Before second-guessing Pete Carroll, Darell Bevell and the entire Seattle coaching staff, let’s give credit where credit is due.
“I think Malcolm (Butler), first of all, (did) an outstanding job of studying the game plan and knowing that, ‘Okay, it’s a stack,’” Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich said of the New England cornerback on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He made a great play.”
Okay, great. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to second-guessing Carroll, Bevell and the entire Seattle coaching staff:
How in the world did the Seahawks pass the ball on second-and-goal with a timeout in their back pocket and a second straight Super Bowl title just three feet away?
“Russell (Wilson) was executing the play that was called,” Herzlich explained. “I feel badly for him because obviously that was not the right throw to make. You want to stay safe at that point. But he sees man-to-man coverage, and the man-to-man coverage was just too good for that play. If you say I’m going zero coverage, man-to-man and blitzing everyone upfront, those corners have to win – and they did win.”
Butler’s pick preserved a 28-24 win and gave the New England Patriots their fourth Super Bowl title of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era.
After the game, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he wanted to run the ball near the goal line, but he didn’t think that was wise given New England’s personnel on the field.
Does that explanation make any sense whatsoever?
“Well, it makes sense that (the Patriots) were playing the run because I think everyone expected (the Seahawks) to run – because I think that’s what they probably should have done,” Herzlich said. “I think when we talk about goal-line defenses, it means all the corners are off the field. All the defensive backs are off the field. You might have a safety in there, but it’s five, six down linemen, four or five linebackers and then a safety. That’s what our goal line is. When we see corners out on the field, that’s not goal-line defense. To me, they could have run, but that’s not what they felt.”
To be fair, the Seahawks didn’t just lose Super Bowl XLIX; the Patriots won it. They trailed 24-14 entering the fourth quarter but scored twice in the final eight minutes – on nine- and 10-play drives, respectively – to take the lead.
“Tom Brady got the ball in his hands more times,” Herzlich said in a it-really-is-that-simple tone. “That’s one thing that’s so dangerous about some of these quarterbacks in this league. If you put the ball in Tom Brady’s hands again and again, he’s going to start making plays. That’s what they did, and that’s what he did. That’s not saying anything about the Seahawks – because they were playing hard too, and they were making big plays. But Tom Brady and that offense – they’re the type of offense that, it doesn’t matter if they’re down 10 points to start the fourth quarter. It doesn’t matter because once they make a score, they feel like they can score every time they get the ball.”