Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Super Bowl 49 is remembered for one play: Malcolm Butler’s interception on the goal line. However, very few people ever talk about Jermaine Kearse’s crazy catch to set up the Seahawks inside the ten yard line.
Let me set the scene. The Seahawks are down 28-24 with under two minutes remaining. Russell Wilson has engineered a drive that has Seattle at the Patriots 38 yard line. On a first down play, Wilson steps back in the pocket and airs one out downfield to Jermaine Kearse who is able to gain position on Malcom Butler and make a play on the football. Yet, as he’s going to the ground Kearse bobbles the ball a few times but somehow manages to maintain control of the football even as Duron Harmon comes flying in out of nowhere.
At this point, you can tell the Seahawks are feeling good about themselves. A few plays later, Wilson’s offense finds themselves on the goal line. The entire world knows they’re going to hand the ball off to one of the NFL’s boat goal line running backs in Marshawn Lynch, but they decide to throw the football.
And the legend of Malcolm Butler was born. Butler, who had allowed Jermaine Kearse to make a tremendous bobbling catch only a few moments before, reads a slant route beautifully and manages to intercept the football, killing Seattle’s title hopes and bringing another Super Bowl to Foxborough.
Butler’s interception simply overshadowed Kearse’s crazy circus catch. Yet, if the Seahawks had just handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, scored the touchdown, and won the Super Bowl, Kearse’s catch would have been up there amongst the NFL’s best catches of all time.
Kearse’s acrobatics would have been compared to David Tyree’s helmet catch; two plays in the Super Bowl’s final moments that ended up handing Tom Brady’s Patriots defeat. Yet, failing to give Marshawn Lynch the football to punch in the game winning touchdown not only cost the Seahawks a ring, but got Jermaine Kearse’s heroics overshadowed by Malcolm Butler’s Super Bowl saving interception.
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