Well, at least Andy Reid is off the hook. Until Sunday night, Reid’s glacially slow “let’s huddle up” fourth-quarter drive against New England in Super Bowl XXXIX stood as the worst coaching in championship game history.
Then came Pete Carroll. Then came the most mind-boggling dumb play call ever. Somewhere outside Kansas City, likely munching the evening’s last rib on his Barcalounger, Big Red let out a sigh of relief.
It’s hard to overstate how badly Carroll and Seattle’s offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, blew a winnable Super Bowl. But in case your eyes were still blinded by Katy Perry’s halftime show, here’s the setup:
The Seahawks needed a touchdown after Tom Brady put the Pats ahead, 28-24, just before the two-minute warning. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson began the drive with a 31-yard pass to Marshawn Lynch, and then connected on a 33-yard pinball pass that tipped off a defender and twice off Jermaine Kearse’s body before landing on Kearse’s midsection as he lay on the ground.
First-and-goal at the 5. Seattle wisely gave the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who beasted it to the 1-yard-line. Clock ticking down to 20 seconds left.
And now comes the bonehead moment that will live in NFL history with The Miracle at the Meadowlands and Marty Mornhinweg’s blown coin toss. Rather than let Lynch ride that final yard, Carroll ordered Bevell to dial up a pass play – a possibly illegal pick play at that.
Understand that Lynch had 15 rushing touchdowns this season. He’s the king of short yardage, a modern-era Earl Campbell. The only question at the moment was whether New England’s defense would intentionally let him score to get the ball back to Brady with time on the clock. It was that inevitable Lynch would get in.
You know the rest. Wilson in the shotgun. He throws a quick slant, which rookie defender Malcolm Butler intercepts. Game over.
So rather than a repeat, the Seahawks are a one-and-done champ. Like the nine prior winners. And instead of Karmic justice being served, Brady and Belichick win their fourth Super Bowl, tying Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll in QB-coach dominance.
I didn’t understand the call Sunday night, and we still won’t understand it in XLIX years. I’ve seen NFL coaches foolishly outsmart themselves (as I said, we watched Andy Reid all those years), but never like this. Mark this one down as the worst sideline decision in the history of the sport – the blunder by which all future blunders will be measured.
I’ve talked to many Eagles from that 2004 Super Bowl loser. To a man, they always say that after the loss, they expected to return to a Super Bowl and redeem themselves. Of course, it never happened. To a man, that’s the aspect they say hurts the most.
I imagine that’s in every Seattle Seahawks’ mind today.