When Russell Wilson threw the ball on the goal line with seconds left in the game, it was as if all the air suddenly got sucked out of Schafer’s Bar & Grill in Sumner.
Two hundred Seahawks fans — who for four solid hours had been screaming their throats raw — all at once stopped yelling.
Silence. A flash of hope. Then disbelief at the interception.
Game over. Patriots 28, Seahawks 24.
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“Why did he (expletive) throw it?” wailed Shana Decker, a supercharged 12er from Bonney Lake. “We had it right there.”
It was a scene that played out across the Puget Sound region Sunday as local fans came to grips with the realization that their Super Bowl dream was over for this year.
“They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory,” said Lorraine Taff of Black Diamond, who came to Schafer’s for the game with her husband, Tom, and left walking dejectedly across the parking lot.
“Yeah, but it was a great game,” Tom said. “At least it wasn’t a blowout. I hate blowouts.”
Schafer’s is a long way from MetLife Stadium, the scene of last season’s Seahawks Super Bowl victory. But the emotion couldn’t have been much less intense there than it was in Arizona, site of Sunday’s Super Bowl 49.
The Schafers — owners Jayson and Bonnie, and manager Jeff — have the entire place wired for football. Every room has high-definition surround sound that cranks up loud enough to threaten structural damage.
Eight 50-inch screens hang from the ceilings. On the walls are two 10-foot projector screens — plus their beast mode screen, a giant 21-footer with a picture so big and clear you can see coach Pete Carroll’s chewing gum glisten as he chews.
“We are major Hawks fans,” Jeff Schafer said. “My brother and I have been fans since I can remember. We try to do whatever we can to capture the energy of the games.”
It was working on Sunday.
The see-sawing score kept the focus intense. Throughout the game the standard call-and-response cheer — “Sea” answered by “Hawks,” often with the aid of a bullhorn — alternated with cries of “No, no, no” and “Stop them!”
The wait staff spiced things up by circulating with trays of free “touchdown drinks” — a potent mix of orange vodka, an energy drink and blue curacao liqueur served in a shot glass.
Decker, who came to see the game with a close-knit group of nearly 50 people she calls “framily,” for friends and family, brought along a voodoo doll dressed like a Patriots player.
She intended just to stick it with pins now and then. But by the middle of the second quarter she had beheaded and disemboweled it by beating it against the back of a chair.
Decker had a few harsh words for Wilson in the game’s final moments, but her long-term loyalty remained intact.
“Russell Wilson is an awesome, awesome player,” she said. “We’re Seahawks fans. It doesn’t matter. We would not be true 12s if we let it matter. We’re here to support them and we love them.”