I have to admit that following the shocking ending of Super Bowl No. 49 I bellied up front-and-center to listen when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll explained his reasoning for the surprise call for a pass that traded victory for defeat.
Carroll stood with head high and told reporters he’d already told his players that he was responsible for the loss. What else could he say? No other words out of his mouth would have been acceptable.
With 20 seconds left in regulation on the Patriots’ one-yard line and New England leading 28-24, QB Russell Wilson and troops had up to three plays and one timeout to negotiate that one final yard. Marshawn, nicknamed “The Beast” because he’s so tough to tackle, was lined up in the backfield and obviously Marshawn Lynch, a man who knows end zones, was everyone’s choice to carry the football.
But Marshawn did not happen, Russell threw a short bullet pass into a crowd that was intercepted, and Tom Brady and company earned gold.
It was a strange game in many ways.
For instance, at the end of the first half Carroll defied logic and made another call that, in contrast to the finale, drew unbridled accolades from near and far.
With the Patriots leading 14-7, a mere six seconds remaining in the first half, and Seattle on the New England six-yard line, Carroll refused to take the safe route by kicking a cinch field goal. Even my 93-year-old father, glued close to the screen because his eyesight is less than keen, was demanding that Pete do the smart thing and kick that field goal. Instead, with the clock having ticked down to only two, Wilson lofted one to an undrafted rookie who’d made his first-ever professional catch that game and the game was tied.
Another odd play, nearly miraculous from Seattle’s standpoint, came seconds before the bizarre game-ending interception when Seahawk receiver Jermaine Kearse made a look-what-I-found catch flat on his back following a highly contested pass from Wilson. Kearse, battling clear to the ground with Malcolm Butler, the same Patriot defensive back who made the game-saving (game-losing?) interception seconds later, not only surprised the world after a juggling act to catch the pass, but had the wherewithal to hop up and get out of bounds to stop the clock.
Marshawn next ran four of the five yards to the goal line and Coach Pete Carroll undoubtedly wishes the following play never would have happened.
Another oddity about the game was the play of Patriot QB Tom Brady, the hands-on choice for Most Valuable Player honors. Like a surgeon, Brady repeatedly completed short pass after short pass, ending the game with 37 completions from among 50 attempts for 328 yards.
All four New England touchdowns came on pass plays by Brady.
And yet, barring that bizarre ending, Brady’s team would have lost the game. Had that been the case, would Brady have been the MVP? In the 49-year history of the Super Bowl only once has a player on a losing team been tabbed MVP for the game. And that was 44 years ago when Cowboy linebacker Chuck Howley was gifted the prestigious award in a game his team lost 16-13 to the Colts.
But, in reality, what does the honor mean? Probably the two best defensive backs in football today, Patriot Darrelle Revis and ’Hawk Richard Sherman, had no chance of claiming that honor this go. At last count, the opposing coaches had elected to throw one pass each in the direction of the other team’s top pass defender during the entire game.
No accolades there.
Jabberwock II columnist Rocky Wilson is a reporter for the Chieftain.