Pete Carroll says he actually cried over his Super Bowl fail ... but he's still defending his decision to PASS on that infamous play from the goal line.
The Seattle Seahawks coach sat down with NBC's Matt Lauer for the "Today" show -- and spilled his guts about the play that's been hailed as the worst call in Super Bowl history.
"I never make a call thinking it's gonna go bad," Carroll said ... "This was properly planned. It just didn't turn out well."
As for the tears, Carroll says he was hit with a wave of emotion around 4:05 AM the next day ... and just let the waterworks go.
When Lauer asked if the play was the worst call ever ... Carroll replied, "It was the worst result of a call ever. The call woulda been a great one if we caught it."