The greatest football game of all time was decided by our readers this weekend. It was down to two options: Super Bowl XLIX between the Patriots and Seahawks and Super Bowl XLIII between the Cardinals and Steelers. And the winner is ... Super Bowl XLIX.
Both games have surpassed their seeding in our monthlong "Bracketlogy" voting. The Patriots-Seahawks were victims of recency bias by the seeding committee. The committee was too afraid of overrating the most recent game. The voters have smartly pushed it through the competition.
The Cardinals and Steelers had the craziest final 2:30 in Super Bowl history. It may have had the craziest collection of three plays in Super Bowl history. But the Patriots and Seahawks played the best game in NFL history. Let's not discount it because it just happened. Consider:
» The game pitted the best two teams in the league. They tied for the best record. New England had the best scoring differential in the NFL; Seattle was second. The Patriots were seeking a fourth title and their first in a decade. Another loss would have irrevocably changed how the Brady-Belichick era was seen. The Seahawks were the defending champions.
Going into the game, this was the best on paper matchup we'd seen in at least a decade. And then the game delivered.
» The Patriots out-played Seattle throughout the first half until a frenzied final 2:16 that included three touchdowns. The Patriots went 80 yards in 105 seconds before Seattle went 80 yards in 29 seconds.
» The Patriots authored the best fourth-quarter comeback in Super Bowl history against the best defense of the last decade. It was the second time that Tom Brady put together a go-ahead drive in Arizona with under three minutes left in the Super Bowl. This time, his defense held on.
» Malcolm Butler's interception singlehandedly changed the outcome of a Super Bowl more than any play in history. It wasn't like a game-winning kick or miss. It flipped the script from an extremely likely victory for Seattle to another title for New England. It is one of the greatest defensive plays ever made because of Butler's instincts, aggression and ability to hold on to a pass that would have been deflected on 19 plays out of 20. But Butler held on.
Yet Butler's play was overshadowed by Seattle's decision to throw the ball on the goal line. It created one of the greatest "what ifs?" in league history. It even rendered one of the craziest catches in NFL history moot.
When our digital programmers of 2035 do their own "Bracketology," this game will live on.
The latest Around The NFL Podcast debates which players are most likely to break prominent records and discusses Jameis Winston's pro day. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.