Following the Patriots' dramatic 28-24 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX this past Sunday, all the talk has been about Pete Carroll's decision to pass on 2nd and 1 at the goal line during Seattle's final drive.
Years from now that's what everyone is more likely to remember instead of the incredible play made by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler to win the game.
Understandably, everyone thinks the Seahawks should have run the ball by handing it off to Marshawn Lynch. You think that. Your friends think that. Your co-workers think that. Your postman thinks that. Hell, even your 91-year-old grandmother thinks that.
But if everyone and their grandmother knew Seattle would run the ball, then don't you think the Patriots were thinking that as well? Don't you think that's too obvious a play call? When the Patriots put their goal line defense on the field, Carroll knew the matchup wasn't right. So why run it into the teeth of a waiting defense? The element of surprise has always been a crucial advantage in the NFL.
...they sent in their goal line people, and we had plenty of downs and a timeout, and really didn't want to run against their goal line group right there.
It's not the right matchup for us to run the football, so on second down we throw the ball really to kind of waste that play.
I know what you're going to say: "No, brah...the Seattle offensive line could have been benched and Lynch would have still carried that ball for one yard. You don't get the name "Beast Mode" by not really being a beast."
Well, you're wrong.
During the 2014 season there were five plays in which Marshawn Lynch took a hand off on the opponents 1-yard line. He picked up the touchdown only once. Once! That means odds are most certainly not in favor of him getting that touchdown against the Patriots. He earned the name "Beast Mode" by breaking myriad tackles during impressively long runs. NOT by being a go-to guy on the goal line. To assume that a Lynch touchdown would have been automatic is just plain wrong. There is absolutely nothing to prove that.
The fact of the matter is that the execution of the play was poor. The throw was too far in front of Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette and Lockette got out-muscled as he gives a half-hearted effort to extend his arms and make the catch. The problem wasn't that they didn't hand it off to Lynch. Carroll and the Seahawks had just cause to call a passing play in that situation, though arguably a different passing play. The problem is that they were outsmarted and outplayed by an undrafted rookie cornerback in that very moment.
Making matters worse by this unfair revisionism is that the incredible, instinct-driven play made by Butler has been completely overshadowed. A play that should be remembered as one of the all-time greats, just like David Tyree's helmet catch or Santonio Holmes' toe drag. Instead, it's now, and will probably forever be, an afterthought.
Hey, don't get me wrong. I love watching Pete Carroll fail miserably as much as the next guy. But I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. So screw you for making me defend him.