Seated on the doorstep of regaining the lead and potentially winning their second title in as many seasons, the Seattle Seahawks made a peculiar decision.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, visibly and verbally numb from the events that occurred moments earlier, shouldered the blame in the wake of defeat.
"I told those guys, 'That's my fault, totally,' " Carroll said on NBC's postgame show. "But we had plenty of time to win the game ... we were playing for third and fourth down, give them no time left ... but didn't work out that way."
The call came on second-and-goal from the New England 1-yard line with 26 seconds to play and Seattle trailing 28-24. With arguably the toughest running back in the league in Marshawn Lynch lining up in the backfield, quarterback Russell Wilson took the snap, turned and fired a pass intended for Ricardo Lockette.
Butler jumped the route, cutting in front of Lockette's quick slant. As the defensive back fell to the ground with the ball in his arms, Carroll's head dropped, and his hands met his knees in exasperation.
"I can't even feel it," Carroll said. "It's so hard to feel, just for all of these guys that have worked so hard and try so hard and have done so much to get to this point, coaches and players, the 12s and everybody, they've done everything they can possibly to do make us champions again.
"For it to come down to a play like that, I hate that we have to live with that, because we did everything right to win the football game at the end. But they did a great job, they gave themselves a shot and then they pulled it off, and they're world champs, and we're not."
Wilson was similarly resigned in his comments after the loss.
"We played as hard as we could," Wilson said afterward. "They made one more play than we did."