It’s been almost 48 hours since the Seattle Seahawks lost, and confusion persists as 12s everywhere attempt to process the worst call in super bowl history.
Set up by a miraculous heads-up play from wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a subsequent 4-yard run from Marshawn Lynch, the Hawks faced second-and-goal with 26 seconds remaining in the game. The Hawks needed all but one yard in order to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, and an attempt to get Lynch in the end zone would have most likely secured that fate. Instead, that second-down play will be infamously remembered as the worst call in super bowl history. Calling a pass play despite having arguably the best running back in the entire league, quarterback Russell Wilson targeted Ricardo Lockette on a slant pattern. With little hesitation, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped the route and intercepted the football, resulting in a 28-24 Patriots victory.
The Seahawks’ loss would be easier to stomach if the reason for it made more sense. Unable to digest the irrationality of the call, the sporting world remains perplexed. There are some who object to “second-guessing” and “Monday morning quarterbacking”, but the majority of the Seahawks fan base is smart enough to realize that this circumstance involved immediate questioning as soon as a passing play was discernable.
In his efforts to defend the call, Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll made it seem as if the play was a throwaway; that they would have attempted a run just after—had it resulted in an incompletion. However, history (the NFC Championship Game) indicates that an incompletion was the best possible outcome of that play. A slant pattern over the middle in the most condensed part of the field was dangerous, and if a pass was the desired action then the Hawks should have thrown a fade to the only receiver that had made plays on that day.
Seahawks wide receiver and former Foot Locker sales associate Chris Matthews is the lone bright spot of Super Bowl 49. Catching four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, Matthews’ performance was essential in providing Russell Wilson with a much needed target on a day in which the Hawks wide receiving corps was virtually shut down. The Patriots secondary was extremely effective at holding the Hawks receivers to a minimum. Unfortunately, the Hawks couldn’t duplicate such play from their own secondary, and injury took its toll in the form of Jeremy Lane.
After breaking his wrist following his first career interception, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane was replaced by fourth-stringer Tharold Simon. Thoroughly beat on almost every play, Simon struggled to defend Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (among others). Witnessing Simon’s inability to cover the Patriots’ receivers, quarterback Tom Brady exploited the dime corner on his way to becoming Super Bowl MVP.
Surprisingly, Wilson had both a higher QBR and quarterback rating then Brady, but all that remains relevant is Wilson’s single interception. No feeling of confidence has ever regressed into utter disbelief so quickly. Hawks fans everywhere will forever ask themselves “Why?” without ever gaining rationale behind the most incomprehensible loss in Hawks history. Both having taken credit for the play call, the mystery of whether Carroll or offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was responsible may go unanswered forever. Hopefully, in due time, one of them will apologize rather than defend their decision.