Super comeback gives Pats 4th NFL title, 28-24 over Seahawks
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Another big comeback for the New England Patriots. And, finally, another championship.
A superstar quarterback who attacks adversity like an overmatched cornerback erased a 10-point deficit. Then an undrafted rookie from an unheralded school preserved it with an interception in the end zone with 20 seconds left.
That unlikely duo of Tom Brady and Malcolm Butler made the biggest plays in the final minutes of the season, and the Patriots dethroned the Seattle Seahawks with a 28-24 win in the Super Bowl on Sunday night, New England's first championship in a decade.
''Every team has a journey and a lot of people lost faith in us early,'' Brady said after winning his third Super Bowl MVP award, ''but we held strong, we held together and it's a great feeling.''
The doubters emerged when the Patriots fell to 2-2 with a 41-14 loss at Kansas City. Then they won their next seven games.
Fans despaired when they trailed the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional game then became the first team in NFL playoff history to overcome two 14-point deficits. They won 35-31.
But no one gave up on the Patriots sideline after the Seahawks scored on four consecutive possessions to take a 24-14 lead with just under five minutes left in the third quarter.
''We never lost faith. We never stopped believing,'' defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said.
The 11-year veteran who clogs the middle won his first title since his rookie season in 2004. That was the Patriots' third championship in four years.
But in the next nine seasons, they lost their only two Super Bowl appearances, both to the New York Giants and both on come-from-behind touchdowns in the final minutes.
''We've been on the other end of this twice now,'' Brady said, ''being ahead late and not being able to make the plays to win. And, this time, we made the plays to win. Just awesome.''
Butler is new to all this, a lightly regarded cornerback from West Alabama who played in 11 regular-season games with no interceptions. But like the Patriots, he overcame adversity.
''I always said that I could play in this league,'' Butler said. ''It doesn't matter where you come from. It's what you do when you get here.''
He fits in. Brady was drafted in the sixth round. Wide receiver Julian Edelman was taken in the seventh. Running back LeGarrette Blount started as an undrafted rookie.
''There's a lot of guys that have their stories on this team,'' Edelman said. ''I guess we're just a team of misfits.''
When it counted most, the fit was just fine.
Brady's 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola cut the lead to 24-21 with 7:55 left in the game. Then Brady completed all eight of his passes on the winning drive, capped by a 3-yarder to Edelman with 2:02 remaining.
Then the Seahawks drove to a second-and-goal at the Patriots 1. But rather than hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 102 yards and one touchdown, Russell Wilson threw toward Ricardo Lockette, cutting in from the right. Butler picked off the pass.
''I knew it was going to happen,'' Butler said. ''I didn't know how I knew, but I knew.''
Maybe it's because the Patriots never give up, no matter how bleak the outlook.
''As long as we have (Brady) on our team,'' Blount said, ''we have a chance.''
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