The third tie in 49 Super Bowls, and it's because of one of the most unlikely heroes in the game.
Seahawks' nickel back Jeremy Lane made the game's first big play, an end-zone interception of Tom Brady after Michael Bennett hit New England's iconic QB and made him shy away from what became an awful throw. That saved Seattle at least three points -- but cost it Lane. He appeared to fracture his lower left arm on his landing at the end of his interception return.
That meant on the next defensive drive the Seahawks moved starting cornerback Byron Maxwell from right cornerback inside to nickel and brought second-year man Tharold Simon in to play cornerback. Brady targeted Simon three times on what became the game's first scoring drive. It ended with Brandon LaFell's touchdown catch of 11 yards, on a slant inside Simon.
It was Brady's 50th postseason touchdown throw, an NFL record. His 10th Super Bowl TD pass was one behind Joe Montana's record.
New England gained 147 of the game's first 169 yards, but led only 7-0.
The Seahawks have stuck with their offensive game plan of establishing Marshawn Lynch's inside runs. It finally paid off late in the second quarter. Wilson had only thrown two passes when he finally got his first completion on the third throw, to Jermaine Kearse for Seattle's initial third-down conversion of the game with 5 minutes left before halftime. The Lynch running then set up Wilson's play-action pass that afforded him time to wait for former Canadian League receiver Matthews to run 35 yards down the right side. Matthews' first NFL catch, for 44 yards, set up Lynch's 3-yard touchdown run off right tackle past the knocked-off helmet of guard James Carpenter, and Seattle had tied the game at 7.
But Cliff Avril jumped offside on third and 3, giving New England a first down at the Seattle 43. Brady then found unanimous All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski alone outside one on one with linebacker K.J. Wright. Gronkowski on any linebacker in the league is a mismatch for the Patriots, and the 22-yard pitch and catch had to be one of Brady's easiest of 11 career TD passes in the Super Bowl. New England led 14-7 with 31 seconds left in the half.
That was still enough time for the Seahawks to score points. Runs of 19 yards by Robert Turbin and 17 yards on a scramble by Wilson set up Wilson's 23-yard pass to Ricardo Lockette. That and a 10-yard facemask foul on New England cornerback Kyle Arrington put Seattle at the Patriots 11 with 6 seconds left.
After timeouts by each team, Wilson dropped to pass and looked only at Matthews. The 6-foot-5 wide out leaped, twisted and basketball-rebounded the pass to re-tie the game at 14.
Matthews is only in the receiving rotation because rookie Paul Richardson went out for the year in the NFC divisional round with a knee injury.
Brady completed 20 of 27 passes in that half for 177 yards and the two scores, almost all those on quick throws underneath zone coverage before Seattle's Bennett could reach him.
Wilson had just four completions in seven throws for 84 yards. But 12 yards per connection wasn't shabby.