BY SCOTT HANSON
For a second, imagine this:
Malcolm Butler sees the play, undercuts the route and gets both hands around the Russell Wilson pass — but he bobbles it and the ball falls to the ground as he tries to regain control.
Al Michaels, on NBC: “I bet the Seahawks won’t try that again. And what was Bill Belichick thinking, letting 30 seconds run off the …”
Before Michaels can finish, Seattle snaps the ball quickly. Marshawn Lynch barrels over two Patriots into the end zone with 16 seconds remaining.
The Patriots, because of Belichick’s decision not to call an earlier timeout, have time for just three plays. Julian Edelman is tackled at midfield as the game ends. The Patriots lose control of their emotions, picking a fight with Seattle’s Bruce Irvin.
And the epilogue for some of the main characters:
Seattle coach Pete Carroll: After cementing his place as one of the greatest coaches in history and high-fiving everyone from his quarterback to the equipment manager, is asked about the call one play before the Seahawks scored the winning touchdown.
“That was kind of crazy, wasn’t it,” he says with a laugh. “But good things happen when you compete to the end.”
The reporters chuckle and most don’t even include the near-interception in their stories.
New England coach Bill Belichick: When asked over and over why he did not call a timeout to preserve time for his offense, he mumbles, “We did what we did to try to win.”
Belichick is lambasted on talk shows across the country. Fans in New England squawk that the game has passed him by.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson says he and receiver Chris Matthews will find a way to split the truck they won for being named Co-MVPs. He gets ready for Disneyland, his appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” and is being called one of the greatest clutch quarterbacks in history after just three NFL seasons.
New England QB Tom Brady surprises reporters by openly ripping his coach’s time management, but then blames himself for “two picks that you just can’t have in a Super Bowl.”
Marshawn Lynch answers every question with a smile, then adds: “Thanks for asking, boss.”
Receiver Jermaine Kearse’s improbable catch is shown 62,981 times on news shows around the world and goes down as one of the greatest and most important receptions in Super Bowl history.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler? Who is he?
Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin asks reporters, “Why couldn’t the Patriots lose with dignity?”
A guy in Issaquah tells his friends he never had one doubt all season after betting $100 in August that the Seahawks would win it all.
A guy from Boston sits in the bar in Las Vegas, rehearsing the conversation he will need to have with his wife. “Uh honey, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I put a lot more money than I should have on the Patriots.”
But, alas, Butler did not drop that ball, completely changing the course of sports history.
That so much can ride on just one short pass is what makes sports so great.
And so painful.
Scott Hanson is a desk editor and golf and horse-racing reporter for the Seattle Times. He also felt the impact of Butler’s interception. He was the copy editor for the book that was to be published if the Seahawks won and would have been up most of the night working on the final chapter: Seattle’s win over New England.
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