Former Vikings offensive coordinator and now heart-aching Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will go on to become an NFL head coach within a couple of years.
His body of work from Brett Favre to Russell Wilson is too strong to suggest that one play — even one that resulted in a game-losing interception on the goal line in the closing seconds of the Super Bowl — will overshadow years of progress, success and last year’s Super Bowl victory.
However, my memories of watching Super Bowls goes back to at least Super Bowl VII. I remember this because it was the first bet I ever lost. I’m still ticked that Don Shula’s 17-0 season cost me 50 cents. That was a lot of dough for a 7-year-old to give his uncle in 1972.
Anyway, I can’t recall a worse play call in a moment as critical as what happened last night in the Super Bowl.
We all know and have discussed extensively what we saw. The Seahawks had second-and-goal from the Patriots 1-yard line. Twenty-six seconds left, one timeout and trailing by four points.
Belichick didn’t call a timeout to preserve some time for Tom Brady to attempt a game-tying field goal drive had the Seahawks scored. That forced Bevell, head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks to think quickly about their play call on second down.
Carroll said he made the decision to throw the ball.
“I said ‘Throw the ball,’” he said. “So we went to the play we thought would give us a chance to get in the end zone.”
Bevell said he made the actual play call and noted, when asked, that Carroll obviously has the power to change it.
I never like going down the road of criticizing a play call that doesn’t work. But in this case, even if this one had worked out, I still would have been amazed by how unnecessary the risk was considering the running back who was on the field.
Marshawn Lynch probably was the highest percentage, at that moment, in the history of football play-calling percentages.
Bevell said the intent of the decision to throw was to use as much time as possible while still being able to use all four downs in the process. Boy, did he and Pete overthink that one.
“I mean, shoot, it didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would, and of course I am sitting here saying, ‘Could I do something different?’” Bevell said. “There are 20 different things going through my mind about what I could do. I might see who could run it. Doesn’t mean that’s a score on that play, but we were just making sure that we were conscious of the time. We were making sure that we weren’t leaving much time for them as well. But we wanted to make sure that we got all of our options on the play.”
Bevell also said the thought in throwing the ball there was that “you’re thinking it’s either a touchdown or an incompletion.” Somewhere, Woody Hayes ain’t smiling. The old Ohio State coach used to say three things can happen when you throw the ball and two of them aren’t good.
The decision to throw would have been improved had it been a quick rollout with the ridiculously slippery Russell Wilson. But a slant pass in a tight box of defenders?
Wilson said he was comfortable with the call, even though the ball was picked. Carroll said he was confident. Bevell said the same thing.
But perhaps the most honest quote to come out of yesterday’s post-game interviews was this quote from Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon when asked what he thought at the end of the game:
“I thought we were going to win the game,” he said. “Then when they threw the ball and he picked it off, I was like, ‘How do you throw the ball when you’ve got Marshawn Lynch?’ You could run the ball, but it’s the game of football. We all make simple mistakes. Now we know what we have to do next time.”