Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Bill Belichick may have forced Pete Carroll's hand at the end of the Super Bowl.
Belichick truly may have used uncommon cunning to win his latest big game.
Seattle took over at the Patriots' five with 1:06 remaining. After Jermaine Kearse's amazing catch, Seattle had wasted a timeout after getting the play in late. So Seattle had first-and-goal with one timeout remaining.
Marshawn Lynch bulled to the one. Most everyone in the stadium expected Beilchick to use one of his two timeouts, to preserve time for a possible last-second drive.
Belichick just stood there, watching the clock run.
What was he thinking?
If he calls timeout, then Seattle has the possibility of running three plays from inside the one, with their whole playbook available to them. They could run it, and if they didn't score, run it again, knowing they could call timeout to set up a fourth down call if they didn't score on third down.
By letting the clock run, Belichick prompted Carroll to worry about the clock. After the game, Carroll said he wanted to ``waste a play'' on second down. What he seemed to be saying was, his intent was to run the ball, but he wanted his second-down play, with time running down, to be a pass play, so if the Seahawks didn't score, an incompletion would stop the clock and leave him with two plays and one timeout remaining.
Carroll also knew that if he ran on second down, the Patriots would know he would have to throw on third down, and Carroll probably wanted to avoid being that predictable.
Belichick, thinking a few moves ahead, probably anticipated Carroll wanting to pass on second down once the clock ran down, and sent a third cornerback onto the field.
When I talked to Patriots reserve cornerback Malcolm Butler last night, he said he was on the sideline for first down. He ran in when his cornerbacks coach yelled, `Goalline 3-corners.'' So the Patriots had five defensive backs on the field for a play against a powerful running back from inside the one. In other words, the Patriots anticipated a pass on second down, even though Carroll was throwing on second down because he didn't want to face a sure-passing down on third down.
So Carroll called a pass play, and Malcolm Butler, who had just been put on the field by Belichick, made an incredible interception, and the game was over.
Belichick threw Carroll off, and Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell responded by calling a play they really didn't want to run.
Given more time to think, Carroll probably would have run a bootleg or a fade, a play that would have enabled Russell Wilson to throw the ball away if he didn't see a matchup he liked.
Or Carroll would have called his timeout right after the first-down run, leaving him plenty of time to run the ball.
Instead, it was a quick-hitting pick pass, and Malcolm Butler knew it was coming, and stole the game.
Belichick feinted Carroll into choosing a pass play, and Carroll and Bevell called the wrong one, and that set up Butler to make a remarkable play.
Yes, Belichick really is that smart.
This week at SouhanUnfiltered.com: 5 p.m. Wednesday at Kieran's with Roy Smalley; 5 p.m. Friday at O'Gara's with Michael Russo, followed by my band, Bar Chords, playing O'Gara's 7:30-9, before Le Bang's live karaoke set. Come on out to either or both. Thanks.
My pick for this game: Patriots 22, Seahawks 21.
As gametime approaches, my heart says the Seahawks find a way, but my gut is wondering if I shouldn't pick the Patriots by a wider margin.
Seahawks star cornerback Richard Sherman is catching punts one-handed in warmups, obviously trying not to aggravate his elbow injury.
Seahawks star safety Earl Thomas is wearing a harness under his jersey to protect his injured shoulder.
Kam Chancellor, the other safety, suffered what is believed to be a mild injury in practice and is wearing a knee brace and limping just a bit.
There's little doubt all three will start. But will all three finish?
The Patriots are sharks. If they see an injured player, or a replacement on the field, they will attack that player.
In what is a great matchup and what probably will be a close game, I think those injuries give New England the edge.
This morning, had longtime Seattle sports columnist Art Thiel on my podcast, and he offered more insight into the Seahawks than I've heard anywhere all week. You can find it and all other podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thanks.
Keep getting asked why it's such a big deal that the Patriots deflated footballs.
The questions I'm hearing:
-Why does it matter?
-Is it really an advantage?
-Isn't it just because the Patriots win, and nobody likes Belichick?
These questions are irrelevant.
If you cork your bat and strike out, you still corked your bat. If you take steroids and fail to perform, you still took steroids.
And there is a benefit to deflating footballs. It makes them easier to throw and catch. And if the Patriots knew they were going to play with deflated footballs, I'm sure they practiced with them all week.
The Patriots would have beaten the Colts with any form of ball in play. That doesn't mean they didn't cheat, or shouldn't be punished for cheating.
Ricky Rubio is belatedly becoming in danger of being not only a draft bust, but a contract mistake.
He's been out for months with a sprained ankle. He does not appear close to returning. It's time for the young man to act like he cares about playing basketball.
The best thing that could happen to the Wolves at this point would be further tests on his ankle that reveal something more serious is wrong. Otherwise, this is the worst sprained ankle in sports history - or Rubio isn't particularly interested in playing basketball and fulfilling his contract.
After their comebacks fell short against Ohio State and Iowa, Gophers players were crushed. They had played brilliantly late in the game to force dramatic endings.
Today, if they're still talking about being one shot away from a victory, they should be ignored.
They were within a shot of Nebraska last night because Nebraska played horribly all night. The Gophers lost because they played even worse. That wasn't a dramatic loss - it was a horrific loss. Neither team deserved to win.
That might have been the most important game of the season. Had the Gophers won, they would havre moved to 2-5. They would have had a two-game winning streak, with an easy upcoming schedule. They could have made a strong move toward .500.
Now they're just a lousy team in a mediocre league.
Tonight at 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub, great local rocker G.B. Leighton will be my guest for my podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Thursday at 3 p.m., Strib hockey writer Michael Russo will be my guest. Friday at 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero will be my guest. Monday at 5 p.m. at The Local, Twins president Dave St. Peter will be my guest.
Thanks in advance to all of these people who have been so generous with their time. You can listen to the podcasts live, or anytime later, at the website.
And thanks for listening.
Bob Kravitz, the former Indy Star columnist now working for Indy TV station WTHR, broke the news that the Patriots may have used deflated balls during the AFC title game.
Deflated balls can be easier to grip, throw, catch and control in rainy conditions, and it rained and sleeted during the game.
Kravitz is a pro, and the NFL has confirmed it is investigating, so I wouldn't dismiss this as a provincial reaction to getting blown out. The Colts can't make the case they would have won under any conditions. If proved true, this will further mark Bill Belichick as the kind of coach who will do anything to win, and with two weeks before his latest Super Bowl appearance, will give everyone time to reflect on SpyGate.
The simplistic will paint Belichick as someone who wins because he cheats. He doesn't win because he cheats, but his willingness to bend rules is part of the mentaility that makes him a great and yet thoroughly unlikeable coach.
I've forgotten most of what I ``learned'' in college, which for most people is just a transitional boarding school, but I remember taking a class called ``African American Literature.'' I read Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.
On Martin Luther King Day, this is a good time to remember what is spelled out so beautifully and achingly in their works: That America treated black people as slaves, then as subhumans, not long ago and for a very long time.
One of the things I always loved about sport was that it can be a pure meritocracy blind to skin color. But it wasn't long ago in the history of our nation that black men were not allowed to play sports alongside white men.And a shockingly short time ago NFL teams didn't feel comfortable with black head coaches and quarterbacks.
Let's honor today by continuing to chop down the stereotypes that enable racism. Next time you hear an announcer talk about a white player who ``works hard'' or has a lot of `grit,'' turn the channel.
When the Seahawks were getting whipped yesterday, and before Russell Wilson had completed a pass, I Tweeted that ``I still think Russell Wilson is great.'' I meant it.
He's never going to set passing records, but he has produced more fourth-quarter comebacks in his first three seasons than any quarterback in NFL history - 10. He is the first NFL quarterback to start in two Super Bowls in his first three seasons. He is winning despite a shocking lack of help from his receivers.
Wilson should wni the I-Just-Made-It-Up Herm Edwards Award. You play to win the game. Wilson finds so many ways to win so many games.
It was heartening to see the photo on the back page of the Strib sports page today, of Lindsey Vonn surrounded by her entire family.
I first met her before the Turin Olympics, and when I asked about her family, she said she no longer spoke with her father. Her father woultn't return my calls while I researched a long story about his daughter. I did get to visit her mother at her home in Apple Valley.
The photo shows both parents and Vonn's sister all smiling i nthe same photo.
This morning, Vonn broke the record for the most women's World Cup victories, an amazing achievement for anyone, but especially for someone who started at Buck Hill in Burnsville.
My impression of Vonn, having covered her at two Olympics: She's a powerful person, physically and emotionally.. Her ability to persevere without a relationship with her father and while traveling the globe to compete says something about her resolve.
Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Michael Russo, Leo Lewis, Terry Ryan, Jeff Munneke. The Alive and Social Network, the podcast company owned by Sean Barnard, now has a studio in Minneapolis, which will enable us to do more frequent podcasts, and to bring in guests via phone from around the country. Thanks for listening.
Urban Meyer won the national title with a third-string quarterback.
This ranks as one of the great coaching performances in football history.
Here are three others that compare:
-The Giants were dramatic underdogs against the Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Giants star quarterback Phil Simms was injured, leaving backup Jeff Hostetler to lead the team. The Giants had upset joe Montana and San Francisco at Candlestick Park, 15-13, in the NFC title game. The Bills had beaten Oakland 51-3. That's right, 51-3 in the AFC title game.
The Bills were loaded witih Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed in their prime. They had not yet developed a stigma about losing Super Bowls.
The Giants relied on old, limited running back Ottis Anderson, Hostetler, and a bruising defense.
The Giants won that Super Bowl, 20-19, in what might be the biggest upset in Super Bowl history other than the Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III, which was a surprise because of the lack of esteem with which the old AFC was regarded.
Giants coach Bill Parcells used Anderson to play a ball-control game, frustrated the Bills' offense with his defensive game plan (devised by Bill Belichick), and thoroughly outcoached Marv Levy.
-The Washington team that lost only once during the 1991 season played like a powerhouse. Now we know it won more because of coaching than because of raw talent.
Joe Gibbs won Super Bowl XXVI with a quarterback, Mark Rypien, who would never play well again anywhere. LIke Parcells, he relied on a veteran castoff running back - Ernest Byner. Gibbs would win three Super Bowls with three different non-Hall of Fame quarterbacks and lead running backs. That's why I argue he's the greatest NFL coach in the modern era.
-In Super Bowl XXXVI, Belichick again faced a renowned offense, this time as head coach of the New England Patriots.
Belichick beat the Rams with a physical defense that confused the Rams, and with an unproven quarterback named Tom Brady leading the game-winning drive.
Urban Meyer's work this year places him in the same realm as these NFL coaches.
When a coach wins a championship without the benefit of a great or experienced quarterback, he deserves far more credit than those who put their fates in the hands of a great quarterback.
In the last few months, the Big Ten has gotten much tougher for the Gophers. Meyer may be the best coach in college football. Jim Harbaugh will make Michigan a powerhouse. Penn State is improving. Mike Reilly figures to do well at Nebraska. And Paul Chryst is a great fit for Wisconsin.
This week's podcast schedule: Former Viking and current North High AD Leo Lewis, 5 p.m. on Wednesday at The Local; Strib hockey writer Michael Russo at 5 p.m. on Friday at O'Gara's.
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