Carroll's play call ruined it for Seahawks: Simmons
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll calls plays against the New England Patriots during the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Glendale, Arizona, February 1, 2015. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Pete Carroll was talking fast, and talking nonsense, and pacing in circles, trying to explain how it was he made the coaching gaffe of his life, costing the Seattle Seahawks the Super Bowl.
Really, it was hard to explain and he wasn’t helping himself.
Carroll tried more than once to be clear in speedy tones, clearly aggravated and agitated, with no logical answer for how he prevented his team from a second straight football championship.
“Let me tell you what happened,” said Carroll, coach of the Seahawks.
Yes, tell us.
There were seconds to go in Super Bowl XLIX, the ball at the one-yard line, the Seahawks a touchdown away from victory. There were seconds to go, the NFL’s most prolific runner, Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, having just run for four yards the play before, in Beast Mode, with the best rushing quarterback in football, Russell Wilson, also in the backfield.
There were three downs to get one yard. There was time left. There were timeouts left.
There was one yard between the Seahawks and a championship and really nothing in between.
Everything pointed to a Seattle win. And then Carroll made the bad call of the ages, or maybe Darrell Bevell the offensive coordinator did but Carroll was saying it was his call.
He took the blame for the defeat. He will be known for this forever, a blight among blights, an oversight among oversights. The coach who cost his team the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks decided to pass the ball and I can hear every football coach I’ve ever known saying the same thing: Three things happen when you throw the football, two of them are bad.
Wilson made a quick goal-line throw. A pass that never should have been thrown was intercepted. Lynch, with the ball nowhere near him, never moved on the play, never got his chance to be Super Bowl MVP.
And at the New England Patriots bench, Tom Brady, who has watched the Super Bowl losses come on catches made by David Tyree and Mario Manningham, wouldn’t look up after Jermaine Kearse made another of those inexplicable catches for the Seahawks. Turning a loss into a win. Except there was no win. If Brady was going to lose another Super Bowl, he just didn’t want to witness it. He never looked up.
Now he’s a four-time champion with a record-setting number of Super Bowl completions, and it’s the Seahawks who don’t want to ever see that final play again.
Carroll said he first wanted to use a running play on second down from the one-yard line. Then New England put in its goalline defence. So the coach or the offensive coordinator he’s covering for decided to cross them up and pass the ball.
With Lynch in the backfield?
With Wilson in the backfield?
With a time out left?
With the whole stadium tilting his way.
“The whole game comes right down to it,” said Carroll. “Everything that happened before is meaningless. We were going to win the game. We knew how we were going to do it.
“We had our plays to do it. We had sent in our personnel. They had sent in their goalline team. It wasn’t the right matchup for us to run the football.
“On second down we threw the ball to kind of waste a play. If we score we do. If we don’t then we’ll run it in on third or fourth down. No second thoughts. No hesitation.”
He said Wilson wasn’t to blame for the interception. Wilson said Carroll wasn’t to blame for the call. Wilson said he cost his team the game by throwing the final pick.
But here’s where it gets confusing.
Carroll said Wilson knows to throw the ball away if the play is covered. He didn’t. Wilson said he was throwing for the touchdown, had no intention of throwing the ball away. The miscommunication between quarterback and coach - either on the field or after the game, wasn’t clear.
“It’s not a throw-away,” said Wilson. “It’s not a throw-away play. It was a chance to make a play. The guy (rookie Malcolm Butler) made a great play. It wasn’t a throw-away kind of play.
“On that play, there wasn’t really a way out of it. They made a great play. I thought it was going for a touchdown. I didn’t question (the call). I think we’ve done a great job in those situations all year.”
“There’s really nobody to blame to me. I told them that clearly. And I don’t want them to think anything other than that” said Carroll, willing to take the blame, unwilling to say the call was ridiculous.
“We were going to run the ball to win the game but not on that down. That was it.”
Carroll, still stunned, embarrassed, embattled called it a wasted play to win the Super Bowl on third or fourth down.
Wilson said nothing of the kind.
The resilient Seahawks trailed in the second quarter, tied the game at the half, took over the game in the third quarter, almost lost it in the fourth, and then had a chance for history.
“We were going to run the ball to win the game,” said Pete Carroll, “but not on that play.”
Yeah, that’s his rather sad story and he’s sticking to it.
Did Pete Carroll cost the Seahawks a championship?