The only question that matters about Super Bowl 49 was this: What the hell was Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll thinking?
The defending champion Seahawks, who have earned a reputation for executing smartly in the clutch, squandered a game-winning opportunity in the final seconds of the Super Bowl. Trailing 28-24 to the New England Patriots and with the ball at the Pats’ half-yard line, Seattle audaciously threw a pass into the end zone. It was intercepted by an unknown rookie defensive back. Final score: New England 28, Seattle 24.
The high-riskplay was even more outrageous considering that Seattle had Marshawn Lynch, the most feared running back in the National Football League, poised to gain the final yard, for the championship. Lynch had already accumulated 102 rushing yards in the big game.
Seahawks Fan Nation and the poor saps who bet money on Seattle must be going out of their minds — still, 12 hours after the end of the debacle.
Carroll, as the saying goes, was too clever by half. He has made his name on taking daring paths to victory. With six seconds remaining at the end of the first half, he eschewed an easy field goal and rolled the dice by having his excellent quarterback Russell Wilson throw the ball into the end zone. The gambit worked. Seattle scored a very clutch touchdown and tied the score, 14-14, at the intermission.
But at the end, Carroll merely needed to take a deep breath and take the easy way out: by giving the ball to his running back, who is nicknamed The Beast.
Carroll outsmarted himself. He said afterward that he was trying to call a play that would, at worst, take sometime off the clock so iconic Pats quarterback Tom Brady, who had thrown four touchdown passes in the game and would be named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl 49, would not get his hands on it again.
That tacitly means Carroll didn’t entrust his vaunted Legion of Boom defense to preserve the victory — an amazing idea in the first place. Carroll’s explanation really only made matters worse. No wonder his players were furious at him for his dangerous maneuver.
Carroll panicked. He had the game in his grasp and he blew it.