Glendale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - After Tom Brady added to an already illustrious legacy, Malcolm Butler established his by leaving the Seattle Seahawks, well, deflated.
Brady's 3-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman put the New England Patriots ahead with 2:02 remaining, while Butler's goal-line interception with 20 seconds left preserved a 28-24 victory over the Seahawks in a Super Bowl XLIX that every bit lived up to its advance billing.
Making a record sixth Super Bowl start for a quarterback, Brady threw two of his four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to bring the Patriots back from a 24-14 deficit against the league's most feared defense. New England's own stop unit then came up with a game-saving play to sew up the AFC champions' first NFL title in a decade.
The Patriots had twice came up short, including a painstaking 17-14 defeat to the New York Giants on this same University of Phoenix field seven years ago, since besting the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX to conclude the 2004 season.
"We've been on the other end of this twice now in being ahead late and not being able to make the plays to win, and this time we made the plays to win," Brady said. Just awesome. What an experience. A lot of mental toughness by our team, a lot of physical toughness."
For a moment, another heartbreaking setback appeared on the horizon. The defending world champion Seahawks moved down to the opposing 5-yard line in the final seconds on Jermaine Kearse's miraculous 33-yard catch, which conjured up memories of the Giants' David Tyree's unforgettable grab that helped send New England to defeat in Super Bowl XLII.
Marshawn Lynch was stopped just short of the goal line on the ensuing play, but the Seahawks didn't give the ball to their All-Pro back on the next snap.
Instead, Russell Wilson attempted a slant intended for Ricardo Lockette that Butler -- an undrafted rookie from Division II West Alabama -- jumped and hauled in to give Brady his fourth Super Bowl triumph, tying Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most by a quarterback in league history.
"We were going to run the ball in to win the game, but not on that down," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said of the play call on Butler's interception.
"It's not the right matchup for us to run the football, so on second down we throw the ball," he continued. "If we score, we do. If we don't, then we'll run it on third and fourth down, really with no second thoughts and no hesitation in that at all."
Brady also claimed his third career Super Bowl MVP, a feat previously accomplished only by Montana, after shaking off a pair of costly interceptions to complete a Super Bowl-record 37 passes for 328 yards on 50 attempts.
"We played against a phenomenal defense and we just ultimately made enough plays," he said. "We made a couple of crappy plays -- I certainly did -- but we made enough plays to win."
Pats head coach Bill Belichick, who spent most of the two weeks leading up to the title game fielding questions about his team's use of under-inflated footballs in its rout of Indianapolis in the AFC Championship, reached a milestone as well by tying Pittsburgh Steelers legend Chuck Noll with his fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Seattle, bidding to become the first repeat champion since the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, held New England to just 32 total yards during a dominant third quarter in which they put up 10 unanswered points to break a 14-14 tie at the half.
Brady found his stride again in the final frame, however, directing a 9-play, 68-yard drive that was extended by two crucial 21-yard third-down connections with Edelman, who burned the Seahawks' heralded secondary for 109 yards on nine catches on the night.
The last of those completions put the ball on the Seattle 4-yard line and set up Brady's on-point bullet to Danny Amendola that cut the lead to 24-21 with 7:55 to play.
"We were down 10 and we just said, 'Look, we've got to put one good drive together to get us back in the game," Brady remarked.
After New England's defense forced a quick three-and-out on the subsequent possession, Brady flawlessly led his team back down the field. The savvy veteran went 8-for-8 on the 10-play, 64-yard series, highlighted by hookups with Rob Gronkowski that went for 20 and 13 yards to send his team back in scoring range.
A 7-yard pass to Brandon LaFell shortly afterward created a 1st-and-goal, and Edelman shook off press coverage from Tharold Simon to cradle in Brady's back- shoulder throw to send New England in front just before the two-minute warning.
Simon was in the game as an injury replacement for nickelback Jeremy Lane, who picked off Brady at the goal line late in the first quarter to thwart the game's first scoring chance but hurt his left wrist on the turnover.
The Seahawks, coming off an unbelievable comeback to down Green Bay in the NFC Championship, showed their mettle once more, though. Wilson hit Lynch out of the backfield for a 31-yard gain and Kearse later came down with a deep ball deflected by Butler that first landed in the receiver's lap before he snatched it out of the air with his back on the ground.
Wilson tested Butler on his next pass as well, but the backup corner got position on Lockette and snared the ball prior to dropping to the ground at the 2-yard line.
"I knew what was going to happen," Butler said. "I don't know how I knew ... I just made a play."
The Seahawks had been 18-0 over the last three seasons when holding a lead of 10 or more points in the fourth quarter.
"I don't know what I could have done differently," said Wilson of the interception. "We were right there, so I put the blame on me."
Lane's pick kept a defensively dominated first quarter scoreless, though there was plenty of scoring from both sides during a wild second.
Brady bounced back on New England's next drive, hitting on 5-of-7 throws that included a a 3rd-and-9 connection with Edelman for 23 yards that brought New England to the Seattle 12. He later finished the nine-play, 65-yard sequence with an 11-yard dart to LaFell to give the Patriots the upper hand just over five minutes into the second quarter.
Seattle. meanwhile, had mustered a mere 22 yards and one first down over its first three drives before its offense finally got into gear, with seldom-used wideout Chris Matthews leading the charge.
Matthews didn't record a single reception while spending the majority of the regular season on the practice squad, but began a four-catch, 109-yard outburst with a leaping grab of Wilson's deep strike. Two plays after the 44- yard gain, Lynch fought his way across the goal line on a shotgun keeper to knot the score at 7-7 with 2:16 left in the half.
"I wouldn't care if I didn't have one pass or one tackle or one yard as long as we won," Matthews said afterward. "I would've been happy with a win and no stats."
Brady brought New England right back in scoring range, however, with three completions that included one of Shane Vereen's 11 catches -- a 16-yard reception to the Seahawks' 27 inside the final minute. He later delivered a pinpoint pass to Gronkowski, engaged in single coverage with linebacker K.J. Wright, that resulted in a 22-yard touchdown just 31 seconds prior to the intermission.
Long runs by Robert Turbin and Wilson put the Seahawks immediately into New England territory on the ensuing possession, though, and Seattle called timeout with six seconds left following Lockette's 23-yard catch coupled with a face-mask penalty on the Pats.
Carroll opted to take one shot at the end zone, and the move paid off when Matthews won a jump ball in the end zone as Wilson quickly ripped off a well-placed throw.
Matthews came down with a 44-yard catch on Seattle's opening series of the second half, positioning Steven Hauschka for a go-ahead 27-yard field goal, and Bobby Wagner intercepted Brady's down-the-middle pass for Gronkowski to put the Seahawks at midfield with a chance to move further in front.
That they did, with Wilson finishing a short 6-play jaunt by finding a wide- open Doug Baldwin from three yards out to extend the lead to 24-14 with under five minutes to go in the third quarter.
Wilson, the first quarterback in league history to start two Super Bowls in his first three seasons, ended with 247 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-21 passing. Lynch accounted for 102 of the Seahawks' 162 rushing yards on a 24- carry effort.
Brady also became the first quarterback with 50 career postseason touchdown passes with his second-quarter score to LaFell. The comeback was his ninth in the fourth quarter or overtime in postseason play ... Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin was ejected for his role in a scrum that involved several players while the Patriots were trying to run out the clock ... Belichick also tied Don Shula for the most Super Bowl appearances by a head coach (6) ... Matthews is the second player in Super Bowl history with a receiving touchdown without having caught a pass during the regular season, joining Dallas' Percy Howard in Super Bowl X ... Wilson suffered his first loss in 11 career starts against quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls ... The Patriots haven't scored in the first quarter in any of their six Super Bowls under Belichick ... The team that has scored first has now prevailed in 33 of the 49 Super Bowls.