Super finish: Patriots edge Seahawks 28-24 for NFL title

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The final 125 seconds included a perfect possession by Tom Brady for the go-ahead points, a juggling catch that could have been the play of the year, and a victory-clinching, end-zone interception on a pass - not run - from the 1.

A Super Bowl that got off to a slow start wound up with a "Whoa!" finish, a lot like the New England Patriots' entire season.

Brady threw two of his four touchdown passes in the final quarter to erase a double-digit deficit, rookie Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson's short throw while Marshawn Lynch watched, and the Patriots ended a decade drought without an NFL title by beating the defending champion Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in a taut classic Sunday night.

"Every team has a journey," said Brady, who was voted Super Bowl MVP for a record-tying third time, "and a lot of people lost faith in us early. But we held strong. We held together."

He was talking about the preceding months, not minutes. But either made sense. After all, back in late September, when New England lost 41-14 at the Kansas City Chiefs to fall to 2-2, there was a lot of talk about whether Brady was done, whether the Patriots were simply no longer a powerhouse.

Yet Sunday night, when coach Bill Belichick was asked when he knew he had a special team, he pointed to halftime of that poor performance against the Chiefs.

"We weren't having a good day, but we kept fighting," Belichick said. "To me, if there was ever a time that we were not going to compete as hard, that would have been it. ... The fight and the competitiveness was there, and that gave me a lot of confidence going into the next week's game. That was a key point in our season."

And so perhaps these Patriots were prepared to weather the scrutiny that came with an NFL investigation into whether they deliberately deflated footballs in the AFC championship game two weeks ago. They compartmentalized that and focused on the Super Bowl.

Perhaps they were prepared to set aside Brady's two interceptions that helped dig a 24-14 hole in the fourth quarter. They moved into the lead after Brady connected with Danny Amendola from 4 yards out for one score with about 8 minutes left, then hit Julian Edelman from 3 yards for another TD with 2:02 remaining.

Perhaps they were prepared to not let the game get away when Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse made a falling, juggling, bouncing reception on his back for a 33-yard gain that set up first-and-goal from the 5 with 66 seconds to go. It was Butler who was in coverage on that play, although there was nothing more he really could have done.

Perhaps they were prepared for a shotgun pass by Wilson two plays later from the 1, rather than a run by the barrel-chested Lynch, who tied for the league lead in touchdown runs this season with 13.

Butler sure was ready, and his pick sealed the ultimate outcome, even if everyone had to wait while the officials cleared up a field-wide brawl.

"When they passed the ball, I was kind of surprised by it," Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. "But at the same time, we made the play."

Lynch gained 102 yards on 24 carries and scored an earlier TD, leaving many mystified as to why Seattle wouldn't have handed off to him in that vital situation.

Even some of the Seahawks were bewildered.

"I don't understand how you don't give it to the best back in the league," linebacker Bruce Irvin said. "We were on the half-yard-line and we throw a slant. I don't know what the offense had going on, what they saw."

With the retractable roof open on a cloudless evening, the Patriots (15-4) won the fourth Lombardi Trophy of the Brady-Belichick partnership, adding to those from the Super Bowls played in 2002, `04 and `05. They lost their last two trips to the big game, though, in 2008 and 2012, both times against the New York Giants.

This time, though, Brady and New England pulled it out - and in the process, prevented Seattle (14-5) from the ninth set of back-to-back Super Bowl championships.

At age 37, Brady went 37 for 50 for 328 yards and matched his childhood idol, Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana, for most Super Bowl MVP awards. Brady also broke Montana's Super Bowl record for most career touchdown passes, getting to 13.

On the drive that resulted in the winning points, Brady went 8 for 8 for 65 yards.

"He's so calm and collected," Amendola said about his quarterback. "He's the best. He gets everybody to play at a higher level. He's our leader emotionally."

Didn't matter that the Seahawks came in with an eight-game winning streak. Or that their defense, led by Richard Sherman and the self-styled "Legion of Boom" secondary, was the first in more than 40 years to lead the NFL in fewest points allowed three seasons in a row.

This was going to be the Patriots' day. Belichick's day. Brady's day.

"I've been at it for 15 years, and we've had a couple of tough losses in this game," Brady said. "This one came down to the end, and this time, we made the plays."


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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson's pass in the end zone with 20 seconds left, helping the New England Patriots hold on to beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 Sunday night for their fourth Super Bowl title.

The Patriots had lost three straight Super Bowls since winning three in four years a decade ago.

The 37-year-old Brady led them back, hitting Julian Edelman with 2:02 left for his 12th career Super Bowl touchdown pass, breaking Joe Montana's record.

The Seahawks pulled off a miraculous rally to beat Green Bay in the NFC Championship game and were in position for another improbable victory when Jermaine Kearse made a juggling, 33-yard catch while on his back.

With the ball on New England's 1, Seattle appeared to be headed toward a second straight Super Bowl title. Butler spoiled the Seahawks' bid, stepping in front of Ricardo Lockette for the interception.


Pats QB Tom Brady wins 3rd Super Bowl MVP award in 28-24 win

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- As a kid, years before he became a pretty good quarterback in his own right, Tom Brady idolized Joe Montana.

Now, at age 37, Brady owns just as many Super Bowl championships - and just as many Super Bowl MVP awards - as the Pro Football Hall of Famer.

And no QB in history has more.

Brady completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards with four touchdown passes, each to a different receiver, including an 8-for-8 bit of perfection on the drive that led to the go-ahead score with about 2 minutes left Sunday night.

That performance, and a victory-clinching interception by rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler, lifted the New England Patriots to a 28-24 comeback victory over the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in a Super Bowl with a slow start and a "Whoa!" finish.

This was not Brady at his best throughout. He threw two interceptions, including one deep in Seattle territory in the first quarter, and another in the third that led to points for the Seahawks.

That's part of why the Patriots trailed 24-14 in the fourth quarter, before Brady got the comeback going.

"It wasn't the way we drew it up. Certainly, throwing a couple of picks didn't help," said Brady, who broke Peyton Manning's Super Bowl record of 34 completions set last year. "It was a lot of mental toughness. Our team has had it all year. We never doubted each other, so that's what it took. That was a great football team we beat. I'm just so happy for our team."

Sitting in his family's season-ticket seats at San Francisco's Candlestick Park while growing up, Brady would wear a No. 16 jersey, just like Montana, and cheer for his favorite player's team.

Brady did a fairly good impression of Joe Cool against Seattle.

He connected with Danny Amendola for a 4-yard touchdown with about 8 minutes left. That gave Brady 12 TD passes in Super Bowls, breaking Montana's mark. Then, with 2:02 to go, Brady hit Julian Edelman from 3 yards for TD toss No. 13 in Super Bowls - and, more importantly, the lead.

Brady turned to New England's sideline, pointed, then raised his right fist.

Only after Butler grabbed Russell Wilson's pass from the 1-yard line in the final half-minute could Brady really begin to celebrate, leaping up and down on the sideline and embracing coach Bill Belichick.

Now Brady, Montana and Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only starting quarterbacks to earn four Super Bowl rings.

At the outset of Brady's career after being a sixth-round draft pick, he and Belichick combined to win three championships in a four-year span, in the 2002, 2004 and 2005 Super Bowls. Brady was the MVP in the first two of those.

But Sunday's victory ended a decade title drought, after losses in the big games in 2008 and 2012, both times against the New York Giants.

"Well, it's been a long journey. I've been at it for 15 years and we've had a couple of tough losses in this game," Brady said. "This one came down to the end, and this time, we made the plays."

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.