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Brandon Bostick of the Green Bay Packers (right) bobbles an onsides kick as during the fourth quarter of the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.
Ronald Martinez—Getty Images

In the social-media age, it’s all too easy to pick a scapegoat. Nearly three hours after the Green Bay Packers blew a 12-point lead, with over two minutes to play against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game, “Bostick” was still trending on Twitter. As in Brandon Bostick, the Green Bay backup tight end who couldn’t corral a Seattle onside kick with just over two minutes to play. The ball bounced off Bostick’s helmet, giving the Seahawks possession, and life. If Bostick makes the play, the Packers are pretty much on their way to the Super Bowl.

But Seattle took advantage. After the gaffe, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 24-yard touchdown run to give the Seahawks a 20-19 lead: a two-point conversion put Seattle up three. Green Bay kicked a game-tying field goal to force overtime, but on the first possession of the extra session, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson — who threw four interceptions on the day — hit Jermaine Kearse with a 35-yard touchdown pass that won the game. Seattle made a mind-boggling comeback. In a matter a minutes, Seattle’s offense — putrid all day — couldn’t be stopped.

Bostick made the game’s most consequential mistake. He was the guy, a dozen paces ahead, who slipped near the finish line. So he’s a natural scapegoat. “Business Trip in Seattle!” Bostick tweeted before the game. Afterward, the replies to this comment were predictably noxious. People cursed him, and worse. They expressed their hatred. They delighted in telling him that this would be his last business trip. Clever.

At least Bill Buckner didn’t have hate on his fingertips. Old media did Bostick no favors. Each time Seattle’s comeback looked more and more inevitable, the Fox TV cameras panned in on Bostick’s pain.

But Bostick alone didn’t cost Green Bay the game. It was a true team effort. Seattle scored its first touchdown, trailing 16-0 in the third quarter, on a fake field goal: Why was Green Bay so thoroughly fooled? Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy could have tried to add more points in the first quarter, but he twice settled for field goals on fourth-and-goal, from the one.

Green Bay’s defense broke down. On the late two-point conversion, Russell Wilson threw a hopeless Hail Mary under pressure: the ball was begging to be slapped away. But Green Bay’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix seemed almost scared to break up the play. Seattle converted: a little defense there would have kept Seattle’s lead at one point, rather than putting the Seahawks up three. The Packers could have kicked a game-winning, rather than game-tying, field goal at the end of regulation.

So it’s Seattle, rather than the Packers, who will face the New England Patriots — who trounced the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC championship game — in Super Bowl XLIX, on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. One thing Bostick has going for him: in the 24/7, what’s-trending-now social-media cycle, people have short memories. But Bostick’s blunder, with so many millions watching, with a Super Bowl on the line, won’t be easy to forget. “I felt like I let everyone down,” he said afterward. If he can somehow shut out the online hounds, that’d be the best win of the NFL season.

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