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The Mass Media

Final Hot Takes From Super Bowl XLIX

Coach+Belichick+and+the+Patriots+will+try+to+earn+their+fifth+Lombardi+Trophy+next+season
Coach Belichick and the Patriots will try to earn their fifth Lombardi Trophy next season

If Malcolm Butler had lesser instincts, or Pete Carroll didn’t have a Bill Buckner moment, this piece would be about where the Patriots go from here in a pivotal time in the history of the franchise. There wouldn’t be a Super Bowl to celebrate and there would be a real possibility we’d be talking about when it may be a good time to move on from Tom Brady. However, Butler made an amazing play, Carroll lost his mind for a moment in time, and one parade later, it’s time to give you some final leftover thoughts from an amazing Super Bowl, and to also look ahead to what should be an eventful offseason and a great 2015 campaign.
Darrelle Revis was a clutch player down the stretch.
He gave up some big plays early, but after the touchdown to Doug Baldwin at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Seattle didn’t try him once. He blanketed Baldwin on both critical three-and-outs that allowed the Patriots to regain possession and score 14 unanswered points. Butler will be remembered (and rightly so) as the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, but Revis should be commended for not only a great game but a great season. He was worth every penny.
Legion of Boom? More like legion of whom.
I’m sorry but if you want a nickname for your defense, you need to play at a higher level when the chips are down and the season is on the line. All time great defenses don’t lose 10 point leads in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl. Seattle showed that they didn’t have any depth and it killed them in crunch time. Two of the sneaky big plays of this game were both interception returns for the Seahawks. Jeremy Lane, the third corner and a key piece, broke his arm following a Julian Edelman tackle and Cliff Avril, a starting linebacker, was concussed during a Bobby Wagner interception return. Losing two pieces is no excuse, however, for giving up two late touchdown drives. Legendary defenses don’t do that in the Super Bowl. In fact, no defense had ever given up a double digit fourth quarter lead in the Super Bowl.
It was good to see Shane Vereen have one of his best games as a Patriot on the biggest stage.
Vereen had been disappointing this year but he was arguably the most reliable offensive targets in the Super Bowl. He caught 11 of 12 passes that came his way, many of which resulted in first downs. Without Vereen, it’s very plausible to think we’d be talking about a third straight Super Bowl loss for the Pats. He was the perfect player to neutralize Seattle’s scheme because he is talented in the open field if Brady decides to quickly dump the ball off to him, making blitzing nearly impossible.
Was Butler’s interception the best play in Patriots history?
It’s definitely up there, but I wouldn’t put it at the top. Number one is (and will probably always be) Adam Vinatieri’s kick through the snow in the 2001 Divisional Playoffs. Number two in my opinion is Ty Law’s interception return touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI. Butler’s pick is in at number three. Rounding out the top five are Vinatieri’s kick to win Super Bowl XXXVI and Troy Brown’s forced fumble against the Chargers in 2006. 
Looking ahead to next season.
It will be really interesting to see a fully healthy Dominique Easley added to the mix on the defensive line. His rookie season was largely uneventful but he is a talented player. The key is his health, which should improve as he gets a full offseason of work in. Other story lines include the running back position, which isn’t secure at all. It’s possible for the Patriots to let Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, and Legarratte Blount all walk in free agency and fill the hole with Jonas Gray, James White, or perhaps even a draft pick. In today’s NFL, the offensive line dictates the running game more than who’s carrying the ball, and the line is young, good, and will most likely return intact.
As far as the defensive side of the ball, locking up Revis and Devin McCourty long term are absolutely crucial to the continued success of the Patriots. Sometimes Belichick and Robert Kraft can get cute with the salary cap and try to trade away or cut veteran pieces, but Revis and McCourty are in their athletic primes right now and have shown the ability to consistently make plays and stay on the field. If there is one player to maybe think about moving on from, it’s Jerod Mayo, because Donta Hightower demonstrated an ability to play inside at a high level this year, and he’s still on his rookie deal.