GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Seattle receiver Chris Matthews buttoned his gray suit and stuffed his gloves and some clothes in a silver backpack. He was being summoned to the Super Bowl interview room almost a Super Bowl champion, almost the biggest story of the night. The Seahawks' locker room was quiet. Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman huddled and whispered to each other. Matthews grabbed his bag and left.
The 25-year-old rookie was one of the unlikeliest stars Sunday night. Five days earlier, at media day, the Seattle Seahawks punter and a guy wearing a barrel had more buzz than Matthews. He came into the night with zero catches in his NFL career, had been cut by the Seahawks twice this season and didn't make the active roster until Dec. 6.
But Matthews has packed a lot into the past two months. Two weeks ago, in the NFC Championship Game, he recovered an onside kick with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter to help rally the Seahawks to a 28-22 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers.
On Sunday night, with Seattle's offense sputtering, quarterback Russell Wilson turned to the third-string receiver. Wilson hit Matthews with a 44-yard pass with 4:19 to play in the first half, which set up the Seahawks' first score. Before that catch, the New England Patriots' large and aggressive secondary had been dominating the Seahawks, who managed just one first down in the first 20 minutes.
At 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, Matthews provides a rare big target for Wilson. Wilson went to Matthews again with six seconds left in the first half and zipped an 11-yard touchdown pass to him to tie the game 14-14. University of Phoenix Stadium -- and Twitter -- went nuts.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the CFL team that gave Matthews his professional start three years ago, tweeted, "not to brag, but we totally know him." Even the other Chris Matthews, the one from MSNBC's "Hardball," sent a message congratulating him on his first half.
Matthews, by the way, had just 7,371 Twitter followers earlier Sunday.
Matthews would have been one of the greatest Super Bowl stories, had the Seahawks won. He matriculated at Los Angeles Harbor College, then Kentucky, and he didn't get drafted. He didn't play football in 2011, then went to Canada, and he eventually had two jobs -- one at Foot Locker and the other as a security guard -- before the Seahawks called.
None of this made Matthews feel any better late Sunday night. He was stoic as a gaggle of reporters surrounded him. At his feet rested the football from his first career NFL touchdown.
"I'm not OK with any of that," Matthews said about his statistics. "I'm not a selfish player. I'm definitely a team player, and I don't care if I don't even have one pass, 1 yard, one tackle. It wouldn't have mattered to me, as long as we had won the game, and I would have made an influence in any way. I would have been happy with a win and no stats."
His stat line was the best among Seattle's receivers. Matthews was targeted five times and caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
He snagged another deep ball, a 45-yarder, on the first drive of the second half, before he was pushed out of bounds. Then Brandon Browner took over.
Browner, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 221 pounds, was a much better matchup than 5-foot-10 Kyle Arrington, the Patriots' previous option. Just a year ago, Browner was a member of the Seahawks, but he watched the Super Bowl from afar while suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
"They did make an adjustment," Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "They did end up putting B.B. over on him. We still threw it to him a couple of times, but there were so many things that we were trying to get to, so many adjustments that we were making. We were trying to run the ball. There was a little series in there where we went three-and-out. We didn't do a very good job of staying on the field. So it kind of just ended up that way."
Matthews said he had no indication, heading into the game, that he was going to be utilized so much in Seattle's offense. He figured he'd pour most of his energy into special teams.
He will take whatever work he can get. According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, last year, Matthews got a call from the Seahawks asking him to try out, but he replied that he didn't get off from Foot Locker until 9 o'clock and wasn't sure he could make it.
According to the magazine, Matthews' agent told him, "Are you out of your mind?"
He made the workout, and he eventually landed on football's biggest stage Sunday night. It just wasn't enough.
"It has been an amazing journey," Matthews said. "God is good. When your time is up, you have to be ready."