Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse wasn’t even thinking about the near-miracle play that happened two seasons ago in Super Bowl XLIX.
Neither were any of his teammates.
Kearse caught a 31-yard pass from Russell Wilson in stride late in overtime that could have sent Seattle on to a road victory over NFC West rival Arizona on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
But all the catch did was set the Seahawks up for another bitterly disappointing result.
When overtime end, Seattle and the Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie after Stephen Hauschka’s 28-yard field goal missed way left in the final seconds.
Three minutes earlier, Arizona had a chance to win it, but Chandler Catanzaro’s 24-yard field goal attempt clanked off the left upright.
“It is an awkward feeling,” said Kearse, a Lakes High School and University of Washington standout. “You didn’t lose, but you didn’t win. It is a feeling we’re not trying to get used to.”
Rewind to two years ago in the final minute of regulation of the Super Bowl.
Trailing 28-24 to New England, Seattle needed a big play — and got it when Kearse caught a 33-yard pass on his back along the right sideline at the Patriots’ 5.
All Seattle had to do was punch it in from there. Instead, Wilson threw an interception, and the Patriots won in stunning fashion.
On the occasion Sunday night, the circumstances were vastly different. For starters, it was “Sunday Night Football,” not a Super Bowl.
And the game was tied, 6-6.
The only similarity was that Wilson saw Kearse streaking down the left sideline with a step on Arizona defensive back Marcus Cooper.
Wilson lofted it perfect, hitting Kearse easily for the 31-yard reception. He stepped out of bounds at the Cardinals’ 43.
“He just gave me an opportunity, and that is all I can ask for,” Kearse said. “I don’t know when my opportunity might come throughout the game. I’ve got to just be ready, and when the team needs me to make a play, I need to be there for them.”
When asked if even for a split-second, he thought about the Super Bowl after that catch, Kearse quickly dismissed it.
“Man, that Super Bowl is so long ago,” Kearse said. “That is two years ago. I am focused on getting through the game.”
Teammate Earl Thomas echoed the same thing as he stood on the Seahawks sideline watching the offense move in position for the win.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the Super Bowl. That was way in the back of my mind,” Thomas said. “I was just staying calm because there was so much (time) left, and we had to finish. Then I can celebrate — and exhale.”
Five plays later from the Arizona 10-yard line, Hauschka lined up for a game-winning 28-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining.
It came nowhere close to hitting the mark.
“Hauschka is still money, in my eyes,” Kearse said. “It happens. We’re a team, and in this together no matter what happens.”