Seattle coach Pete Carroll made two momentous decisionsSunday night in Super Bowl XLIX.
One appeared to jump-start his team to a second straight Super Bowl championship.
The other cost his team the game in Seattle’s 28-24 loss to New England at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The costly decision came with the Seahawks facing second and goal from the New England 1 with 26 seconds to play.
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Seattle had ridden the running of Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch all season and was ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rushing. Lynch carried 24 times for 102 yards Sunday night, including 4 yards to the New England 1 on the final drive.
Lynch had rushed for 13 touchdowns in the regular season, one in the NFC Championship Game and a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on Sunday night.
But the Seahawks, with a timeout in case Lynch didn’t score on second down, elected to throw a pass, and Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted by New England’s Malcolm Butler.
“There’s really nobody to blame but me, and I told (the players) that,” Carroll said. We were on the precipice of winning another championship, and unfortunately the play goes the other way.”
Carroll said the play call was his decision. He said the personnel New England had in its goal-line defense “was not the right matchup for us to run the football, so on second down, we throw the ball really kind of to waste that play.
“If we score, we do, if we don’t, then we’ll run it in on third and fourth down. Really, with no second thoughts or hesitation in that at all. Unfortunately, the play we tried to execute, the guy makes a great play and jumps in front of the route and makes an incredible play that nobody would ever think he could do.
“Unfortunately that changes the whole outcome.”
Wilson took the blame for the interception.
“I’m the one who threw it …” Wilson said. “We were right there. I don’t question the call. We have to give the Patriots credit.”
In the first half, Carroll’s decision helped the Seahawks seize momentum.
New England had just taken a 14-7 lead on Brady’s 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski with 31 seconds left in the second quarter.
But Seattle quickly moved the ball to the New England 11 on runs by Robert Turbin and Wilson, a pass to Ricardo Lockette for 23 yards and a face-mask penalty on the Patriots’ Kyle Arrington with 6 seconds to play.
Most coaches wouldn’t try another play in that situation with fewer than 8 seconds left, and would opt for a field goal that would have made it 14-10. But Carroll had Wilson arch a pass to Chris Matthews, who stands 6 feet 5, and he leaped above cornerback Logan Ryan for the touchdown catch and a 14-14 tie.
And had 2 seconds to spare.
Seattle then forged ahead 24-14 in the third quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka and a 3-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin.
The Patriots, who overcome two 14-point deficits in an AFC playoff win over Baltimore, came back from 10 down in the fourth quarter.
But Seattle was on the brink of winning when they chose to pass instead of doing what they did best all year and give the ball to Lynch.