Dissecting Seattle’s heartbreaking Super Bowl loss to New England

Malcolm Butler and the New England Patriots are again Super Bowl champions (Photo: Instagram)


By Kyle Hutchison

With Super Bowl XLIX in the books, the arm-chair quarterbacks have sat up, put down their beers and voiced their opinions. You can second guess just about every call or play made in this game, but none will be more popular then the now infamous pass play that lead to Seattle’s fourth quarter loss.

After a miraculous catch by Seattle wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, and a tough run to the one yard line by Marshawn Lynch, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called a pass play on the one yard line. The play was a slant route ran by wide receiver Ricardo Lockette underneath a “pick” route ran by wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

For those of you who don’t know what a pick is, it’s when the receiver runs into the opposing cornerback on purpose to free up a different route run by a different wide receiver. Much like a center or power forward sets a pick to free up a point guard; except, in the NFL pick routes are illegal so you need to sell the route and the “accidental” collision.

The play was ran perfectly and Lockette was open, but cornerback Malcolm Butler made an incredible, physical play on the football beating Lockette and picking it off to seal the game. The question is, why did Bevell not run the ball with one of the best running backs in the NFL?

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll responded to the comments post-game with the following statement.

“We have everything in mind, how we’re going to do it, we’re going to leave them no time, and we had our plays to do it. We sent in our personnel, they sent in goal line, 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.”

His reasoning is sound, even though most would disagree. Yes, he was down by four points so he needed to score a touchdown, but at the time he had one time out, three plays and 26 seconds to score. They had the ball on the one yard line and the best power runner in the NFL, but if they had ran it in immediately the Patriots would have had 26 seconds with two time outs to drive downfield and tie the game up with a field goal.

Bevell and Carroll wanted to waste as much time off the clock as possible, so they figured they would try a pass play with a quarterback who is renowned for his ability to not turn the ball over. The Patriots had brought in their goal line package also with three defensive tackles, two defensive ends and everyone else beside a cornerback and a linebacker on the line of scrimmage. A pass could work well against a defense like that.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and the Seattle coaches would love to have run the ball on the play besides passing it, but their reasoning for running the play was sound. Next time, maybe Carroll and Bevell will learn to run the ball on all three downs instead of risking a turnover if the situation ever comes up again.

Kyle Hutchison can be reached at khutche@udel.edu

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