Jeremy Lane’s early exit leads to a long night for Tharold Simon
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Super Bowl XLIX will be remembered for the interception that ended it.
But the one that occurred three quarters earlier was as impactful as any other play of Seattle’s 28-24 loss to New England.
Jeremy Lane’s first-quarter interception of Tom Brady ended a Patriots scoring threat and preserved a scoreless tie. It also knocked Seattle’s top nickelback out for the remainder of the game, pressing Tharold Simon into action for what would be a long night.
“I know I made a lot of mistakes tonight,” the second-year cornerback said afterward. “I gave up two touchdowns. But I can promise that will never happen again.”
New England had driven 58 yards to Seattle’s 10 when Lane stepped in front of Brady’s third-down pass in the end zone for the first interception of his career. But when he was upended on his runback he landed hand-first on the turf, sustaining a gruesome-looking arm injury.
Marcus Burley had more than held his own earlier in the season while Lane was sidelined with a groin injury. But with Burley among Seattle’s inactives on Sunday, the Seahawks were forced to slide starting right cornerback Byron Maxwell into the slot and put Simon on the outside.
And ultimately, a play that initially shifted momentum to Seattle ended up giving the Patriots an advantage that they exploited early and often.
On New England’s next possession, Julian Edelman ran by Simon on a crossing route for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later, Brandon LaFell beat Simon on a quick slant for an 11-yard touchdown that gave New England the lead.
“As a corner on that play, we had two responsibilities,” Simon explained. “One responsibility went away and the other responsibility came. I was too late on my second responsibility.”
Simon has the traits that have become synonymous with Seahawks cornerbacks – the big body, the physical style and the ornery temperament. And while he’s shown promise at times during his second season following a rookie year that was lost entirely to injury, he’ll draw some hard lessons from the Super Bowl.
Like trusting his instincts. That’s what he didn’t do on Danny Amendola’s 4-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, which pulled New England to within three points.
“I just knew the route was coming but my eyes got caught in the backfield,” Simon said.
Who knows how Super Bowl XLIX would have turned out had Lane not been injured. He has essentially been the Seahawks’ third starting cornerback this season given the frequency with which their defense has been in nickel, and when he was hurt in Week 1, the team’s decision to use its only short-term injured reserve spot on Lane – thereby allowing him to return later – was a good indication of how much he’s valued.
“His speed in the slot, all the things he provides for us, he’s a really good tackler, and as a zone player he’s got that kind of quickness that he can match up with the guys,” said defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
“It was a hard one for us.”