Seattle Wasn't Stupid

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Editor, The Herald:

In Super Bowl 49 the Seahawks were on the one-yard line, second down, with 26 seconds remaining in the game. Seattle’s decision to throw the ball was far from stupid.

Football teams found themselves on the one-yard line, goal-to-go, 332 times during the 2014 NFL season. On 109 of these, a pass was attempted with the following results: 66 TDs (61 percent), 42 incompletions, and one interception. The other 223 times, they ran the ball with the following results: 129 TDs (58 percent).

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The lone interception was at Super Bowl 49 because the Patriots had practiced just this scenario in preparing for the Seahawks. (A TD would have won the game. An incompletion would have stopped the clock, giving them time to decide what to do next. An interception was not considered because it had not happened to anyone that season.)

Browner (a former Seahawk) told Belichick that Seattle sometimes lines up with three receivers close to the goal, hoping to spread out the defense. When this works, they give the ball to Lynch.

It didn’t work in Super Bowl 49 because the Patriots were expecting it and remained in a tight goal line defensive posture.

On five previous times during the 2014 season, when other teams were lined up in a tight goal line defense at the one, Lynch was handed the ball and failed to score four times. That’s only a 20 percent success rate.

So Wilson threw the ball, Browner kept his man from blocking out Butler, and Butler was able to intercept the ball—just like they practiced it.

But the real genius was Belichick for not calling a timeout as the clock ticked down. This forced Seattle, with only one timeout left, to make their decision in real-time. Other coaches are not as good as Belichick when it comes to decision-making in real-time.

Some will say that Seattle handed New England the victory, forgetting about Brady’s historic double digit come-from-behind in the 4th quarter. (Others say that Seattle was handed the victory over Green Bay in the game leading to Super Bowl 49.)

For the record, I had both dogs in this fight. There are two former Hokies on the Seahawks (Kam Chancellor and Nick Sorensen) and their QB, Russell Wilson, is a local boy. But I have always admired the dynamic duo of Belichick and Brady. Tom Brady always accepts full responsibility when the Patriots lose, and credits the team when they win. Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick are great coaches and are about the same age (62). So I could have lived with the results, either way. (People who call Belichick a cheater have conveniently forgotten the mess Pete Carroll left at USC when he moved to Seattle.)

Dr. Ray A. Gaskins