Mentally, they had their bags packed and were ready for the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers held a 19-14 lead just before the two-minute warning. All they had to do was recover the onside kick against the Seattle Seahawks and the NFC title was theirs. Instead, it all fell apart when Stephen Hauschka’s kick slipped through the arms of third-string tight end Brandon Bostick.
The NFC Championship Game
On Jan. 18, 2015, the Green Bay Packers were on the road and cruising with a 19-7 lead with less than three minutes to go at the Seattle Seahawks. The winner earned a berth in the Super Bowl. With 2:09 left, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ran in from a yard out to help cut Seattle’s deficit to 19-14. Then chaos ensued.
Stephen Hauschka’s onside kick to the right side of the field bounced straight up and went through the arms of Bostick, who was in there primarily as a blocker. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was supposed to catch the ball as Bostick and others lined up as a wall to block for Nelson.
“It was a split-second reaction,” Bostick said. “The ball was in the air. I was so used to getting it. Like, jump and catch it. But in that situation, that wasn’t my job.”
Instead, Chris Matthews of the Seahawks recovered and Marshawn Lynch then scored on a 24-yard run with 1:25 remaining to put Seattle up 20-19. Wilson then, on a two-point conversion attempt, scrambled for his life before throwing up a prayer that was caught by Luke Willson. That was key because Aaron Rodgers quickly marched the Packers downfield for a game-tying field goal to send the game in overtime. The Seahawks then won when Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse with a touchdown pass.
Remorseful Brandon Bostick received death threats
Brandon Bostick didn’t say a whole lot after the game. He manned up and did his required postgame interviews, giving short answers, but mostly he kept to himself. Bostick felt like he let the team down. He played a key role in one of the biggest playoff collapses in NFL history, but he wasn’t the sole reason they lost. Had the Green Bay Packers contained Russell Wilson on the ensuing two-point conversion, instead of having him scramble around forever and heaving up a mini Hail Mary, the Packers would still have won. Instead, Bostick got the brunt of the blame.
To this day, that moment has stuck with Bostick. Back after it happened, he couldn’t talk about it. He couldn’t read his texts. He couldn’t go on social media to see what was being said about him. Bostick, instead, wrote about the incident in 2015 in a first-person article on the MMQB website. “I knew it was a key mistake that cost us a trip to the Super Bowl,” he wrote.
“I don’t know how many death threats I received, but there have been a lot. I still haven’t read most of the messages that people sent me, but I want to so I can deal with the consequences and use it as motivation. But it is physically impossible for me to read every troll’s comment; the volume is simply too much. So their comments sit there, untouched, maybe forever.”
Bostick has since opened up about the missed opportunity
The moment still is painful to Brandon Bostick. On Friday, Bostick posted on Twitter how that play in Seattle messed him up mentally and emotionally. It’s been five years and still on his mind. He’s used the incident as motivation and has said it has helped make him stronger. He has since opened up about that fateful game in Seattle and recalls how he just wanted to get away from the rest of the world at that moment.
“I was crying, what do I do, I’ve never really faced adversity like this before,” Bostick said on an episode of Untold Stories with Master Tesfastion. “I was overwhelmed. I sneaked on the back of the plane and my phone was blowing up. My mom’s calling me and I’m like I’m not dealing with anybody. I just isolated myself.” He said he was getting death threats and racist comments on social media that his agent even reached out to him and asked if he wanted a personal security guard.
Bostick said during his exit meeting with former head coach Mike McCarthy that he asked the coach if (Bostick) would be back next year and McCarthy said yes and that he liked him and had lots of potential. When Bostick went down to Houston in the offseason to meet some friends, he got a call from the Packers and then another from his agent saying the Packers were releasing him. Bostick was confused as he had just been given assurance by McCarthy that he’d be safe. On the flight to Green Bay from Houston, sure enough, Bostick saw McCarthy as they were ready to board the same plane. According to Bostick, McCarthy shunned him. “I was standing right beside him and I’m like damn, you have nothing to say? He didn’t talk to me at all.”