It’s second-and-goal from the one yard line, 26 seconds left on the clock, and with one timeout remaining, the Seattle Seahawks appear to have locked up back-to-back Super Bowl victories. After Jermaine Kearse channeled his inner David Tyree, Seattle is one Marshawn Lynch crotch grab away from thwarting Tom Brady’s comeback and sending New England home with its third consecutive Super Bowl loss.
And then Pete Carroll makes arguably the worst play call in postseason history. Russell Wilson drops back, throws a slant toward the unrivaled Ricardo Lockette which is quickly picked off by Malcolm Butler, an undrafted rookie out of West Alabama. Patriots win, Carroll condemned.
It was supposed to be the beginning of a new era. Back-to-back championships would spark a mini-dynasty in Seattle. The fun-loving Pete Carroll would be revered for taking down the mighty Bill Belichick. Richard Sherman and Co. would be the face of the NFL. Lynch was sure to deliver a press conference to remember.
Instead, Brady and Belichick leave Arizona with their fourth Lombardi trophy, further cementing their legacy thanks to the hands of an unassuming rookie and a call that left even the most casual of fans baffled. Granted, if that ball lands in Lockette’s palms rather than Butler’s, Wilson and Carroll would be lauded and this whole conversation wouldn’t be happening. But, it didn’t so here we are.
Following the loss, Carroll took the blame but failed to admit that just maybe, it was the wrong call. Seattle’s lovably loyal fan base will forgive, but they’ll never forget.
On a field full of stars, Belichick was supposed to be the villain, Lynch the hero. Yet it’s Seattle’s coach who finds himself the enemy, and the 24-year-old, teary-eyed Butler the hero.
In a game riddled with story lines and concluded by two valiant comeback drives, a snap decision decided it all.
Congratulations New England, don’t forget to thank Pete Carroll on your way out.