February 1, 2015: Two weeks ago we marveled at how the Seattle Seahawks snatched victory from the jaws of defeat over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game to reach their second straight Super Bowl. Unfortunately, what will long be remembered is how Super Bowl XLIX ended. To this day, by consensus, it’s known as the worst call in Super Bowl history, and the result was a 28-24 Seahawks loss to the New England Patriots in Glendale, AZ. It came in the same stadium where arguably three of the gutsiest play calls in college football history happened eight years earlier (you know what I’m talkin’ about).
It was a great game. After a scoreless first quarter, the teams traded touchdowns in the second—one for New England, one for Seattle, and rinse and repeat. The Patriots and Seahawks were tied 14-14 halftime. Seattle seemed to take control in the third quarter, going up 24-14 and hoping it could lean on the “Legion of Boom” defense to get to the promised land. But then Brady threw his third and fourth touchdown passes of the night in the fourth, the last one to Justin Edelman with just over two minutes remaining.
The Seahawks were not done. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw in wide receiver Jermaine Kearse’s direction, and Kearse made an unbelievable juggling catch while on the ground 33 yards downfield. That gave Seattle a first-and-goal at the New England five-yard line with 1:05 to go. Star tailback Marshawn Lynch bulldozed his way the one on first down. You knew what was going to happen next. I mean, it had to, didn’t it?
Well, with a second-and-goal at the New England one, and with one of the NFL’s best running backs lined up behind him, Wilson threw a quick slant that was intercepted by the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler at the goal line with 20 seconds remaining. That gave Pats quarterback Tom Brady his fourth Super Bowl ring and his third trophy as the game’s MVP, tying San Francisco 49ers great Joe Montana.
After the game, reporters asked Seattle coach Pete Carroll to make sense of it. Carroll said that because the Seahawks had three wide receivers on the field, they weren’t in the proper personnel set to run the ball against the Patriots’ goal-line defense on second down. Carroll said if there was an incompletion on the play, the Seahawks could hand it to Lynch on third and, if necessary, fourth down. Oh, that was an incompletion, alright. Next time, get those wideouts out of there, plug in three tight ends, and give it to “Beast Mode.” If there is a next time—for the Seahawks, or for Carroll somewhere else.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)