GREEN BAY—Two years later, Pete Carroll hasn’t changed his opinion of the play a nation considered an injustice.
It’ll be forever known as the “Fail Mary,” the final, desperate play in a game the Seahawks won when a replacement crew of officials led by Referee Wayne Elliott awarded a touchdown catch to Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, even though the ball appeared to be in the hands of Packers safety M.D. Jennings.
“It was a tremendous celebration on our part,” Carroll told Packers media on Sunday, during a conference call that was certain to revisit a moment that would seem to have launched the Seahawks to even greater heights. Two years later, they are the Super Bowl champions.
“The guys on the field had to call it and they called it the way they saw it. It didn’t work out for you guys and it worked out for us. We had a great celebration on it. We’ll all have our own debate about that,” Carroll said.
“That referee was standing right there looking right down at it and he didn’t miss what he saw. He just saw it that Golden Tate made the catch. He wasn’t confused. He called what he saw. Sports are like that.”
The Packers will return to Seattle this week for the first time since that fateful night on Sept. 24, 2012. This Thursday’s NFL’s 2014 “Kickoff” game will be a celebration of another sort, the Seahawks’ victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. Otherwise, not much has changed.
- Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are still the two teams’ starting quarterbacks, just as they were two years ago, when Wilson was a rookie on the way up and Rodgers was and still is arguably the best quarterback in the game.
- Carroll and Mike McCarthy were and still are the teams’ coaches; now they each wear a Super Bowl championship ring.
- The site of the game is still considered to be the loudest, most difficult place in the NFL for visiting teams to play.
“It’s got to be on everybody’s bucket list to come to a game here. It’s one of a kind. The ground literally shakes. We’re excited to play at home in our first game,” Wilson said on Sunday.
“It’s a terrific place to play. Our fans are fantastic. We love playing at home. It’s nice to open up at home,” he said.
Tate no longer plays for the Seahawks; Jennings no longer plays for the Packers. That much has changed.
“It was a great game. It was a battle to the very end. I lost a heartbreaker on a ‘Hail Mary’ to Michigan State. To be on the other side of it, it’s one of those things. That was two years ago. We’re focused on this moment,” Wilson said.
Wilson described the Seahawks as a team of “great defense, physical running game, great play-action game.” The Packers are a team with a great offense and great hope of improvement on defense.
Defense? The Seahawks are the poster child for it. They deny yards and points, and they often ply their craft with brute force.
“We’ve been able to pick guys with styles we like,” Carroll said. He then spoke directly of the Seahawks secondary, which is the team’s identity.
“Those guys are totally different football players but they fit real well with us. They all have their way. We’ve managed to find a system that allows them to play to their strengths. We’ll try to get that going and get it cranked up again this year,” Carroll said.
“We have built a mentality and a discipline on taking on what’s right in front of us and focusing on that. Now we’re tested in a new way, coming off a championship season. Hopefully, we’ll stay focused on what’s right in front of us,” Carroll said.
Much of the hype for this game, of course, will be focused on what was left behind two years ago.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - AUG. 31