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.