Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 02:54 AM

Super Bowl XLIX lives up to expectations

For the second straight season the top seeds from the AFC and NFC clashed in the Super Bowl.

Unlike last year’s yawn-inducing blowout, this time around NFL fans were treated to the down-to-the-wire barnburner we’d all been promised.

In the end, New England came out on top 28-24 in the most improbable of fashions, with an undrafted rookie defensive back making a game-saving interception of Russell Wilson at the goal line with just 20 seconds left to play.

Super Bowl XLIX was a back-and-forth affair and an instant classic.

It was a game that saw multiple lead changes, a 4th-quarter comeback, a ridiculous circus catch with under a minute to go by Jermaine Kearse and what many are calling the worst play call in Super Bowl history.

Emmitt Smith took his criticism even one step further.

As an honest-to-goodness lifelong diehard Seahawks fan it’s hard for me to imagine a more painful ending to Super Bowl XLIX than what millions witnessed last night.

What I would give to have access to a magical “reset” button. If only we could see what might have been should Pete Carroll have handed the rock off to Beast Mode and asked him to get just one yard for the W.

But we can’t. That’s not how the universe works.

Malcom Butler is the unsung hero, Tom Brady is the MVP, the New England Patriots are World Champions and Richard Sherman is getting pounded on social media.

Such a high. Such a low.

Losing is a part of sports and each season every team but one must be eliminated in turn – but to fall short in the way we did will sting for quite some time. The pain will linger, in fact, for as many years as it takes for the Lombardi Trophy to return to Seattle.

Broncos fans across the globe are undoubtedly snickering in delight at the melancholy faces and salty social media rants of Hawks fans as we suffer through the agony of defeat.

Super Bowl XLIX was perhaps one of the best title games of all time, but despite Russell Wilson’s inexplicably upbeat attitude, those who fell on the losing side of this one will need quite some time to fill up the sinking hole in their stomach. I know I will.

But enough of my own personal doom and gloom and on to giving credit where credit is due. The Pats won this game fair and square (really) and love him or hate him, Tom Brady has now cemented himself as perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time – at the very least he’s proven once and for all that he’s got a leg up on Peyton Manning.

Icing on the cake of his legacy

Tom Brady has now played in more Super Bowls than any other quarterback in the history of professional football and with the win he has tied Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most all-time victories (4).

While many will point to a decade-long title drought, including a foiled attempt at a perfect season, the fact that Brady was able to win championships at both the start and the end of his career speaks volumes for his prowess at the position.

His MVP performance Sunday night was truly legendary, completing a Super Bowl record 37 passes against the best defense in the NFL for 328 yards and 4 TDs. Unfazed by two early interceptions, #12 tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the 4th quarter to erase his team’s 24-14 deficit.

Tom Brady had one vision on his mind at University of Phoenix Stadium: make everyone forget all about Deflategate.

Mission accomplished.

A secret recipe for beating the Legion of Boom?

While Tom Brady seemed to have the Seahawks defense’s number all night long, don’t be fooled into believing Belichick’s game-plan will provide a blueprint for downing Seattle in 2015/16.

Instead of challenging the Hawks down the field, Brady sliced and diced the Seattle pass defense with a million little paper cuts.

Such a strategy rarely works against the sure-tackling Seahawks but Julian Edelman proved to be just crafty enough to elude would-be tacklers and move the chains. The bearded slot receiver hauled in 9 catches for 109 yards and the decisive go-ahead 23-yard touchdown.

Of course, this being New England, a mini-controversy is brewing as to whether or not team doctors properly cleared the wide receiver following a nasty helmet to helmet collision with Kam Chancellor.

The Seahawks lost Cliff Avril for much of the contest after he failed an in-game concussion test, and so some are wondering if the Pats were equally stringent in analyzing their star receiver’s concussion.

But guess what? Life’s not fair. Conspiracy theorists and pot-stirrers need to get over it.

The greatest head coach in the history of the game?

Spygate, Deflategate and We-Just-Don’t-Like-Bill-Belichickgate should all add a large enough black mark to the coach’s resume to prevent him from ever officially being anointed as the unanimous greatest coach of all time – but if you stop for a second and listen to Trent Dilfer, it’s hard to argue against Belichick’s record at the helm, particularly when all other challengers are coaches from the pre-salary cap era.

In an on-the-air skirmish with former Vikings WR and fellow analyst Cris Carter, the ex-Buccaneers and Seahawks quarterback went on a mini rampage against all those who wish to taint the Brady/Belichick dynasty.

Dilfer asserted that every team “cheats”. That every team pushes the boundaries. That every team skirts the borderline of what’s allowed and what’s not.

He claims that the ideology of “if you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying” is alive and well in the NFL and that it’s asinine to single out one team above and beyond the rest when they’re all doing their best to find an edge beyond the confines of the rules.

He’s a former player and so to an extent he must be speaking on behalf of specific instances of foul play witnessed over the course of his career, even if he didn’t point fingers in any particular direction.

For my part, I tend to agree with what he had to say.

Sure, we need rules and regulations and a set of guidelines meant to keep a level playing field – but if we hope to prevent the NFL from turning into the WWE, we need to let the games be decided on the field and not in the league front office.

Stop finding a way to whine and find a way to win.

Congratulations New England. You are the World Champions; no asterisk required.

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Michael Airhart

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