Well what a sensational NFL Championship weekend; so many talking points and unforgettable moments. We now know as the dust settles on Sunday’s action that it will be the defending champions Seattle Seahawks v the New England Patriots in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX.
Firstly, the NFC championship game which had one of the craziest finishes in NFL history. I picked a Green Bay win and for three quarters of the match they were looking good. The Packers had the Super Bowl in their sights but somehow contrived to let a 19-7 lead slip in under 4 minutes. Everything was going their way: they had intercepted Russell Wilson 4 times, their defence was on top, Richard Sherman had an injured arm, the fans were quieter then normal; but then came a series of foolish moments that will haunt Packers fans all off-season.
In the 4th quarter Marshawn Lynch went ‘Beast Mode’, Russell Wilson finally switched it on and the Seahawks cut the deficit to 19-14. Then came the onside kick which will never be forgotten. Packers’ Tight-End Brandon Bostick was supposed to block for Jordy Nelson to catch the ball, but he jumped tried to catch it, missed, and it bounced off his helmet and into the hands of the Seahawks. Mayhem ensued on the side lines as the Packers’ coaching team couldn’t believe what had happened and neither could the Seahawks who knew they had a chance to win this game.
Lynch scored a touchdown and Seattle gambled again, going for the two point conversion. Russell Wilson tracked back and threw a ‘Hail-Mary’ that somehow found Luke Wilson and the Seahawks took the lead. HaHa Clinton-Dix was having the game of his life for Green Bay but was caught ball-watching where he should have stopped the throw.
Needing at least a field goal to tie, Aaron Rodgers drove them downfield rapidly and kicker Mason Crosby did his job to force overtime. Seattle Seahawks won the toss and Wilson put together probably his two best passes of the game. The winning touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse ended the game and completed the most unexpected but sensational turnaround.
So who’s to blame? Brandon Bostick will go done in history as the man who cost the Packers their place in the Super Bowl 2015. However there were a series of errors in that final quarter that the Packers will regret for years to come. Green Bay had two ‘fourth and goal’ opportunities in the first quarter and both times they went for field goals instead of touchdowns. Conversely, the Seahawks showed their steel when right up against it. The fake field goal play worked and they seemed to be fired up by Richard Sherman’s passionate team talk. Despite not having the best of games up to the fourth quarter, Russell Wilson showed his true class to drag Seattle out of the fire.
I feel Green Bay played not to lose the game, rather than to go out and win the it. The Rodgers legacy will take a small dent here – on one leg he was still quite special – but you can’t take anything away from how Russell Wilson went from having a poor game to one of the greatest moments in Championship history. He returns to the Super Bowl looking for back to back wins.
In the AFC I predicted a close game. What we got was Tom Brady once again putting Andrew Luck and the Colts in their place. As I have mentioned Brady is on the path for a fourth Super Bowl ring; he was fired up and wasn’t going to let the Indianapolis Colts stop him.
Brady went for 23/35, 226 yards and 3 touchdown passes. He made his own claim for still being considered the best quarterback in the NFL. Luck’s numbers didn’t look so great: 12/33, 126 yards and he threw two interceptions. I have previously said how the Indianapolis Colts are a very up and down team and this was the perfect example. The Patriots simply tore them apart in this blowout 45-7 victory.
So now Bill Belichick and Tom Brady return to the University of Phoenix Stadium where they were victims of one of the greatest Super Bowl catches of all time. New England lost out to Eli Manning who threw a pass to David Tyree who caught the ball with one hand and his helmet to help his team the New York Giants win 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII (2008). The pair have a perfect chance to exorcise those demons once and for all as they return to the desert on the biggest stage of them all.
Tom Brady has the experience, tools and head coach behind him to get past the Seattle Seahawks, but can the Patriots do it and cement Brady’s place in the pantheon of NFL greats? Keep an eye out for the Super Bowl preview coming soon.
Sean’s football blog can be found here: http://threeminutesinjurytime.blogspot.co.uk/