Chris Matthews’ big Super Bowl game is bittersweet
Rookie Chris Matthews, who had never caught a pass in an NFL game, led the Seahawks with four receptions and 109 yards. But the 28-24 loss to the Patriots made it bittersweet.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Chris Matthews, by the numbers
0 NFL receptions by the Seahawks receiver before the Super Bowl
1 Super Bowl TD reception, an 11-yarder with two seconds to play in the first half that tied the score 14-14
2 Seasons in the CFL. Matthews, who played in college at Kentucky, was not taken in the 2011 NFL draft, then played in Winnipeg in 2012 and 2013. He was signed to the Seahawks’ practice squad in 2014 and activated Dec. 6.
4 Receptions in the Super Bowl
6 foot 5 Height
109 Yards receiving in the Super Bowl, most for the Seahawks and tying New England’s Julian Edelman for game-high
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Chris Matthews wouldn’t smile. He couldn’t. Any positives from his stunning performance Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX were overshadowed by the hurt he was feeling after the Seahawks’ rally fell short in a 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots.
Coming into the game, the first-year receiver was best known for special-teams play, specifically his grab of an onside kick in the Seahawks’ comeback victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
He had never made a catch in his brief NFL career. In fact, the first-year receiver had only been active in five games in 2014 and had been on the practice squad most of the season.
But he finished the Super Bowl as the Seahawks’ leading receiver, making four catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Not bad for a guy that was working two jobs — he was a salesman at Foot Locker and a security guard — during last offseason to make ends meet.
Still, the best game of his short NFL career was bittersweet.
“I’m not OK with that,” he said of his stats. “I’m not a selfish player. I’m a team player. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t have one pass or one tackle or one yard as long as we won. I would’ve been happy with a win and no stats.”
Matthews did help put the Seahawks in position to win with a brilliant game.
His first NFL catch — a 33-yard over-the-shoulder grab as he was falling to the turf — helped set up the Seahawks’ first touchdown and ignite a sputtering offense.
“They called a great play,” he said. “I was just going to clear it out, and make sure Doug (Baldwin) had some room and one-on-one coverage.”
Instead, Matthews had gotten a step on New England cornerback Kyle Arrington and Russell Wilson delivered a perfect pass.
“I still haven’t seen it yet,” he said. “So I don’t know what happened on the catch.”
Matthews’ second catch of his NFL career would be for a touchdown. With six seconds remaining in the first half and Seattle trailing 14-7, coach Pete Carroll refused to settle for a field goal. Instead, he kept his offense on the field. Matthews drew one-on-one coverage from Arrington, and Wilson recognized the advantage that the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Matthews had on the 5-10, 190-pound Arrington.
Wilson zipped a quick pass to Matthews in the end zone, and Arrington had no chance.
On the first drive of the third quarter, Wilson hit Matthews on a 44-yard completion. It was then that the Patriots decided to move Brandon Browner, who stands 6-4, over to cover Matthews when he was in the game.
“Browner is definitely better,” Matthews said. “It was a challenge, but I take it as a compliment.”
Matthews had one more catch. He was targeted five times. He wasn’t expected to be targeted once.
“None,” he said. “I didn’t have any inclination of any type of plays for me. I wasn’t expecting to get a ball. I was expecting to do special teams and try to make plays as a special-teams player.”
But he said he wasn’t surprised he made the catches.
“I know it’s not comparable to the NFL, but in high school and college I was always one of the main players,” he said. “So it’s not new to me to step up and make plays.”
Matthews, who was a good receiver at Kentucky, was actually the outstanding rookie in the CFL in 2012. That success helped him land a free-agent contract with the Seahawks in the offseason.
“I think the coaches prepared in the best possible way they can in practice and make sure that I was prepared for what was to come,” he said.
For a moment, something resembling a smile came to Matthews’ face when he thought about how he got to that moment.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” he said. “When your time is up, you have to be ready. I feel like I did as much I could to help myself be ready and put myself in a position to excel. They definitely gave me that opportunity today.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
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