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Seven plays that explain Super Bowl XLIX

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On Sunday the world witnessed quite possibly the greatest Super Bowl in history -- certainly the best I've watched.

The ebb and flow of the game offered a plethora of hinge points. Let's look at seven plays that explained the game (in chronological order, for the most part):

» The New England Patriots were dominating the game -- if not the scoreboard -- before Chris Matthews, a little-known fifth-string receiver, made a fantastic adjustment on a Russell Wilson pass. The 44-yard snag set up the game-tying score and changed the complexion of a game that felt like the Pats could pull away early.

» Yes, it's against a different defensive formation, but how can any Seattle fan watch the effort from Beast Mode on this 3-yard score and not wonder about that final play call of the game?

» What a beautiful throw from Tom Brady, reminding us that when the 37-year-old is on he can still be deadly. Rob Gronkowski came into the game as a mismatch for the Seahawks' linebackers. Lining up outside, Gronk has a huge size and speed advantage on K.J. Wright. It wasn't even fair.

» Seattle picked off Brady twice. Jeremy Lane took away early points with an end zone interception, and Bobby Wagner's pick led to a touchdown that put the Seahawks up 10 points in the third quarter. However, on both plays, the Seahawks lost key defenders.

» Lane suffered a gruesome-looking arm injury and exited. Brady then proceeded to pick on his replacement Tharold Simon all game, especially on the key fourth-quarter drives. On the Wagner pick, pass rusher Cliff Avril suffered a head injury and never returned. After Avril left, the Seahawks' pass rush lost its punch and allowed Brady time to pick them apart.

The culmination of two cold-blooded drives from Brady to give the Patriots a lead. The MVP was clinical in the fourth quarter. Julian Edelman made the backup Seahawks corners look silly all game, including here.

» Wait, what? After Jermaine Kearse's improbable catch, it felt like Russell Wilson and his magic would swipe another victory from the clutches of defeat. The unflappable Al Michaels' call was even of the stupefied variety. Would the Patriots lose another Super Bowl to a ridiculous play? Brady's expression sure seemed to say, "yes."

» The pick that sealed it, which will be questioned and dissected until the end of days.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps Super Bowl XLIX, including Malcolm Butler's game-sealing interception, Tom Brady's legacy and more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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