With Marshawn Lynch and and his offense driving to a second-and-goal at the 1-yard line, the Seattle Seahawks did the unfathomable.
The play called by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was a pass attempt by Russell Wilson over the middle to Ricardo Lockette. And up stepped New England Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler, with one of the biggest, timeliest interceptions in Super Bowl history. No one could believe that a Seahawks drive, fueled by a miracle catch, could end this way.
Instead of a miracle win, the Seahawks were choking on a shocking finish. All because of one of the worst play calls anyone could recall. “It’s a miraculous play that that kid gets in front of that ball,” Coach Pete Carroll said of Butler in an NBC interview. “It’s a play that we really tried to keep him from making. I told those guys, that’s my fault totally,” Carroll told NBC. “Everybody says, ‘why don’t you just run it?’ That’s a real good thought, but we had plenty of time to win the game. In our mine, we thought we’d have done it on third and fourth down. In our mind, we were playing for third and fourth down. … It didn’t work out that way.”
Carroll didn’t like the matchup the Patriots sent in and, instead of calling a timeout, he forced a play…a play that Emmitt Smith called the “worst I’ve seen in the history of football.” That may have been an exaggeration, but it was still a rotten way to lose a shot at repeat championships. As Carroll told ESPN’s Ed Werder, “the clock, the situation–we had it all in hand. They weren’t going to have any time left unless we scored on one of the early downs. We were totally in command and we were going to win the game and then a guy makes a play that he’s not supposed to make, makes a great play and steals the game, steals the championship from us.”
Carroll defended the call as “terrific but it just didn’t work out.” Admittedly, “I have to stand up here and talk to you about it. I’ve got to answer the questions for you so that we can send the message out. This was not a baffling situation. It just didn’t work out right for us. If we had run it on that down right there, we’d have had to have used our timeout, which would probably have been okay … but you can’t run every down there because you’ll run out of time.”
An incomplete pass, of course, would have stopped the clock. It was, admittedly, it is “an easy thing to second-guess and that’s what’s going to happen for a long time and I’ll just have to answer the questions as best I can, try to help people who are as frustrated as we all are. But really, right now I can’t go there. I’ve got to stand up and do the best i can to represent us. A lot of broken hearts over this one.”
Just how difficult was the loss to swallow?
“I can’t even tell you, ” Carroll said. “For all these guys that have worked so hard and tried so hard to get to this point, coaches and players, the 12 and everybody–they’ve done everything they cam possibly do to make us champions again–for it to come down to a play like that, I hate that we have to live with that because we did everything right to win the football game at the end.”
Well, almost everything.
Lynch wasn’t surprised at the playcall. “Because we play football,” he told ESPN’s Jim Trotter. “It’s a team sport.”