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Patriots Deny Seattle Repeat Super Bowl Victory

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Time for some Monday morning quarterbacking after last night's Super Bowl. The game was won by the New England Patriots in the closing seconds after Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made a decision, turns out a bad one that will be picked apart for years to come. New England won 28-24. The game in Glendale, Ariz., was one of the closest and best Super Bowls in history. NPR's Tom Goldman was there.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Pete Carroll's going to make my job easy here. In his postgame press conference, the Seattle Seahawks head coach said everything that happened before the end of Super Bowl XLIX - the swings of fortune, the great plays, the mistakes - all that, he said, was meaningless. So the end. With the Seahawks trailing 28-24, a minute left, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 30-yard pass down the right sideline to receiver Jermaine Kearse, a play that shocked everyone from Glendale to Seattle radio station KIRO.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVE RAIBLE: Russell's going to lay it up over the top this time. Kearse reaching up. Ball slams.

WARREN MOON: He caught it.

RAIBLE: He caught it. It fell into his arms. Holy catfish.

GOLDMAN: The Patriots were saying holy something else. A New England defender knocked the ball into the air seemingly ending the play, but the ball dropped into Kearse's hands as he lay on his back, first and goal for Seattle on the five-yard line, as in only 5 yards to become just the ninth team in history to win back-to-back Super Bowls. With the best running back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch, ready to pound the ball into the end zone, Wilson stunningly threw a quick, short pass.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUSSELL WILSON: When I let it go, you know, my opinion, I thought it was going to be game over.

GOLDMAN: It was. But not the way he thought.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: Wilson's pass was picked off with 20 seconds left. We went into Super Bowl XLIX with a well-known list of Patriot heroes - Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork. We emerged with a new name on the list, Malcolm Butler, a 24-year-old rookie cornerback who jumped the route, in football speak, intercepting the pass and earning a lifetime of free drinks throughout New England. Afterwards, in a noisy interview room, Butler said he would have thrown the pass, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MALCOLM BUTLER: I'm pretty sure he knows I'm a rookie, and who wouldn't try a rookie? So I was ready, and I just made the best of it.

GOLDMAN: The next stop after hearing from the rookie was the veteran, Seattle head coach Carroll, and asking why with Marshawn Lynch ready to rumble, did he call a riskier pass play? Essentially, Carroll said the plan was to run for the touchdown, but not on that play. The Patriots, Carroll said, had sent in their bigger defenders to stop Lynch.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETE CARROLL: It's not the right matchup for us to run the football. So on second down, we throw the ball really to kind of waste that play. If we score, we do. If we don't, then we'll run it in on third and fourth down really with no second thoughts, no hesitation.

GOLDMAN: In hindsight, hesitation would have been a good thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARROLL: Very, very hard lesson and I hate to learn the hard way, but there's no other way to look at it right now.

GOLDMAN: Despite what Carroll said earlier about the rest of the game being meaningless, it wasn't, especially New England quarterback, Tom Brady, who was as meaningful as ever. His four touchdown passes moved him past the legendary Joe Montana for most TD throws in Super Bowl history. And now with four titles shared by Brady, who was last night's MVP, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, the two who've been maligned recently for the deflate gate controversy, proved last night they are a duo as dynamic as ever. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Phoenix. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.