They had the nation saying “He did WHAT!?” Then had the nation saying the same thing two plays later… in another mood.
The only explanation to what happened in Arizona in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday is that somewhere, Reggie Miller grabbed his throat, and the universe replied with the Patriots making the play of the year in the final seconds.
If there’s anything that can be said about the ending of Super Bowl XLIX it’s this: Seattle’s offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell should be heading toward the unemployment line for that call on second-and-one at the Patriots one-yard line.
And if he lives in Seattle, may God help him.
With Marshawn Lynch, a running back who nobody in the league has successfully completely stopped all year long, Seattle decides to go with a quick slant at the one which Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler jumped and picked off to end the comeback, giving New England the 28-24 win in Super Bowl XLIX Sunday.
Seahawks corner Tharold Simon asked it perfectly.
Seahawks CB Tharold Simon: “How do you throw the ball when you got Marshawn Lynch?”
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) February 2, 2015
He isn’t the only one questioning the call by Bevell.
That was the worst play call I’ve seen in the history of football.
— Emmitt Smith (@EmmittSmith22) February 2, 2015
If I’m Marshawn I’m livid — Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) February 2, 2015
WOW you have the best back n you throw the ball
— Cj Spiller (@CJSPILLER) February 2, 2015
For the record, Lynch had 102 yards rushing on 24 carries with the early game-tying touchdown in the second quarter.
“I told those guys, ‘That’s my fault, totally,’” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said on NBC’s postgame show. “But we had plenty of time to win the game … we were playing for third and fourth down, give them no time left … but didn’t work out that way.”
Seattle’s drive saw Lynch catch a 31-yard pass on a slant-and-go just before the two-minute warning to set up the Hawks in Patriots territory.
After what can only be described as a miraculous catch by Jermaine Kearse to put Seattle at the Patriots’ five-yard line, Lynch saw the ball one more time, rushing up the left side for four yards, taken down at the one.
Kearse channeled his inner Cris Carter on the deep ball by Wilson on a first-and-10 at the Pats 38-yard-line with 1:14 left on the previous play to set up Lynch’s near go-ahead touchdown run.
So why not run the ball with Lynch on second-down at the one yard line, with 26 seconds left and one timeout? Why get cute with the passing and play calling, especially with a set of receivers that were practically shutout almost all game (minus the former CFL’er and Foot Locker employee Chris Matthews)?
That’s going to be the question throughout the offseason and for years to come because Seattle had every chance in those final seconds to win the game.
“For it to come down to a play like that, I hate that we have to live with that, because we did everything right to win the football game at the end. But they did a great job, they gave themselves a shot and then they pulled it off, and they’re world champs, and we’re not.”
The Seahawks called an 11-personnel — one tight end, three wideouts — a perfect matchup against the goal-line defensive package the Patriots sent out. Seattle had two receivers on the right side with wideout Doug Baldwin the single receiver on the left side.
The play was meant for Kearse to engage with his defender, allowing slot receiver Ricardo Lockette to sneak in underneath on a quick slant. The pass was just inches in front of Lockette, who by all means should’ve made the play, but was just out far enough to allow Butler to jump the route and get the pick on the two-yard line.
Blame also has to be put onto Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on Seattle’s final play. If there’s anything the third-year signal-caller can learn from this, is to audible out. Seattle’s given him full control of the offense and “let him loose” and for Wilson to trust the call, knowing his personnel and to go with it will definitely be a moment he’ll have to learn from as he continues his career.
If there’s any lesson of sort that should be learned from Super Bowl XLIX is this: if you have a running back nicknamed “Beast Mode,” and you have a second-down and goal situation with a timeout and over 20 seconds, run the ball.
“We’ve run the football against that personnel before and we’ve had success,” tackle Russell Okung said.
The Seahawks would’ve been much better off running the ball on that second down, and even on third down, whether it be with Lynch or even on a read-option with Wilson.
There are bad, bad plays that cost teams in games, and especially Super Bowls — most notably Scott Norwood’s missed field goal against the Giants in Super Bowl XXV.
Just as there’s “wide right,” we now have “why throw it?”
Instead of celebrating a second-straight title, Seattle is left to wonder what if.
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