GLENDALE, Ariz. — Finally. Redemption in the desert. Both for Tom Brady and for the New England Patriots franchise.

On Sunday, the New England Patriots returned to the site of the franchise’s greatest loss – the 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII that denied the Patriots a perfect season – and exorcised the demons.

It wasn’t easy, but then it never is with the Patriots.

The Patriots defeated the defending champion Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX at the University of Phoenix Stadium, a game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds when an undrafted free agent named Malcolm Butler entered Super Bowl lore by intercepting Russell Wilson in the end zone.

This is the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl championship under the leadership of head coach Bill Belichick and their quarterback, Brady.

And it’s probably the sweetest.


It came at the end of a long two weeks, with the Patriots’ methods – and Brady’s in particular – being questioned by the national media and the general public after they were accused of using illegal underinflated balls in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game.

The NFL investigation is ongoing, but Brady was called out by the national media as being a liar and cheater after he denied knowing anything about the deflated balls.

Sweet redemption? It had to be for Brady, who was named the Super Bowl MVP for the third time in his career after completing 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, but was peerless in the final quarter when he rallied the Patriots from a 10-point deficit with two touchdown passes.

And, really, should we have been surprised by anything we saw?

This was the 47th time in his career that Brady has rallied the Patriots to a victory after a fourth-quarter deficit. It may have been his finest hour.

He seemed emotional when he received his award.


“I want to thank everyone who supported me,” he said, then turning to his teammates. “I love you guys.”

The Seahawks were attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships since the Patriots did it in 2004 and 2005 and stake a claim as the Team of the Decade.

Instead, the Patriots showed they weren’t ready to give up their championship mantle. They won their first three championships by three points in each game, most recently 10 years ago.

In accepting the Vince Lombardi Trophy from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Patriots owner Robert Kraft compared it to the team’s first championship, in 2002, won just months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“To all the Patriot fans out there, wherever you are, the first one we won I felt was pretty special,” said Kraft. “It happened in a unique time in our country. I never knew another trophy could feel as special, but this one absolutely does. And every true Patriot fan understands that.”

The Patriots trailed by 10 points entering the fourth quarter against a defense that was regarded as the best of this era. But that didn’t matter. With Brady playing flawlessly and his receivers finding creases underneath the Legion of Boom secondary, the Patriots drove. And drove and drove.


Brady found Danny Amendola – once the forgotten man in this offense – in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown with 7:55 remaining and the Patriots were within 24-21.

Then the defense forced a three-and-out, giving Brady the ball with 6:52 remaining. Four minutes and 50 seconds later, the Patriots had the lead. On second down from the 3, Julian Edelman spun away from cornerback Tharold Simon and Brady found him for the go-ahead touchdown that made it 28-21 with 2:02 left.

The Seahawks had one last chance thanks to a miraculous catch – reminiscent of David Tyree and Mario Manningham in New England’s Super Bowl losses to the Giants – by Jermaine Kearse that gave Seattle the ball at the 5.

After Marshawn Lynch gained four yards to the 1, Wilson dropped back to pass – and Butler, undrafted out of West Alabama – stepped in front of Ricardo Lockett to intercept the pass.

“I saw the interception and couldn’t believe it,” said Brady. “It was just an incredible play. You know, a great play. A championship play.”

Brady didn’t see this win as redemption, nor did he think it enhanced his legacy. He is now tied with Joe Montana with three Super Bowl MVP awards and tied with Montana – his idol growing up – and Terry Bradshaw with four Super Bowl victories.

“You just have to make plays to win,” said Brady. “It was great … I’m glad we made the plays when we needed to.”

But for safety Devin McCourty, this championship – his first – means everything.

“To be here (in 2012), after a loss, not knowing what to say, not wanting to be here talking,” he said. “To be here in a whole different situation, it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t think of better individuals to do this with.”

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