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Path To The Super Bowl: 2014 Patriots

New England claimed Super Bowl XLIX with a 28-24 victory over Seattle on Sunday. is wrapping up a week-long glance at the offseason moves and in-season factors that preceded the past five champions' path to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl XLIX

Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

Feb. 1, 2015, Glendale, Ariz.

2014 Patriots regular season record: 12-4
Season before: 12-4, lost in the AFC Championship
Season after: TBD, but New England has won at least 12 the past five seasons

Coaching: Bill Belichick was in his 15th season in New England and is the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL. Josh McDaniels was in his third straight season as offensive coordinator, the same position he held with the Patriots from 2006-08, and his 11th total season under Belichick. Matt Patricia was in his third season as defensive coordinator and 11th as an assistant with the team.

2014 draft picks [round, (overall), position]:
1 (29) DT Dominique Easley
2 (62) QB Jimmy Garoppolo
4 (105) OL Bryan Stork
4 (130) RB James White
4 (140) OL Cameron Fleming
6 (179) OL Jon Halapio
6 (198) DE Zach Moore
6 (206) DB Jemea Thomas
7 (244) WR Jeremy Gallon

Undrafted free agent:
Malcolm Butler, whose significance was magnified by his Super Bowl-clinching interception that's been on repeat all week

Traded with:

  • Buccaneers in late August, sending veteran Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay in exchange for Tim Wright and a future draft pick
  • Texans in late August, sending Ryan Mallet to Houston for a conditional pick
  • Titans in October, acquiring 2011 second-round pick Akeem Ayers for a future draft pick
  • Buccaneers in October, acquiring Jonathan Casillas for a future draft pick

Added through free agency:
Darrelle Revis (in March after release by Tampa Bay), Brandon Browner, Brandon LaFell, Patrick Chung (for a second stint after his release from Philadelphia), Jonas Gray (signed off Ravens practice squad in January 2014), Alan Branch (in October after release from Buffalo in August), LeGarrette Blount (in November after waived by Pittsburgh)

Vince Wilfork, Julian Edelman, Ryan Wendell and Michael Hoomanawanui; exercised team option on Nate Solder

Aqib Talib (free agency to Denver), Brandon Spikes (to Buffalo), Tommy Kelly (released in August), Kenbrell Thompkins (waived in October)

Offense returned: Tom Brady for his 14th season as a starter. He played in every game for the 12th time in his career. Julian Edelman, a healthier Rob Gronkowski and four of five starters on the offensive line, opting to move Daniel Connolly to left guard to replace Mankins, Ryan Wendell from center to right guard, and turning to the rookie Stork at center. The Patriots incorporated a rotation of five running backs, including four who had been with New England in 2013, plugging and playing at different points of the 2014 season.

Defense returned: Rob Ninkovich, Wilfork and Chandler Jones were the most important returnees on the defensive line, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins at linebacker and Devin McCourty at safety

Defining theme during 2014 offseason: know when to hold 'em and when others fold on them. The continuity of the Patriots has allowed them to identify players who can do what coaches want. They placed value on bringing back Wilfork and Edelman, who are both important to their respective units. New England also showed a solid navigation of in-season trades for Ayers and Casillas for depth and experience at linebacker and the waiver system in claiming Blount, who had 47 carries for 189 yards in the postseason after rushing just 65 times in the first 11 weeks of the season with Pittsburgh.

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