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    Three key plays that won the Super Bowl for Patriots

    GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots catches a three yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    Julian Edelman scored the game-winning points on a three-yard touchdown pass play.

    Three plays in Super Bowl XLIX really stand out as critical to the Patriots’ victory over the Seahawks.

    A closer look:

    Julian Edelman 21-yard reception

    The Patriots’ three drives in the third quarter, when they fell behind, 24-14, consisted of six, five, and four plays (the last stretched into the fourth quarter by two plays). To say they needed to get something going would be an understatement of super proportions.


    Then they faced third-and-14 on their first full possession of the fourth quarter. But Tom Brady stepped up in the pocket and threw a strike over the middle to Julian Edelman for 21 yards to keep the drive alive and bring the Patriots to midfield. This came against the Seahawks’ excellent safety, Kam Chancellor, who delivered a shuddering hit to Edelman at the New England 49.

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    Six plays later, the Patriots were in the end zone on a Brady to Danny Amendola connection, and they had cut the Seahawks’ lead to 24-21.

    Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
    USA Today Sports
    Julian Edelman is tackled by Kam Chancellor in the fourth quarter.

    Julian Edelman touchdown reception

    Obviously any game-winning touchdown is the most critical play of a game, but the added significance here is how it went down. Edelman ran the exact route that nearly resulted in a New England touchdown on its previous possession.

    Lining up on Brady’s left, Edelman cut toward the middle of the end zone, then quickly reversed course and faded back toward the sideline. Edelman’s defender, Tharold Simon, was beaten, just as he had been the previous time when the pass went off Edelman’s fingertips.

    This time, it was an almost-too-easy touchdown reception.

    GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    Julian Edelman’s fourth-quarter touchdown provided the game-winning points.

    Dont’a Hightower’s tackle of Marshawn Lynch


    On the Seahawks’ second-to-last play, star running back Marshawn Lynch was stopped just short of the goal line. The crucial tackle was made by Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who got a hand on Lynch’s feet, and linebacker Akeem Ayers, who drove Lynch to the ground.

    If Lynch went in, the Seawhawks would never have had to make what many are calling the “worst call ever” to let Russell Wilson try to throw for the touchdown from the 1-yard line.

    In fact, once Lynch reached the 1, many speculated whether the Patriots’ best strategy would be to let the Seahawks score to get the ball back. In this case, the next play provided an interesting precedent coaches must now consider when faced with a similar scenario. Malcolm Butler’s interception certainly backs those who would choose to trust their defense to get the job done.

    Glendale, AZ - 2-1-15 - Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) is tackled just short of the goal line on a play in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The New England Patriots intercepted the pass by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3), not pictured, on the very next play to win the game. Super Bowl XLIX - NE Patriots - Seattle Seahawks - Patriot DB Malcolm Butler intercepts Russell Wilson end of 4th quarter. (Barry Chin / Globe staff)
    Barry Chin/Globe Staff
    Marshawn Lynch was kept out of the end zone on the Seahawks’ second-to-last offensive play.

    Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.