By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- One yard. One single yard.
That was all that separated the Seattle Seahawks from the establishment of a new NFL dynasty. One yard. Three chances. That's all they needed.
Of course, we now know seven-plus years later that the Seahawks didn't get that yard. Russell Wilson threw a pass, Malcolm Butler picked it off, and the Patriots ended up winning the title and establishing their own dynasty, making three Super Bowls in the four years that followed, winning two of them. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
That's relevant today because The Era of What Could Have Been has officially come to an end in Seattle. Russell Wilson has been traded.
The quarterback -- who's been ... cagey over the past couple of years regarding his desire to stay in Seattle -- was sent to Denver, where he'll try to revive an offensively challenged Broncos team that's been punchless ever since Peyton Manning retired.
Wilson should be able to do that, as he has remained an outstanding quarterback for the bulk of his time on the field since that fateful interception vs. New England. He's started 110 of a possible 113 games over the past seven seasons, throwing 220 touchdowns and 61 interceptions, compiling over 27,000 passing yards and over 2,800 rushing yards, while posting a 102.9 passer rating. Just 33 years old, there's reason for real hope and optimism in Denver for what he can bring to the Broncos in the coming years.
But in Seattle, it's all over. That may have already been true with the Seahawks' last-place finish in 2021. It may have already been true based on their 3-5 postseason record since the Butler pick, and their 0-3 playoff record outside of the wild card round since that same date. It might have already been true after the parade of Super Bowl-winning Seahawks left one-by-one, from Marshawn Lynch to Richard Sherman to Doug Baldwin to Kam Chancellor to Earl Thomas.
The Legion of Boom turned into the Legion of Whom in short order, yes, but as long as Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll remained at the helm, they were still ostensibly the Seahawks. No more.
One can't help but envision an alternate reality where Julian Edelman never breaks Jeremy Lane's arm following a godawful goal line interception by Tom Brady, thus likely ensuring that a Patriots comeback never even got rolling.
But one also can't help but wonder how everything would have played out had the Seahawks just done the obvious thing and handed the football to Marshawn Lynch. The man was a force. If the Patriots were lucky enough to stuff him once, they weren't going to do it again. And they weren't going to do it a third time. Three straight goal line stuffs of the most ferocious back on the planet was not happening.
And if that were to have happened, then the Brady-Belichick Patriots would have lost in the Super Bowl for a third time. Would the 28-3 comeback two years later ever have happened? Would the Brady-Belichick duo have stayed together as long as it did? Would the Patriots still be sitting on a lowly three Super Bowl wins?
From the Seattle side, wouldn't the team that was absolutely loaded have continued to evolve and dominate and perhaps won another Super Bowl or two? A team that beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back-to-back Super Bowls was well on its way to a dynastic run.
Instead, the pick happened. And the team was really never the same.
That historic decision to have Russell Wilson throw a pass from the 1-yard line altered the course of history for the Patriots, the Seahawks, and the whole NFL at large. That one pass, that one moment, that one yard presented a case of chaos theory that can be pondered and dissected for decades. For the Patriots, it kicked off a run of three Super Bowl victories, and the cementation of the coach and the quarterback as the best to ever do it. For the Seattle franchise and for Wilson himself, it will always represent the moment of what could have been.
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