Becoming the G.O.A.T.
Just as it was with last year's game, coming into Super Bowl XLIX, most assumed it would a close game. But unlike last year, we actually got a close game. In fact, it came down to the last 30 seconds as the Seahawks had a chance to score and win a second straight Super Bowl title. But they didn't.
Instead, on a controversial second-down call, Russell Wilson dropped back to pass from the one-yard line and was intercepted. Most people are second-guessing Seahawk coach Pete Carroll today, and that's fair. When you have Marshawn Lynch and you've build your identity as a run-first team, you want to lose playing to your strength. The Seahawks didn't.
Should they have given the ball to Lynch? Yes, even Carroll said that. But this is a case of a team getting too cute. They knew everyone expected a run, and they tried to catch the Patriots off guard with a quick pass. It didn't work, they lost, and now it will be months of what-ifs for the Seahawks and their fans.
It was a great competitive game, but it's hard to say this is what the NFL would have wanted. A season of controversy will become an off-season of controversy. The game ended with a brawl, and the post-game began with the Patriots' owner defiantly challenging the NFL, once again, to produce evidence in the deflated ball scandal. The fact that the Patriots are now the World Champions is yet another black eye given that many in the country believe they cheated to get there.
But lost in all that is how the outcome of the game changes the landscape of the NFL. In the game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passed Joe Montana for the most touchdown passes in Super Bowl history. He already owns playoff records, regular season records, and other Super Bowl records. He's now won four titles and three Super Bowl MVPs. By any metric, a discussion of the Greatest of All Time, has to include Brady in the first sentence.
As a life-long Broncos, I will always think of John Elway as the greatest of all time. I'm sure 49ers fans feel the same about Montana, and other fan bases have other favorites. But if you're being objective, Brady has accomplished as much or more than any of them. He's been to six Super Bowls, won four, and been a dominate force in the NFL for more than a decade.
Lost in the outcome of last night is the fact that Brady threw four more touchdowns, brought his team back from the brink, and claimed another Super Bowl MVP trophy. He is great — perhaps the greatest ever — and certainly holds the title of the greatest of his generation.
Brady will be forever linked with Peyton Manning, who has many individual passing records and has been a prolific regular season quarterback. But I bet Manning would trade all those records for Brady's four titles. That's the difference. The game is ultimately about winning titles, and no one has been better than Tom Brady.