A Look back to Super Bowl XLIX
From the Jim Hurley Network Staff
Contributing Sportsbook Editor
To "Beast" or not to "Beast" ... that is the question that head coach Pete Carroll and his Seattle Seahawks will have to live with for a long, long time.
The fact of the matter is that the Super Bowl 48 champion Seahawks are not the Super Bowl 49 champs simply because Carroll and his now-vilified offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell decided to "waste a down" by throwing on second-and-goal from the one-yard line with 26 seconds left in New England's 28-24 win ... thus bypassing an opportunity (or opportunities) to rush the ball with sledgehammer RB Marshawn Lynch (see 24 carries for 102 yards and one TD).
Instead of trying to bang in the go-ahead score with a Lynch run (or two), the Seahawks pulled one of the biggest brain cramp moves in NFL history by having QB Russell Wilson throw and his quick-hitter slant chuck to WR Ricardo Lockette instead was intercepted by quick-thinking/quick-reacting unknown CB Malcolm Butler.
Okay, so Carroll spent a major chunk of time after the game attempting to explain the move not to run it despite the fact his team had a timeout left ... if you're gonna throw it at all on this series then it's a last-resort fourth-down pass.
Not on second-and-goal from the one!
Okay, so maybe Carroll and Company were caught thinking back to the goal-to-go plays from the one-yard line this year when Seattle scored on just 3-of-7 rushing plays from a yard out including just one Lynch TD from this distance on five different running plays but if you can't call on your bread-and-butter guy ... heck, your best player ... to get a yard while the Pats were on their defensive heels than you really don't have complete and utter faith in your offensive line and/or your entire offense.
For all the folks who claim that this game wasn't "won or lost by a single play" ... you're wrong!
The Seahawks had marched some 79 yards in just six plays to get to New England's one-yard line and had everything in its favor including a mesmerizing 35-yard multi-bobble catch by WR Jermaine Kearse ... and we wondered why Patriots' "genius" head coach Bill Belichick wasn't calling a time out there with a minute to go ... otherwise the strategy calling for the Pats to "let" Seattle score a quick touchdown there was not outlandish because it would have allowed New England QB Tom Brady (37-of-50 passing for 328 yards and four TDs to four different receivers) at least some time to drive and get at least a game-tying field goal.
So, the Seahawks had the ball, the time out in the bag and apparent "cooperation" from New England that put all its proverbial eggs in the one basket that said the Patriots would indeed stop Lynch and Company from scoring.
Only Seattle's nit-wit coaching staff ... yes, Carroll took the blame and swears he told Bevell to "throw it" there but we're not 100 percent sure that's the story, folks! ... tried to get cute and all it did was cost ?em a second consecutive Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Still, there were ... indeed ... other major plays/possessions of interest in Super Bowl XLIX:
The Seahawks had the 24-14 lead and went punt, punt, punt on three consecutive possessions beginning with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter (including a pair of cat-quick three-and-outs) while New England went 68 yards on 9 plays to creep within 24-21 with 7:55 left in the game on a Brady-to-WR Danny Amendola four-yard dart and then scored again on a Brady-to-WR Justin Edelman TD strike to cap a 10-play, 64-yard march with 2:02 remaining in the game and so any discussion of this "Legion of Boom" defense as being legendary can be dashed as championship teams simply don't allow back-to-back 60-plus yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of games with the season on the line ... yes, not even to now four-time Super Bowl-winning slinger Tom Brady (a now three-time Super Bowl MVP)!
As the Patriots copped their fourth Super Bowl crown in the past 14 years and the aforementioned Belichick matched one-time Pittsburgh Steelers' great Chuck Noll with a fourth SB title, you could've made the case that New England's dandy comeback ... the first second-half, double-digit comeback win in Super Bowl history ... should never have come down to one goal-line theft as the Patriots controlled the game for the majority of the first half and yet the teams entered the locker room tied at 14-14.
You'll note, New England wound up with 72 offensive plays to 53 plays for Seattle plus the Pats went 8-of-14 on third-down plays while the Seahawks were just 3-of-10 on third downs and yet a pair of Brady picks and some dazzling downfield grabs by Seattle WR Chris Matthews (say what!) who caught four balls worth 109 yards and one touchdown allowed the ?Hawks to hold that 10-point lead into the final frame.
There was post-game discussion that the Seattle defensive line "fatigued" late after sacking Brady just once for eight yards but it was that punt, punt, punt sequence that failed to give Seattle any rest and when you break down some other aspects of this game you'll recall that New England had tons of YAC (yards after catch) plays and the Seahawks never did overcome the first-quarter arm injury suffered by nickel CB Jeremy Lane as "dime back" Tharold Simon was roasted time-and-again much in the manner he was roasted by Carolina in an NFC Divisional Playoff game three weeks ago.
Hey, we told you in the run-up to this SB 49 that the Seahawks needed to be "whole" as an injury here or two could really hurt the unit's play and that's exactly what happened as Lane's end-zone INT may have saved Seattle's bacon for the time being in a then-scoreless game but his absence for three-plus quarters was a killer against a Patriots squad that went three- and four-WRs on many occasions.
Hats off to Pats' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for recognizing the mismatches set up against Simon ... and where was defensive mastermind Carroll and DC Dan Quinn (the next head coach of the Atlanta Falcons) to counteract New England's moves?
Apparently, they were asleep at the wheel!
Consider that New England pretty much abandoned the ground game (21 carries for 57 yards) ... we also told you that in our Jim Sez Super Bowl Preview as talk of "offensive balance" was nonsense ... and so this was a one-dimensional attack for the most part and still Seattle didn't quite figure things out.
In the end, New England had 50 passes and 21 rushes ... so much for balance.
But we'll tell you one other area where Seattle "blew it" and that's the RB Lynch-led ground game had 162 yards on 29 carries (a haughty
5.6 yards-per-carry average) and yet in those punt, punt, punt possessions in the late third quarter/early fourth quarter the Seahawks attempted a grand total of four runs to go along with five passes (that included one sack of Wilson) ... and why didn't Wilson run it more after gaining 39 yards on three scramble plays.
Was Carroll/Bevell so afraid that "spies" LB Jamie Collins and DE/LB Ron Ninkovich were gonna track him down before he could ever get revved up?
No question that the Patriots showed major heart here ... those pair of 14-point deficits in the 35-31 non-cover win against Baltimore in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game proved this team's mettle ... but keep in mind here that TE Rob Gronkowski (6 catches for 68 yards and one TD) was no game-wrecker and that RB LeGarrette Blount (14 carries for 40 yards) didn't nearly resemble the dude that shredded
Indianapolis for 148 yards and three TDs in that runaway 45-7 win in the AFC Championship Game and yet the "Boom" bunch from Seattle allowed Brady to dissect ?em with quick-hitter, short throws and often watched on helplessly as the likes of Edelman (9 catches for 109 yards and that game-winning TD) and Swiss Army knife-style RB Shane Vereen collected an effective and important 77 yards from scrimmage ... where were those get-off-the-field plays on "D" save for the Lane INT and one other pick by LB Bobby Wagner?
Ironically enough, the term to best phrase this Seattle loss was "deflating" ... we know how appropriate that word is in the NFL lexicon these days! ... and isn't it something that in four straight weeks of post-season football and NFC team went down to defeat in a ridiculously painful manner from Detroit's wild card loss to Dallas, to Dallas' Divisional Playoff loss in Green Bay, to Green Bay's NFC Championship Game loss to Seattle to Seattle's brutal Super Bowl loss to New England ... incredible stuff!
In case you're keeping track, scratch Wilson from the unbeaten Super Bowl list ... you're safe on that one Joe Montana!
Now, let's do a little pointspread house-cleaning here ...
The AFC thus exited this Super Bowl XLIX victory at 21-25-3 ATS (against the spread) all-time in SB games for a .456 winning rate while Seattle's loss means Super Bowl Betting Favorites are now 22-24-3 against the odds with dogs having won each of the last four Super Bowls ... remember that Seattle (+ 2) crushed Denver 43-8 last year, Baltimore (+ 5) beat San Francisco 34-31 two years ago and the New York Giants (+ 3) downed New England 21-17 to wrap up the 2011 NFL season.