The matchup for Super Bowl 49 is set with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seawhawks winning their respective conference championships and moving on to play for the Lombardi Trophy. While we sit here and consider whether or not to give a “Leader of the Pack” award to the guy that (allegedly) deflates the footballs in New England, here are the people that we thought made the biggest difference on the field.
Quarterback – Jon Ryan – Seattle Seahawks – 1/1, 19 yards, 1 TD; 5 punts, 42.4 avg yards
Who did you expect us to pick for quarterback? Russell Wilson threw four interceptions and Tom Brady was aided by footballs that weren’t inflated to the legal standards (allegedly). Jon Ryan’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Garry Gilliam (who?) on a fake field goal woke up the defending champions and started the second half rally. Ryan became the first Canadian (Regina, Saskatchewan) to throw a touchdown pass in an NFL postseason game since Mark Rypien played for the Redskins in 1993. If Ryan misses that pass (or Gilliam drops it) then the comeback never starts.
Running Back – LeGarrette Blount – New England Patriots – 30 carries, 148 yards, 3 TDs
Since (alleged) improperly inflated footballs do not appear to give a running back an unfair advantage, we are fine with giving props to Blount for his ground work on Sunday evening. When the rain started coming down in Foxboro, Blount became the workhorse for the Patriots offense. His two second half touchdowns put the final nails in the Colts’ coffin and were the “stomp on your opponent’s throat” type of TDs that are a hallmark of any big Bill Belichick win.
Wide Receiver – Jermaine Kearse – Seattle Seahawks – 1 catch, 35 yards, 1 TD
Even though he was the targeted receiver on all four of Russell Wilson’s interceptions, Wilson was not afraid to throw to Kearse in overtime. Kearse was able to make that catch despite tight coverage from a Packers defender and fell into the end zone to send the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl. It was the fourth postseason touchdown of his career, which is only one fewer than his career total in the regular season.