Brady, McDaniels smelled blood when Jeremy Lane went down
Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane made a huge play in the first quarter of the Super Bowl, but it was his last play. And the Patriots quickly capitalized on his absence.
Lane intercepted a Tom Brady pass in the end zone, but on the return he broke his arm and had to leave the game. NFL Films microphones captured the reaction of Brady and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels when they learned that Lane was heading to the locker room, and as shown on Inside the NFL, it was obvious that Brady and McDaniels immediately realized that the Seahawks would have a big hole in their secondary.
“Lane’s out of the game,” McDaniels told Brady, who then asked McDaniels who would replace Lane in Seattle’s base defense. McDaniels didn’t know off the top of his head but said, “They’re gonna have to put somebody else in there.”
The “somebody else” was Tharold Simon, and the Patriots went right to work on attacking the weak link in Seattle’s secondary, as Julian Edelman made a big play by beating Simon in coverage and then Brandon LaFell scored a touchdown, again beating Simon in coverage.
The Patriots’ passing game benefited enormously from the fact that Seattle’s Legion of Boom was depleted: In addition to Lane leaving the game, Richard Sherman was playing through an elbow injury, Earl Thomas was playing through a shoulder injury and Kam Chancellor was playing through a knee injury. On the sideline later in the first half, McDaniels and Brady agreed that the Seahawks’ defense looked like it was worn down.
“They’re tired. They’re gassed,” McDaniels told Brady, who agreed with that assessment.
Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril later left the game with a concussion, further weakening Seattle’s defense. The Patriots were playing Seattle at a lot less than 100 percent, and they made the most of it.