The Seattle Seahawks were driving, and within 1 yard of the go-ahead touchdown against the New England Patriots with less than a minute remaining in Super Bowl 2015 and with the Patriots leading, 28-24. Instead of handing off to Marshawn Lynch, the team’s bruising running back, quarterback Russell Wilson was in the shotgun formation on second and goal, and threw for the end zone for Ricardo Lockette with the title on the line.
Little-known rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler stepped into the slant and intercepted the pass to seal the Patriots' Super Bowl victory.
The Seahawks seemed to have inexplicably made Butler a hero when they could have just rushed in a touchdown. Had Lynch not found his way into the end zone, there were still two more plays available to score.
Now the 2014 Super Bowl champions have an entire offseason to think about "what could have been." The offense should have handed the ball to Lynch, most would argue, and then called a time out if he didn’t get into the end zone.
Lynch rushed for 102 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. He could easily have rushed for 103 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns.
It was a particular disappointing letdown considering the drive. Wilson connected on an improbable, deep completion to Jermaine Kearse just two plays earlier. The wide out corralled the ball for a 33-yard reception despite multiple touches.
Riding the momentum, the Seahawks appeared to be on their way to a final score. There may have even been fear there was too much time on the clock to give Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a chance to make one last push for a possible field-goal attempt to send the game to overtime after a Seahawks touchdown.
After the game, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about Seattle not handing off to Lynch. But in typical Belichick fashion, he answered vaguely, responding that the Patriots defense was preparing for anything.
It was a play that could plague the Seahawks coaching staff for years, with head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell likely to receive the brunt of the criticism. However, when asked after the game about not receiving the ball, Lynch, who rarely talks to the media, said it didn't bother him because it's a team game.
The Seahawks are known for thinking outside the box, but this time they came up short. One yard short to be precise.