It doesn’t matter that I am just now writing about Super Bowl XLIX—the championship crowning professional football game that more than 120 million people watched during the last five minutes of competition —the professional football team, coaches and rabid fanbase of Seattle, Washington are still shaking their collective heads and regret their last offensive play—and I do mean offensive—for the rest of their lives.
With less than a minute left to go in the game, on their opponent’s one yard line, needing a touchdown to win, with three more plays to do it, a timeout left to call, a big, bruising running back identified as #BeastMode, a/k/a Marshawn Lynch, in the backfield, along with an athletic Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff elected to throw a tight, timing pass into the teeth of the New England Patriots defense and paid for it dearly.
“Interception! And the New England Patriots are the NFL Champions for the fourth time!”
The entire world – outside of the New England Patriots fans of course – groaned and tossed their half-empty bowls of chips, pretzels and Doritos at their oversized, flatscreen televisions.
Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t you give Marshawn Lynch the ball?
I immediately called it the dumbest single play in Super Bowl history, or at least since I’ve been watching these games from the late 1970s, and that’s nearly 40 of the 49. But never have I seen a play call that was so obvious to everyone called so ridiculously different.
Why would you throw the football in that situation instead of running it?
Of course, the shocked head coach, Pete Carroll, and offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, both had their explanations. They were basically trying to catch the Patriots off guard with a pass play, knowing that everyone in the free world with a television expected them to run the football in for the win. The coaches also explained that an incomplete pass play would stop the clock, where they would have more time to run Marshawn Lynch on the next play without using their final timeout.
Only… the New England Patriots were not fooled by it. They had practiced against that exact same goal line pass play for two weeks, and the unlikely Patriots cornerback and hero, Malcolm Butler, revealed as much after the game, before heading on his way to Disney World.
I immediately felt frustration and sorrow for everyone in a Seattle Seahawks uniform as well as their very supportive fan base. But I particularly felt sorry for quarterback Russell Wilson. Instead making an obvious handoff or a keeper, and running the ball into the Patriots’ end zone to win his second football championship in just three years as a pro, Wilson now has to live with losing a championship football game on an ill-advised pass play from the coaches, while 120 million people watched him. And all because his coaches tried to outsmart the other team instead of trusting their players to win it off of sheer muscle, grit, guts, determination and competitive desire – the way the Seahawks team had been reported built.
However, the agony of defeat is not only a part of competitive sports, it’s a part of life. We all have to deal with it. Defeat and failure are the constant obstacles of life that can either make us stronger or can cripple us with doubt. But I seriously doubt if Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will be crippled by this tremendous loss. They’ll be right back in the hunt next year to win it all again. You mark my words.
If you watch NBA championship basketball like I do, you’d realize that we’ve witnessed this same type of championship meltdown from a team and a coaching staff before. Just two years ago in the early summer on 2013, the San Antonio Spurs were ahead 3-2 in a seven game series against the Miami Heat with a 6-point lead and less than a minute to go in game #6 to win it all.
Another “genius” head coach named Gregg Popovich—who NBA media analysts love for his unusual moxy —elected to outsmart himself and sit their best player, 6’11” Tim Duncan, not once but twice, in the final seconds of competition to keep him from fouling out the game, only to watch his Spurs fail to secure two consecutive defensive rebounds, which led to two, second chance 3-point shots from LeBron James and Ray Allen that ending up tying the game. The Heat went on to win game #6 in overtime before closing out the series in game #7 for a second consecutive championship.
Everyone outside of Miami Heat basketball fans screamed: Are you kidding me? Why would you take Tim Duncan out of the game?
Well, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs patched up their wounds and went right back to the championship to win it all over the Miami Heat in 2014, smashing them 4-1 with the largest winning game margins in NBA history.
Let’s now see how Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks respond to their crushing loss.
Omar Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, an NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Fiction, and a professional journalist, who has published 27 books, including co-authoring Mayor For Life; The Incredible Story of Marion Barry Jr. Visit him at www.OmarTyree.com.