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February 7, 2015 at 11:05 PM

Seahawks Second Thoughts — Post (really post)-Super Bowl edition

I never did get a Seahawks Second Thoughts posted in the aftermath of a game that provided the second thought of all second thoughts.

I’m not sure I have much more to add on that topic. But I did have a few a more thoughts to pass along on the Super Bowl that was. So in no particular order, a few second thoughts (or third or fourth, given the admittedly late nature of them) on what happened last Sunday. …

— What was thought to be one of the big turning points in the game — Bobby Wagner’s third quarter interception that led to the touchdown that put Seattle ahead 24-14 — turned out to be just that, if not for the reason it appeared at the time. That was also the play where Cliff Avril suffered a concussion, and after Seattle drove for a touchdown (the one where Doug Baldwin drew what figures to be the most infamous penalty in Seahawks history) the game did indeed turn, but in the direction of the Patriots.

Actually, it didn’t turn immediately. New England went three and out the next two times it had the ball, though once was after a holding penalty that set the Patriots back. But on New England’s last two drives, the lack of a pass rush was evident and Tom Brady got rolling — he completed 15-19 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns after Avril was injured. To be fair, he wasn’t a ton worse than that before Avril was hurt going 37-50 for the game for 328 yards. But especially on the last two drives, Brady seems hardly in fear of Seattle’s pass rush — he was 13-17 for 128 yards and two TDs on the final two possessions, when he was hardly touched.

Avril’s injury was one of a few times when the difference in the depth of this team and a year ago became evident. Last year, Avril was technically a backup, with Chris Clemons and Red Bryant the starters at ends and Avril and Michael Bennett the backups on a front seven that was the envy of the NFL. Seattle simply didn’t have the same depth up front this season and that took a toll when Avril went out.

— I did confirm this week that Seattle would have made Marcus Burley active had not Kam Chancellor been injured on Friday. Obvious, probably, but still worth mentioning. When that happened — and as we have since learned, the injury to Chancellor was more serious than initially let on — the Seahawks decided to keep Steven Terrell active in case they needed another safety.

Instead, Jeremy Lane was hurt in the first quarter and the Seahawks were down to three cornerbacks for the rest of the game — Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Tharold Simon. Each stands 6-1 or taller, usually a good thing. But this was one game where Seattle really needed a true slot corner who could cover smaller, shiftier guys like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, who each stand 5-11. Burley also is hardly just a guy — he ended the season ranked 33rd among all cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus, and second among Seahawks behind Sherman. The circumstances also threw Simon into a significant role in what was still just the 13th game of his career (regular season and playoffs).

Everybody has injuries, and it’s hardly an excuse for what happened. But it was a factor, and the injuries were one difference between this year’s Super Bowl and last year’s, when the Seahawks were pretty much at full health.

— Okay, so a couple of thoughts on the last play. One is to compare this year’s Super Bowl to last year’s. A year ago, if the game had come down to that play, Seattle would have rolled out Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. What do you think happens if it’s Tate and Baldwin working on the right side in a two-on-two situation? I bring it up in part because while there were things about this team that statistically were better than a year ago, I think by the time the Super Bowl rolled around that the 2013 team was better and deeper from 1-53, something I think was felt in the depth issues that arose on the defensive line, secondary and receiver.

— The clock management at the end will also be forever debated. It’s interesting now watching some of the shows that have everyone mic’d up and hearing Pete Carroll tell Russell Wilson after the pass to Marshawn Lynch that Seattle has the ball at midfield (technically the 49) and three time outs and two minutes left and that “we never give you one this easy.”  Seattle then had to call two time outs mostly just to get everything set again — calling one with 1:50 left after a deep incompletion to Jermaine Kearse and then a second at the 1:06 mark after Kearse’s circus catch put the ball at the 5.

Still, one time out, four plays and 1:06 left is an awful lot to work with. Seattle then ran Lynch to the 1 and used 40 seconds before the next play. That’s normal, and was part of Seattle’s plan to try to either use up the clock before scoring or maybe force the Pats to use the two timeouts they had left — you wonder if the Seahawks were surprised that New England didn’t call time.

It’s a small quibble at this point, I realize, but you wonder if Seattle shouldn’t have worried much about running out the clock. Brady threw 50 passes and his longest completion was 23 yards. They simply aren’t a real throw-it-deep team. Anything can happen, obviously, and  a jump ball 50 yards downfield to Rob Gronkowski would have been worth worrying about. Maybe that’s also where the injuries played a factor — usually, you’d love to put the game on the back of the Legion of Boom with any amount of time left. Just another thing magnified by the way the game ended.

— New England didn’t have a rush of longer than 10 yards — LeGarrette Blount had a nine-yarder for the best that the Patriots had all game. That was one of just two times this season the Seahawks didn’t allow a run of 10 yards or longer (the other the blowout at Arizona when the Cardinals didn’t have a run of longer than six).

— Brady became the first QB to throw four TDs in a game against the Seahawks since 2010 — or before Sherman was drafted and the LOB came together. And you could win a lot of money picking the last QB to do it — the now-jobless Josh Freeman of Tampa Bay.

 

 

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