Pete Carroll should be fired. That’s not me pulling a Bob Kravitz saying Robert Kraft should fire Bill Belichick because the Patriots’ footballs in the AFC Championship Game may or may not have been purposely deflated. That’s me saying the head coach of the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seahawks and the head coach of the 2014 NFC Championship Seahawks, whose team was one yard away from being the first repeat champions in 10 years should be fired for exactly that: having his team one yard from being champions and blowing it.
“Blowing it” isn’t even the right term for Carroll did. Bill Buckner “blew” the play on the grounder in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Scott Norwood “blew” the kick in Super Bowl XXV. Trey Junkin “blew” the snap for the Giants against the 49ers in the 2002 playoffs. A lot of Packers “blew” the final minutes of the NFC Championship Game. Pete Carroll didn’t “blow” Super Bowl XLIX. He chose not to win it.
Of course Pete Carroll isn’t going to be fired. But he should be. He single-handedly cost the Seahawks a second straight championship, and if anyone can afford to eat a few million dollars, it’s Paul Allen.
It’s Pete Carroll’s fault that the Patriots’ won their fourth championship. It’s Pete Carroll’s fault that Tom Brady has as many Super Bowl wins as Joe Montana and people honestly think Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever now. It’s Pete Carroll’s fault that Darrelle Revis is now Wade Boggs. It’s Pete Carroll’s fault that the Patriots’ drought is over. It’s Pete Carroll’s fault that the Seahawks didn’t cover and my picks for the season finished one game under .500.
Here are all the reasons why Pete Carroll should have ran the ball on second-and-goal from the 1:
1. Marshawn Lynch just carried the ball four yards on first-and-goal from the 5. He had 102 yards on 24 carries, for an average of 4.3 yards per carry. He is Marshawn Lynch. He is the best running back in the world.
That’s it. One thing. That’s all that should have gone into deciding what play to run from the 1 with 20 seconds left. And if Lynch were stopped on second down from the 1, the Seahawks still had one timeout remaining and could have used it to guarantee themselves at least one more chance for Lynch to gain one yard, or three feet, or 36 inches or 91.44 centimeters. That’s what separated the Seahawks from a second straight Super Bowl with the best running back in the world as their way to get there.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to accept Pete Carroll’s thought process for the call, but let’s look at his explanation to try and understand it.
“Let me just tell you what happened because, as you know, the game comes right down and all the things that happened before are meaningless to you now. It’s really what happened on this one sequence that we would have won the game.
“We have everything in mind, how we’re going to do it. We’re going to leave them no time, and we had our plays to do it. We sent in our personnel, they sent in goal-line (package) — 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 a play.
It’s not the right matchup? Let me say it again: Marshawn Lynch just carried the ball four yards on first-and-goal from the 5. He had 102 yards on 24 carries, for an average of 4.3 yards per carry. He is Marshawn Lynch. He is the best running back in the world.
If anything, it wasn’t the right matchup for the Patriots. Because the Seahawks at the goal line aren’t the right matchup for any team because they have MARSHAWN LYNCH. MARSHAWN LYNCH!
“If we score, we do. If we don’t, then we’ll run it in on third and fourth down.”
What the eff? Is that a real-life quote? So, you’re willing to run the ball on either third and fourth down against … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it … THE PATRIOTS’ GOAL-LINE DEFENSE, but you’re unwilling to run the ball against the PATRIOTS’ GOAL-LINE DEFENSE on second down? How does that make any sense? Do you think the Patriots are going to change their defense on third or fourth down from the 1? Are they going to get out of their goal-line defense at the goal line? Why are third and fourth down different from second down in this situation?
You have to love the explanation not including the whole possibility of an interception, which could happen any time the ball is thrown in the air.
“Really, (we called it) with no second thoughts or no hesitation at all. And unfortunately, with the play that we tried to execute, the guy (Butler) makes a great play and jumps in front of the route and makes an incredible play that nobody would ever think he could do. And unfortunately that changes the whole outcome.”
No second thoughts? No hesitation? The thought “Hey, we have the best running back in the world on our team and he needs to get one yard for us to win the Super Bowl” never came into your mind? The thought “The ball could get tipped at the line or deflected by someone or intercepted” never entered your head? Oh, OK.
Malcolm Butler did make a great play and it was his play that won the Patriots the Super Bowl. But Carroll should in no way be congratulating Butler or talking about how incredible of a play it was because the play was only made possible by his decision to not run the ball.
“So I told the guys in the locker room that they’re a great team and they fought to prove that, and they did everything to do that again tonight. And they’re on the precipice of winning another championship, and unfortunately, the play goes the other way. There’s really nobody to blame but me, and I told them that clearly. And I don’t want them to think anything other than that. They busted their tails and did everything they needed to do to put us in position, and unfortunately it didn’t work out. A very, very hard lesson. I hate to learn the hard way, but there’s no other way to look at it right now.”
There’s nothing like when a professional athlete or coach accepts or takes the blame or responsibility for something went wrong and then every mainstream media member or beat writer nerd calls them a class act or refers to them as a stand-up guy. Carroll should take the full blame for the Seahawks losing the Super Bowl and for handing the Patriots their fourth championship in 14 years.
And there’s no silver lining in Carroll’s decision. “Learning the hard way” isn’t a good lesson or the moral of the story. It’s a ridiculous line from a person who made the most ridiculous decision in sports history.
“Really the way the route generally works is the back receiver gets shielded off so that the play can get thrown to the guy trailing. And it’s worked really well, it’s been a nice concept, but they jumped it — did a fantastic job. I don’t know if they prepared to do that or he did it on his own, but it was a great play.”
It was a great play by Butler, only made possible by Carroll’s play call. And it was Carroll’s play call. Even if Bevell suggested the play or was the one to relay the play to Wilson, Carroll is the head coach and has the final say on any call and absolute power to veto any decision made by his coordinators.
If Lynch fails to get in the end zone on second or on third down or fourth down and never gets in the end zone or if he fumbles the ball and loses it on any of those plays, so be it. Then you can talk about the Patriots making a great play and then you can tip your hat to their effort. If you lose with your best player trying to do what he does best, so be it. Don’t lose the Super Bowl because you run a passing play to Ricardo Lockette, a receiver with 18 career regular-season receptions, at the 1-yard line. Lose because the best running back in the world couldn’t get one yard.