One questionable play call ends an unquestionably historic football contest

Pete Carroll headsetLost in the blur of our Super Bowl hangover, lost in all the Pete Carroll-bashing and the wondering where Marshawn Marshawn Marshawn was, lost in the fisticuffs immediately afterwards and the inexplicable ESPN comparisons to Bill Buckner was the fact that an incredible football play was made to end an incredible football game.

As the clock ticked down on the final game of the year and chicken bones and pizza boxes lay strewn across every living room floor in America, Jermaine Kearse made the unlikeliest, and luckiest, of catches that put his Seattle Seahawks in position to once again become a team of destiny.  After all, they had just beaten Green Bay in similar fashion two weeks earlier.

That was until Russell Wilson’s final pass of the season ended up in the arms of his opponent, a Malcolm in the middle, if you will.  That’s right, the butler did it.  (Yes, that was two nauseating puns within a ten word span.  I’ll stop now.)

Malcolm Butler, an absolute unknown before this game (heck, he was unheard of fifty-nine minutes and thirty seconds into the game!) became etched in Super Bowl lore by making a game-winning play that sent him and his teammates to Disney World.  Butler’s intuitive jump on the ball gave the 37-year old, Ugg-selling Tom Brady his fourth Super Bowl ring.  I imagine Brady will probably buy the kid something nice in return for his troubles.

oh russellIf you watched this game, and you were among 115 million others who did, you were likely among those who uttered something along the lines of “Who the hell would pass the ball in that situation?!?”

Not surprisingly, ESPN asked shortly thereafter if it was the worst call ever.  They tend to do that.  They weren’t the only ones.  So did Cris Collinsworth, Al Michaels and every Wal-Mart stock boy, armchair quarterback and guy with a Twitter account who happened to be paying attention.

After the dust settled, some, albeit very few, came to Pete Carroll’s defense.  It’s easy to label that play as bone-headed in retrospect.  After all, it cost them a championship.

With the chance to score from the one-yard line, one time out remaining, twenty-seven seconds on the clock and the scariest running back on the planet in their huddle, why not pound the football up the gut to “ensure” a score?  Carroll’s response was that the Patriots line was stacked, which it was.  His plan was to take one, albeit dangerous, shot at the end zone then run the football with Marshawn Lynch on third and fourth downs.

A busted run play would have kept the clock running, leading to an inevitable pass attempt on the next play anyway.  Time was of the essence… as was their season.

Alas, the Seahawks never got that chance.  Carroll and company will have to live with that decision for the rest of the lives wondering what if, as the rest of us bash them with reckless abandon.

Butler locks itFootball games are rarely lost on one play.  By crushing Carroll, we’re forgetting the fact that Seattle was up by ten points with eight minutes left.  We’re ignoring the fact that had Russell Wilson released that ball a split second earlier, it would likely have been a touchdown to a wide open and unimpeded Ricardo Lockette.  Had Wilson thrown it lower, it would not have been intercepted.  We’re also ignoring the fact that had Lockette made a stronger play on the ball, he probably would have made that catch or at least drew a pass interference penalty.

It’s easy to second guess the play call in hindsight.  It’s easy to ask what the hell Carroll was thinking.  We weren’t out there to make that call with millions watching.

I’m not here to pile on Carroll although I too would have given Marshawn the ball.  But I don’t coach football for a living.  Perhaps I should.

Either way, the 2014-15 season is in the books.  Seattle sadly sulks while Brady basks in bliss.

The good news is that Carroll’s call made it the first time in weeks NFL fans have spoken ill of someone not named Roger Goodell.  The bad news is that we have to wait another eight months before debating the next questionable call.

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23 Replies to “One questionable play call ends an unquestionably historic football contest”

  1. Seatlle got theirs, all right. Want to simulate defecating on the football after you score a TD with hundreds of millions watching? Want to mug for the camera from the sideline in the fourth quarter with a seemingly safe lead? Knock yourself out, ya effin thugs. Love, karma.

  2. Look here is how I see it. the receiver was soft on the play, the pass was a good call but to the wrong area of the field , should had gone to either corner, to much traffic in the middle , remember first half Mathews

  3. Not enough people give Bill Belichick credit. He took a huge chance by not calling for time with the clock running down. Letting it run forced Pete Carroll to make a decision under pressure, which was in large part their undoing. Had they a few minutes to think about it (without calling their own TO), they might have reconsidered that bonehead play.

  4. One of my problems with the play call is that it put the wrong players in the wrong position, at the wrong time. If Baldwin is running that route instead of Lockette…that’s a touchdown.

    The other big problem I have is that it didn’t give Wilson a chance to throw the ball out of bounds.

  5. Chris

    It speaks volumes as to Pete Carroll’s stupidity insulting the intelligence of the Seahawks’ fans , by suggesting he and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made the right decision ( passing play rather than a run oriented shot for the end-zone) as it gave the team the best opportunity to win . I guess, Marshawn Lynch’s production during the game was merely an after though for both coaches ? Coaching in the NFL has now reached absurd levels of mediocrity , during the regular season, but greatly emphasized by this lone play during the postseason.

    As a sign, simply look at the bull, served up by all four teams in the NFC South .

    Tophatal …………

  6. Belicheck has now won 4 Super Bowls… with only one Hall of Famer on his roster… Brady.
    I think this accomplishment puts he, and Brady, way above the level of past SB dominating coaches and QBs. Noll/Bradshaw and Walsh/Montana were surrounded by HOFers, on both sides of the ball.

  7. How bout giving Brady credit for coming from behind in the 4th against the best defense in the league?

    Kearse made a great catch, Butler made a great int and we all got to enjoy a great game.

    Wilson throws that ball a hair different or the receiver holds his ground a hair more and we’re all talking about Carroll the genius.

    Instead we’re talking about Belichick the genius.

    I submit the genius of Tom Brady owning the same defense that Manning lost to with a much better team.

  8. Salsero…

    After letting it digest, I’m inclined to believe with you. I’m actually surprised only one person in the poll, which was probably you, hinted that Lockette was at fault here.

    I don’t know if anyone here has ever seen “Billy Madison,” specifically the scene where, upon repeating kindergarten, Adam Sandler is paying attention intently to the story about a puppy who lost its way. Sandler tells his teacher, Miss Lippy, that the boy needs to go out there and find his fucking dog.

    Exactly, Lockette. You go out there and you catch that fucking ball.

    Apparently Lockette has never seen the movie.

  9. Alex talking football. Me likey.

    I’ll disagree with you on Belichick though. He’s pretty much being praised these days as the greatest coach to ever walk the earth.

    Perhaps deservedly so.

    I will say this. In that situation, he had his team prepared. He had the line stacked in case of a run and enough players in the backfield to cover the receivers and make a play on the ball… not to mention one nobody had ever even heard of.

    Phil Jackson used to do shit like that. Popovich too. Comparisons between the Spurs and Pats are uncanny, including the fact that they both just won championships.

    It was nice to hear the Hoodie actually relax and sound somewhat cheery after yet another Super Bowl victory.

    Again, deservedly so.

  10. Neil…

    From what I can minutely understand from a play that will be dissected for decades, they liked Lockette in that situation because a) he was their biggest receiver and b) perhaps… as a decoy?

    Again, is option is true, I say stick with what got you there. Why get tricky?

    Marshawn has to be stewy about not getting the ball in his hands. Not to quote another movie reference but how about Marshawn in the huddle doing his best Jimmy Chitwood telling Coach Carroll “I’ll make it.”

    Oh and… Wilson could always have thrown that ball over the end zone if he didn’t see something he liked… hence a little more blame on him?

  11. Han…

    That’s hard to argue with.

    Although Brady”s had some pretty good defenses over the years and a good kicker in Viniateri in the past, he definitely hasn’t been overloaded with talent at the play-making positions.

    I wonder how Wes Welker is feeling right about now. Or perhaps he was too roofied too notice.

  12. Bleed…

    Speaking of genius, I hear you might be getting a football team.

    What’s the over/under on the year the Rams finally rekindle their romance with the greater Los Angeles area?

  13. Never has there been such a large majority agreeing a play was called wrong. Because it was. There was no opportunity for Wilson to throw the ball away if there was any chance of a pick. A pass from the one-yard line will see eleven defenders covering the ball immediately on the snap. There is no deep coverage. A quick pass into the congested middle invites disaster because Wilson had no choice but to throw to his primary receiver, quickly. Could Lockette been more aggressive? Yes, but that wasn’t the resson for the pick. All Wilson had to be was a nano-second off in his timing, and he was. Lynch was the answer. No doubt about it. Seattle got too cute!

  14. So sayeth the Coach.

    You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who had watched Seattle play all season long, or rather anyone who’s watched any sort of football game ever, that wouldn’t tell you giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch three straight times, to get you one yard, was not the way to go.

  15. Chris

    Why not ? Lynch had been giving the Pats’ secondary problems throughout much of the game and the touchdown scored by him , was a sign, was it not ? You go with the hot hand not try and second-guess yourself as was the case with Pete Carroll and Seahawks’ offensive coordinator Darell Bevell .

    The Bulls’ team of 95-96, that went on to win the NBA title having an NBA record season of 72-10, was unable to achieve what the Atlanta Hawks have just done and that is go through an entire month unbeaten . Hawks in the month of January, went 17-0 . Yet, it’s in the NBA East , where the ball being played, might be deemed, marginally above the level of the WNBA .

  16. PGA Tour golfer Charlie Sifford dies and he barely gets a real mention but yet Sifford paved the way for the likes of Notah Begay III and Tiger Woods . Go figure ?

  17. Yea but Al, the question that everyone is asking is whether the Hawks are a paper tiger.

    Do you trust them in June to win a playoff series against Cleveland, Chicago, Miami or Washington?

    Re: Sifford’s passing, I think those he knew what he went through acknowledged his accomplishments to the game. Tiger was pretty shook up.

    Now that would be a biography worth reading.

  18. Chris

    I’ve read Sifford’s biography and it’s a terrific read ! For the anal retentive out there , still drinking Woods’ urine they could learn something from reading about Charlie Sifford and a player such as Gary Player and what they both did to change the face of golf when it came to players of an ethnic background, which is more than can be said for either Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer .

    In the East , it’s filled with Paper Tigers , as exhibited with the teams and their play against their rivals in the West. Far too much time has been spent drinking from the cup of LBJ, because of the Heat’s recent triumphs.

    Tophatal ………..

  19. Sifford’s bio, huh, Al?

    I may have to check that out.

    And I’m not sold on the Eastern Conference teams either. I don’t know of anyone that is. But didn’t the Hawks just beat the Warriors last night?

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