BY Steve Rudman 08:45PM 02/01/2015

Botched play costs Seahawks Super Bowl

The Seahawks were one yard away from defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, but called a dubious pass play at the goal line that cost them a chance at victory.

Chris Matthews of Seattle beats Kyle Arrington for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Never at a loss for words, Pete Carroll probably won’t live long enough to explain adequately why, with a victory in Super Bowl XLIX one, tantalizing yard away and Marshawn Lynch poised to ram in the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to go, the Seahawks opted instead to have Russell Wilson throw a pick play to Ricardo Lockette at the goal line.

It made little sense in the moment, and likely never will given Lynch’s red-zone history. Malcolm Butler, a free agent rookie out of West Alabama who minutes earlier failed to prevent Jermaine Kearse from making an absurd, juggling catch at the five-yard line that should have set up the winning touchdown, stepped in front of Lockette and swiped Wilson’s pass on the goal line, ending Seattle’s reign as Super Bowl champions.

Instead of a parade-making 31-28 win, the Seahawks lost 28-24 to a New England team that seemed resigned to defeat.

The Seahawks, who squandered a 24-14 fourth-quarter lead and fell behind 28-24 with 2:02 to play when Tom Brady threw his third touchdown to give New England a 28-24 lead, nearly pulled off a stunning comeback in the final two minutes.

Wilson lofted a 31-yard completion to Marshawn Lynch just before the two-minute warning that gave Seattle a first down at the New England 49. After two incomplete passes and facing a third-and-10, Wilson hit Lockette for 11 yards and a first down at the Patriots 38.

Wilson threw deep to Kearse, who was covered by Butler. The ball was batted and kicked, and finally fell to a prone Kearse, who juggled it twice before improbably hauling it in on his back for a first down at the five-yard line.

Lynch, who finished with 102 rushing yards, burst four yards to the one, putting the Seahawks a yard away from inclusion in a conversation about the greatest teams in the free-agency era. Seemed a lock. Seattle faced second down with a half a minute to play and still had a timeout.

The time seemed ripe for Beast Mode, but Carroll and OC Darrell Bevell thought otherwise and instructed Wilson to throw a slant. Instead of winning the Super Bowl with a walk-off play, the Seahawks trudged out of University of Phoenix Stadium a stunned and improbable loser.

“We didn’t want to run against their goal line group right there,” explained Carroll. “So we called the play, and it was just a miraculous play that the kid (Butler) made. That’s my fault totally. We had plenty of time to win the game. We were playing for third and fourth down and it just didn’t work out. I hate that we have to live with that. We did everything right to win that game.”

“The guy (Butler) just made a heckuva play,” said cornerback Richard Sherman. “We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end and that’s all you can ask for. Give New England credit. They earned the win.”

Brady threw four touchdown passes, but had to overcome two interceptions to nail down his fourth Super Bowl title. He staked New England to a 7-0 lead with an 11-yard pass to Brandon LaFell and then Lynch tied it with a three-yard run.

Brady tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 31 seconds left in the second quarter, but Wilson took the Seahawks 80 yards in 29 seconds just before halftime and pulled the Seahawks even at 14-14 with an 11-yard pass to Chris Matthews.

Carroll/Bevell made a gusty call on that play. With six seconds left before intermission, the Seahawks could have settled for a field goal, but they elected to take a shot in the end zone and Matthews beat Kyle Arrington for the touchdown.

Seattle went up 17-14 on Steven Hauschka’s 27-yard field goal at 11:09 of the third quarter. Wilson’s second TD pass, to Doug Baldwin, gave the Seahawks a 24-14 lead entering the fourth quarter.

But the Seahawks couldn’t hold down Brady, who directed a 68-yard drive that ended with a four-yard TD to Danny Amendola, pulling New England within 24-21 with 7:55 to play.

Seattle then went three-and-out quickly, a fatal possession as it turned out, giving Brady another chance. He made the most of it, directing a 64-yard scoring drive that ended with his three-yard TD to Julian Edelman.

Had Seattle won, the MVP might have been free agent Chris Matthews, who recovered the onside kick in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay. Matthews had played only 26 snaps in his career before Sunday, had never caught an NFL pass and had never even been targeted. But he came up with four receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. Matthews’ 44-yard catch set up Lynch’s touchdown and his 45-yard snag set up Hauschka’s field goal.

Wilson had an odd day. He became the first starting quarterback not to throw a pass in the first quarter of a Super Bowl and had a hard time getting untracked. He was only 4 of 7 at halftime, largely because his receivers couldn’t get open, but finished with 247 yards, two touchdowns and a 110.6 passer rating. But it was small consolation.

“We played as hard as we could but they made one more play than we did,” said Wilson. “It’s tough to process. I hate losing. I’ve watched a lot of Super Bowls and that was one of the better ones, but we just didn’t win it.”

Wilson absolved Carroll of blame and took responsibility for his goal-line interception that prevented Seattle from becoming the first team in 10 years to repeat as Super Bowl champion.

“Coach took the blame, but I put it on me,” said Wilson. “I should have made the play. I gave them the ball. ”

SCORING SUMMARY

2nd Qtr. (Patriots 7-0): Brandon LaFell 11 pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gotkowski kick), 9:47. Drive: 9 plays, 65 yards in 4:10. Key Plays: Danny Amendola 17 pass from Brady; Julian Edelman 23 pass from Brady.

2nd Qtr. (Seahawks 7-7): Marshawn Lynch 3 run (Steven Hauschka kick), 2:16; Drive: 8 plays, 70 yards in 4:51; Key Play: Chris Matthews 44 pass from Russell Wilson.

2nd Qtr. (Patriots 14-7): Rob Gronkowski 22 pass from Brady (Gotkowski kick), 0:31. Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards in 1:45. Key Play: Shane Vereen 16 pass from Brady; Cliff Avril neutral zone infraction.

2nd Qtr. (Seahawks 14-14): Matthews 11 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick), 0:02. Drive: 5 plays, 80 yards in 0:29. Key Plays: Robert Turbin 19 run; Ricardo Lockette 23 pass from Wilson plus face mask penalty on Kyle Arrington, giving Seahawks a first down on New England 11.

3rd Qtr. (Seahawks 17-14): Hauschka 27 FG, 11:09. Drive: 7 plays, 72 yards in 3:51. Key Play: Matthews 45 pass from Wilson.

3rd Qtr. (Seahawks 24-14): Doug Baldwin 3 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick), 4:54. Drive: 6 plays, 50 yards in 3:13. Key Plays: Bobby Wagner interception at the 50; Wilson 15 run; Lynch 14 run.

4th Qtr. (Patriots 24-21): Danny Amendola 4 pass from Brady (Gostowski kick); 7:55. Drive: 9 plays, 68 yards in 4:18; Key Play: Edelman 23 pass from Brady on 3rd and 14.

4th Qtr. (Patriots 28-24): Edeman 3 pass from Brady (Gostowski kick), 2:02. Drive: 10 plays, 64 yards in 4:50.Key Play: Rob Gronkowski 20 pass from Brady.

 


YourThoughts

  • mtd9904

    I can understand the frustration but imagine the pass is simply incomplete then a play later Lynch puts it in. Fans simply say the Seahawks were setting them up. Imagine Lynch runs it and the Pats stuff him for a loss of 1 or 2. All of a sudden it’s 3rd & 2 or 3 and it’s not so certain.

    Carroll took an offense where guys like Kearse and Baldwin populate the receiving corp. are among the best offenses in the league. The Seahawks have also had a lot of luck break their way the past few years (onside kick against Green Bay, the 50 yard TD pass against SF).

    Let’s keep a healthy perspective Hawk fans.

    • Eric K

      Throwing a pass on that play was ok, but should have been something safe like a fade to back corner, or a swing to Lynch, not a slant a WR who has barely played all year

      • mtd9904

        The corner fade might have made sense but a swing to Lynch wouldn’t make sense (it could potentially end up with a loss).

        • Eric K

          I meant more of a wheel route where he catches it at or near the lîne, but really would have preferred a fade to Matthews where it is high and deep and either he gets it or it is OB.

          Definitely not a slant to Lockette who is just really just a speed guy, Wilson will never say it and take all the blame, but the int is on Lockette for his lousy break.

          Hawks offseason priorities should be 1) sign Wilson, Lynch and Wagner to new deals 2) get a true #1 WR

          • mtd9904

            Look, we can argue “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” but to me it was a freak play. Honestly how many times have you seen something like that?

          • Eric K

            The Seahawks DBs have had several INTS on that exact play, it is one of the higher risk red zone passes you can throw

          • mtd9904

            Their picks usually came at the back and it was when opponents were further back. An inside screen like that usually has a low interception risk.

          • DiamondBackPain

            Happens all the time. Was not a freak play. Balls get tipped to the defense off those slants all the time. It was a very high risk play.

      • Larry

        Yeah …. I agree with Eric. Throwing on 2nd down is reasonable. But it has to be low risk. Not a slant to a skinny “speed” receiver right into the crowded heart of the defense. Too much can go wrong. It’s not that lockette didn’t fight for the ball; he’s just not the type of receiver for that type of play. The CB ran right through him.

    • Gary

      Still have not justified calling that play. My perspective is very healthy, teams make their own luck, that was just a horrible call nothing more or less.

      • mtd9904

        Teams don’t create their own luck. Fans and analysts just don’t like admitting luck is just one of those things outside your control.

    • Bruce McDermott

      Under no circumstances do you throw a hard slant to a #4 or 5 receiver into the middle of the defense on the one foot line with 3 downs, a timeout and 20+ seconds left, and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. None. Sometimes the correct “perspective” simply hurts. And this one certainly does. The coaches blew it and cost their players the game. Execution was not horrible, but the throw was a little off and Lockette did not fight for the ball enough. But this play should never, ever have been called in this circumstance. Doesn’t mean that plays made or not made earlier couldn’t have also changed the outcome. But the timing of this one makes it very easy.

      • mtd9904

        Second down is when you throw if you’re going to throw. Look, I get your point but to me it’s just one of those things. It’s tough to swallow but luck doesn’t always break the way you want it to.

  • mytwosense

    No class team; glad Sherman’s mouth is shut; bunch of sore losing th ugs (not to mention idio tic coaching play)

    • just passing thru

      I wonder how much class deflation New England will experience when the truth is found? Of course, that kind of cheating is not as bad as having “no class.”

      • mytwosense

        NFL is back pedaling already stating balls were less than 1 lb deflated. Even if you take all first half points away, Pats still beat Indy 28-7 when b@lls were “properly

    • notaboomer
      • mytwosense

        Ok, I guess what I really meant was “gangstas”. Thanks for the request to clarify.

  • Gary

    Nobody will ever be able to explain that call to me adequately…………………..EVER!
    What a shame, you can never get that one back.

    • mtd9904

      Teams pass on first or second down all the time in that situation. It’s obviously only coming into question cause of a freak play.

  • cwu91

    Not buying it Steve….you cannot throw a slant there into the teeth of the defense from the 1 yard line…..there simply isn’t enough seperation. Sideline maybe, and Lynch was wide open in the back of the end zone. Wide open.

    They walked away from the best player in a critical moment, and lost their identity.

    What might have been.

    • mtd9904

      …and usually the worst that happens is the pass is incomplete.

      • cwu91

        With little time expired. Here’s a thought. Anyone who thinks this call is okay, go back and pull the sound FX from 48. Ball on the one and Carol says “give it to the big fella”. Touchdown.

        Nuff said

        • mtd9904

          In hindsight it’s bad but at the one, the Patriots are gearing up for him, I can see why the passed (at least keep them honest). The Pats were doing a pretty good job wrapping him up.

    • DiamondBackPain

      Lynch was wide open because the guy that was covering him saw the ball was thrown and pulled off coverage. There was no way Lynch was getting that pass.

  • Leo Eamon

    The ugliest, trashiest team in Super Bowl history got exactly what it deserved. And the fight at the end of the game could not have said it better.

    • DiamondBackPain

      That was CLASSLESS for sure.

  • RadioGuy

    That call was inexplicable, even though the KIRO postgame house men tried to explain it away. Didn’t convince me. When you’re second and goal at your opponent’s one with the game on the line and you have the hardest RB in the game to stop in your backfield, you don’t throw the ball to the middle of the field.

    This will be a “what might have been” moments for Seattle sports fans for years to come (with good reason), but it shouldn’t negate a second straight NFC title and Super Bowl appearance. The Hawks had a great season until the end of it.

    • mtd9904

      If you’re going to throw, it’s on second down, if that was third, I would be with you on the part about running.

      • RadioGuy

        I just can’t agree. It’s harder for receivers to get separation in that situation because there’s neither the room nor time, and who better to have the ball in his hands when you need one more yard than Marshawn Lynch, especially that late in the game when you’re down four points? Not the time to get cute.

        • mtd9904

          Keep the defense honest, plus, if it didn’t work, you have 3rd and 4th down. They weren’t getting cute, it’s typical to see teams pass in that situation. Imagine if Lynch had fumbled (far more likely).

  • Dave Mauro

    All I wanted to see was Seahawks football. They delivered that. On this day, on this field the Patriots were better. So be it. My guys were awesome and I have mad respect for their passion. Shit yes! Hold your heads high. You came to a battle few were invited, You fought nobly. Go home. Heal. Hold your families, and live to fight another day. You are what counts and tomorrow beacons.

    • Gary

      My god …Really?…..a bit dramatic don’t you think?

  • inplaylose

    bottom line is that you have the best RB in football – arguably the best player in football – and you did not give him the ball less than a yard from the goal line. why throw it in the middle of the field on a slant, which the Seahawks don’t run all that well to begin with? why even risk an INT at that point? there is no legitimate jusification for that call, no matter if the Pats have 10 in the box to stop the run. even if you get stopped, you call timeout, you have two downs from a yard away with a nimble, scrambling QB and the best RB in the game. Bevell flat out blew this one for the Seahawks. a truly terrible play call. inexcusably terrible.

    • mtd9904

      It was SECOND DOWN, if it was 4th I might understand. Hindsight is great isn’t it?!?

      • Snackycakes

        No hindsight needed to know that was the wrong play to call at the time. The only people that thought it was a good idea were the coaches.

    • Leo Eamon

      “arguably the best player in football?” LOL. I think you are getting a bit carried away homer.

    • DiamondBackPain

      17 rushing TD’s led the NFL and they act like they have no faith in Lynch.

    • RadioGuy

      Everyone’s blaming Bevell (and maybe it was his call), but I’m not going to blame an offensive coordinator for those 14 points the Pats scored in the last quarter to wipe out the Seahawks’ 10-point lead. THAT’s where the game was lost.

  • illuminati doomsday

    Dumbest play call in the history of football. I was in shock. All in? All crap!

  • PokeyPuffy

    The defense never found an answer to Brady’s short game. If some omniscient presence told me yesterday that NE would score 28 points against us i would have assumed we lost, and that is indeed what happened.
    Also, too many 3 and outs on offense, one crucial one in the 4th when we had a
    10 point lead. A 3 and out is basically a momentum shifting TURNOVER,
    and Carrol should view this as a priority to address next year. Need to
    find more consistency and flow on offense, perhaps with a new
    coordinator.

    Anyhoo congrats on a great season overall Hawks!

    • DiamondBackPain

      The defense was full of injuries. What more do you expect from them?

      • PokeyPuffy

        I’m not making a value judgement, just saying 28 points is beyond what our offense can usually overcome.

        • DiamondBackPain

          So your admitting that Wilson is really not that great of a QB? I don’t think he is either.

  • 1coolguy

    I understand, after listening to Pete, why they passed on 2nd down BUT the pass was a very poor plan.
    Why not throw a corner route, which has a low chance of being intercepted, or a Wilson roll-out option, so he can pass, run OR throw the ball away and stop the clock? Then 3rd and 4th downs can be runs, as there was one more time out.
    A 5-10 QB throwing a slant over the middle on the ONE??? Talk about high risk.
    This is inexplicable and will forever haunt the Hawks, the players, management, Pete, etc. Stunning is the only word for it.
    Also, against an average O-line, I was surprised how well the Pats blocked out rush in teh 2nd half. Brady didn’t see much pressure, especially in the 4th qtr, and almost NO interior rush. Very surprising, as I thought we would be harassing and sacking Brady all game.
    Hats off too the Pats scheme.

  • jafabian

    The explanation was that the Patriots stacked the line so throwing the ball was thought to be the better option. That’s what happened on the last play vs. the Packers. However in that instance they threw over and past the line. Here they threw inside it. I’d think you’d want to do a 2 TE set to throw off the defense that a running play was being called then throw to a TE over the line. They did that one time with Zach Miller when he faked tripping and falling down. Or throw a corner route into the end zone, possibly to the 6’6″ Matthews.

    Credit the Patriots for a solid game. They came from 14 down. Can’t wait for next season !

  • notaboomer

    go for it/fake fg from the 10 yard line at 3rd quarter 11:09 on 4th and 1 was the play that wasn’t made imo.