Sports Football

SUPER BOWL

Accurate Brady outplayed overzealous Wilson

By Ken Fidlin, Toronto Sun

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady greets Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson after Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady greets Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson after Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Evaluating the performances of Super Bowl XLIX's quarterbacks:

TOM BRADY

After everything that has happened the past two weeks, embroiled at the centre of the deflated ball controversy, Brady wanted nothing more than to let the air out of Seattle’s balloon. He told the TV crew he had never wanted a win more than this one. Maybe, at times, it appeared he wanted it too much. In the first half he was a surgeon. The banged-up Seattle secondary couldn’t match up against New England’s receivers and the veteran QB had a field day, going 20 of 27 for 177 yards with two TDs and one very costly mistake. On one of the few plays where the Seahawks defence got some pressure, Brady panicked and threw a pick at the Seattle goal line at the end of a methodical seven-minute drive.

Brady made his second big mistake in the third quarter when Bobby Wagner picked off a ball meant for Rob Gronkowski and the Seahawks turned that into seven points. As the game wore on, Brady’s O-line had more and more trouble keeping the pocket clean and with the additional pressure, Brady’s timing was disrupted. To be gentle, the guy started to have happy feet.

It was not at all helpful that the New England ground game was stuck in neutral, but even when he had an open man, it was clear that Brady was feeling the heat. But Brady is not one of the all-time greats by accident. Down by 10, he put together a clutch nine-play TD drive to make it a field-goal game. Then, with a chance to take the lead, Brady calmly managed his own nerves, largely abandoned the ground game and simply ate up the Seattle secondary.

The Seahawks played a lot of man coverage and the veteran QB simply went for the best matchups. In his final two drives, both TDs, he completed 13 of 15 passes to give his team the lead and, ultimately, the Super Bowl.

RUSSELL WILSON

Here is all you need to know about who Wilson is as a competitor. He didn’t complete a pass until there were just a few ticks more than five minutes left in the first half. His offence engineered 21 yards of offence in its first three possessions. At one point, Brady had completed passes for 111 yards and Wilson was 0-for-3 with a sack for minus-two yards. Then, in the final five minutes of the half, Wilson engineered two 80-yard TD drives, including one in the final minute that consumed five plays and 29 seconds. He took his team to the locker room at the half tied 14-14 in a game the Patriots had dominated.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Seahawks led by 10. In one four-possession sequence starting late in the second quarter, they went TD, TD, FG, TD. Wilson did it with his arm and he did it with his legs, extending plays until he had a running window or until a receiver came open. But football is a game of adjustments and the Patriots made some defensive adjustments that resulted in consecutive three-and-outs for Wilson and the Seahawks.

Then came the stunning finish. A spectacular drive down the field that included an unbelievable catch by Javon Kearse, while lying on his back, put the Seahawks in position to win it. It looked as if Wilson was going to pull off more wizardry.

But then, on the strangest playcall of the game, maybe of the season, on second and goal from the three, he threw the pick that gave New England the Super Bowl. The kid was 10-0 against Super Bowl-winning QBs coming into this game, but was done in by a ludicrous call by the coaching staff. A simple handoff to Marshawn Lynch would have been the correct answer.


There was a time last offseason when Marshawn Lynch’s future with the Seattle Seahawks looked a little cloudy. For a short period, Lynch held himself out of team workouts and that ended with a small salary bump.

Now, according to plugged-in insider Ian Rappaport of NFL media, the Seahawks and Lynch are working on a contract extension that will keep him in Seattle for “years to come.” According to Rappaport, Lynch would double his salary from $5 million to $10 million in 2015, which was to be the last of a four-year deal. Lynch’s 1,306 rushing yards and 17 TDs prompted Seattle GM John Schneider to say he “kind of loves” Lynch this past week and now he’s apparently going to back that up with cold, hard cash.

PSI Or CSI?

Deflate-Gate is a story that simply refuses to die, especially on a Super Bowl Sunday when broadcasters have a full day of pregame hype to fill.

A raft of angles — some new, some recycled — were explored in tedious detail as the NFL answers the burning question as to whether or not the Patriots took some air out of the footballs used in the AFC Championship game.

It was noted that, two weeks into the league’s investigation, nobody has spoken with New England coach Bill Belichick or with QB Tom Brady. Since they have been the central figures in the controversy that lack of communication might seem strange. Both Belichick and Brady have talked publicly on the subject and with the Super Bowl now out of the way, it’s likely both will get a hearing with investigator Ted Bell.

On another front, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh pleaded innocent to having instigated the allegations of under-inflated footballs by tipping off Chuck Pagano, a former Ravens assistant, now head man in Indianapolis.

“It’s ridiculous, it never happened, I’ve been, I never made any call, nobody in our organization made any call,” said Harbaugh during the Super Bowl pregame gabfest.

“As a matter of fact, just to make sure I had all the facts, I called up Chuck Pagano and asked him, ‘Did anybody else in our organization tip you off about deflated footballs?’ and he said, ‘No way.’”

The Colts have said that the suspicions were fuelled when Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Brady pass and took the ball to the sidelines. That ball turned out to be two pounds per square inch (PSI) lower than the NFL’s guideline and prompted the NFL to check all the game balls at halftime.

Shortly after the controversy became public, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that 11 of the 12 balls used in the first half of the game were under-inflated by two pounds. Now Rappaport has reported that many among those 11 footballs were under by “just a tick.”

The suspicion that this was a sting operation by the NFL against the Patriots (whose cheating ways have been well-documented in the past) but the fact that the league didn’t test the balls before the game would seem to mitigate against that bit of paranoia.

Canned Noise?

The Patriots aren’t the only team in the NFL’s investigative cross hairs. Seems the league is sniffing around the Atlanta Falcons game operations department to find out if they routinely piped in fake crowd noise at the Georgia Dome when their opponents’ offence was on the field.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Falcons shenanigans occurred in games in 2013 and 2014, though he didn’t identify specific games.

If the Falcons are found to have violated game integrity, they could have the book thrown at them, resulting in a hefty fine and potential loss of draft choices.


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