A Candid Reflection: The Patriots/Seahawks one-yard line trilogy

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks have engaged in four epic battles over the past eight years, including the last three games where they came down to the one-yard line late in the game. Their latest meeting this past Sunday night put a perfect capper on the trilogy of games coming down to the one-yard line. The story of this trilogy is purely cinematic.

In any great story, there are the main characters and supporting ones. Leading the way were the head coaches in Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll for the Patriots and Seahawks, respectively. These two are forever linked to 2000 where Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft fired Carroll and replaced him with Belichick. The rest is history, as Belichick led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships while Carroll won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks after building a dynasty at USC.

The prequel game in 2012 introduces some key players such as Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson and “The Legion of Boom,” the Seahawks secondary in the mid-2010s composing of Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell.

In 2012, these two met as a rookie Russell Wilson led a 23-10 fourth-quarter comeback and rallied the Seahawks to a 24-23 victory over Brady and the Patriots. “The Legion of Boom” trash-talked Brady and used this game and the 2012 season as their breakout party, going to the playoffs with a 12-4 record. This was simply a prelude to the first movie in the trilogy, Super Bowl XLIX.

The Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champions after winning their first Lombardi Trophy in 2013 (season) and look to repeat as they face the Patriots in Glendale, Arizona. The two would engage in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. The Seahawks led 24-14 in the fourth quarter until Brady led two picture-perfect drives to give the Patriots a 28-24 lead with two minutes left. He conquered “The Legion of Boom” but the Patriots’ defense needed to make a stand against Wilson.

The Seahawks drove down to the one-yard line on their ensuing drive after an insane catch by Jermaine Kearse. What happens next is well-known: undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepts Wilson’s pass, clinching the Super Bowl for the Patriots, their fourth Super Bowl championship in the Brady-Belichick era.

The Seahawks were gutted by this and slowly, “The Legion of Boom” faded after losing trust in Carroll and the offense after a controversial play-call. However, a sequel was made and the Seahawks would get a shot at redemption in 2016 at New England during the regular season.

The Patriots entered this game 7-1 while the Seahawks were 5-2-1 (drew against the Arizona Cardinals). Wilson needed redemption and delivered with an incredible performance with 348 passing yards and three touchdowns at Foxborough. Leading 31-24, Brady would lead his team down the field to the one-yard line. The Patriots faced a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line with under a minute to go. Brady lobbed a pass toward tight end Rob Gronkowski which fell incomplete after he battled with Chancellor for positioning.

While with fewer stakes, “The Legion of Boom” got their revenge, stopping the Patriots at the one-yard line, a role-reversal from their previous meeting. Carroll took a 2-1 head-to-head lead on Belichick and Wilson found vindication as around this time, he started to establish himself as a top-tier quarterback.

Before the conclusion of the trilogy this past Sunday, one major character did not return for part three: Tom Brady. After winning his fifth and sixth Super Bowls after the 2016 loss to Seattle, he left for the warmer climate of Tampa Bay as he joined the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2020.

Taking his place is a long-time Wilson foe in former Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton. Wilson is 2-0 versus Newton in the playoffs and 6-2 overall. Newton suited up for the Patriots against the Seahawks in the next Belichick-Carroll battle.

Both quarterbacks put on a show as Wilson threw for five touchdowns and Newton threw 397 yards and rushed for two scores. Down 35-30 with under two minutes, Newton led a late drive. Once again, the Patriots drove to the one-yard line, this time with three seconds to go in the game without any timeouts to save them.

Newton attempted to truck his way into the endzone on a QB power-play but Seahawks’ defensive lineman LJ Collier tripped up Newton one-yard short of the endzone, giving the Seahawks a 35-30 victory. Carroll notched another win against Belichick to go up 3-1 head-to-head and Wilson went up 7-2 on Newton and has established himself as a top-three QB at the minimum. The conclusion of the trilogy was as thrilling as anyone could have hoped for, despite a major casting change.

It is remarkable how three matchups in a row between the same two teams all came down to the offense failing to score when having the ball at the one-yard line. Hollywood could not have written a script like it, making it one of the most surreal sports narratives I have seen.

These two could meet again in a Super Bowl soon but will for sure meet again in 2024. A fourth occurrence of this event is unlikely but everyone knows Hollywood loves to add more movies to successful franchises.

Regardless, these two teams battling it out the last three matchups have displayed the best of pro football. This is a realization I am forever grateful for.

Published by Sean Clark

I am an aspiring sports journalist at Northern Arizona University. I am very passionate about sports such as football, soccer and basketball and I'm excited to use this platform to write about the sports I love.

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