The Seattle Seahawks were one yard away from repeating as world champions. But instead of feeding Marshawn Lynch with 26 seconds to play, the Seahawks made a fateful decision that will be questioned forever. They passed the ball. Malcolm Butler came away with the interception to clinch the first Super Bowl win for the New England Patriots in a decade.
The play call will be questioned forever and we'll be forced to re-live it for years to come. Russell Wilson did everything right in what looked to be just another magical game-winning drive engineered by Wilson. Right up until he needed just one more yard.
After the game, even the players themselves were left questioning the call.
Standing w @Seahawks as they walk thru tunnel and one says best back in football and we throw the ball on one yard line— melissa stark (@melissastark) February 2, 2015
After the game, Pete Carroll said he was the one who made the decision to pass the ball, not offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Carroll says he made the call not Bevell. "I said throw the ball,".— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) February 2, 2015
We have an entire offseason to discuss the decision. For one last time this season, let's move on to the recap.
After Chevy gave all of America a heart attack, Tom Brady and the Patriots started the game's opening drive from their 18. After some short passes got them one first down, New England's drive would quickly stall as they were forced to punt it away. The game's first questionable call came on the punt when Jeron Johnson was called for running into the kicker. According to the rule, if you run into the punter's plant leg, it's a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down. Instead, the Seahawks began their first drive from their own 16.
Seattle's first drive fared no better as the Seahawks went 3 and out when Marshawn Lynch was stuffed in the backfield on 3rd and 2.
3 straight runs for Lynch to start for Seahawks - 3 & out. He averaged 2.7 YPC in 2012 vs. Pats. Need more today— cover32 Seahawks (@cover32_SEA) February 1, 2015
The Patriots found their rhythm on the next drive, marching down the field with quick passes. Then, on 3rd down, Jeremy Lane came up with an interception after Tom Brady was under pressure from Michael Bennett. Brady made a poor decision and Lane was there to make him pay for it. The interception was the first of Lane's career. Unfortunately, the interception came at a price as Lane would go down and need to have his left arm put in an air cast.
Despite New England dominating the time of possession during the first quarter, the game remained scoreless after 15 minutes.
The Patriots opened the second quarter by marching back inside the red zone after a 23-yard completion to Julian Edelman. After being picked off during his previous attempt inside the red zone, Brady hit Brandon LaFell for the game's first touchdown as the Patriots led 7-0 with 9:47 to go in the half.
Finally, with five and a half minutes to go before halftime, Russell Wilson finally completed his first pass of the day to Jermaine Kearse. Two plays later, Wilson hit Chris Matthews for a huge 44-yard completion to put the Seahawks inside the red zone for the first time. The play accounted for 88 percent of Wilson's passing yards in the first half.
Three plays later, Marshawn Lynch powered his way into the end zone to tie the game at seven a piece with just over two minutes left in the half.
The Patriots answered right back with a perfectly orchestrated two minute drill, going 80 yards in just 1:45. With just over 30 seconds left in the half, Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 22-yard touchdown pass to put New England back on top. as Gronkowski beat KJ Wright in one-on-one coverage with ease.
The Seahawks had just 31 seconds to work with to try and get some points up on the board before the half was up. If you thought New England's last drive was a thing of beauty, that was nothing compared to Seattle's last drive. The Seahawks started things with two consecutive runs from Robert Turbin and Russell Wilson to move nearly 40 yards down the field. Wilson then hit Ricardo Lockette for a 23-yard gain, plus an extra 15 yards thanks to a facemask call before the pass against Kyle Arrington. That penalty allowed the Seahawks once chance at the end zone instead of opting for the field goal. And guess who came up clutch again for Seattle? That's right, Chris Matthews.
The play had Pete Carroll all sorts of fired up while Bill Belechick was left wondering where it all went wrong.
On the third play of the second half, Russell Wilson hit Chris Matthews for another big gain downfield, this time for 45 yards. Yes, as Al Michaels pointed out, this was a dude working at a Foot Locker before the Seahawks called him up.
The path to Super Bowl heroism leads through Foot Locker. And through the empty hands of Brandon Bostick.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) February 2, 2015
The drive would stall in the red zone as New England's defense tightened up to shut down the run and hold the Seahawks to a field goal.
On New England's ensuing drive, Tom Brady continued to zip the ball out of the pocket in no time despite added pressure from Michael Bennett. Brady then threw his second interception of the game as Bobby Wagner picked off a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski.
Seattle capitalized off the turnover, driving 50 yards down the field in six plays, capped off with a touchdown pass to a wide open Doug Baldwin to take a 24-14 lead. Baldwin beat Darrelle Revis and got a little help as Revis bumped into the ref while trying to contain Baldwin, which is how Baldwin ended up being completely uncovered as he hauled in the touchdown pass.
When Tom Brady's pass on 3rd and 9 from New England's 36 fell incomplete, the Seahawks were smelling blood as they were up by 10 with a chance to take a three possession lead late in the third quarter. However, Seattle would be forced to punt it away after a pass fell right through the hands of Jermaine Kearse.
Russell Wilson is throwing the ball with supreme confidence right now. It's too bad Jermaine Kearse is a coin flip.— Jacson Bevens, XLIX (@JacsonBevens) February 2, 2015
Seattle's defensive line came up with a huge stop on the opening play of the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 1, Tony McDaniel stuffed LeGarrette Blount behind the line of scrimmage, forcing New England to punt it away. If the Patriots were going to make a fourth quarter comeback of their own, it looked as if it would have to be through the air.
The Seahawks had another opportunity to potentially put the game away, but after a 25 yard pass to Ricardo Lockette, Seattle's drive would stall at midfield, and it was back to a field position battle after the shootout to end the first half.
New England took over, and on a crucial third down, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a first down and then some. Edelman was popped by Kam Chancellor, but somehow kept himself up, running it down to midfield.
Good lord, Kam Chancellor is a bad man— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) February 2, 2015
Brady then drove New England down the field for the touchdown to make it 24-21 with 7:55 left to play. On 2nd and Goal from the 4-yard line, Brady hit Danny Amendola in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. You know what they say, never count out Touchdown Tom.
The Seahawks continued to struggle offensively on their next drive, going three-and-out, giving Tom Brady and the Patriots the ball back with seven minutes to play with a chance to reclaim the lead.
On New England's next drive, Danny Amendola was hit with an offensive pass interference penalty, wiping out a pass to Shane Vereen that went for a first down. Brady answered right back by hitting Rob Gronkowski for a 20 yard gain. Then, on 2nd and Goal from the 3-yard line, Brady hit Julian Edelman for the go-ahead touchdown, giving the Patriots a 28-24 lead with 2:02 left to play.
On the first play of Seattle's next drive, Russell Wilson hit Marshawn Lynch downfield for a 31-yard gain to move the ball to midfield with 1:55 to go. On a critical 3rd and 10 play after taking a shot downfield to Chris Matthews, Wilson hit Ricardo Lockette for the first down. On the next play, Jermaine Kearse made perhaps the greatest play in Super Bowl history. Kearse leaped up for the catch, the ball bounced off his hands once while standing up and once while sitting down. Somehow, the ball fell into the hands of Kearse who was already on the ground.
Then, with the Seahawks one yard away from a likely game-winning touchdown, we witnessed one of the most questionable play calls ever seen. Instead of feeding it to Marshawn Lynch, Seattle opted to pass. The result was an interception by rookie Malcom Butler, and the rest was history. Adding insult to injury, Bruce Irvin was ejected as a mini brawl broke out due to frustrations boiling over.
There's simply nothing to analyze about the ending to the game. The Seahawks had the game virtually won. But instead, they opted to go through the air and it cost them dearly. There will be no parades this week in Seattle, just a lot of people left scratching their heads.