The Seattle Seahawks had both the Lombardi Trophy and greatness in their grasp with 36 inches and 26 seconds to go.
They watched their coronation as a modern day dynasty slip away with the decision not to put the ball in Marshawn Lynch's hands.
In what some are viewing as one of the great miscalculations in sports history, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, backed by head coach Pete Carroll, called for a pass play, leaving Lynch — and ultimately the rest of the Seahawks — stunningly empty-handed.
When Malcolm Butler stepped in front of Ricardo Lockette and picked off Russell Wilson's pass, the undrafted and previously unheralded rookie sealed New England's 28-24 Super Bowl win.
It also added Bevell and Carroll to the long list of sportsmen whose decisions backfired so spectacularly so as to haunt and taunt the also-rans and their crestfallen fans.
Some choices that stand out for their deleterious results:
MEADOWLANDS MIRACLE: In the final seconds of a 1978 NFL game, all the New York Giants had to do was take a knee and they had the Philadelphia Eagles beaten. But they inexplicably called a running play and quarterback Joe Pisarcik botched the handoff. Defensive back Herman Edwards scooped up the loose ball and scored the winning touchdown.
POOPED PEDRO: Just five outs from guiding Boston to the World Series, manager Grady Little left an exhausted Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series. Martinez had just given up three consecutive hits and was clearly done. After Little returned to the dugout without his ace, Jorge Posada hit the game-tying double and the Red Sox went on to lose. The curse lived on for another year.
BEST BENCHED: While Al Michaels was shouting, "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" Soviet hockey fans on Feb. 22, 1980, were asking, "Why isn't Vladislav Tretiak between the pipes? No!" Soviet coach Victor Tikhonov benched the world's best goaltender with the score tied at 2 after the first period. The American team made up of mostly college kids capitalized against backup Vladimir Myshkin to beat the mighty Soviets 4-3 in the "Miracle on Ice."
VEXED VAN de VELDE: Needing just a double bogey to win the 1999 British Open, Frenchman Jean Van de Velde decided not to play things conservatively and triple bogeyed the 18th hole, forcing a three-way playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard that he lost. The lasting image from golf's biggest implosion was Van de Velde slipping off his socks and shoes and stepping into the knee-deep water to reclaim his third shot
FAB FIVE FAIL: Chris Webber's Michigan Wolverines trailed North Carolina 73-71 in the closing seconds of the 1993 NCAA men's basketball championship when he found himself double-teamed and called a timeout. Because Michigan had no timeouts left, Webber was assessed a technical foul and the Tar Heels cruised to the title.
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