After a come-from-behind win against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship on Jan. 18, the Seattle Seahawks had punched their ticket to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year. Although they were outplayed for three and a half quarters, Seattle only needed the last half of the fourth quarter (and overtime) to pull off one of the most exciting wins in NFL playoff history.
When Green Bay closed the first half of football with a 16-0 score, I had witnessed one of the most impressive halves of Packer football all year — scoring 16 points in arguably the toughest place to play in professional sports against the NFL’s #1 ranked defense, forcing 4 turnovers, and holding Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch scoreless. What could go wrong?
Just about everything.
With 5:04 left to play in the 4th quarter, Green Bay took possession around their own 30-yard line after a Morgan Burnett interception. The Packers’ offense took the field with a 12-point lead, aiming to burn as much time as possible. After a stalled drive, Seattle scored back-to-back touchdowns (and a 2-point conversion) with the help of a recovered onside kick, and Green Bay was on its heels. In the end, the Packers drove down the field, made a 48-yard field goal, forced overtime, and you know the rest.
In the AFC Championship, the New England Patriot handed the Indianapolis Colts a 45-7 loss with 11 under-inflated footballs, which means the Pats will be appearing in “The Big Game” for the 6th time in the Brady-Belichick era.
But claiming the Pats only won the AFC Championship because they used under-inflated footballs is ridiculous. Sure, receiving, running, and throwing with one of these footballs may be a bit easier since players have additional grip, but “PSI” isn’t going to affect the outcomes of games. Especially a 38-point game.
Even though I love calling Bill Belichick a cheater as much as the next guy (because he is), there’d be no reason for him to change the PSI of the Pats’ game balls. If anyone is held accountable for the deflation of these footballs, it’s definitely Tom Brady and the Patriots’ equipment staff. Why would the footballs be prepared to anyone else’s preference other than Tom Brady? In New England’s first press conference after Sunday’s game, Brady looked suspiciously uncomfortable at every question he answered — seeming to be amused at the fact that he’s been accused of cheating.
Now security camera footage from Gillette Stadium has been released that shows a Patriots’ locker room attendant taking 24 footballs (half belonging to New England) into a bathroom on the way to the field. That raises suspicion. Granted, the attendant was only inside the restroom for 90 seconds, which may or may not have been enough time to deflate 11 footballs. Regardless, somebody will eventually be found responsible and should be fined by the NFL. Not to mention the Pats should also lose draft picks. Rules are rules.
Anyway, on to Super Bowl XLIX.
This game is especially hard to predict because both Seattle and New England have lockdown defenses, running games that have reached their peaks late in the season, and Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Although I think this game could go either way, I’m picking the New England Patriots on Feb. 1.
I just can’t see Seattle winning the Super Bowl for two consecutive years. But the main reason I’m picking New England is because I can’t pick against Tom Brady, a three-time Super Bowl champion. Yes, he’s lost the previous two Super Bowls he’s been in. But do you really think one of the best play-off quarterbacks is going to lose his 3rd consecutive Super Bowl?
I’m calling it 28-24, New England.