Glendale, Az. _
I still can't believe that call.
Seattle has first down at the Patriots' 5 with 1:06 remaining in the game. The Patriots lead, 28-24.
New England has two timeouts remaining. The only real question at this point is: Will the Patriots let the Seahawks score immediately, so they have time to drive for a tying field goal? Or will the Patriots try to keep Marshawn Lynch, perhaps the fiercest goalline back in football, out of the end zone on up to four straight handoffs?
Seattle hands it to Lynch on first down. He gains four, to the Patriots' one. The clock runs down to about 30 seconds. Neither team calls timeout. The Seahawks have Lynch in the backfield, one receiver left and two receivers right.
And they pass.
A lot went right for Seattle. Wilson had an open throwing lane. Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse had blocked Pats corner Brandon Browner out of the play. Ricardo Lockette was momentarily open. Wilson's pass was right toward Lockette's hands.
The result: Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler (the subject of my Monday column) had practiced against that formation. He jumped the route, made a remarkable catch, and won the Super Bowl.
Here's why the play call was silly:
The probability of Lynch scoring if you give him the ball one or two or three times from the one-yard-line is about 99 percent. About the only thing that can go wrong in that scenario is an offensive penalty. Lynch isn't going to fumble and he is unlikely to be stopped, especially by a Patriots front that, with the exception of Vince Wilfork, is more agile than powerful.
To throw a pass is to invite the possibility of a tipped pass, or a deflection, or a pass batted into the air for an interception, or a sack, or an offensive pass interference penalty on what is essentially a pick play.
I don't often second-guess play calls, because coaches usually have so much study invested in their game plans.
Here's when I do second-guess play calls: When the coach or coaches overthink the strategy and talk themselves out of relying on their best player(s).
Instead of handing the ball to a great power back with an incredibly high chance of success and incredibly low risk, Seattle chose a riskier strategy involving the third or fourth best receiver in a weak receiving corps.
That's bad coaching.
I still think Pete Carroll is a great coach. I still think Darrell Bevell is an excellent coordinator.
But they blew this one.
The NFC should win some kind of award for excruciating finishes.
The Cowboys somehow won over the Lions, with the benefit of a bad call.
The Packers somehow beat the Cowboys, with the benefit of a terrible call.
The Seahawks beat the Packers as Green Bay executed an epic collapse.
And Seattle blew a chance to win the Super Bowl.
This week's podcast schedule: 5 p.m. Wednesday at Kieran's Irish Pub, across from Target Center, with Twins announcer and great baseball storyteller Roy Smalley. 5 p.m. Friday at O'Gara's (near 94 and Snelling) with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo.
Also, my band will play at O'Gara's at 7:30, leading into live karaoke at 9:30.