The national media and major newspapers are going, well, Beast Mode on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Why, for Pete’s sake, didn’t they just have Russell Wilson hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch inside the 1-yard line?
Because that didn’t happen, everyone is teeing off on them.
Tom Brady, on the other hand, is being toasted for winning his fourth Super Bowl. Call him Saint Tom.
First, here are links to all Seattle Times coverage, and then a roundup of national media and major newspaper stories about Super Bowl XLIX.
Now for the sandpaper to the cheek to all you 12s, the newest and most fervent and suddenly loyal fan base in the country.
That was the dumbest big play-call in Super Bowl history.
Maybe Wilson shouldn’t have thrown it. Maybe he should have thrown it out of the end zone. But I’m not blaming Wilson for the play. It wasn’t an audible. The play came from the sidelines, from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Though coach Pete Carroll took the blame afterward, it’s not his call, and it sounded very much like Carroll falling on his sword for a coach on his staff. Whatever, this was a play you simply do not call. Marshawn Lynch had 102 yards against a heavy New England defensive front in the game to that point. He’d just burrowed four yards over the left side, to the one.
When Lynch got up, the stadium clock read 1:00. And counting. Call a timeout, Belichick! Call a timeout!A stadium dumbfounded. What we knew just then:
- New England led 28-24.
- Seattle needed a touchdown, obviously.
- Seattle had traveled 79 yards in 62 seconds.
- Seattle had one yard and three plays and one timeout left.
- Seattle had Marshawn Lynch. “The baddest back on the planet!” former Seahawk cornerback Brandon Browner, now a Patriot, said afterward.
New England didn’t call timeout. Belichick is brilliant, and I’m sure he had his reasons. (He said he’d have called time if the Seahawks had run the next play and not scored, but by then, with 20 seconds left, there wouldn’t have been enough time left to do anything fruitful if Seattle scored.) But I think that’s a huge mistake. If New England calls time there, and Seattle scores on the next play, the Patriots get the ball back, down 31-28, with about 50 seconds left. That’s far preferable to getting it back down 31-28 with two timeouts and, say, 18 seconds left.
One Patriot told me a couple of things that made sense. He thought Belichick bypassed the timeout because the coach was comfortable defensively—as comfortable as he could be with who was on the field trying to stop Lynch—and that a timeout would have given Seattle a chance to stop and consider different plays, and why give the enemy more time to think?
In the end, Seattle could have had either two or three shots with Lynch. Instead, Wilson passed.
“What were they thinking!’’ Browner said. “I just really feel like sometimes these coaches are so intelligent they out-strategize themselves. It’s simple. You turn around and give it to the best back in the game. He picked up like four yards and landed a yard away from the end zone the play before.’’
“We sent in our personnel. They sent in goal-line [defense]. It’s not the right matchup for us to run the football, so on second down we throw the ball really to kind of waste that play. If we score we do, if we don’t, then we’ll run it in on third and fourth down. Really, with no second thoughts or no hesitation in that at all. And unfortunately, with the play that we tried to execute, [Butler] makes a great play and jumps in front of the route and makes an incredible play that nobody would ever think he could do. And unfortunately that changes the whole outcome.
“A very, very hard lesson. I hate to learn the hard way.”
But what’s the lesson? Carroll sounded like he had no regrets. So Seattle, after shredding some other defense and going 79 yards in a minute, with three downs to get one yard, given another chance, would throw a goal-line slant? I don’t get it. I never will.
The Super Bowl Awards
Offensive Player of the Week
Tom Brady, QB, New England. Obviously, there were a couple of throws he’d love to have back. But in setting the all-time record in Super Bowl touchdown passes and tying Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most Super Bowl wins ever by a quarterback, Brady clearly is in the discussion for the best quarterback in NFL history. He threw for for 328 yards and four touchdowns, and his 37 completions (on 50 attempts) also set a Super Bowl record.
Defensive Player of the Week
Malcolm Butler, cornerback, New England. Butler spent most of the postgame in a daze. He seemed unable to comprehend what just happened. The 5-11 undrafted free agent rookie—from noted football power West Alabama—broke up three passes in New England’s Super Bowl win. And it was his interception at the goal line with 20 seconds left in the game and Seattle driving for the winning touchdown that gives Butler a spot in New England sports lore forever. Just as Dave Roberts’ stolen base ignited the Red Sox to four straight wins over the Yankees in the ALCS in 2004, Butler’s interception always will be remembered from Bridgeport to Bangor. …
Coach of the Week
Bill Belichick, New England. In the middle of Deflategate, Belichick did what he always does: He kept the focus on the field. “ One of the things that he was able to do this past week,” said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, “is make sure that nobody ever thought about anything other than what would win this game. He’s always like that.” Belichick now takes a unique place in the coaching pantheon. He’s won four Super Bowls as a head coach and two as a coordinator (Giants). He certainly is in the discussion for the greatest coach ever.
Goat of the Week
Darrell Bevell, offensive coordinator, Seattle. For years to come, fans of the Seahawks and just plain fans will ask one simple question about Super Bowl 49: What in the world was Seattle doing throwing a slant pass on second and goal from the 1, with one of the game’s best short yardage backs in the backfield? It’s a question that will torment the Pacific Northwest for years and will make it difficult for Bevell ever to fulfill his dreams of becoming an NFL head coach. It simply was an incredibly wrong call.
It’s easy to question the play-calling after a goal-line interception. But if Russell Wilson had completed the quick-slant to Ricardo Lockette, people would have lauded Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for having the guts to throw when everyone was expecting run.
Keep in mind, Bevell has limited resources. None of Seattle’s wide receivers can consistently separate from man coverage, and their quarterback, great as he is on extended plays, can’t make many throws from the pocket. That makes things tough on an offensive coordinator.
New England’s suffocating man coverage exposed Seattle’s offense. But Bevell & Co. had the brilliant idea to play unknown 25-year-old journeyman Chris Matthews in extra-receiver packages. In the limited sample we’ve seen of Matthews, it appears he’s another Hawks receiver who can’t separate. But being 6-foot-5 and lanky, he doesn’t have to. He’ll always be open three feet above his head, which is where Russell Wilson placed the ball on Matthews’s 44-and 45-yard receptions. Cornerback Kyle Arrington had good position on both those plays; Arrington’s problem was that he’s only 5-10.
After the 45-yarder, which came three plays into the second half, Brandon Browner went to safeties coach Brian Flores and asked to cover Matthews. Browner, at 6-4 and 220 pounds, has the size and innate physicality to negate big receivers. Flores went to cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer. “The corners coach didn’t want to do it,” Browner said. “We begged for it: Please let me get the big guy.” Boyer signed off on the move. According to Browner, neither Bill Belichick nor defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had input on this personnel switch, which ultimately decided the outcome of Super Bowl XLIX. “[Belichick and Patricia] do a good job of letting the corners coach and safeties coach do their job,” said Browner.
Matthews was blanked by Browner, who defeated him with jams off the line of scrimmage.
Along with switching Browner to Matthews, the Patriots brought in Malcolm Butler, an undrafted rookie who flashed in a handful of appearances during the regular this season. Which brings us back to the interception that wasn’t Bevell’s fault.
“If I was an offensive guy, that’s the play I want drawn up,” said Browner.
“It’s man-to-man, you stack receivers like this,” he said, putting one fist in front of the other. “And boom!, you try to pick the guy. They had a good play, but we knew them, we watched them for two weeks.”
Butler had seen the stacked-receiver look in practice, where he’d been beaten on the play by Josh Boyce. “I didn’t let it happen again,” he said.
So what tipped Butler off on a quick slant in a situation where everyone was expecting run?
“They called goal-line three receivers; goal-line usually has two receivers,” he said. “You still could pass either way, but three receivers? That’s kind of letting you know something. I’m a pass defender first, and I just jumped the route.
“I don’t even remember who I was on. 83? I just knew it was stack and I jumped the route and that was the ball game.”
“I can take a punch,” Pete Carroll texted me late Sunday night, nearly three hours after the conclusion of one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played — and about 170 minutes removed from one of the most universally reviled play calls in the history of football.
That’s good, I thought to myself. Because you’re about to get pummeled like a guy stepping into the ring against Mike Tyson in his prime.
The Seattle Seahawks coach and I were in the middle of an extended exchange which, via the wonders of modern technology, allowed us to delve deeper into a topic we’d first broached in the University of Phoenix Stadium locker room, where Carroll had walked around consoling some of his despondent stars. In the wake of a staggering 28-24 defeat to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX that took Tom Brady‘s legend to another level, virtually every Seahawks player I encountered was having trouble comprehending the sudden and stunning end to Seattle’s season.
Fresh off a near-miraculous, four-bobble reception by Jermaine Kearse, the Seahawks had second-and-goal at the 1 with 26 seconds remaining. Seattle was one yard away from securing a second consecutive championship — but instead of handing the rock to Marshawn Lynch, the most powerful goal-line runner in football, Carroll called a pass play, causing double-takes on his sideline and in living rooms and sports bars all over the football-watching world.
And when Russell Wilson‘s goal-line slant to Ricardo Lockette was jumped and intercepted by Pats rookie Malcolm Butler, Carroll earned himself a lifetime’s worth of second-guessing from aghast witnesses, some of them inside his own locker room.
When I asked receiver Doug Baldwin, in a quiet conversation near his locker, if he was shocked by Carroll’s decision to throw, he shook his head and said, “Come on, man, you’ve got common sense, too… We have nobody to blame but us. My first thought was that we were gonna run it in — but coaches, they’re the ones that they know it better than us.”
Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin was even more pointed, telling me, “We beat ’em, bro. We beat ’em… I’m speechless. Best back in the league, and the 1-yard-line? It wasn’t even the 1 — it was like half a yard. I will never understand that, bro. I will never understand it. I will never understand…
“When Jermaine caught that ball, I felt it was meant to be for us. Oh, no doubt — we’re gonna score. Beast Mode. Beast Mode! Best back on the (expletive) planet. That’s crazy!”
So yes, like Lucy Ricardo, Carroll had some explaining to do.
Pete Carroll was going to be the happy face of the NFL, the guy who put the fun back in the No Fun League. He was one Marshawn Lynch yard away from talking up his back-to-back championships with Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon or David Letterman — or all of the above — and showing the world you can create a pro football dynasty while acting like a child loose in a candy store.
All Carroll had to do was apply a little common sense to the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, and no, it wasn’t too much to ask. Carroll had already won it all with the Seattle Seahawks and the USC Trojans. He had earned the unconditional respect of his opponent, Bill Belichick, who knew Carroll as a closer who had inspired Seattle to “compete relentlessly as well as any team and any organization I’ve ever observed.”
Carroll just had to make a decision any Pop Warner coach worth his whistle and drill cones would have made. Lynch was in full you-know-what mode, barreling his way through the New England Patriots and carrying the Seahawks to the league’s first two-peat since Belichick and Tom Brady pulled it off in a different life. Lynch already had 102 rushing yards and a touchdown to his name, and he had just planted Seattle on the Patriots’ 1-yard line.
It was over. Game, set, overmatched. Brady and Belichick were going to lose their third consecutive Super Bowl after winning their first three, and they were going to lose in University of Phoenix Stadium on a catch by Jermaine Kearse that might’ve been more absurd than David Tyree’s in this same building seven years back.
Carroll wasn’t only about to prove he could rule a violent game with a sunshiny disposition; he was also about to prove he could take the X’s and O’s game from one of the greats. Seattle snapped the ball and handed it to Lynch for the team’s last rushing play of the night with 1:06 left, and Belichick inexplicably failed to call one of his two remaining timeouts after the 4-yard carry, which allowed the Seahawks to bleed the clock down to 26 seconds before executing the obvious play.
Carroll and his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, would give the ball to this generation’s answer to Earl Campbell, and Lynch would score the winning touchdown and make the statement he was dying to make to his BFFs in the media: Now you know why I’m here.
But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to a delirious flight back home. It rained on Seattle’s parade. Instead of notarizing his standing as Belichick’s equal, Peter Clay Carroll made the dumbest and most damaging call in Super Bowl history.
Seattle faces a long road to Super Bowl 50: The Seahawks have a chance to make a third straight Super Bowl appearance, but it won’t be easy. It’s hard to tell the negative carryover of a loss as devastating as Sunday’s, especially when the team led 24-14 in the fourth quarter and came within 1 yard of beating the Patriots. A quick glance at Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas in the postgame locker room was telling. Sherman, according to a source, played Sunday despite knowing he might need Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow. Thomas, meanwhile, has a badly separated shoulder. Both sat dejected in the locker room.
It’s also tough to tell how Lynch will handle losing a Super Bowl knowing one more handoff could have given him his second ring. Moreover, the Seahawks will lose their defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, to the Atlanta Falcons, who will name him head coach this week, according to sources, and cornerback Jeremy Lane may have broken his arm in the Super Bowl. Three feet short of a second straight Super Bowl win, the Seahawks will have a long offseason to ponder the what ifs and try to rebound for the 2015 season. “My mom says you find value when you are in the valley,” Baldwin said. “We are really in the valley.”
After a stumbling third quarter in which he looked harried and old, Brady was suddenly resurrected. Poised in the pocket, he again looked like the carefree 24-year-old who won a Super Bowl in an upset. His 3-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with 2 minutes 2 seconds remaining in the game — a classic connection, with a calm Brady looking one way and then throwing the other — sealed the Patriots’ 28-24 victory over Seattle.
Brady became just the third starting quarterback to win four Super Bowls, after Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.
“It’s been a long journey,” Brady, who was named the game’s most valuable player, said afterward. “There have been a couple of tough losses in this game. But we made the plays at the end of this one.”
His coach, Bill Belichick, with whom he shares a 4-2 Super Bowl record and with whom he will forever be linked, said Sunday’s performance was quintessential Brady.
“Tom does not doubt himself, and he sticks to the plan,” Belichick said. “He’s a great player, and at any time, he can make great plays.”
That includes moments when his skills appear to have deserted him.
With a visible, defiant determination, Brady cruised through the first half, completing 20 of 27 passes, with two touchdown throws. But as the second half began, after Seattle’s fearsome defense and its wily coach, Pete Carroll, had a chance to make adjustments, Brady appeared befuddled. New England ran 11 plays in the third quarter and picked up one first down, and the Seahawks took their first lead of the game, 17-14, early in the period.
As long as they play the Super Bowl, they’ll remember this game.
As long as they play football, they’ll remember that call.
With certain victory within their reach, the Seattle Seahawks got cute. When you’re on the 1-yard line and Marshawn Lynch is in your backfield, you don’t get cute. You get tough. You send the battering ram that is Lynch into the New England defensive front and in almost all certainty the result will be a touchdown. And if it doesn’t, you do it again.
But not the Seahawks. For no other reason than crass stupidity, Seattle decided to throw a pass. And this pass was intercepted by the New England Patriots.
The result: A 28-24 New England win in Super Bowl XLIX tonight at Glendale, Ariz.
It was a thrilling, entertaining game that will be remembered more for the Seattle brain cramp than that it was the fourth championship this century for the Patriots. With the win, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady tied Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw for the most Super Bowl wins for a coach and a quarterback.
But that was clearly secondary to how the game ended. It was the stuff of fiction, as first Seattle moved into scoring position on a 33-yard pass that was caught by Jermaine Kearse on the 5-yard line while he was on his back.
From there, with 66 seconds remaining, Lynch bulled his way to the 1. And that’s where the Seahawks got cute.
Quarterback Russell Wilson drilled a pass intended for Richardo Lockette at the goal line. But rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler –in a play that will long live in Super Bowl lore and forever live in New England sports lore — stepped in front of Lockette and intercepted the pass.
The joyous victory that already was being celebrated by Seattle fans turned into the toughest defeat any team could suffer.
If Seattle coach Pete Carroll called the pass play, he might never live down that blunder. If an assistant coach called the play, his job is in serious jeopardy.
What made the decision not to give the ball to Lynch all the more inexplicable was that New England had no answer for him all game. It was second and goal from the 1. Up to that point, Lynch had carried 24 times for 102 years. He repeatedly shrugged off New England tacklers and got extra yardage even after being hit solidly.
The decision not to give Lynch to ball was incomprehensible. And Carroll, with whom the buck stops, will live with it for the rest of his life.
Pete Carroll made the call and it was the worst coaching decision in the history of the Super Bowl.
Carroll is a bright guy and a great coach. He’s engaging, full of energy, the owner of two college national championships at Southern Cal and a Super Bowl last year and he was within one yard of another Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night.
Then he screwed up and cost his team Super Bowl XLIX.
“Man, what were they thinking?” Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner said.
The Seahawks had a second-and-goal from the New England 1-yard line with 26 seconds left and trailing 28-24. Two plays earlier, the Patriots were seeing the ghost of David Tyree when Jermaine Kearse made an acrobatic 33-yard juggling catch on his back at the Patriots’ 5 with rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler all over him. Then Marshawn Lynch ran it down to the 1.
Was there anybody in the stadium or watching on television or in the Patriots huddle or on the Patriots sideline who didn’t think Lynch, the 215-pound bruiser, was getting the ball? Bill Belichick had already put himself in position to be second-guessed for not using one of his two timeouts after Lynch’s run.
Lynch had 102 yards and had worn down the Patriots defense in the second half. It couldn’t stop him. Worst case scenario is give it to Lynch twice, and if he still didn’t get in then roll out Russell Wilson and let him make something happen with his legs or flip it into the end zone.
This is where Carroll lost the game, if not his mind. This now goes on his permanent record along with those national titles and Super Bowl ring. Carroll had Wilson throw the ball and he was intercepted at the goal line.
“How do you throw the ball when you’ve got Marshawn Lynch,” asked Seahawks CB Tharold Simon. “People were screaming and hollering, ‘Why not run the ball?’ and stuff like that. When you’ve got Beast Mode, why not run the ball three times down there?”
n unforgivable decision decided an unforgettable game.
The New England Patriots didn’t win the Lombardi Trophy as much as the Seattle Seahawks lost it. Seattle’s decision to pass rather than run for the go-ahead touchdown at the New England goal line in the final minute of Super Bowl 49 will live in infamy.
Seattle fans will never get over it. New England fans will never forget it. And offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will never live it down.
Bevell is a fine coach and a good man. But he might as well have replaced his headset with goat horns as New England celebrated its thrilling 28-24 win Sunday night.
It was a terrible way to end a terrific game, one of the best Super Bowls in history.
he two best teams in the NFL traded big plays and dramatic moments for four quarters. Momentum ebbed and flowed. Just when it seemed one team had seized control, the other wrested it back.
In the end, only one yard and 26 seconds separated the Seahawks from winning their second consecutive Super Bowl championship and sending New England to its third consecutive Super Bowl defeat.
Facing a second-and-goal at the 1, the Seahawks had the Patriots defense on its heels and the sellout crowd of 70,288 at University of Phoenix Stadium on its feet. The hard part was largely done. The Seahawks had marched 79 yards in six plays to reach the New England goal line. Victory seemed inevitable, especially after Jermaine Kearse’s juggling, look-what-I-found 33-yard catch two plays earlier.
The Seahawks had three downs. They had two timeouts. And most of all, they had Marshawn Lynch, the beastliest runner in the game. He’d just blasted off left tackle for 4 yards on the previous play to give Seattle possession at the 1.
This was the time, as former Saints offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy once told me, to think of players not plays. Put the ball – and the game – in the hands of your best player. Don’t overthink it. Give it to Lynch and start planning your celebration speeches.
Instead of going beast mode, though, the Seahawks went brain dead.
The Lombardi Trophy finally belonged to Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the first time since Spygate that it did, their magnificent obsession to stand on top of the football world again realized after 10 years of relentlessly stalking it.
There was no cheating in Super Bowl XLIX Sunday night — as far as we know — since Brady and Russell Wilson were tossing the same balls.
Only Brady’s balls, in the big moments, were bigger.
Brady, whose 37 completions are a Super Bowl record, getting off the deck the way he did in a fourth quarter for the ages after throwing two costly interceptions tied Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with his fourth Super Bowl championship and should be recognized now as The Greatest Of All Time.
“It’s been a long journey,” Brady said after Patriots 28, Seahawks 24.
And Brady (4 TD passes) and Belichick have staked their claim to greatest coach-quarterback duo of all time.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick knew this moment would come. He knew he would win a fourth Lombardi Trophy, his fourth in his 15 seasons with New England.
“Sure did, with these guys,” he said during the postgame ceremony. “We got a great team. We got a lot of great players. They played well again tonight.
“I thought I would [win another Super Bowl].”
Belichick tied records for most appearances in the Super Bowl by a coach with six, and most wins with four.
“We got a good football team and these guys fight for 60 minutes,” he said. “I’m so proud of all these players. I love these guys.”
The Seattle Seahawks forgot who they are.
And from that momentary lapse in identity came the worst play-call in Super Bowl history and a defeat that leaves the Seahawks historically irrelevant, further boosts the complicated legacy of Coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and ups the stakes for Deflategate even more.
All of that from a single misguided play-call?
But that’s the big picture. As the football world narrowed its view to Glendale Sunday, the virtually nonstop talk of deflated footballs, of potentially tainted legacies, of what this person did or what that person failed to do, of an NFL season that began and ended amid turmoil, finally gave way to a football game Sunday evening.
And what a football game it was.
The Seattle defense failed to do to Brady what it had done a year ago to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Brady threw the ball effectively. The Patriots had the early lead and had a chance to have a sizable early lead.
What were the Seahawks thinking? Seattle trailed 28-24 but had a chance to win the game after a remarkable 33-yard, juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse at the New England five-yard line with 1:03 left. A two-yard run by Marshawn Lynch moved the ball to the three, and the Patriots strangely chose to NOT call time out. But the only dumber decision was then made by Seattle. Instead of giving the ball to Lynch, the Seahawks pulled a Mike Bobo, who didn’t give the ball to Todd Gurley late against South Carolina. Instead of giving the ball to Lynch again, Seattle called for a pass play — a slant to Ricardo Lockette. The pass was picked off at the goal line by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. Ball game. It was a great finish but one that Seattle will regret through this offense. It had a chance to win a second straight Super Bowl.