Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver Chris Matthews entered a Super Bowl XLIX matchup against the New England Patriots as a virtual afterthought in his team’s offense. But after two quarters, he has a realistic shot at being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Matthews, 25, overcame tough coverage from Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington to make a spectacular 44-yard catch in the game’s second quarter. It was the first catch of Matthews’ professional career, and it set up a game-tying touchdown from running back Marshawn Lynch three plays later.
The Patriots rallied behind quarterback Tom Brady on the next drive, which culminated in a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The score gave New England a 14-7 lead that appeared secure heading into halftime.
That’s when Matthews came up big for a second time. The Seahawks charged down the field in rapid succession, setting up a 1st and 10 from the Patriots’ 11-yard line with just 6 seconds remaining in the first half. Rather than take the field goal, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll opted to dial up his rookie.
Matthews beat the opposing defender on a perfectly thrown jump ball from quarterback Russell Wilson, tying the game at 14 and ensuring the NFL fans would learn his name. He leads all Seahawks receivers with 55 yards receiving on two catches to go along with his touchdown.
It wasn’t the first time this postseason that Matthews had a major impact on the Seahawks’ bid for a second straight title. He also recovered a pivotal onside kick late in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s 28-22 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game.
Matthews stands 6-foot-5 and played college football at the University of Kentucky. He signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie after the 2011 NFL Draft, but was cut before the start of the season. He spent the next two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, earning rookie of the year honors in 2012.
Matthews tried out with the Seahawks ahead of the 2014 NFL season and earned a spot on the team’s practice squad. By December, he had worked his way onto the team’s active 53-man roster.