It looks like another giant meteor of karmic justice is crashing down on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Seahawks wideout Jermaine Kearse makes a juggling catch on his back and the Super Bowl cameras catch the usual haughty, smug, rules skirting Brady flashing the kind of look most people would give if they saw their mom getting punched.
Brady can utterly not believe it — and all is right in the sports world. Justice is once again served in the Arizona desert — the kind that you just know that the forever backtracking Roger Goodell will never ever deliver himself.
But in a moment, it's gone. Pete Carroll green lights the worst play call in NFL history and the Seahawks throw away a Super Bowl.
It all happens so fast, emotions and legacies ping ponging all over the Arizona Cardinals' spaceship-looking stadium, in the final minutes. And it somehow ends with Bill Belichick doused in Gatorade (it's like seeing Darth Vader get a birthday party) and Brady grinning from ear to ear. Patriots 28, Seahawks 24.
The New England Patriots got away with one. Again.
Smugness kills Seattle in the end. Carroll is so sure the Seahawks can get away with calling anything that he allows the unthinkable to be called.
The team that excels at cheating (secretly filming teams' walk-throughs, "allegedly" deflating footballs) has finally stolen a Super Bowl the old fashioned way. By relying on a nearly equally smug team to self destruct.
Tom Brady skates by on as much dumb luck in this one as Katy Perry does in her overblown halftime show. Perry is saved from her dancing sharks by Missy Elliott's drop in brilliance. Brady is saved from his shaking nerves by Carroll's brain freeze.
Make no mistake, Brady does his best to throw away this Super Bowl before the game ever gets to the fourth quarter. Buckling under the moment, Brady tosses two of the worst interceptions you'll ever see. He whips the ball right to Seahawks he somehow does not see.
It's not as colossal of a choke as what Peyton Manning pulled off in last year's Super Bowl, but it's not completely out of that ballpark either.
"That wasn't the way we drew it up," Brady says in his postgame on-field NBC interview. "A couple of interceptions didn't help."
Carroll's Seahawks are too impressed with themselves to take advantage of Brady's blunders though. Somehow Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and company don't seem to get the message that they're in a real fight until halfway through the second quarter.
That arrogance is apparent in the nonsensical way Carroll tries to defend the pass call on second-and-goal from the Patriots' one-yard line that ends up in that unfathomable game-stealing Malcolm Butler interception.
"I just had a vision . . . " Butler says. "It all comes from preparation. I knew they were going to be in that play."
"I hate we have to live with that. Because we did everything to win the football game."
Carroll just cannot admit it's the wrong play call, an absurdly wrong call. Maybe not even to himself. So he keeps trying to rationalize it. He keeps noting that the Patriots went into a goal-line defense as if Belichick's team is the 1985 Bears or something and can only be beaten with trickery. He keeps insisting that the Seahawks were going to run it on third and fourth down anyway so the second down call didn't matter.
Ah, Pete. It matters because it turned into an interception that made those planned third and fourth down runs never happen.
"All right, I'll go through it again for you guys," an exasperated — but still a little arrogant — Carroll tells reporters in his televised news conference.
There's no going through this one again and making it anything close to all right. The Patriots are rewarded for another season of treating NFL rules as a mere suggestion. The Seahawks are self robbed of that ultra rare Super Bowl repeat.
"I hate we have to live with that," Carroll admits at one point. "Because we did everything to win the football game."
Except play with any sense of humility. And that smugness kills Seattle in the end. Pete Carroll is so sure the Seahawks can get away with calling anything that he allows the unthinkable to be called.
Super Bowl Sore Losers Fight
And what happens when it doesn't work and blows up into utter disaster? Seattle's defense starts a fight, nearly ending the Super Bowl on a brawl. It's a pathetic way for champions to go out.
As Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin swings away, this big game comes into sharp focus. One of the most classic Super Bowl ever — a frantic back-and-forth affair that sees the Pats win the fourth quarter 14-0 after the Seahawks win the third 10-0 — is also clearly The Classless Bowl.
It would be hard to feel good about seeing either one of these teams hoisting the trophy.
The team that excels at cheating has finally stolen a Super Bowl the old fashioned way. By relying on a nearly equally arrogant team to self destruct.
It's hard to argue that sports fans didn't get the worst of both worlds though with Patriots owner Robert Kraft definitely declaring, "Our people didn't touch the balls" on the mammoth on-field stage. As if another title erases all (though it likely officially will thanks to another crackerjack NFL investigation).
Richard Sherman of all people is one Seahawk who shows grace in defeat, going out of his way to come over and congratulate Brady. Which just shows once again how ridiculous and offensive that Richard Sherman "thug" storyline was from last year's Super Bowl week.
But in the end, only the Patriots party boy tight end Rob Gronkowski infuses this Super Bowl with any sense of kids' charm.
"What's up!" Gronkowski drawls at Dan Patrick when the NBC host attempts to corral him.
"It feels unbelievable," Gronkowski continues, clearly steering the ship of this interview. "No doubts at all."
Actually, there are plenty of doubts with this more easily fooled Tom Brady. On day when he throws for 328 yards and four touchdowns, Brady is not close to Trent Dilfer getting dragged alone for the ride. But this is no Joe Montana worthy performance either.
This isn't a display of great cool. It's a flash of dumb luck — enabled by the arrogance of another. Katy Perry can surely relate. The all-time greats of the game cannot.
Sometimes justice flees the scene and is nowhere to be found in the biggest games of all. And all that's left behind is one big jumbled mess.