In what was truly a Super Bowl ending for the ages, it looked for a few fleeting minutes like Richard Sherman ’10 and Doug Baldwin ’10 would push their Seattle Seahawks to the elusive repeat title.
Instead, after a dazing turn of events, it was Cameron Fleming ’14 and Tyler Gaffney ’14 that were able to put their hands on the coveted Lombardi Trophy at the end of Super Bowl XLIX as NFL champions in their first year on the New England Patriots.
Although Gaffney won his ring as a member of the Patriots’ injured reserve list, Fleming had a prominent role as the Patriots’ extra offensive lineman in heavy packages and blocked for running backs LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen. He cemented himself in that position down the stretch of the season, and although nothing is a certainty with a Bill Belichick-coached team, Fleming looks to be a key asset for the Patriots moving forward.
On the other sideline, Baldwin and Sherman had their typical strong performances despite difficult odds. Sherman’s ability to perform at 100 percent was in question heading into the game due to torn ligaments in his left elbow suffered in the Seahawks’ win over the Patriots in the NFC Championship, but after an early first-quarter reception went for six yards against Sherman, he wasn’t targeted again and played his signature staunch defense.
Sherman had tough assignments against standout receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, but his injury didn’t seem to hamper his coverage at all, and Brady spent his afternoon almost exclusively targeting the Seahawks’ other defensive backs.
And contrary to popular opinion, Sherman didn’t storm into the locker room in the immediate aftermath of the loss — despite his stunned reaction to the game-clinching interception, he was reportedly one of the first on the field to congratulate Brady after the game.
— NFL (@NFLCanada) February 2, 2015
Meanwhile, Baldwin found himself in an unenviable position for any receiver in the league: stranded on “Revis Island” — matched up against coverage wizard Darrelle Revis of the Patriots. And with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson seemingly unwilling to throw the ball early in the game, the opportunities were few and far between for Baldwin.
He did manage to make his mark on the game, though — with time winding down in the third quarter and the Seahawks driving into the red zone, Baldwin made an inside cut in the end zone and (perhaps) unwittingly used the referee to set a pick to block Revis’ coverage and ended up catching the touchdown without a defender within three yards of him.
Baldwin also gained notoriety in the immediate aftermath of his touchdown for his celebration, in which he feigned pulling down his pants and squatting to mimic defecating the ball onto the field, which was penalized for 15 hard-earned yards.
Doug Baldwin defecates a football after scoring a touchdown, receives a 15 yard penalty. pic.twitter.com/IH8CAOKIz6
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) February 2, 2015
All antics set aside, it’s likely going to be a long offseason full of second-guessing for Baldwin, Sherman and the Seahawks, who seemingly had the game in hand before missing key opportunities to win the game.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.