Imagine for a moment that Russell Wilson’s goal-line pass to Ricardo Lockette hadn’t instead settled into the arms of Malcolm Butler.
Or that Pete Carroll had made the obvious decision to hand off to the NFL’s best running back with a championship-clinching touchdown less than five feet away.
The New England Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. But what if they hadn’t? What if the Seattle Seahawks instead had celebrated with the Lombardi Trophy on that February night in Arizona?
With the Patriots and Seahawks set to meet again Sunday night in Foxboro, we examined how both teams might have changed had the final seconds of their Super Bowl thriller played out differently.
If the Seahawks had won Super Bowl XLIX …
The world wouldn’t know Malcolm Butler’s name
The Patriots trusted Butler enough to insert him into the second half of the most important game of the season, so they obviously felt at least somewhat confident in his abilities. And his performance since the Pick Heard ‘Round The World has proved that particular play was no fluke, no stroke of blind luck. So, maybe Butler still begins the 2015 season as New England’s starting cornerback even if he hadn’t crushed the Seahawks’ Super Bowl dreams. But he almost certainly would not be viewed as one of the best corners in the game, and the contract he’s in line to ink within the next year-and-a-half surely would have been a whole lot smaller.
The Patriots would be seeking their first Super Bowl title in more than a decade
Feb. 6, 2005. That would have been the date of New England’s most recent Super Bowl victory. Can a franchise really be considered a dynasty when only one of its current players was even in the NFL at the time of its last title?
Tom Brady would have a .500 record in Super Bowl starts
And he’d be one of just three quarterbacks ever to lose three times on the sport’s biggest stage. Currently, Patriots fans are dreading the day the 39-year-old hangs up his shoulder pads for good. But if they’d been forced to watch a Brady-led team stumble yet again in the Super Bowl, would they feel differently?
The Seahawks might have been the NFL’s next great dynasty
The 2013-14 Seahawks bore a strong resemblance to the early-2000s Patriots — great defense, talented young quarterback, unheralded receiving corps, etc. — and a win in Super Bowl XLIX would have made them the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Pats in 2003 and 2004.
Jermaine Kearse would have been the new David Tyree
Instead, his incredible circus catch on Seattle’s final drive went down as a mere footnote in a losing effort.
Deflategate might have played out very differently
It’s impossible to tell how a Seahawks win would have altered the deflated-footballs controversy that dominated NFL headlines for 18 months. Would the lack of a fourth Super Bowl ring make Brady more or less willing to accept the league’s punishment? Maybe he would have acquiesced early and served his four-game suspension last season. Or maybe he would have taken the matter all the way to the Supreme Court. Who knows. Either way, the “hate us ’cause they ain’t us” mindset Patriots fans carried throughout the saga surely would have taken a hit had their team’s title drought reached 10 years.
Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images