Moments after Tom Brady finished chipping away at the Legion of Boom and New England’s secondary saved the Super Bowl win, the Patriots reveled in the moment.
Safety Devin McCourty was fielding questions from the media after the Patriots 28-24 win when an overjoyed Brandon Browner interrupted with a declaration: “We’re the best defensive secondary in the league,” the former Seahawk said.
“They’re going to have to give us a nickname,” McCourty said. “We’ll take champs.”
Seattle may have relinquished the title of best secondary and champs Sunday while playing arguably at less than full strength.
Cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow), safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) and safety Kam Chancellor (knee) all played with injuries. Making matters worse, Jeremy Lane injured his arm after intercepting a Brady pass early in the game and did not return.
Lane’s injury forced Tharold Simon into action, a second-year player who has proved to be a chink in the Seahawks’ armor. Of the seven passing touchdowns the Seahawks allowed in three playoffs games, four were against Simon.
Including two Sunday.
Brady threw an 11-yard pass to Brandon LaFell in the second quarter for the first score of the game against Simon.
“Simon was out there back-to-back-to back, and I was like ‘We should take advantage of this,’ ” LaFell said. “Simon is a good guy. He’s going to be great. We’re a team that’s all predicated on finding the mismatch. We just kept finding the mismatch and kept going at it.”
Then, with 2:02 to play, Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 3-yard score that proved to be the game-winner.
“I think I did a fine job doing what I was supposed to do,” Simon said, but, he added, mistakes were made.
Of the game-winner, he said, “it was a real good route, an in-and-out route, that’s kind of hard to cover. But I should have kept my eyes out of the backfield. Should have kept them on the receiver.”
Brady added to his mystique by overcoming the fourth quarter deficit with two touchdowns. And while he didn’t burn the Legion of Boom secondary for anything longer than 23 yards, he completed a Super Bowl record 37 passes (on 50 attempts) for four touchdowns.
“Tom Brady and that offense did a great job of driving the ball down the field,” Simon said. “They did a great job. They deserve to win.”
Sherman said the Seahawks defensive backs “played great. He (Brady) had his plays, we had our plays. It was great. He continued to compete and he overcame some mistakes early on and you’ve got to tip your hat to him.”
Brady complete 13 of 15 for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He had a quarterback rating of 140.7 and had more completions than the Seahawks had plays (12) in the final quarter.
And Simon says neither the injuries to the starters nor the injury to Lane should be used as an excuse.
“Whenever somebody goes down, trust me, there is always somebody to step in,” Simon said. “I know, I’m still young and I made a lot of mistakes, but I can promise you that will never happen again.”
When Jermaine Kearse made his bobbling catch in the final minutes, Simon thought the Seahawks were going to win. Then they didn’t.
“How do you throw the ball when you’ve got Marshawn Lynch to run the ball?” Simon said. “But, you know, it’s a game of football and we all make simple mistakes. Now we know what we have to do next year.”