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GLENDALE, Arizona (Reuters) - The Seattle Seahawks had the ball on the one-yard line, needing a touchdown to win the Super Bowl with Marshawn Lynch, one of the league's best running backs, in the backfield.
Yet, instead of asking Lynch to try and make that yard, Seattle ran a passing play, with Russell Wilson trying to find receiver Ricardo Lockette.
Patriots corner Malcolm Butler read the situation perfectly, timed his move and made the interception to assure a fourth Super Bowl title for the Patriots.
The decision to pass rather than give the ball to Lynch was instantly criticized by former players and analysts.
"That was the worst play call I've seen in the history of football," tweeted Hall of Fame running back and three-time Super Bowl winner Emmitt Smith.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was not surprisingly the man given the blame.
"That play call will haunt Pete for the rest of his career," tweeted former Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens. "Give the ball to Beastmode (Lynch) in that situation."
Carroll said his thinking was that the Patriots had their run defense in place and with his wide receivers on the field, they were not well matched-up for a run play.
"At that moment I didn't want to waste a run play against their goal-line guys. Throw the ball, we will come in on third and fourth down and we can match up," said Carroll.
"It is a really clear thought but it didn't work out right. We happened to throw them the ball and they make a big play.
"At this time it seems like overthinking but they have extra guys at the line up scrimmage so we don't want to waste a run play on that," he said.
"We make those decisions every game, all the time. They work out sometimes and they don't other times. This one didn't work out right for us."
"We had a good play. If it was a catch, it would be a completely different story. I thought it was going to be a touchdown when I threw it. I thought it was going to be game over," he said.
Carroll said he and Wilson had shared a moment of disbelief at the end of the game.
"We just looked at each other trying to realize the gravity of what we just witnessed. We didn't say very much".
Editing by Gene Cherry