On Wednesday at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll sat down for a 20-minute interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, a conversation that aired on Thursday's "TODAY" show.
The pair discussed Seattle's ill-fated finish to Super Bowl XLIX that saw the Patriots' Malcolm Butler seal a 28-24 win for New England after the rookie cornerback intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with Seattle holding one timeout facing 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard-line with less than 30 seconds to play.
Carroll opened up to Lauer about how he and his club have handled the aftermath of Sunday's heartbreaking defeat. Here's four things we learned:
1. It Was The Worst Result Of A Call Ever
Carroll confirmed he had no problem with the way his team went about the final play. He noted the Seahawks have practiced those situations "hundreds of times" and went about it live just as they had done in exhibition.
"I made the call that comes out of the process, the preparation, and the practice, along with the mentality that I've been coaching with for as long as I could remember about preparing us to do right in situations," said Carroll. "I think that we're going to do exactly the right thing, or we won't call the play."
Carroll said the play-call was a calculated response to the game situation. The goal was to maximize the amount of opportunities the team had to score a touchdown and take the lead. With one timeout remaining and three downs to go, that meant one pass play was going to be called to allow the team to stop the clock twice, giving the team a chance to utilize all three remaining downs.
When the Patriots showed a goal-line personnel grouping on second down, Carroll said the wide receiver matchups on the outside favored the pass to be called right then and there.
"You can change the rhythm of those calls, one of those calls was going to be a pass in there to stop the clock," he said. "A timeout would stop one, an incomplete pass, and the game's over if you score, so that happened to be that one. Going back again, I might do it differently. I'm not going to tell my opponents which way I'm going to do it. But we have the choice."
Still, even with that rationale in mind, many people - including Lauer - have labeled it the worst play call ever. Carroll sees it differently.
"It was the worst result of a call ever," Carroll emphasized. "The call would have been a great one if we catch it. It would have been just fine and nobody would have thought twice about it."
2. He Shed Tears On Tuesday Morning
Carroll's reaction to the final play, which you can see at the tail end of this video, is crushing. The Seahawks head coach exclaims "Oh no!", tosses his headset, and collapses with his hands to his knees.
"Immediately, within the instant of the turnover, the gravity of what just happened, I understood," Carroll said. "I haven't seen that replay yet, so I don't know that, but there's only a second or two before you stand up and start looking ahead and getting ready for what's coming. I've been around the game so long that I know what's about to happen here and I had to get myself in the right place so that I could do a really good job for everybody I represent."
After that, Carroll said he didn't let himself reflect on the final play until admitting he had come to tears at 4:05 a.m. on Tuesday while laying in bed next to his wife, Glena.
"Yeah, that happened," he said. "That happened at that 4:05 mark. That hit. There was a break where I allowed all of the rush of it to hit and really in essence just sharing the energy that everybody else is feeling."
3. He Won't Let One Moment Define Him, Or His Club
Carroll was asked if he'll allow himself to think about Sunday's Super Bowl loss five years down the road and responded by pointing to similar situations he's faced through his lengthy career as a competitor.
"These occurrences, they don't leave," he said. "These occurrences have stayed with me over the years in a manner that they fuel me. The one at 'SC, third national championship opportunity, 19 seconds left, 4th & 7 - those don't go away. I don't really ever want to lose those.
"I don't want to wash them out and ignore them. I just want them to be in a place that they're going to help me be right."
Ever the optimist, Carroll explained how he's equipped to handle these moments, even on a stage as large as Sunday's Super Bowl.
"I am prepared for that," he said. "I was. I'm still handling it for you right now. I'm still dealing with it right now as we go through it. Because we did so many beautiful things to get to that point. So many positive things had happened and so many players had played so well and coaches coached so well and on and on and on.
"That one moment, that moment isn't going to define this team and who we are. This is a championship team. It's a great team that plays great football and plays as a team in a wonderful way. So that moment is what people might want to define us by, but it won't because we know the truth."
4. A Story Of Redemption Is Well Underway
Carroll doesn't expect everybody to get over Sunday's loss right away, but in the long run believes his team will be stronger for having gone through it.
"Think how powerful our togetherness will be, our mindset will be as we know that we've shouldered this and we move forward and get back to what we want to do and how we want to go and all that," Carroll said. "It's a great challenge, but nothing could make us more stronger, I don't think."
Has a story of "redemption" already begun to write itself? Lauer asked.
"It's well underway," said Carroll.