Sports books, NFL odds makers & those placing Super Bowl picks all agreed that the Patriots & Seahawks were evenly matched in more ways than one. We will focus on QB's: Tom Brady vs. Russell Wilson.
Before the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona this past Sunday, we took a look at a Super Bowl XLIX Matchup between the two team's quarterbacks—Tom Brady and Russell Wilson—and tried to see if there were any definite edges in a number of different categories. With the game now done and dusted, let’s take a look back at that analysis and see how close the perceived edges in each category actually ended up stacking up with what happened in the game and see if there was anything to learn for future endeavors.
Physical, Running Ability
The forecasted edge here went to the New England Patriots Brady, saying “the slight edge goes to the Patriots long-time QB Brady here for his better size, arm strength and accuracy.” Brady ended up going 37-for-50 for 328 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs while Wilson was 12-for-21 for 247 yards and 2 TDs and 1 INT. As far as running the ball, where nothing was expected from Brady, the New England signal caller lost 3 yards on 2 rushes (or sacks) while Seattle’s Wilson picked up 39 yards on 3 rushes. This may look like a win for the Seahawks and Wilson, but considering many thought the versatile and speedy (4.55 40-yard dash) Seahawks would be looked to as the secondary rushing threat for the team behind RB Marshawn Lynch, a role he has relished and flourished doing for his short tenure in the NFL. When your team ends up losing the game and you’re the QB and you have rushed just 3 times for 39 yards, and the other QB has found a way to control the ball and have almost 20 more plays (72-53) than you, then maybe that little size advantage—Brady is 6-foot-4, 224 pounds while Wilson is 5-foot-11, 206 pounds—we hinted at here and the commitment to pass-pass-pass cumulatively added up to being the difference. It’s hard to give too much credit when the entire outcome of the game came down to one peculiar play call on the 1-yard line, but Brady’s size did and always has given him an advantage at the QB position, where seeing, or trying to see, over mountain-sized offensive and defensive linemen is often half the battle.
With 4 passing TDs on Sunday, Brady saw what he had to see because he is 6-foot-4, but saying the forecasted edge he had in this category was 100% correct would be wrong. But if points could be taken away for something that wasn’t done more that probably should have been, Wilson and Seattle probably should have committed to running the QB more as that has always been one of his strengths and makes DBs very wary on future offensive plays. And, if Wilson rushes the ball maybe one more time, the Seahawks are then maybe back-to-back Super Bowl champions. But he didn’t and they aren’t.
Real Edge: None
The analysis provided here wasn’t exactly Brain Surgery, but proved to be spot on, although again, what would be saying is the Seahawks scored on that last drive? That Brady’s experience hurt him? I think not. Knowing or writing that an older guy (37) with three Super Bowl wins and three Super Bowl MVPs going in has an edge over a 26-year-old who is still basically new and learning the ropes in the NFL is just a simple reality. And that wisdom was easy to be gleaned in the story: “But when Brady—the 199th pick in the Round 6 of the 2000 NFL Draft—was playing his first season in the NFL (2000), Wilson was still just a growing boy in middle school back in Virginia.” With Brady finding a way to both effectively throw the ball almost every play, yet still keep the ball out of the opponents’ hands by getting those precious First Downs (Patriots 8-14 on 3rd Down, Seahawks 3-11), his edge in experience—as well as head coach Bill Belichick’s—may have been the biggest difference over the four quarters and it was very interesting to see him pick on Seahawks DBs as the injuries started to accumulate on Sunday.
Real Edge: Brady
The edge here going in was given to Wilson, but the reality is that the way both QBs engineered, or tried to engineer TD-scoring drives at the end of both halves in the Super Bowl says it all. Brady led the New England to a TD (Rob Gronkowski pass) with 31 seconds to go in the First Half, only to see Wilson use some Secret Seahawks Weapon named Chris Matthews to fly the length of the field in the blink of an eye and score their own TD with just 2 seconds left in the half. Then, in the Second Half, Brady connected with WR Julian Edelman on a 3-yard TD—with what would ultimately be the game- and season-winning score—with 2:02 left on the clock before Wilson performed some more magic of his own and got Seattle onto The Doorstep Of A Miracle with a bouncy, bobbled bomb to WR Jermaine Kearse. And then things got fuzzy. Despite Wilson and the Seahawks aforementioned 3-for-11 and Brady’s 8-for-14 mark on 3rd Down, it’s just not fair to say either QB had an edge in this particular game and both Brady and Wilson proved again why they are two of the best under pressure in the game.
Real Edge: None
The forecast here was for No Edge, and the reality ended up being that as despite throwing 2 interceptions and having a worse QBR than Wilson, Brady had all the numbers that mattered, including 4 TD passes which amounted to the same number of points (24) as the Seahawks scored overall. Brady used 7 different receivers while Wilson only used 5. Brady also completed three times as many passes as (37 to 12) than Wilson and the Patriots got 21 of their 24 First Downs through the air, whereas Seattle just earned 10 of their 20 via Passing. But then again, the Seahawks are the top Rushing team in the league so one shouldn’t really expect them to pass as much as a team like New England which lives by The Pass. In the end, being able to pass, get those precious First Downs, control the clock, hopefully score and be able to come from behind if necessary is more valuable than anything.
Real Edge: Brady
There was no forecasted edge between the two fine Offensive Lines of these teams and with minimal sacks and penalties in the Super Bowl from these two units, there was no discernable edge and both OLs did excellent jobs protecting their respective QBs and giving them time throughout the game, especially considering the quality of the defenses both were facing.
Real Edge: None
The Hot Factor
Wilson and the Seahawks were riding an 8-game win streak and a 7-1-0 ATS mark heading into the Super Bowl while Brady and the Patriots were 5-1 in their L6 and 1-3 ATS in their L4, so, Hot had nothing to do with anything and the projected perceived edge (to Wilson) was wrong. But then again, and it has to be mentioned if we are over-analyzing this stuff, if the Seahawks score from a yard out in those last 39 or so seconds, Seattle is on a 9-game winning streak, is 8-1-0 ATS and is taking their second straight Vince Lombardi Trophy back to the Emerald City. The little things. Always those little things.
Real Edge: Whoever Didn’t Make The Last Mistake (Brady)
As talked about in the original story, these two QBs had met only once—with Wilson’s Seahawks covering and winning, 24-23 in Seattle as 3½-point underdogs in Week 6 of his rookie 2012 season—so deeming any kind of edge then or now is meaningless. And although this category is too small of a sample size to have any muscle, that last interception by New England’s Malcolm Butler was the difference between the Seahawks being 2-0 ATS and 2-0 SU lifetime with Wilson at the helm versus the Patriots and 1-1 ATS and 1-1 SU. One play. Just one play, man. One play that affected both the game and the point spread. As well as the NFL championship. Nothing big. Pete Carroll may be able to sleep by July.
Real Edge: N/A
Seahawks QB Wilson was 26-17-1 ATS as a Favorite heading in, while the Patriots Brady was 97-79-4 as a Favorite, so there was no edge given in this category. Wilson had covered the spread in his only Super Bowl while Brady had six previous trips, so any comparison would have been meaningless and all Super Bowl are pretty much games unto themselves where lifetime and/or season or any other ATS records are probably best quickly tossed out the window.
Real Edge: None
Skill Position Weapons
Along with the ‘Overall Experience’ category, this is the one that really won the New England Patriots the game and getting money for those who place NFL picks on them. True, previously unknown Seahawks WR Chris Matthews (4 receptions, 109 yards, TD) had a monster day and pretty much kept the Seahawks—who were outplayed by New England most of the game quite honestly—in the game. But it was a four-headed Patriots monster of TE Rob Gronkowski (6 receptions, 68 yards, TD, 11.31 ypc), WR Julian Edelman (9 receptions, 109 yards, TD, 12.1 ypc), WR Danny Amendola (5 receptions, 48 yards, TD) and WR Brandon LaFell (4 receptions, 29 yards, TD) who helped Brady control the game and get the points New England needed—those four combined for the same number of points (24) as the Seahawks did—and help galvanize Brady’s legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league.
Real Edge: Brady
What can be gleaned from all of this? It’s often a good idea to really take your time to dissect a game and all of its components and consider the little things and not get thrown off by the shine. A man who’s considerably taller and much more experienced than his counterpart and one with so more reliable weapons (Gronkowski, Edelman) that he’s familiar with—who were both foaming at the mouth to come through for the QB in the Super Bowl—ended up being the difference here. But for the 403rd time, we’d all be whistling a different tune if, say Marshawn Lynch took a handoff from 1 yard out and score to give Seattle an eventual 31-28 win.
The bottom line here is that Seattle should have had Wilson run more or the nimble QB should have bolted more on his own. And Brady definitely had the overall better football game, and that was to be expected as we cited here in the story. But having such a great game in this specific situation and coming through in the clutch against one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL is something that even those that don’t like New England and Tom Terrific have to admire, even if they won’t openly admit it. We all witnessed a little piece of history in Super Bowl XLIX and the funny thing is that Wilson may be using something he learned on Sunday from Brady to help him win another future NFL championship.