with that fifth Super Bowl ring. Maybe it will come with that moment.
Spoiler alert: It won't. Montana's supporters have been saying for a decade now, "Well, he hasn't won four, so he's not even in the conversation." Now that he's won four, it's "Well, he lost two, so Montana's still better." He'll never be able to un-lose those, so they're set. 4-0 beats ∞-2.

posted by Etrigan at 10:33 AM on February 03

You can't because you are a dedicated Patriots fan.

I get that I'm biased, but where's your case beyond "Montana never lost in that specific game" and how is that different from Bradshaw? Like I said, I don't see it. Montana was my favorite QB (other than Steve Grogan, obvs) as a kid, even before he got to SF. But I'm not sold on the idea sepia tones and time make a great player untouchable.

posted by yerfatma at 10:49 AM on February 03

Well, he lost two, so Montana's still better

This is the basis of the argument for Montana. Never failed to win the big game, was never outplayed in the big game.

Let's hold off for a year to pick up the discussion

I expect we will be having that discussion. The Patriots appear to have retooled and are stronger in certain aspects of their game than they have been for a number of years at the same time that other primary contenders in their conference are on the decline.

Believe me, I think Brady is pretty much what I would call an ideal QB - decent arm, great competitor, and executes the offense as well as anyone in history. Minor injuries do not impact his game at all because of the style of game he plays.

No QB in history has been as good as long as Brady, and he rarely has a true stinker in a big game.

But he just has never invoked the "don't let him have the ball or we're done" fear that opponents had when facing Montana.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:25 AM on February 03

No QB in history has been as good as long as Brady ...

I wouldn't go that far. Dan Marino's numbers stack up against Brady's for a comparable run of years and Peyton Manning's are better. All three deserve to be in the argument for that superlative.

posted by rcade at 11:41 AM on February 03

posted by smithnyiu at 11:48 AM on February 03

Well, he lost two, so Montana's still better

This is the basis of the argument for Montana. Never failed to win the big game, was never outplayed in the big game.

Actually, Montana lost 7 big games.
Every game in the playoffs, from the wild card to the Super Bowl, is by default "the big game". It is the last game of the season for you if you lose. It stops being "the big game" after you've won, because there is another "big game" to be played, until there aren't any more games to be played. You can't win that last "big game" unless you win the previous "big game".

Based on that logic used for Montana (never failed to win the big game), if QB loses in the first round of the playoffs 9 out of 10 years, but wins one Super Bowl, he would be considered "better" than Jim Kelly.

That's plain old nuts.

posted by grum@work at 12:16 PM on February 03

In 1994, the Chiefs went 9-7 with Montana.

In 1995, the Chiefs went 13-3 with Steve Bono.

(Y'all hadn't forgotten about ol' Steve, had ya?)

posted by beaverboard at 12:29 PM on February 03

Forget Steve Bono? I'm sitting on a pile of his rookie cards.

posted by rcade at 01:33 PM on February 03

But he just has never invoked the "don't let him have the ball or we're done" fear that opponents had when facing Montana.

Brady has more 4th quarter comebacks than Montana.

posted by Etrigan at 01:54 PM on February 03

But he just has never invoked the "don't let him have the ball or we're done" fear that opponents had when facing Montana.

So - if I am reading you correctly - Brady could win 3 more championships and still not be the greatest ever? It seems like this sentiment can't be overturned by results of any kind from here on out. Is that your stance?

Forget Steve Bono? I'm sitting on a pile of his rookie cards.

Considering a lot of cushions contain recycled paper products, there's the possibility this is literally true.

posted by dfleming at 02:11 PM on February 03

Have the goal posts been moved so far that now we're having a "whose better Montana or Brady" conversation instead of the "Manning or Brady" conversation? Did this win decisively lead our world to agree that Brady wins the latter conversation? Because I see almost no talk about Manning this week...

(which is a shame, because he's still one of the finest quarterbacks we'll see in our lifetimes)

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:13 PM on February 03

But he just has never invoked the "don't let him have the ball or we're done" fear that opponents had when facing Montana.

I think one reason people may feel that way about Montana is the last drive against dallas in 'I'm too lazy to look up the year'. One game that is so storied it pushes him into rarified air, but probably creates a bias among quite a few fans.

posted by justgary at 09:04 PM on February 03

Have the goal posts been moved so far that now we're having a "whose better Montana or Brady" conversation instead of the "Manning or Brady" conversation?

It's a Super Bowl thread tradition to test the upper limits of the Super Bowl winning quarterback's place in history. Not that I don't think Brady is up there but this happens literally every year.

posted by tron7 at 10:32 AM on February 04

I would say that Manning is the better quarterback (skills), but Brady is the most successful (results).

I leave it to your imagination to determine how things would have turned out if Manning had Belichick as a coach, or Brady didn't.

posted by grum@work at 11:31 AM on February 04

What grum said. "Greatest" has varying proportions of "skills" and "success."* Brady vs. Manning is the perfect litmus for which way you lean.

* -- With, of course, also some amount of "intangibles," "reputation," "I like this person for some random reason," etc.

posted by Etrigan at 03:23 PM on February 04

But we all agree Craig Grebeck is the best ever, right? That's science fact, Jack.

posted by yerfatma at 04:10 PM on February 04

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