Bears can learn much from classic Super Bowl
Aside from the Patriots' 28-24 victory over the Seahawks providing one of the two most exciting finishes in Super Bowl history, the game supplied some important takeaways for teams watching at home -- like the 5-11 Bears.
Even in the current NFL, where rules favor passing offenses, it still requires defense to win championships. The game-clinching, goal-line interception by the Patriots' obscure Malcolm Butler was the defensive exclamation point, even in a game that turned into a bit of a shootout.
It was defense that got the Seahawks to the past two Super Bowls, and it was defense that kept them in the game despite a horrible offensive start.
Through 22 minutes, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had not completed a single pass. Yet Seattle trailed just 7-0 because its defense came up big against the Patriots' offense, one of the best in the NFL (No. 4 in scoring during the regular season).
So, when Wilson finally did complete a pass, setting up their first TD, they were tied 7-7 late in the first half despite picking up just 1 first down in the first 24 minutes.
Recall the three-week stretch at midseason when the Bears scored a total of 7 points. Their defense responded by allowing 94.
And the Seahawks stuck with the their running game -- the strength of their offense -- even though they couldn't move the ball during the first quarter and a half. Marshawn Lynch finished with 102 yards and a 4.3-yard average. That enabled Wilson to hit occasional big passes because the Patriots had to respect the run.
Offensively, both teams had a clear identity, and it was the same one each had during the regular season -- something the Bears often lacked.
The Patriots relied on a short, controlled passing game all season, with a healthy dose of tight end Rob Gronkowski. That's what worked for them Sunday, as Tom Brady completed 37 of 50 passes for 327 yards and 4 touchdowns, more than enough to overcome his 2 picks. Brady averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt dinking and dunking the ball down the field. But it allowed the Patriots to control the ball against a defense that surrendered just 39 points in its final six regular-season games.
The Patriots rushed for only 57 yards, but they ran it just enough -- 21 times -- to keep Seattle from overplaying the pass or sending extra pressure Brady's way.
Only one team rushed the ball during the regular season more than the Seahawks, who ran it 525 times, and their 162 rushing yards on 29 carries put them on the brink of victory.
By comparison, the Bears ran the ball just 335 times in 2014. Even the Patriots, not known as a running team, ran it 438 times in the regular season.
As they did most of the season, the Seahawks were efficient with a minimum of passes. Wilson completed just 4 of 7 first-half passes but they accounted for 84 yards and 1 TD. He finished just 12 of 21 for the game, but they produced 247 yards.
No team threw the ball less in the regular season than the Seahawks, who tossed 454 passes, 155 fewer than the Patriots.
Though they did it much differently, both quarterbacks threw the ball extremely efficiently all season and in the biggest game.
That should be the Bears' biggest takeaway from Super Bowl XLIX.
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