GLENDALE, Ariz. – Pete Carroll still couldn’t believe it, 20 minutes after the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots 28-24.
The Seahawks coach looked almost dazed in the lead hallway out of his team’s locker room Sunday night. Then he said, almost incredulously: “How did that just happen?”
Russell Wilson couldn’t fathom it, either. He has just done everything to win the Seahawks’ second consecutive Super Bowl – except hand the ball one more time to Marshawn Lynch.
Two completions by Wilson, to Lynch across midfield then to Jermaine Kearse between his legs while the receiver was on his back, plus a 4-yard run by Lynch had Seattle at the New England 1 with 20 seconds left. The Seahawks trailed 28-24 but had one time out remaining.
One yard from winning it all. Again.
Instead, Seattle’s Comeback Kid passed one too many times. Wilson intended to hit No. 3 wide receiver Ricardo Lockette on a slant route. But New England’s Malcolm Butler cut off Lockette and intercepted it at the goal line to end the Seahawks’ season in a crazy, dramatic Super Bowl XVIX.
When it was over, Carroll and Wilson just looked at each other.
“Trying to realize the gravity of what we just witnessed,” Carroll said. “We didn’t say very much.”
It was an ending they’ll be talking about around the Northwest until the salmon stop running.
“Just when it left my hand I thought ‘Game over.’ I hate feeling like I’m the one who lost it, in a way,” Wilson said.
After using the run by Lynch to bleed the clock inside 30 seconds so Tom Brady wouldn’t have time to rally New England yet again, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell sent out three wide receivers to the right in a bunch formation. The idea, Carroll and Bevell said, was to spread out the Patriots’ goal-line defense, pass on second down to either score or be incomplete, then have third and fourth downs to run or pass against a presumably softer inside, less goal-line stand of a defense.
“It was a great look, the look we wanted to get,” Bevell said.
But when Wilson threw his 21st and final pass of the tense night, Butler jumped the slant route by Lockette like he knew it was coming.
“I saw Wilson looking over there (toward Lockette). He kept his head still and just looked over there, so that gave me a clue,” Butler said. “And the stacked receivers, I just knew they were going to throw.”
Bevell implied that Lockette didn’t exactly sprint back to the ball to prevent the killer turnover.
“(Butler) drove hard on the ball,” Bevell said. “Our guys have to go hard to the ball, too.”
The jump ball that Kearse tapped to himself, put between his legs then cradled at the New England 5 with 1:06 left had Seattle poised for their second consecutive miraculous comeback, and Wilson 15th career fourth-quarter rally to victory.
But game MVP Tom Brady’s four touchdown passes with a Super Bowl-record 37 completions in 50 throws trumped Wilson 12 completions for 247 yards, Lynch’s 102 yards rushing with a touchdown, former Canadian League receiver Chris Matthews almost-MVP breakout. And it ruined the 24-14 lead Seattle took into the final, frantic period.
The Seahawks were denied becoming the eighth franchise ever and first team since the 2003-04 Patriots to win consecutive Super Bowls.
Carroll also took blame for the final, fateful decision that will haunt him all spring, summer and beyond.
“We could have run it and got stuffed. We could have run it and scored. We could have scored against their goal-line (defense), as well,” Carroll said. “It just wasn’t a great football thought at the time.
“In retrospect, we could have easily run it – and we wouldn’t be talking about this.”
New England gained 147 of game’s first 169 yards and had nine of the initial 10 first downs. But Jeremy Lane’s end-zone interception of Brady late in the first quarter on which the nickel back broke his arm kept the Patriots ahead only 7-0 early.
The Seahawks’ scored 17 unanswered points from the end of the first half into the fourth quarter. Matthews’ leaping, twisting, 11-yard touchdown, Steven Hauschka’s 27-yard field goal Matthews set up with another jumping, 45-yard grab, and Doug Baldwin’s 3-yard touchdown catch on which he shrewdly sent the man covering him, New England’s Darrelle Revis, into the umpire official on a route across the end zone made it 24-14 Seattle entering the final quarter.
Brady brought New England back with a third-and-14 completion to Julian Edelman for 21 yards.
Brady to Danny Amendola from 4 yards out, Brady’s NFL-record 12th Super Bowl touchdown, got New England within 24-21 with 8 minutes left.
Brady got the ball back and he continued his short passing, setting a Super Bowl record with his 36th completion while moving New England inside the Seahawks 5. Then Brady threw his fourth touchdown pass, to Edelman.
Seattle suddenly trailed 28-24 – but rallied. Yet again.
But only for 79 of the 80, needed yards.
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