Seahawks Head Coach Turned His Career Around Following Nightmare In N.Y.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You know the play. Jets fans hope to one day forget the play.

Twenty years later the “fake spike” still resonates as a symbol of a time in franchise history when the Jets just couldn’t do anything right. Though times have changed somewhat since that ill-fated day in November of 1994, the play still, in a way, defines the Jets.

And it probably always will — until this franchise wins another Super Bowl.

Pete Carroll knows the Dan Marino-orchestrated play better than anyone. The Seattle Seahawks head coach, who will lead his team against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, was the rookie head coach of the Jets that day.

“When you look back at it, that’s what you would point to because we lost four games after that as well,’’ Carroll told reporters on Sunday in Jersey City, N.J., where the Seahawks are staying this week. “There was a time in that game we were ahead and doing great and it just kind of went south on us. That play has been a pretty famous play. I’m glad for Dan. But it was a moment where things turned.”

With the Jets sitting in the thick of the playoff hunt at 6-5 and nursing a 24-21 lead with 22 seconds left in regulation, Marino threw a stunning misdirection touchdown pass to Mark Ingram. It was a play that basically everyone in the building thought would end with the Hall of Fame quarterback spiking the ball to kill the clock, but instead it lifted the Dolphins to the victory.

The Jets didn’t win another game and Carroll was fired after completing his one and only season as Jets head coach 6-10.

“I didn’t feel it turn but the next couple of weeks we just couldn’t get it right,” said Carroll, who spent five seasons overall with the Jets, including the first four as defensive coordinator. “It could have been entirely different if we could have hung on and won that game. It was one of the seasons I recall we didn’t finish very well and we’ve gotten a little better than that in the years since then.’’

Carroll was viewed by many as just another in a long line of clueless head coaches the franchise had employed, and that myth seemed to hold some validity when the Jets infamously hired Rich Kotite to replace Carroll and he went 4-28 over the next two seasons.

Pete Carroll, left, then the head coach of the Jets, looks on in frustration as New York loses to Miami on Nov. 27, 1994, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Simon Bruty /Allsport)

Pete Carroll, left, then the head coach of the Jets, looks on in frustration as New York loses to Miami on Nov. 27, 1994, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Simon Bruty /Allsport)

However, it turns out Carroll, now 62, has been anything but clueless during his coaching career. After being jettisoned by the Jets he moved on to become the defensive coordinator in San Francisco, helping guide the 49ers into the playoffs in the only two seasons he was there. That work got him another shot as head coach, in New England, where he led the Patriots to two playoff appearances in three seasons, going 27-21 overall before he was let go following an 8-8 campaign in 1999.

Carroll jumped to the college ranks in 2001 and over the next nine years guided USC to two national championships and six Pac-10 titles, though his tenure was checkered by NCAA sanctions levied against the school due to allegations that primarily revolved around former Trojans star Reggie Bush.

Carroll left the school following the 2009 season and signed a five-year, $33 million contract with the Seahawks. He’s since gone 38-26, made the playoffs three times and is on the cusp of giving the Pacific Northwest its first major professional team championship since the then-Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA title in 1979.

But none of that likely would have been possible without the “fake spike” play. Carroll said despite how his time with the Jets ended, he enjoyed it and believes it prepared him to achieve the success he’s had since.

“I have thought about it quite a bit,’’ Carroll said. “Having a chance to be a head coach in New York is extraordinary because of the history and the following and all that goes along with that. Unfortunately it didn’t last very long. It was a great experience. I’m proud to come back here and coach in a game like this with this status. It’s a special honor to do that.’’

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