Seahawks’ loss spoils Chris Matthews’ breakout performance

Feb 2, 2015, 3:32 AM | Updated: Mar 26, 2015, 1:17 pm
Wide receiver Chris Matthews didn't have a single catch in his NFL career before making four of them for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. (AP)
(AP)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – There were so many great stories waiting to be told about Seattle’s Super Bowl victory that wasn’t.

Russell Wilson leading another game-winning drive, showing the world that he – not Tom Brady – is the NFL’s best closer.

Jermaine Kearse setting up the winning score with a circus catch every bit as improbable as the one David Tyree made on this same field seven years ago.

Seattle becoming the first team in a decade to repeat as champions, and going through a pair of legendary quarterbacks to do it.

And then there was Chris Matthews, the seldom-used wide receiver who didn’t have a single catch in his career before making four of them for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. That breakout performance might have left him hoisting the MVP trophy had the Seahawks held on. Instead, their heartbreaking loss left Matthews and everyone else in Seattle’s locker room thinking about what could have been.

“I don’t care if I hadn’t gotten one pass, one yard, one tackle,” he said afterward. “It wouldn’t have mattered to me as long as we had won the game.”

Seattle’s offense had sputtered through the first quarter and a half with only two first downs when Matthews provided a much needed spark, hauling in a 44-yard pass that set up the tying touchdown. And after New England took the lead right back on its ensuing possession, Matthews’ 11-yard touchdown catch in the closing seconds of the second quarter tied the game at 14 heading into halftime

And just like that, the guy who had never touched the ball in an NFL game until recovering an onside kick in the NFC Championship had suddenly made two of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl.

After he used his 6-foot-5 frame to high-point the ball for a 45-yard catch on the first possession of the third quarter, New England was forced to turn to Brandon Browner to cut down the size advantage that Matthews had over the Patriots’ shorter defensive backs.

For all the star power in this game, it looked for a while like a little-known Seahawk was going to steal the show once again. And if you thought Malcolm Smith came out of nowhere in last year’s Super Bowl, consider Matthews’ story.

He was cut by Cleveland as an undrafted rookie in 2011 and didn’t play that season. After two years in the Canadian Football League, he signed with Seattle in February but didn’t make the team. He was selling shoes at Foot Locker and working as a security guard when Seattle called to bring him back. The Super Bowl was the seventh game of Matthews’ NFL career. And what a game it almost was.

“I was so proud for Chris,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “I’m so proud for everybody on our football team. We played as hard as we could, and they made one more play than we did.”

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