After multiple viewings of “Sound FX” and “NFL Replay” on the NFL Network, as well as “Turning Point” on NBC Sports, we’re putting a different focus on Seattle’s final offensive play.
As everyone reading this knows, the Seahawks passed the ball from the one-yard line with 26 seconds left and one timeout. Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass, reversing the fortunes of two sports regions.
So, the question remains, why? Why, when you have Marshawn Lynch, the most brutish runner in the game, one yard away from glory, would you try anything else?
Tom Brady, that’s why. Brady did amazing things on the field, but he also did something remarkable off the field: he scared the bejeezus out of Seattle.
Take what Seahawks offensive coordinator Darell Bevell said to QB Russell Wilson before the penultimate play (on both “Turning Point” and “Sound FX”): “We still have a timeout. We’ll use every minute of this clock here.” Coach Pete Carroll, pacing the sideline, says, “Take your time. We have plenty of time to do this.”
You have to believe that – despite what Carroll would say later about matching up with New England’s goal-line defense – the coaches (along with everyone else) figured running Lynch would result in a touchdown. If Seattle had faced a fourth-and-goal at the one, then no question, Lynch would have gotten that football in his hands.
In the “Turing Point” broadcast, Carroll said during his post-game interview that maybe they should have run the ball, “But we had plenty of time to win the game, and we were playing for third and fourth down.”
We were playing for third and fourth down.
Now, back to the opposing QB: Brady had just accomplished what no other Super Bowl passer ever had: overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. His offense had scored 14 points against the defense that had not allowed such a thing in years. No wonder Pats fans got depressed in the third quarter.
But Brady hit five of seven passes on one drive, then eight of eight on the next, leading his offense to two TDs in ten minutes.
Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column offered a thorough breakdown of those final two drives from interviews with Brady and OC Josh McDaniels, seen here.
Remember also: in the NFC Championship, Seattle had come back to take a 3-point lead with 1:25 showing on the clock, only to watch Aaron Rodgers complete two 15-yard passes and limp-scramble for 12 more, getting into field goal range with 19 seconds left. And, efficient as Rodgers was, he had two incompletions on that possession. Brady had two incompletions on two successive TD drives. (For a play-by-play rundown, see this link to NFL.com. Even more impressive to see it in writing.)
Carroll had that in mind when he didn’t call timeout. He had that in mind when the clock wound down. He definitely had it on the brain when he said he did not want to “waste a run play” at the one.
So, again, why not run the ball there? As Brady said in his post-game interview, “I’m glad they didn’t.”
Chris Warner tweets things at people on a regular basis. Follow him at @cwarn89