Carroll’s Last Seconds Strategy Backfires
By John Ventola
Just as it appeared that another late game reception would be titled “The Catch” and lead to a third straight Super Bowl loss for New England, “The Call” would give the Patriots a last second reprieve and seal the team’s fourth Super Bowl championship in the past fourteen years.
Facing a 28-24 deficit with the clock running down, timeouts in his pocket, and the football sitting inside the Patriots one-yard line, Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator
Darrell Bevell made probably the worst play call in Super Bowl history. Not wanting to score too quickly and leave Tom Brady time to negotiate the field for a tying field goal, Carroll and Bevell rolled the dice on a quick slant route when they saw that the Patriots had substituted their larger goal line linemen to thwart a possible second down dive play by Marshawn Lynch.
A visibly shaken Carroll explained after the game that he figured the play would work, and if it did not, the Seahawks still would have about fifteen seconds or so remaining, and two plays to still get the ball in the end zone. However, New England rookie strong safety Malcolm Butler jumped the route, beat wide receiver Ricardo Lockette to the spot for Russell Wilson’s ill-fated throw, and clinched the come-from-behind win for the Patriots. Butler, from West Alabama, an NCAA Division II school in Livingston, Alabama, stepped up and made the play, sure handing the ball in front of Lockette. Indeed, the Butler did it.
To say the call shocked all that were watching the game would be an understatement. Lynch is usually unstoppable from a yard out in any situation. Seattle players looked tentative and indecisive on the play, Lynch shifting positions in the backfield before Wilson rose and made the quick throw. “The Call” had backfired, and it surely will be a hot topic among football discussions throughout the off-season.
The best play for New England would have been Butler intercepting and going down in the end zone so the ball would come out to the twenty-yard line. But there is no doubt
Coach Bill Belichick was forgiving after the game, Butler’s aggressive move taking full advantage of a bone-head call by Carroll and his staff. With Butler being downed at the Pats own one-yard line with twenty seconds remaining, Brady worked a hard count to draw the Seahawks offside and give the Patriots some breathing room to run out the clock. When Brady knelt down on first and five from the six-yard line, Seattle lineman Bruce Irvin got into a tussle with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Irvin was ejected, the Seahawks were penalized fifteen yards, and Super Bowl XLIX was guaranteed a top spot in NFL championship game lore.
Brady completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards, and four touchdowns, while throwing two interceptions. Not only did he surpass Joe Montana’s career Super Bowl record eleven touchdown passes when he hit Danny Amendola with the first of two fourth quarter touchdowns, he equaled Montana with four Lombardi Trophies (indicative of an NFL championship) and was awarded his third Super Bowl MVP trophy. Brady, as usual, was the main cog in the Patriots arsenal as the team ran for only fifty-three yards in the game. It marked Brady and Belichick’s sixth Super Bowl appearance, and all six contests have been decided by four points or less. The duo can match wits with the best of them.
He was pressured into a late first quarter interception by Northwestern State’s Jeremy Lane after completing nine of his first ten passes, and was intercepted in the second half when Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner jumped a pass to Gronkowski in a fashion similar to Butler’s play on Lockett. Other than those two plays, Brady was, well, Brady. He spread the ball around to wideouts Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman, Amendola, and tight end Gronkowski while mixing in short screens to his running back Shane Vereen, who caught eleven passes. The short, quick routes seemed to wear out the super aggressive defensive backs of Seattle, resulting in two touchdowns that covered 132 yards and nineteen plays in the last quarter (9 plays, 68 yards; ten plays, 64 yards).
Although Brady suffered the Lane and Wagner interceptions, his pinpoint passes kept the main members of the Legion of Boom, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam
Chancellor, and Byron Maxwell occupied chasing receivers. Former LSU receiver LaFell beat fellow LSU alum Tharold Simon for twelve yards and the initial score of the game with 9:47 left in the second quarter. Simon would be victimized by Edelman for the game winning three-yard score with 2:02 left in the game when Edleman juked him on a down and out that turned him around.
After LaFell’s score, things heated up offensively as Brady and Wilson started hitting their receivers, and the teams scored three touchdowns in the final two minutes and sixteen seconds. Wilson led the Seahawks to a tying score when he hit Chris Matthews with a pass to the eleven and Lynch twisted his way into the end zone a couple of plays later. Brady responded when he hit Gronkowski with a perfect 23-yard throw over outmatched linebacker K.J. Wright with thirty-one seconds remaining to halftime. Wilson showed his stuff by driving the Seahawks 80 yards in five plays, using only twenty nine seconds. Wilson’s quick throw to 6-5 receiver Matthews with two seconds left sent the Seahawks to break time happy with a 14-14 tie after being outplayed most of the first half.
Their aggressive play calling had paid a huge dividend at the end of the first half, but the aggressiveness would turn against them under similar circumstances at the end of the game.
Whether it was the last drive of the first half, or Seahawks getting a major wake-up call, Seattle took the second half kickoff and drove for a 27-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. Wagner’s interception of Brady three minutes later gave the Seahawks the ball at midfield. After a tough, bulldozing run by Lynch moved the ball to the three-yard line, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a touchdown to make it 24-14 when Patriot defensive back Darrelle Revis took a bad coverage angle, bumped into a referee, and left Baldwin open for an easy catch.
It was there the brashness and bravado of the super confident Seahawks began to show itself. Television monitors closed in on Sherman celebrating on the Seahawks sideline, showing two fingers on one hand and four on another and mouthing “24”. It was meant either that the Seahawks now had 24 points, or the last touchdown was scored on No. 24, Revis, considered to be the caliber of player with Sherman’s skill set. More than likely, Sherman was mocking Revis, and gloating at the same time.
The Brady Bunch would have none of that, however, and rallied with two impressive drives in the fourth quarter to take the 28-24 lead and set up Butler’s heroics. First Brady would find Amendola open in the back of the end zone for a four-yard score, and then he would connect with Edelman for the game winner. In between, the Patriots defense, led by tackle Vince Wilfork, and linebackers Jamie Collins and Don’t’a Hightower forced Seattle into a three play, one minute and three second possession, keeping New England in the game.
After Edleman’s touchdown, Wilson, who completed 12 of 21 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns, rallied the Seahawks to get into position to win their second
consecutive Super Bowl. A long third down sideline pass to a leaping Jermaine Kearse was batted into the air and came down in Kearse’s grasp after he performed a two-touch juggling act on his back at the Patriot’s six-yard line with 1:06 left in the game. Since Kearse was not touched after the catch, he was able to get up and run—-a fact announcers failed to mention in the telecast. While Butler was front and center two plays later with his interception, his alertness to push Kearse out of bounds at the five-yard line was not only heads up, but also actually saved the game before he himself clinched it with his interception. Kearse’s catch easily matches David Tyree’s great catch in the 2007 Super Bowl, caught during the New York Giants rally to victory over the Patriots.
The Carroll and Bevell coaching blunder decided the game. “The Call” cancelled out “The Catch”. Not surprisingly, none of Belichick’s warriors got in Seahawks faces to do any gloating of their own. After all, they had taken the “air” out of Seattle’s title reign, and were going to enjoy sending Mr. Sherman back to Seattle with a deflated ego. To Sherman’s credit, he offered Brady congratulations and a handshake after the game, not an in-your-face insult like he did when the Seahawks were on the winning side in 2012.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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