By Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
The Patriots are choke artists. As inflammatory of a statement that may be, look at the facts: the Patriot’s dynasty reached its peak after beating Philadelphia in Super Bowl 39. Since then, the Patriots have been to the championship game twice and have blown the lead and lost in the game’s final minutes.
Making the Super Bowl is an accomplishment, but let’s face it, runner-up in football’s biggest game means nothing, and losing in the spectacular fashion the Patriots have in their last Super Bowl appearances has cast a shadow over their ability to come through in the clutch.
Of any team to play in such a high stakes game, the Seahawks had to have been at the bottom of the list for Bill Belicheck and company. The last time the two teams met was in 2012. Tom Brady picked the Seahawks apart early, opting to challenge the newly formed Legion of Boom by throwing pass after pass and finding Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez for touchdowns. After leading for the majority of the game, the Patriots sputtered. They went 1-6 in the red zone, with Brady turning the ball over twice. With eight minutes to go, then-rookie Russell Wilson led the Seattle offense down the field two different times, hitting Braylon Edwards and Sidney Rice for touchdowns. Final score: 24-23, Seattle wins.
Since that game, both teams have undergone a huge host of changes. The New England offense and defense have had their changes of personnel, and players like Welker and Hernandez have moved on (for better or worse). Seattle, meanwhile, has grown into one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. Russell Wilson has emerged as a legitimate dual-threat quarterback, while the Seattle defense has kept its core players and added even more talent. The Seahawks are no longer a plucky up-and-comer. A second Super Bowl win would cement their status in the new elite and put them on the same dynasty path the Patriots were on years ago.
At this point, a win for the Patriots is for their own pride and for proving that they still have what it takes.