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02 Feb 2015

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIX

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to turn into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or in the case of a single game like this one, every important play.

New England Patriots 28 vs. Seattle Seahawks 24

Cian Fahey: ... but seriously, how did the Seahawks beat the Packers?

Aaron Schatz: I'm sure this repeats some of what I've put up on Twitter, but... This is my first time attending the Super Bowl. It's been a really interesting experience but I'm really ready to play this game. The crowd was very loud in the pre-game introductions, and it's clear the Seattle fans FAR outnumber the Patriots fans. Like Super Bowl XL, only reversed. It's been this way on the streets all week, but I wasn't sure if it would be for the game. It is. REALLY strongly.

I'm sitting next to Dr. David Chao from National Football Post and he thinks that Kam Chancellor wearing a brace in pregame warmups is fairly significant, a sign that his knee injury from the Seahawks' last practice is a bigger issue than anyone was reporting going into the game. Defensive backs do not often wear knee braces.

Cian Fahey: Reckon we'll know a lot about this game very quickly. How injured are the Seahawks' three defensive backs? Which Russell Wilson shows up in terms of passing the ball? Two major keys.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots came out for their first drive and immediately went with Michael Hoomanuwanui out wide left and Rob Gronkowski out wide right (covered by Richard Sherman), with their actual wide receivers in the slot instead. Threw to Gronk, it didn't get much. Danny Amendola did break a Sherman tackle, which helped them get a first down, but we saw one of Tom Brady's patented too-low throws to Shane Vereen on a third-and-6. Punt, great coverage, no yards on return.

Cian Fahey: That opening drive from Josh McDaniels felt like a very pass rush-conscious one. Lots of motion, quick throw to Gronk in flat and Julian Edelman in the flat while cutting the defensive ends.

Vince Verhei: Seattle is so thin upfront that starting fullback Will Tukuafu has seen time at defensive tackle in the first quarter.

Cian Fahey: Marcus Burley played a lot for Seattle earlier in the season as a slot cornerback. If Jeremy Lane is injured, him being inactive could become something the Seahawks regret.

Aaron Schatz: Pats went spread on first drive. Second drive was tighter formations, lots of runs, James Develin, some six-lineman sets. Then Tom Brady ruins it with horrific pick under pressure in red zone. I'm not even sure who he was trying to throw to. Awful.

I should have brought my Ethernet cable. Wireless is totally over-slammed.

Andrew Potter: Officiating so far seems very lax. Seattle called for running into the punter instead of roughing, when roughing would have been the right call and would have extended New England's opening drive. Julian Edelman got away with what looked like OPI on a third-down conversion to Rob Gronkowski, and now James Develin got away with a blatant hold on that LeGarrette Blount third-down conversion. I like letting the players play, but that always makes me worry that somebody somewhere's going to get called on a big one against the general trend of the game.

And that Brady interception ... ouch. I'm not even sure who he was looking for ... Danny Amendola? Missed by 10 yards, whoever it was.

Tom Gower: Julian Edelman in the back of the end zone, I think. Fading away, under pressure, third down, really a terrible decision by a veteran quarterback.

Was Seattle trying to take shots with those plays where Wilson ended up scrambling for positive yardage and later then taking a sack late in the first quarter? I'm guessing there were, in which case kudos to New England's coverage units.

Scott Kacsmar: Wilson again showing some good trust of his protection, but eventually had to scramble around. Think he lost two yards on that play to end a very fast first quarter, so that's one you'd like to see thrown away once he got out of the pocket.

Not sure how many more injuries the Seahawks can handle in the secondary. Big play from Lane, but a costly return.

Cian Fahey: Worth bringing up at this point, I've recently been looking into interceptable passes that quarterbacks throw. Brady has had a significantly high number this year, 28 entering this game. For comparison's sake, Brian Hoyer had 36, Aaron Rodgers had 17.

Obviously need a lot more context and detail to qualify this analysis (something I'm in the process of doing for all quarterbacks), but he has been quite reckless with the ball this year even though the interceptions haven't been there.

Visions of Raashan Melvin from the divisional round, Patriots are going after Tharold Simon right now. He's giving Byron Maxwell's stock a huge boost entering free agency.

Aaron Schatz: Also helped to get Edelman open on third-and-long with motion to a stacked release, similar to how San Diego got guys open in Week 2.

Vince Verhei: Sherman was covering Brandon LaFell on Edelman's big catch-and-run on third-and-long. Seemed weird to me. Then Sherman covers Edelman, and Brady hits LaFell for the score. On both plays Brady threw at Simon, in for the injured Lane.

Andrew Healy: Making that decision to put Sherman on LaFell on the play to Edelman is that LaFell was in the slot. It's one thing to put Sherman on Dez Bryant in the slot, another to put him on LaFell. Surprising even with the injury to Lane. And yes, very easy pickings on Simon on both that throw and the touchdown to LaFell. The injury to Lane is enormous.

Aaron Schatz: Very different from Packers game despite Seattle offensive struggles. That one felt like Wilson was just completely messed up. This one it seems more like good defense, not poor quarterback play.

Andrew Healy: Interesting that Wilson's incomplete on third down on the drive after the Pats opened the scoring was Wilson's first pass of the game. Didn't even get a throw off on the previous dropbacks. I'm guessing that the All-22 will show that nobody is getting any separation at all for Seattle. It's looked like that in the little bit that has been visible on replay.

Aaron Schatz: Pats' next drive very strange to me. Went to 12 personnel which took Simon off the field. On first two plays, anyway. Three-and-out.

Cian Fahey: Chris Matthews' first catch of the game is an exceptional adjustment deep down the field on a seam route. More significantly, it's his first catch of the season and also the first catch of his career. An incredible moment for him.

Andrew Healy: Going back to the Brady pick, I think he was looking for Edelman in the back of the end zone. Not sure, though. If that's right, Edelman was covered. So a bad decision in addition to a bad throw not getting it over the top of Lane.

Cian Fahey: K.J. Wright is one of the more athletic cover linebackers in the NFL, but you'd never have thought it on Gronkowski's touchdown reception. He's had a quiet first half, but making that play so easily just highlights how much of a freak he is.

Scott Kacsmar: All the talk about guys that might cover Gronkowski, and I'm not sure K.J. Wright was ever in that discussion, and for good reason. No chance on the outside. Big score before the half, but at least Seattle was able to defer and not fall victim to the double score here.

Vince Verhei: Second time in two games I called a touchdown before the ball was snapped. Last game was the winner to Jermaine Kearse. This week was Gronk split wide against K.J. Wright. Maybe that wouldn't have happened if Lane was healthy. But that's a matchup the Pats win every time.

Cian Fahey: Scott, K.J. Wright was a major part of that discussion.

Aaron Schatz: Great drive by Seattle before halftime, and aggressive. Big run by Robert Turbin, breaking tackles. Then the first read-option Pats didn't seem to prepare for, Wilson totally runs in space. Then a big downfield catch by Ricardo Lockette with extra facemask on Kyle Arrington. And finally touchdown catch by Matthews over Logan Ryan. Really fabulous drive. Reminded me of end of first half of Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Andrew Potter: I don't understand any part of what Logan Ryan was trying to do on that touchdown catch to Chris Matthews to basically end the first half. He gave up the easiest 11-yard touchdown in a one-play end-of-half scenario I've ever seen.

Cian Fahey: Have to say I was against the Seahawks running a play with just six seconds left in the second quarter, but Pete Carroll's bravery was rewarded. I can't help but be reminded of the Atlanta Falcons plays I wrote about for Film Room this week that came in similar situations.

Scott Kacsmar: I really thought I nailed my prediction several minutes ago about seeing some Super Bowl XXXVIII antics from Carolina-New England here. The Panthers score a touchdown, Patriots score a late touchdown, then Carolina gets a field goal to end the half 14-10. Same thing here, but what a ballsy call with six seconds left to try for the touchdown from Seattle. And Chris Matthews? I knew about Ricardo Lockette and Kevin Norwood. All I knew about this guy was that he recovered the onside kick against the Packers. He's having a monster game with two big catches tonight. Digging deep into the roster for that contribution.

What a second half this could be.

Andrew Healy: Even with the injury to Lane, I can't believe they let the Patriots get that matchup. The Patriots lined up with Gronk wide right on the first play of the game and Sherman lined up on him. Probably better to do that.

Have to say that you could call out the pass to Matthews, too. It seemed like that was where the ball was going even before the snap. Agree with Andrew on how easy Logan Ryan made that, too.

Had same thought about SB XXXVIII first half. Scoreless first quarter. Late New England touchdown to go up 14-7. If they gave up a late field goal to make it 14-10, it would have been almost identical.

Tom Gower: Without the facemask call, you can't run a play in that situation. Our first live-ball infraction of the game was kind of a four-point penalty.

Cian Fahey: I've liked that the refs have let a lot go both ways in this game. Only call I had a real issue with was the running into the kicker not being a roughing the kicker.

Vince Verhei: If Seattle pulls this game out, I'm hoping it will cause a sea change across the league. The Pats have 20 completions. Seattle has four. But Seattle has two of the three longest completions in the first half. Death to dink-and-dunk! Long live the long bomb!

Cian Fahey: Hard to call for death to dink-and-dunk when the game is tied right now though.

Aaron Schatz: Can someone explain to me Nationwide ad everyone tweeted about?

Cian Fahey: Chris Matthews with his third huge play to start the third quarter. He's obviously a very tall, lanky receiver with the size advantage over Kyle Arrington, but his ball skills at the catch point have been very impressive on each of his catches. He's fluidly adjusting and attacking the ball at its highest point. Really impressive.

Aaron Schatz: Also total push-off and missed OPI, but hey, what can ya do?

Cian Fahey: Sure, but he was smart about it. Pushed him subtly and in a way that was very difficult for officials to see. It wasn't Mike Evans-style.

Andrew Healy: Any thought that you put Brandon Browner on Matthews? Maybe that's an overreaction, but if there ever was a corner to deal with his size, it's Browner.

Vince Verhei: What on earth was that failed third-down play to set up Seattle's go-ahead field goal? You spread the field with a double stack, Pats put seven in the box, and you run right into them? Ugh.

Aaron Schatz: Read-option right? Seattle often read-options with the double stack, yes?

Cian Fahey: Yeah, numbers there for me said they should have thrown it outside.

Andrew Healy: Really think the Patriots should stop bringing James Develin in so much. It feels like it has been mostly, although not entirely, ineffective.

Cian Fahey: Brady was fortunate to get away with intentional grounding there before the interception to Bobby Wagner. Wagner was made somewhat the butt of the joke this week because of Tony Dungy, but he's such a great linebacker. That type of play highlights his athleticism and awareness. He's had a great game to this point.

Vince Verhei: Big key for New England: for all those short completions, they have avoided big hits. That Chancellor tackle on Edelman on New England's first drive was the closest thing yet.

Tony Dungy's MVP then steps in front of Gronk for the pick.

Aaron Schatz: I disagree. I think the tight formations were working better than the spread.

Pats now have Browner on Matthews it looks like.

Cian Fahey: I'm not sure what the NFL can do about it really, but having the referee in the middle of the field, like he was there when he blocked Darrelle Revis for Doug Baldwin's touchdown, really can be a major problem.

Tom Gower: They moved him behind in most circumstances, but there are still a few, mostly pretty unavoidable like that one, where they keep him on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage. Smart teams are good at taking advantage of that -- Denver and New England have done it plenty lately, and Seattle did it there.

Cian Fahey: Aye. And I do empathize with the difficulty of it, it's just tough to see defensive backs get beat that way.

Scott Kacsmar: That's a huge third-down drop by Kearse. Saw Butler's hand in there a little, but you have to make that play. Onto the fourth quarter with the Patriots down 10. Possible sneak by Brady with third-and-1 upcoming.

Cian Fahey: Kearse had 54 catchable targets by my measure this season before the Super Bowl, failed on 13. It's his biggest concern as he enters free agency. That one was one of the worse ones he's had though, to be fair to him.

Aaron Schatz: Big drop by Amendola too that ruined Pats' hope of coming back from a first-down holding call.

Cian Fahey: This game really exploded in the second half. That long third-down conversion from Brady to Edelman was really impressive from both quarterback and wide receiver, probably kept the Patriots' hopes alive too.

Aaron Schatz: Next drive Pats make it down the field for a touchdown to make it 24-21. A couple of huge plays by Edelman getting open, plus one in the end zone Brady totally overthrew before hitting Amendola for a touchdown on the next play.

Drive was helped by a kinda iffy latehit out of bounds call against Earl Thomas.

Cian Fahey: To be fair, that iffy late hit came immediately after the refs missed a blatant helmet-to-helmet.

Tom Gower: I'd have to rewatch to be sure, but I don't think I liked the coverage on the last third-down play, with Demarcus Dobbs dropping into coverage. Too easy for the Pats to get that middle of the field crosser there.

Aaron Schatz: Slants and flats and slants and flats and slants and flats and slants...

Vince Verhei: Gronk and Gronk and Gronk and Gronk...

Aaron Schatz: Honestly more slants and flats. But they did break the rhythm with "slants and flats plus Gronk in the middle."

Cian Fahey: The Jeremy Lane injury was huge. Tharold Simon simply can't move laterally and the Patriots have been really smart to attack him. Edelman burned him to get open in the end zone once when Brady missed him for a touchdown, but with just over two minutes left they execute the exact same play to perfection.

Scott Kacsmar: The running team picked the worst moment to not run the ball. With a timeout left, that's absolutely crazy that Lynch didn't get the ball every play there.

Cian Fahey: Didn't think the Patriots would win this game, have to give them a lot of credit for coming back late. One of the crazier Super Bowls I've seen if not an exceptionally spectacular one for four full quarters.

That final play call from Darrell Bevell was just awful. I'm the first to say it's too easy to pick on what coordinators or coaches do so I don't like doing it, but in that situation there was no reason at all for them to be throwing the football. Bevell took the ball away from the strength of his offense and played to the strength of the opposing defense.

Being the offensive coordinator, Seahawks fans have seemingly never been fond of him, but this is really going to push him to pariah status.

Andrew Healy: Oh. My. God. Probably will go down as greatest Super Bowl ever. Can't believe that just happened. Felt like crazy déjà vu with that Kearse corpse catch. And then Malcolm Butler makes a pick? Still think he might be Ras-I Dowling.

I am speechless. I am without speech. Can't believe they didn't run Marshawn Lynch there from the 1-yard line. Can't believe Belichick didn't call timeout on first down. Can't believe the Super Bowl ended on that play. What an incredible play by Butler to jump that slant.

What was the Patriots' win percentage at the snap there? 15 percent? Maybe it was higher, but it felt very low with Lynch just waiting to run it in. So happy for Tom Brady, who was great in the fourth quarter. And the legacy depends on that Butler interception, which is sort of unfair, but it worked out. Incredible.

Vince Verhei: We spend hours, days, weeks, years, our entire professional lives studying this game and trying our best to know everything about it. And then the whole damn season comes down to one bad goal-line call.

Tom Gower: The last Seattle call... if I were a Seahawks fan, I'd take it to my grave. You have the best short yardage back in recent NFL history, plus the read-option, and you throw it on a play where your receiver has to win at the catch point and you only have one real big physical receiver and you weren't throwing to him. Contributing factor: they saw the clock running down, wanted to make sure they could run three plays, only had one timeout, and called the pass so they could run it on third and fourth downs if it fell incomplete. That's where burning the two timeouts earlier in the drive, especially the first one, came back to cost them greatly. Then the very end after that, Seattle taking out their frustration in an ugly fashion. Yuck.

As a neutral fan, this was mostly the game I expected. I don't particularly enjoy watching Seattle's running and random deep ball attack or New England's death by a thousand short cuts offense, but both teams do what they do fairly well. Plenty of plays that could have done in a different way, to the benefit of either team. I just feel a bit cheated because the game ended so stupidly.

Cian Fahey: The worst part is that Lynch, while being contained for the most part, was creating yards between the tackles easily throughout the game.

Scott Kacsmar: I'll just add it's a good thing Wilson won his ring last year. If he was a veteran without one, he would be absolutely crucified for that pick right now. I think everyone's in too much disbelief that they passed at all and didn't run Lynch there, so we're not even considering the pass from Wilson into a really small window. But I know damn well the conversation would be way different if that was someone like Peyton or Brees or Romo.

These teams will likely be favored to get back next year too. Wouldn't mind a rematch. That was an instant classic, but what a lousy ending for Seattle. Only can blame themselves though.

Cian Fahey: Nothing about the interception was really the quarterback's fault though. He's throwing to a spot for Lockette to run through it, Lockette was slow, Butler broke on it. Wilson had no other option.

Andrew Healy: Just one more thought: The play at the end wasn't the only good play for Malcolm Butler. He had a huge game overall. The only player to have more than one pass defensed and he had three. He doesn't get credit for his very good play on the crazy Kearse catch, either. A great game for the Patriots' fifth cornerback, and a tribute to the Patriots' depth.

Vince Verhei: No game ever comes down to a single play. The game wasn't decided by the final turnover alone. Maybe if the first second-half drive had ended in a touchdown instead of a field goal, or if Jermaine Kearse catches Russell Wilson's perfect deep ball on third-and-3, the Patriots never get a chance to take the lead. Maybe if someone, anyone, could cover Rob Gronkowski, or if Julian Edelman doesn't convert that third-and-long, the Seahawks don't need a late score to win. They had 60 minutes to win, not one.

Still, though, that call was bullshit, and any attempts to defend it are also bullshit. They had a first-and-goal at the 5 with 1:05 to go and a timeout, then a second-and-goal just outside the 1 with about 55 seconds and the clock running. That is an absurd amount of time to call two runs and then, if necessary, go with some kind of run/pass option on fourth down. Reminder: this offensive line was second in power situations this season, and the New England defense was last. The whole thing is inexcusable.

Chase Stuart: Yep.

Aaron Schatz: OK. I'm sort of coming down from the high now. Let's see if I can put my thoughts into some sort of coherent form.

So, first of all, that was the game we all wanted. In a season where no team really stood head and shoulders above the rest, we had a postseason filled with close games settled by sometimes great, sometimes controversial, plays. Sometimes both. And in the final game, the closest Super Bowl matchup in history, we had a game decided on pretty much the final play with each team coming back from a deficit and it was amazing. I'm glad my team won. I feel wonderful. I know Vince doesn't. But in the end, the team I root for really isn't any better than the team he roots for. Closest matchup ever. I hope your pain is somewhat eased by the fact that your guys got a ring a year ago.

When the Pats were down 24-14, people were tweeting that the game seemed over. In the third quarter. Can we stop that please? Please? I admit, it didn't look good, but have we not seen SO MANY ridiculous fourth-quarter comebacks over the last few seasons to know that two scores is never, ever an insurmountable lead until maybe there's two minutes left? And even then, we've seen teams do it? And also, can we please go back to everything people wrote when the Pats were 2-2, and even more, the stuff people wrote when Seattle was 3-3 (and still FOURTH in DVOA) and next year and the year after can we please, please, please not overreact early in the season if good veteran teams have a couple of close losses or even a single fluky big loss like the Patriots had in Kansas City? Please?

However, this game, and that last drive. The Patriots lost. I mean, I knew they had lost. This Patriots Super Bowl set up just like the last two. Brady took the lead and the defense had to hold it. And this year, this defense was supposed to be able to hold it. They did against Baltimore in the same situation. This time... that Jermaine Kearse catch was INSANE. Tyree Part III. (Mario Manningham was Tyree Part II in 2011.) My heart dropped through my entire body and into the ground below the stadium. That was it. It was done. I have no idea why Belichick didn't call timeout there. Cyd Ziegler suggested after the game that maybe if Belichick had called timeout, the Seahawks would have realized the importance of killing clock, and run the ball? Maybe by forcing a call while the clock ran, they were sort of freaked into calling the pass? I don't know. Aaron Nagler told me that when he saw Wilson motion Lynch over to his left on the final play, he thought it was going to be a quarterback draw. That would have been an interesting play call. Also, as bad as the result of the play was, it also was a bad call because if the play is incomplete, it stops the clock.

But look, there's a tweet out there that shows a picture of what Wilson saw on that play. I know it seems ridiculous to throw there, it does, but they're going up against a rookie UDFA cornerback and the image shows that Lockette was open when Wilson threw:

I think Lockette blew it. He didn't get to the spot. And Christopher Price told me after the game, he talked to Jimmy Garappolo in the locker room and Garappolo told him that the scout team beat Butler with that exact play in practice. So he knew how to read it and he knew what to do. And unlike in practice he did it. It's an awful play call and a poor play by Lockette but it is not an awful pass by Wilson and I hope it doesn't hurt his legend. Butler just made a phenomenal play nobody could have predicted. Wilson was actually pretty damn good in this game. And pretty good on that last drive too.

And really, I shouldn't say I thought the Patriots had lost. What I thought was that Tom Brady was going to get the ball down by 3 with about 40 seconds left and one timeout to get into Gostkowski field-goal range. That's what we would have seen if Belichick had called the timeout, and then the Seahawks had run it in for a touchdown. Maybe Brady does get them into field-goal range, although obviously you can't do all the 5-yard flats with only 40 seconds left, and Gostkowski always might miss the field goal.

This was supposed to be the win that finally ended "the Patriots haven't won anything since Spygate." The deflated balls nonsense sort of ruined that idea, but I do hope that this team gets its due. They're my team, but it is really great to see guys like Rob Ninkovich and Julian Edelman and Stephen Gostkowksi and Devin McCourty get rings, guys who have been with this team for a long time through a lot of success, not to mention future Hall of Famers like Darrelle Revis and Rob Gronkowski.

And Michael Hoomanuwanui. Do they put the player's name on the Super Bowl ring? That would be really fun to see.

Hidden question about game plan: Where was Luke Willson? Was he even in this game? They had him out wide man-on-man against Patrick Chung at times and did nothing about it.

One last note. No, seriously. What was with the Nationwide ad everyone is talking about?

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 02 Feb 2015

355 comments, Last at 01 Feb 2018, 3:12pm by kurasov1965p


by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:24am

Just a great, great, great game.

I think the Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl trumps it for wall-to-wall drama--the only problem with that game is that, narrative-wise, the wrong team won, Goliath isn't supposed to win--but there's never been a more eye-popping ending to a Super Bowl than what we just saw.

And no officiating controversy!!!

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:40am

Was a very exciting second two thirds to what started out as a kind of ho-hum game.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:04am

There were a few missed calls on both sides. Frankly, I wish the nfl stopped letting receivers get away with push offs. Gronk got away with one, but it landed incomplete. Matthews got away with one that setup Seattle's TD. The league really needs to take a look at this.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:08pm

The non-calls that bugged me included a deep Pats pass to the EZ (incomplete) where the Hawks' DB got one hand on it, but the WR was grabbing his other arm so he couldn't reach it with his other hand. Another EZ pick for Brady would sure have changed the narrative, or at least a 15 yard OPI flag on that.
Brady's non-grounding pass to planet earth while under pressure.
A QB hit after Wilson slid early in the game. THIS I noticed a lot this post-season and I may have missed a rule change, but I understand it that D players have to make all efforts to avoid hitting a sliding QB from the instant he slides--anything more than a finger-tip touch (like Wilson got in the 4th qtr) would be a flag. Have the rules changed? I've seen flags in the past that really irked me about this rule ("Ref, he made an effort to avoid, but he can't change the rules of physics!"), so maybe there is a general shift away from flags in this situation unless there is helmet contact.
A couple push-offs and another NE WR jersey-grabbing on a pass that fell incomplete. I don't particularly like either team and don't mean to be picking on the Pats, but I saw a lot more of those "I guess the refs are letting them play without flags" non-calls on Pats activity than Hawks. Or maybe I was just trying to make my wife happy with my comments....

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:12pm

This isn't specific to the pats, but I really really wish refs would not let wide receivers get away with pushing off when the ball is in the air. Actually, its more than that. A DB cannot touch a receiver past 5 yards, but the receiver can run right at the corner, shove him and then turn for the ball. And frankly, I really think pick plays need to go. Its getting impossible to cover now in the secondary without the sideline to help you.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:35pm

All of what you describe is OPI, as OPI applies from the snap of the ball, not just with ball in the air. The picture above pretty clearly demonstrates OPI on the picking receiver (preventing an defensive player from an opportunity to catch the ball), but that pre-throw stuff is almost never called. Doubt offense-happy NFL would want OPI as a point of emphasis.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:04pm

The first three you mentioned are called very inconsistently. I would not have been surprised if they had drawn a flag on any one of those plays, but very surprised if they got one for all three. Those are plays that get flags well under 50% of the time.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:38am

"but I do hope that this team gets its due. " Umm among every rational football follower I know the 2001-2014 Patriots are considered the single best dynasty ever. Amazing coach, amazing number of wins in the regular season, amazing number of wins in the post season, overcame injuries in crazy ways at times, great rivalries. I mean who are these people who don't think the Patriots are amazing?

Maybe the 80s Niners or the 70s Steelers match up? But "give the team its due". What more due does it need? Are you going to be asking us to give the Yankees their due next? Give Lebron James his due!

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:40am

I'm pretty rational, I don't think it is close to a given that the Patriots of the past 14 years are the best dynasty ever. 4 championships in 6 appearances is really great, certainly, but I don't know if it is better than 5 championships the Niners won in 14 years. The Niners did that when their conference was truly dominant, with the Gibbs' Redskins and Parcells' Giants in their heydey, and the mid 80s Bears were crushing opponents,and then the early 90's Cowboys doing the same. In this salary cap era, the Patriots simply have not had to overcome the same quality of competition. The Niners had a year, 1989, where they simply destroyed three straight playoff opponents in noncompetitive fashion, and another, 1994, where they destroyed 2 of 3, including the Super Bowl, and the competitive playoff game was against a team which won the Super Bowl in 3 of 4 years. The Patriots, in contrast, have never won a Super Bowl in dominating fashion, which means of course that they have never had a year where they dominated all their playoff opponents. I think the 70's Steelers match up just fine, as well, and if we go pre merger, the Lombardi Packers do as well, of course. Hell, I'd say what the Gibbs crew did with 4 starting qbs over a 10 year span is as impressive in many ways.

I agree with you completely, of course, that the notion that the Patriots have not been given a their due is a bit dubious.

(edit) I always forget that the Niners had another year, 1984, where they whipped three straight playoff opponents convincingly. Yeah, the Niners were better than this Patriots dynasty.

by PaddyPat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:58am

The difficulty of these comparisons is precisely because this is the era of free agency. Yes, the opposition is not as good, but neither is team continuity. Realize that this Patriots team only had two players on it who had participated in a previous Patriots Super Bowl win (Brady and Wilfork). With so much turnover on the roster, and so little capacity to stockpile talent, it's remarkable for a team to go on a run of sustained success like this. The Patriots have basically had two separate runs of success. The team from 2001-2007 did what they could. Then the team stripped down the defense, rebuilt with young guys, turned over the offensive personnel, and had a second run, from 2010-2014, making 4 straight championship games with 1 Super Bowl win. That's pretty comparable to the 49ers. No, they didn't dominate their postseason opponents, but they couldn't obtain or retain their personnel to do so. Realize that this Patriots team had only 1 1st round draft pick playing on offense in this Super Bowl (Solder).

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:01am

To me, the Patriots still enjoy a schematic advantage over the league. Personally, i hate the view that "we play how we play" attitude that the seahawks and others use. BB always taylors his strategy to his opponent. This Sb was a clinic in how to do this.

Frankly, after today, I'm ready to call bb the greatest coach that ever lived.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:35pm

Not sure it was a clinic when BB really should have lost.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:55pm

He should have? Why? Because Seattle was in position to score at the end? FWIW, Seattle passed it there largely because BB forced their hand by letting the clock run. What was an absurd decision if the 'Hawks scored was a calculated gamble since he knew they'd have to pass on 2nd or 3rd down with only one TO. Not only that, but they had run this exact play because it was one they were expecting in that situation.

But aside from that, if you want to strip Butler of credit due to the play call, then NE deserves a 3pt bump for an unforced pick earlier in the game. Sure, Seattle had good coverage and got pressure, but Tom just eats the ball and the FG is a gimmee. Now Seattle is driving for he tie instead of the win. It took some really bad play at the end of the half for them to get the second TD as well. Even with all the bad play, Seattle was going to kick a FG if not for a dumb facemask.

And what about the catch that put Seattle down by the GL in the first place?

There is ample opportunity for both sides to play the "luck card". NE won because the deserved to win. No more, no less.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:07pm

How did New England deserve to win? That was a very even game, I'd say slight advantage to Seattle, who lost the game in the end. No time for revisionist history, if you're a Pats fan (I assume), I'd quiet down and be happy you won.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:12pm

How did Seattle deserve to win? They were only even in the position to win the game because of one of the flukiest of fluke plays in SB history. Hell, they had just lost a 10 point lead by being steamrolled for two 4th quarter touchdowns.

See, two can play your asinine sore loser game.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:34pm

FTR, not a Seahawks fan.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:55pm

This is where I bust out the classic unforgiven line, "deserves got nothin to do with it!"

by Lyford :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:31pm

"How did New England deserve to win?"

New England scored more points than Seattle did.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:21am

You'd likely be surprised at how little overlap there was between the 1984 Niners roster, and the 1994 Niners roster. In fact, those two Niners teams did not share a single starter. Also, if you didn't dominate three straight playoff opponents, then there is an element of luck in winning a championship that does not exist when you curb stomp all who cross your path in the playoffs. What is true about this era is that it is more qb dependent than previous eras, and the Patriots have been super-fortunate in that regard, whereas the Niners were just fortunate.

Yes, the salary cap and free agency have made things quite different. I still don't see how anybody could say that what the Pats have done 2001-2014 exceeds or matches what the Niners did 1981-1994.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:18pm

But the Pats dynasty is more recent and therefore better right?

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:45pm

No, IMO it is not better. For this type of team-based metaphysical analysis (as opposed to individual best evers) the W-L results have to be considered, and without regard to stomps (SF playoff domination in 3 of their super bowl runs) etc., 5 for 5 is better than 4 for 6. It is an unanswerable question but strong arguments for SF run being "better" certainly exists. Pats not too bad though.

Not sure I agree with Will that NE was more fortunate at QB over Pats dynasty than was SF. Steve Young (top 10-ish all time IMO) was a pretty good replacement.

This analysis may deserves its own irrational thread.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:52pm

Brady in 6th trumps Montana in 3rd, and Young was traded for when his perceived value had plummeted, and then developed. Anybody could have tried to trade for Young. The Niners did. Similarly, the Packer were very lucky that Rodgers, 2nd qb drafted, fell to 24. The Packers were not lucky to see that Favre, who had done nothing in Atlanta, was worth trading for.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:12pm

Arguments exist on luck/skill in drafting Brady, but I see your point now.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:14pm

I've calculated the probability if we assume no skill of landing a player with Brady's career at 199. The probability is .01%. If that seems low, you really need to take a look at what kind of careers qbs taken in that neighborhood or worse end up doing.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:26pm

If you actually believed Brady was an outstanding prospect, you would not have risked waiting until 199 to take him. It's luck, pure and simple.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:50pm

It would be luck to draft any QB outside first half of first round and have them wind up doing what he's done, but hard to give them no credit for making the pick. Yes, risky to wait -- if anyone else gave a shit about him -- but reportedly the Pats saw something in him, as they did not have to draft him from need nor did they have to keep him that year. The linked article is interesting. Terrible QB draft, and second-string Brady stock very low, and might not have been drafted otherwise.

This is not a subject I've researched or really thought about but it seems you have to give the Pats some draft skill points for the choice. Any guy drafted second/third day who becomes a starter is a good draft pick -- was Seattle lucky to get Sherman, or was it good drafting?


by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:57pm

I will soon have an answer for you. In the process of finishing that project and subsequent write up.

I would also add - I think every player drafted the team sees some potential in. Frankly, I'm not sure there was anything in Brady pre-draft that suggested he would be anything special. Even this silly - he was a determined winner is nonsense. I don't think even Brady himself knew he would be this good. Sometimes, you just put the guy out there and the game clicks for him in a way it doesn't for others.

I am reminded about James Harrison. He was cut twice by the Steelers. James Farrior said they use to laugh at him sometimes because he would get totally confused in practice, then sulk and leave the field in anger. Of course, once you got him on the field - something just made sense.

by JimZipCode :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 2:59pm

Harrison also signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent; and they also cut him.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:05pm

Yes, there is skill in drafting player A, instead of player B, in the fourth or 6th round. It is pure luck if the fourth rounder or sixth rounder turns out to be a HOFer. That is doubly the case if it is a qb, since qbs ted to get drafted above their talent level. A mediocre guard prospect gets drafted in the 7 round. Mediocre qb prospects get drafted in the third.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:56pm

Well, yes and no. Clearly, if a GM felt he was getting a two-time MVP and holder of several passing records, and top-line quarterbacking for 15 years, then yes, he should have gone #1 overall regardless of which team was drafting, including Indianapolis. But context is important. The Patriots had the league's highest paid quarterback one year into a huge contract. Even if thet felt Brady was starting material it wouldn't have made financial or roster-building sense to draft Brady in the first couple of rounds on a team with multiple dire needs.

Earlier this season, I remember Belichick saying something to the effect that by the time the fourth round of the draft rolled around, Brady was all by himself on the left hand side of the draft board, as their highest-rated player still available by a good margin. By the time the sixth round was drawing to a close, his name was even more isolated on the left side, and they couldn't justify not taking him any longer.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:58pm

We have a hard time measuring length of a dynasty. In theory, one could argue the niners "dynasty" spanned over 2 decades.

Personally, I don't really consider this sb for the pats an extension of their dynasty and really, the identity of this pats team bares very little resemblance to the early 00 teams.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:45pm

It's just a harder era. It is a better accomplishment.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:59pm

What's easier about trying to win championships, in competition with the Parcells Giants, Gibbs Redskins, the Landry Cowboys that still had talent, the mid 80s Bears, and the early 90s Cowboys, all playing in your conference?

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:06pm

I never understand the line of thinking that teams had it easier in the 80's than now. Each team is on a level playing field back then and now. Back then, yes the 49ers could keep a lot of great players, but so could all the other loaded teams in the NFC.

The 49ers still had to win 3-4 playoff games. They weren't playing in the 60's where you could win the title with 2 playoff wins.

by JimZipCode :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 2:56pm

[even] more qb dependent than previous eras, and the Patriots have been super-fortunate in that regard, whereas the Niners were just fortunate.

I'd argue that the Niners showed more skill than luck with their QB acquisitions, while the Pats have been super-fortunate. To have a 6th-round pick develop into a first-rank Hall of Fame QB / possible GOAT is absurd luck. By comparison, (1) Bill Walsh's QB-developing chops had been very thoroughly established before Montana entered the draft; (2) Walsh had a system that could make better use of Montana than other teams could; and (3) the Niners pried Steve Young from the Buccs for a 2nd and 4th rd pick.

QB succession is the one single area where Belichick has not proved he is better than everyone ever. The 80s/90s 49ers churned out back-to-back HOFers; and honestly they didn't skip a beat when they turned over to Jeff Garcia in 1999. Garcia was great for a few years. So that's 24 seasons, 1981 to 2003, of great QB play: an outstanding organizational accomplishment.

I think Belichick is aware of the "he's never won without Brady" whispers. Never mind 11-win seasons with Vinny in 1994 and Matt Cassel in 2008: I envision Belichick staying in place for some years after Brady retires, to prove that he's got the "QB succession" club in his bag too. If Jimmy Garrapolo leads the Pats to the conf title game in 2018, that's it. Rename the Super Bowl trophy after Belichick. All other coaches can say "We are all bunglers next to him ," as Schumann said of JS Bach.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 3:43pm

3 Super Bowl titles in 4 tries, in 10 years, with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien as qbs, followed by layoff of more than a decade, then taking a team owned by Dan Snyder (!) to the playoffs in 2 of 4 years, is pretty hard to exceed.

by Led :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 4:23pm

"Never mind 11-win seasons with Vinny in 1994. . ."

The Jets won 12 games with Vinny in 1998. By 1994, Vinny was a solid QB. But I agree with you that Belichick will want to prove he can win without Brady, like any hyper-competitive person would in that circumstance, and I suspect we may get the answer to that sooner than many expect. My guess is 2017.

by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 4:52pm

"I'd argue that the Niners showed more skill than luck with their QB acquisitions, while the Pats have been super-fortunate."

NE has also cultivated three other guys who started for teams in 2014 using a 3rd, 7th (for a QB who hadn't started a game since high school!) and a UDFA. They also have a guy on the bench who might have had the most impressive preseason of any 2014 rookie QB.

That's not quite two HOFers, but NE has obviously some skill at finding and developing quarterbacks.

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 6:57pm

I think its pretty charitable to call Ryan Mallet a developed starter. Also, by this definition, BB blew the kevin O'connel pick since hes now a qb coach.

Frankly, this picking skill thing is totally anecdotal. As I mentioned above, I'm in the process of finalizing my luck vs skill article on drafting. So far, there may be some evidence of skill, but I'm going to hold off until all the testing is done.

by MJK :: Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:35pm

I object to the phrase "to have a 6th round pick develop". Brady didn't magically develop, Belichick (and Weis and O'Brien and McDaniels) DEVELOPED him. This is a fallacy I keep hearing. 2000 Beady was #4 on the depth chart. 2001 and 2002 beady was average or slightly above average, with some good skills, a strong work ethic, and critical flaws. Probably on par with a Chad Pennington. 2003-2005 Brady was very good, but Elite. Probably on par with an Eli or a Rivers. He didn't really become elite until 2006 or so, and he's gotten better since.

So this notion that Belichick lucked into a HOF QB in the 6th round, like breaking a mud ball open and finding a diamond, and that he's never had to develop a QB, is just wrong. Belichick's starting, franchise QB when he took over the Pats wax Drew Bledsoe. Belichick MADE Brady ( albeit with what proved to be impressive raw material). So anyone listing QBs that Belichick has had to develop needs to start with Tom Brady.

So maybe the narrative shouldn't be Belichick lucked into a HOFer in the 6th. Maybe it should be Belichick took a 6th round prospect and was able to make him into a HOFer.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 02/04/2015 - 2:45pm

That would be a dumb narrative, in that there have been plenty of other qbs that Belichik drafted who haven't come close to developing in that manner. Brady deserves the lion's share of the credit for the qb Brady has become, and Belichik was damned lucky to find him in the 6th round.

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/04/2015 - 4:22pm

Yeah that is a totally after the fact comment. Its like after the guy discovers the diamond, you making the claim he can find diamonds anywhere.

Seriously, if BB COULD develop other qbs like Brady, he really ought to have traded him for 5 first round picks and then developed the next one. Even if the next one wasn't quite Tom Brady but near fascimile, he would be 5 first rounders richer and then they would have saved a ton of money.

Its the same argument I have with Seahawk fans who believe they can just draft great cbs in later rounds. If that were true, why did they waste money paying sherman, thomas, and chancellor?

by Will Allen :: Wed, 02/04/2015 - 5:52pm

I also think people confuse "It is extraordinarily lucky to draft a HOFer in the late rounds, or acquire as an undrafted free agent", with "everybody is about equally skilled at late round drafts or undrafted free agent signings". The former is undoubtedly true, while the latter is undoubtedly false. The fact that poker players have a huge disparity in skill doesn't make a royal flush not extraordinarily lucky.

by SandyRiver :: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:01pm

I've read that BB had Brady significantly higher than 6th on the draft board, but had confidence that no one else did. Maybe some of the "luck" was in draft pick management, to get TB so cheaply.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 2:58pm

I've read that Gisele was thinking about asking me out before she met Tom.

If a sane and sober person thought that there was a decent chance that a qb would become a HOFer, they would not risk waiting until the 6th to pick that qb, regardless of their confidence of where other teams would pick him.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 4:36pm

If BB had Brady higher than the sixth round on his draft board, he still wanted someone else more. Given that Dave Stachelski, Jeff Marriott, Antwan Harris were drafted in either the fifth or sixth rounds by the Pats before Brady, that's not a stellar track record. Add Greg Robinson-Randall if Brady had a fourth round grade. BB was not a genius with Brady. Just lucky.

by GrandVezir :: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 8:25pm

The Patriots had just signed Bledsoe to a gigantic contract, and had two other quarterbacks on the roster. Another quarterback, even one they had pegged as very good, was a luxury.

It's worth noting that, even though Belichick was late to draft Brady, BB spent a live roster spot on Brady for the entire 2000 season as a fourth quarterback.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 02/04/2015 - 3:24am

I'm just going to throw my 2 cents back into this silly argument. The Patriots have won in "style". Football, after all, exists as entertainment. These guys are all, essentially, in show biz. They get up in the arena and compete for the money drawn by the people who enjoy the show, and no one, no other dynasty, has produced 6 horrific, nailbiter Super Bowls the way the Pats have. They have been a joy to watch, a joy to hate--the evil dynasty with the modelesque QB--the Patriots way, the team that refines asshole players into solid gold only to be host to a murderer--the cheaters--I could go on and on, but you can't really argue this point. Joe Montana and the 49ers got nothing on the Patriots. These Patriots are good fun to watch, and that makes them the best dynasty.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 11:10am


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:58am

It occurs to me that the "doing amazing things in the era of free agency" argument is not thought through. All teams face the same problems of creating unity, consistency, getting a high level of play and managing the salary cap. So by becoming good at it, the Pats get a competitive advantage over the teams who aren't.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:37am

Yeah that is what we are talking about, how they are better than their opponents.

by Alternator :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:51pm

The idea is roughly this:

It's harder to keep a team together, making it more impressive when one team manages to sustain a run of success. Instead of having a few great teams to compete against every year, there's DIFFERENT great teams every year.

The Seahawks are about to start losing players to free agency because their young stars will no longer be on cheap rookie contracts. Now, they have a GM who seems really good at cap management and are more likely than most to avoid the fall, but on the average teams in that situation (lots of rookie contract stars) are going to lose a LOT of talented players and the team will descend from dominant to very good.

So imagine if, in 2-3 years, the Seahawks have lost enough talent to be like the Packers: a threat to win it in any given year, but not a consistent powerhouse that will be favored year-in-year-out to make the conference championship game. Other recent examples: the Brees-era Saints, the Big Ben Steelers. In any given year one or more of those teams is likely to prove dominant, but which one it is will vary.

Conversely, there's the Peyton Colts and the Brady/Belichick Patriots, both of whom spent years as among the top few Super Bowl favorites. When no other teams are able to sustain THAT level of success (the Reid Eagles probably came closest) isn't that more impressive than what the 49ers did, when 3-4 other teams were able to sustain dominance for extended periods?

by jeffd :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:40am

Great game. Patriots were the better team. The Hawks knocked on the door of immortality and fell short.

Fire Bevell.

A question for the smart folks: it seemed like from the midpoint of the second quarter through the third quarter the Seahawks pass rush was effective at pressuring Brady. Then Avril went out, and that dried up. Can smarter people than me comment on that? Losing Avril seemed to be almost fatal.

by whateverdude :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:10am

Avril and Bennett are far and away Seattle's best pass rushers, so it was definitely a big loss. They were already without Jordan Hill, who was their best interior pass rusher.

Losing Lane was also huge. Tharold Simon looks lost against quicker receivers. As Cian presciently mentioned, having Marcus Burley (a small, quick corner) active would have been huge.

Combine that with the injuries to Sherman, Thomas, and Chancellor, and this was definitely not the same defense that dismantled Denver last year.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:23am

I might agree, but Ne still moved the ball in the first half. Lots of short routes killed the seahawks. A few third and longs were converted by 6 yard passes to Edleman, Amendola, or Vareen that led to missed tackles for first downs. These were Brady's look off first reads.

by whateverdude :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:40am

Lane was lost early and Thomas/Sherman/Chancellor all came into the game with injuries. If all those guys play the entire game at 100% I've got to think it's a different outcome, but obviously we'll never know. 3 of 4 NE touchdowns came against a guy who would not have otherwise played (Tharold Simon).

by amin purshottam :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:36pm

Let's not use the injury excuse please. The better team won, stork was playing very hurt as was eldleman, pats were missing mayo and I am sure other pats were playing hurt.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:04pm

How did the better team win? I think Seattle was better, but it's pretty darn close. Also Green Bay and Baltimore were both, arguably, better than the Seahawks and Pats. This isn't like last year or '03/'04.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:08pm

I'm not sure what makes you say that. These were the two best teams by weighted dvoa. Baltimore wasn't even likely to make the playoffs - the chargers blew the game against Chase Daniels.

by JimZipCode :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 3:07pm

Ravens fan here – I wouldn't claim Baltimore was among the top 5 teams in the conference this year, let alone better than the Seahawks and Patriots. They just did an amazing job of limiting their weaknesses, most of the time.

I also wouldn't say the Ravens were among the top 5 teams in the league in 2012. But we're not giving back that Lombardi! :-)

by jeffd :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:21am

I'm not smart enough to say that the injuries to Sherman/Chancellor/Thomas were a factor. I just saw that as soon as Avril went out the Patriots offense started clicking in a way it hadn't for quite a while.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:15am

I didn't notice that Avril went out too, but you are correct. Mid 3rd quarter it looked like Seattle had a pass rush and they were just taking over. Then Kearse missed that catch and the pass rush disappeared and the game changed.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:45am

For Aaron's sake: the Nationwide ad had a little kid talking about all his dreams, and all the great things he wanted to do, and saying "I'll never get to do this, or that, or"...and then ending with him saying "I'll never get to do those things, because I died in an accident". And then something about how Nationwide gets how to protect and keep your family safe, or something.

There was a particularly chilling, to me, shot of a bathtub filled to the brim, though they didn't show a child drowned in it, as far as I could tell.

So, essentially, the ad was "watch out YOUR KIDS COULD DIE! Buy Nationwide"

by tunesmith :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:41am

And then right afterward there was a shot of a flatscreen TV that had fallen off a cheap entertainment center, face-forward. Which was more comical than anything to me because you couldn't even tell if there was a kid under it, so it was as if the kid was squashed flat, cartoon-style.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:20pm

The film makers created the emotional state well, but as I griped instantly to my wife, WTF is Nationwide going to do, make sure you stay in the bathroom with your bathing kid? Pay you lots of money after your kid dies? Oh, gee, thanks! WTF does an insurance company have to do with preventing accidents that, while "preventable" through the use of common sense and caution, still happen? Insurance companies pay your claims after the mishaps, they don't prevent the mishap. A good parenting class would help more. When you sign with Nationwide, do they provide you with earthquake tie-downs so your book cases and TVs and junk don't fall on your kids? Do they install them, too? Do they provide some sort of tub-filling-monitor? As an old marketing prof would say, they sold the sizzle, not the steak, except in this case, it was the opposite--maybe they sold the threat of ecoli, not the clean restaurant procedures.

Or do they scare you into thinking of the unthinkable, and making you assume they care more than the other guys? Puhleeze! Ugh. ALL the insurance advertising during football games is just a puzzle to me. But differentiating similar, massive, homogeneous companies to consumers has always bee tough.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:49am

I can't believe everyone is SO dead set against the final pass by Seattle. A quick slant like that is really effective. It was a great play by Butler. That will happen on any play you run.

I admit I probably wouldn't have run that play, but it's not SO insane to me. I didn't watch it thinking what the heck are they doing. It was a low percentage thing that happened. I thought the play call was perfectly defensible.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:08am

They put a guy with 18 career catches in a position to run a super precise route and win a physical battle. Why rely on your 5th or 6th option on a risky play in that situation when what you do best is run the ball (and it's what the Pats struggle against). The play call is indefensible as most have noted above.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:07pm

And Wilson isn't that great at the short/quick slant

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:14am

It is just second guessing. 80% of the people killing it would be talking about how smart it was to do the unexpected thing if it had been complete and how it was smart to pick on the UDFA.

Most of the time you hear someone talking about play calls if they don't have a long discussion of what personnel were on the field and what had happened in those formations earlier in the game you can just ignore them.

They passed because they wanted to be sure they could get two more plays in. That seemed to be the clear situation, and that should be a safe route. The WR got a poor jump and Wilson led him too aggressively. Still would have been fine if the DB hadn't played it perfectly. I think they were slightly surprised when NE didn't take a timeout.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:34am

Asking a non-established player to make a good play in the most critical of situations, when you have plenty of other options, involving players who have made lots of big plays, is unwise. If you think you need to throw it, there's a lot of other things which could have been attempted.

by Raiderfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:54am

Like leaving in a small college rookie UDFA who had just given up a potentially game winning completion?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:02am

I don't know their depth situation well enough to say whether there was anyone on the sideline who was a better option. The offense gets to dictate what happens when the ball is snapped.

by apbadogs :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:56am

Ummm, he had pretty good coverage and that was an all-time fluke catch. Butler DID have the wherewithal to realize it was a catch and make a tackle (not sure if WR was down by contact).

by Athelas :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:44am

During the summer, Malcolm Butler was pointed out as someone with great potential who was outplaying the veterans in front of him. He was a favorite of a couple of the people covering the team.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:57pm

Difference is that NE cannot dictate where the play goes. They had no choice. Seattle did. They didn't have to rely upon Lockette, they chose to. Not close to being the same thing.

by Jeff M. :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:25am

A variety of reasons it's a really bad call for Seattle in that situation. First, as many have noted New England is weak at defending the run in power situations and Seattle's really good at converting in those situations, so you're probably >75% likely to score if you just bring in a jumbo package and run Lynch. And if he gets stuffed that just allows you to burn the rest of the clock (taking away the chance of a last-second FG), take the timeout, and have two more shots from the goal line. If the Seahawks had scored there would have been widespread criticism of the Patriots for not intentionally letting Lynch score on the previous play so a pass is just bailing them out in terms of clock management.

And even if you're insistent on throwing a pass there, that's about the worst option for this Seahawks team. The rub route slant basically isn't in their playbook because they don't have the WRs for it and it doesn't play to any of Wilson's strengths. So you're taking something that they don't spend practice reps on and haven't used in games and betting your whole season on it just because it'll be unexpected. And it's a call with some obvious downside in terms of interception risk (goalline slants have to have one of the higher INT% of pass types) when there are multiple other options that actually play to the team's strengths without as much risk. If you have to pass, then roll Wilson out with a run-pass option, or go heavy set play-action and look for a TE in the corner of the end zone (with explicit instructions to throw it into the stands if he's not wide open).

Whoever made the call for Seattle (Carroll's normally pretty hands-off with the offense, but he has to have okayed Bevell calling a pass there, right?) completely outthought themselves and managed to choose a high-risk option that pitted a Seattle weakness against a NE strength over a low-risk option pitting a Seattle strength against a NE weakness. That's why it's a terrible call.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:46am

And it's a call with some obvious downside in terms of interception risk (goalline slants have to have one of the higher INT% of pass types)

What makes you say that? Play design, general impression?

I don't have any numbers, but I don't feel like quick slants at the goal line get picked off very often. But it's just a feeling.

by Jeremy B. :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:23pm

James Harrison begs to differ.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:50pm

Fair point, but Russell didn't miss a LB sneaking in. Possibly if NE is in that coverage Wilson doesn't make that throw.

by Jeremy B. :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:20pm

A fair point as well.

by Jeff M. :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:55pm

I definitely don't have the stats either, but defenders will be packed in close to the line because they don't have to worry about somebody getting behind him, and can drive downhill on any route for the same reason. It's admittedly all guesswork, but I would assume an interception is more likely on a slant thrown from inside the 5 than at midfield for example, and also more likely than on a fade (where the QB can put it where only the receiver has a chance instead of having to beat the defender trying to jump the route).

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:52pm

I'll agree that it's more likely at the goal line than at midfield. Not sure about fades...I guess INTs are more unlikely, but also harder to pull off in general, and you need a specific type of receiver to really make it work anyway. Not sure Matthews was up to it.

Moreover, INTs are pretty unlikely. Even (or possibly especially) at the 1 yard line.

by whateverdude :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:31am

Carroll said afterwards that they abandoned the run because they saw NE sent their goal line package out. Didn't really make any sense. Of course they're going to play goal line at the 1. You don't concede the run because your opponent is expecting it! If they were truly so hell bent on passing on 2nd down (so that it will be either TD or incomplete, allowing them to save their timeout), then go heavy to match the defense and go play action! Going 3 WR against goal line was a dead giveaway it was a pass!

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:29am

"Going 3 WR against goal line was a dead giveaway it was a pass!"

No it isn't. Teams run out of 3WR sets all the time. And they do it quite well too.

by dandoepke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:21pm

I took Carroll's comment to mean that he was expecting Belichick to leave in whatever personnel they had in and let them score, since doing so would leave time on the clock for Brady. When Belichick let the clock run and brought in his goal line package instead, suddenly the Seahawks were faced with a situation where one of the downs would have to be a pass play if you wanted to be able to use all 4 downs. Considering everyone in the world expected a Lynch run there, an argument could be made that 2nd down is the down where a pass play isn't partly telegraphed.

I don't trust my own analysis though, so I could be way off about that.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:28pm

Are you suggesting he wanted to eat as much clock as possible (reasonable) and to that end planned on making it a four-play score? (unreasonable) Was the goal to get Lockette to the 1 inch line and THEN score on a following play? I don't think so. And if they planned to score on that down, I think they picked a very low percentage play, regardless of the goal line D.

And based on what I have seen of Wilson, and the announcers fawning over his lofted balls (ahem) I'd think a back-corner alley-oop fade to Matthews would make more sense than a pass into all the middle traffic.

Though I'd still have preferred to see a Lynch or Wilson run. Sheesh

by dandoepke :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 1:38pm

No, sorry I phrased that poorly. I meant to suggest that Carroll likely expected Belichick to take a time out (as everyone did), and he also likely considered that Belichick might just let them score after said timeout. If that was indeed Carroll's mindset, I can imagine a situation where Carroll was at first delighted that Belichick was taking so long to call the timeout everyone assumed he was taking, as the more time that ticks before that timeout is called means less time for a Brady comeback. By the time Carroll realized that Belichick was NOT going to call timeout (and beyond that, sent out 8 big bodies on defense), he also realized that his opportunity for 3 more run plays, if necessary, had vanished. I could easily see all of that happening in the space of 1:06 to :26, or whatever it was.

by ansum :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 2:00am

Dandoepke makes the most sense to me so far. BB wouldn't mismanage the clock like that otherwise. Would he?

by GrandVezir :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 10:51am

It's possible Belichick made a mistake. It's also possible he decided to take a calculated gamble. The only one who could say for sure is Belichick himself, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for his answer to that question.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:02am

"I can't believe everyone is SO dead set against the final pass by Seattle. A quick slant like that is really effective. It was a great play by Butler. That will happen on any play you run."

It didn't work, ergo it's a terrible play call. If it had worked, we'd be hearing about how it was the last thing NE was expecting and the Seahawks fooled them etc.

There were something like 120 pass plays from the 1 this year, and that was the first pick. It's really not a high risk play. They just suffered the worst case scenario at the worst possible time. It happens.

I have to laugh when people say they don't care about the result, it was a horrible call anyway. Yeah, I'm sure you'd be saying that if it was a touchdown. I always hear people say "I don't care if they scored, that's a terrible play call", just like they always say "well, it didn't work, but at least the call was good".

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:11am

I think mathematics says running is the best strategy. In fact, win probability says in any 1st and 3, the optimal strategy is 4 straight runs. Sure, i don't hate the call as much as others, but from a math/optimal pt of view, it wasn't the best call. Those kind of results get factored in.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:21am

I agree that running is usually the best play in goal to go situations like that. But it's not THAT much better, and I just find so much of the criticism distasteful, albeit completely expected. I also think people are overrating Lynch in short yardage. Everyone seems to just assume that Lynch scores there, no questions asked. Yeah, Seattle was good in short yardage this year. They were also the worst in the league in short yardage last year with the exact same personnel.

The second guessing is just ridiculous. I mean, is anyone criticising the choice to call a play with 6s left in the first half? I'd say that's much "crazier" than throwing a pass from the 1 yard line. Of course not, it worked.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 7:56am

I think the main issue is that an interception there is extremely, extremely unlikely, and worthy of little consideration from a value standpoint when making the playcall. Run that play another 100 times and the UDFA doesn't make that INT.

Earlier this season the 49ers were on the Rams goal-line in the last seconds of the game and ran a supposedly fail-safe QB sneak. Kaepernick fumbled and instantly lost them the game. Any play in such a critical situation carries a small risk of catastrophe, but it shouldn't cloud the analysis.

by Cythammer :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:17am

But an interception is not that unlikely with a play call like that. It would've been very easy to call a super-safe play and tell Wilson to only throw to a wide-open receiver. A little slant was not the right choice.
And when you're in a very advantageous situation and are likely to score, you should definitely be thinking about the chance of a turnover, and passes are much more likely to result in turnovers. They made a much higher risk, lower reward choice.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:56am

I read something about that being the first and only interception thrown from the 1 yard line all season - something like 250 plays. I've no idea about the likelihood of an INT on a route like that compared to others, but I'd be open to anybody providing proper analysis. Anyway, overall it's really quite unlikely I think, and not that much more likely than an RB fumble running into a stacked line to make it especially worthy of consideration.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:37pm

"I read something about that being the first and only interception thrown from the 1 yard line all season - something like 250 plays."

It was actually about 120 plays, but the point stands. I completely agree that the odds of an INT there are about as low as the chance of Lynch pulling an Earnest Byner, which I have actually seen him do before.

It really sucks for Seattle that they suffered the absolute worst possible scenario at the absolute worst possible time, but all this "worst play call ever" stuff is just silly.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:47am

This, totally. I think it was a much bigger risk to run that play at the end of the second half. But no one's questioning that, it worked. The 4Q play didn't work, so it must be THE WORST CALL EVER.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:55pm

"The second guessing is just ridiculous. I mean, is anyone criticising the choice to call a play with 6s left in the first half? I'd say that's much "crazier" than throwing a pass from the 1 yard line. Of course not, it worked."

The risk there isn't even remotely the same. You don't score at all, you are basically forgoing 3 points at halftime (i.e., instead of kicking the FG you get nothing). Here, the game is over if there is a pick. The risk/reward ratio isn't remotely the same.

As others have pointed out, a pass isn't the fundamental problem with the call, it was the specific pass called. A quick slant into the middle of the field in goal line, an area where the defense is going to be tight and aggressive. The play requires timing and route discipline as well as sure hands and potential to be physical at the catch point. You run that route throwing to a 4th string 28 year-old wideout with 18 catches over his 4 year career. You are basically relying on about your 40th best player to make a precise play in a scenario which you are not forced into doing so. It is unfathomable to me that Bevell would put his team in that situation.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:42pm

"The risk there isn't even remotely the same. You don't score at all, you are basically forgoing 3 points at halftime (i.e., instead of kicking the FG you get nothing). Here, the game is over if there is a pick. The risk/reward ratio isn't remotely the same."

The risk looks pretty similar to me. Imagine if the clock ran out there, which is not that unlikely and the Seahawks lose a close game. Suddenly that is the "worst call ever" and Carroll is an idiot for forgoing three easy points.

Yeah, the game is over after a pick. The odds of a pick there are about 1% or less, probably not much higher than the odds of Lynch fumbling on the way in (Colin Kaepernick fumbled in a similarly "foolproof" situation earlier this year).

And I love the whole "oh, throwing a pass wasn't that bad, but throwing THAT pass was idiotic". Yeah, that's not hindsight criticism at all.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:04pm

There is nothing involving hindsight to note that Wilson is the best in the league in bootleg action, and not even close to the best in the league at the pass that was intercepted. If an NBA coach had Kareem Abdul Jabbar taking a mid range jumper, instead of getting the ball in the low post, it would not be hindsight criticism to note that the player talents were not being optimized.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:06pm

Lol - its more like having Shaq take the technical foul shot to win the game.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:34pm

Two winning analogies.

I don't see how the risk could be equated above--if the pass before halftime fails, you have 30 minutes and 60 plays to correct the three points foregone. (Maybe even one second left to try a FG kick!) Even an INT has the same downside as any other failure, unless it's run back 100 yards.

If the 4Q pass play fails (Incomplete, catch short of the goal line) you have about 35 seconds and 2 plays to fix it. But if it's an INT, your season is over. The negative magnitude of the INT there cancels out nearly all other considerations, no? Not even considering the SEA power running proficiency and the NWE power rush weakness on D.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:48pm

That still doesn't fully capture the risk inherent in every additional snap at the 1 foot line. Again, how many times have you seen a false start or illegal formation turn a 2nd or 3rd and goal, at one foot, into a 2nd or 3rd and goal at the five? You're down by 4. There's less than a minute left. You need to get a td as soon as possible, in the way that is most certain, instead of acting like you're ordering at TGIFridays, and have hundreds of equally wonderful gastronomic treasures to choose from.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:14pm

OK, here's another comparison between Carroll's decisions at the end of both halves:

First half: Lets assume the following: 95% chance of field goal, 10% chance of touchdown if you call a play, 70% chance that the pass is incomplete and the Hawks try a field goal anyway, 20% chance of something bad happening (interception, sack, time running out), 1 in 500 chance of a catastrophic pick 6. By my calcs, the estimated points of kicking a field goal without running a play is 2.85 and the estimated points of running a play is 2.68. So, bad but not terrible decision. Of course the best case scenario happened, so "OMG, what guts, what courage, genius".

Second half: I'd say the odds of something truly catastrophic happening are 1-2%. Barnwell says 1.9% in his column, so I'll go with that. The odds of Lynch Earnest Bynering are not much less than that, about 1.5% (I've seen him actually do that, in a playoff game no less). I'd say the odds of Wilson taking a sack in that situation are about the same as Lynch getting hit 3 yards deep in the backfield. So, again, bad but not terrible decision. Of course the worst case scenario actually happened, so "OMG, worst play call ever. What an idiot".

I'd also say that Bellichick's decision to not call timeout with 50 seconds left was worse than either of those decisions, and not only is he not getting criticized for it, people are actually suggesting it was part of his grand plan to psych out Carroll rather than a total brainfart. Hindsight is fun!

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:47pm

I think it is an error to strip these decisions of the personnel context. At halftime the Patriots were still trying to cover a big guy with small people who had shown themselves inadequate to the task, in a situation where the failure to score is not catastrophic. At the end of the game they had Kearse trying to make a play against Browner that has him outmatched more often than not. Browner isn't all world, but on that play, on the one foot line, he is a distinct mismatch for Kearse, there isn't enough data to suggest that the other Seattle receiver is a mismatch for Butler, it is not the type of play that Wilson excels at, and the failure to score a td in the next 3 plays is catastrophic. It is an error, in my opinion, to view any of those three as one where you can knowingly go with a play where more often than not a key player is going to get whipped, and it isn't one of the plays that is your qb's best plays.

I have no problem with saying Belichik got lucky, because I think it unlikely that he was intentionally trying to force Carroll into an error based in disorganization. I think it more likely that Belichik didn't even think about calling the time out, so focused he was on keeping the Seahawks out of the end zone, although it may be that he decided to get at least one play where he could confidently predict a Seahawks pass.

by Led :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 12:29am

"The odds of Lynch Earnest Bynering are not much less than that, about 1.5%"

Lynch has fumbled 0.9% of his carries in his career. In the 2014 season (excluding playoffs), he fumbled 0.4% of his carries. Assuming at least some of his career fumbles were downfield (and thus can be ignored on a run from the 1 yard line), one can be comfortable that the risk of a Lynch fumble on the second and one play is solidly under 1%.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:23pm

While I think it was a bad play call (not necessarily a pass, but THAT pass to that receiver, it was still pretty unlucky.
I also think that ascribing the last minute to Bellicheck's genius is highly speculative at best. He probably won't discourage it.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 12:10am

I don't think he was thinking "Hahahaha! I will surprisingly not call time out and make Carroll's head explode."

I do think he was thinking something like this...
"If we call the timeout then the best case (assuming they score) is we have the ball with 45 seconds and a timeout. Maybe less if they kick it short enough to force us to return it. We can't go deep on these guys. Everything we've done tonight has been with short stuff -- our quickest drive was still over four minutes. There's just not enough time. So we have to stop them here -- hell with how much time is left. If I call the timeout that lets them think things over. I'm as satisfied as I'm gonna be with who I have on the field vs. who they have. If they want to think about things they'll have to burn their final one."

Again, the main thing (I think) is simply realizing that NE had very little chance to get to FG position and therefore there was little value to conserving clock and so no reason to give Seattle a free chance to collect its thoughts.

by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 10:09am

Absolutely. Not only would a TO help Seattle think things over, it would open their entire playbook whereas with the clock running and one TO, NE could expect a pass on 2nd or 3rd down.

Yes, Seattle could have moved quicker, but had they done that the need to call the TO on that possession diminishes.

You can quibble about the merits of such a strategy, but calling it a "brainfart" as if it were purely a mistake and not a calculated gamble is erroneous.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:18pm

Absolutely any play called in that end of game situation carries a risk of catastrophe (i.e. game ending turnover), whether it's a pass, or a run, or a sneak, or whatever. The Kaepernick fumble against the Rams this same season has already been cited several times.

I believe that the difference in probability between an interception on that play, and a fumble by Lynch running into a stacked line, is pretty much negligible in terms of deciding whether it was the correct play to run.

I'm not arguing that the pass was the right call, just that the fact it resulted in an interception is proof it was a bad call.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:49pm

I think the fact that the plays happened the way you did is causing you to incorrectly assess the percentages involved. But that is in my opinion, not exactly fact.

Because the 2Q pass ended up in a TD, you're overestimating the chances that it is successful, and underestimating the chances that it runs out the clock and ends the half. Likewise, you're overestimating the chances that the 4Q pass ends up being intercepted, because it was. (again, all my opinion)

And, you're kind of implying that making the pass is an unnecessary risk, because the TD is a given with a run, which it isn't. The difference in chances between a fumble on a run versus an INT is not that great, but no one was advocating that you can't run it because Lynch might fumble. Which he might have! And it would have ended the season. But it wasn't likely. Just like Wilson throwing a pick was unlikely.

by Led :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 12:41am

You are underestimating the chance of a TD on a run compared to a pass and over estimating the risk of a fumble vs. an interception. There are actual numbers here; we don't need hunches. Seattle has 81% power success and the 6th lowest stuffed rate while NE gave up an 80% power success rate and was dead last in stuffing the opponent. Wilson's overall completion percentage was 63% and it's harder than average to complete a pass in that position on the field. So we're looking at up to an 80% chance of a TD running it versus a lower than 63% passing. And Wilson's INT% was 1.4% while Lynch's fumble rate was 0.4% (and 0.9% for his career). Seattle inexplicably chose a play with a lower chance of success and at least a 50% greater chance of complete disaster. (Actually comparing INT % to fumble rate still overstates the risk of a fumble because the offense will recover a certain percentage of fumbles while 100% of all INTs are turnovers.)

by slomojoe :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 7:04am

Technically, if they had the alternative options of pulling off either two runs vs a pass and two runs before time ran out, and the percentages are what you indicate (and ironically disregarding the negligible chances for a disastrous turnover, or assuming they are about the same for any play), the total chances would have been:
0.8+[0.8*(1-0.8)]= 0.96 for two runs
0.63+[0.8*(1-0.63)]+{0.8*[1-[0.63+[0.8*(1-0.63)]]}= ~0.94 for a pass and two runs.

So overall not that much of a difference. And I suspect that the Seahawks coach who called that play (whoever it was) saw it as a much higher success percentage than 63%, which includes all of RW's run-like-a-headless-chicken-and-heave-it throws.
That said, I'd have run it too, but I don't coach in the NFL

by nat :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 4:45pm

"Chance of complete disaster" is the wrong way to think of it. Running twice and getting stuffed is no better than throwing once and getting intercepted. You lose either way. You might be falling into the "delay losing as long as possible" football logic trap.

Ignoring the chance of a fumble (and a sack and a loss of yards on a run, and a scramble TD...), and just using your numbers, there were just two ways for Seattle to lose if they chose to go pass-run-run with a quick pass into the end zone.

1) Interception = 1.4%
2) Incomplete + stuff + stuff = 35.6% x 20% x 20% = 1.4%
1+2) Chance of losing = 2.8%

If they chose to simply run twice, the chance of losing was
1) stuff + stuff = 20% x 20% = 4%

With these numbers, including a pass was the better option.

Of course, Seattle was aware that Lynch had been stuffed two out of three short yardage third down situations earlier in the game. And they were aware that Wilson had not been intercepted or even notably inaccurate in the game.

We can't pretend that an interception was very likely on that pass play call, nor that a TD reception was impossible. Reasonable probabilities work out to the pass being the better option. Even your estimates work out to the pass being a better choice.

by Led :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 6:15pm

You're assuming that running the ball on second down commits Seattle to running only two plays, which isn't remotely true. You're also ignoring the risk of penalty or other loss of yardage that would prevent Seattle from getting additional opportunities from the 1 yard line. At that point in the game, when you have the ball at the 1 yard line, you have the best chance to score and win the game that you are likely to get and you can't count on getting that chance again (to say nothing of a third chance). Therefore, you have to run the play with the best chance of scoring a TD on that down.

by Duke :: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 4:36pm

You're assuming that running the ball on second down commits Seattle to running only two plays, which isn't remotely true.

I've heard arguments that the Seahawks could have run it 3 times. I think that's iffy at best. It's at least risky, probably a bigger risk than of throwing an INT. How long does a running play take--5 seconds? Let's say 4. That leaves 14 seconds unaccounted for. 14 seconds to untangle from a running play up the gut, get the ball spotted, line up, and run SOMETHING, assuming all the players know the playcall. Iffy.

This is also assuming you mean that the Seahawks could run 3 times. I presume we don't think there's a big difference between going run, pass, run or pass, run, run.

You're also ignoring the risk of penalty or other loss of yardage that would prevent Seattle from getting additional opportunities from the 1 yard line.

Those risks exist whether you run or pass.

At that point in the game, when you have the ball at the 1 yard line, you have the best chance to score and win the game that you are likely to get and you can't count on getting that chance again (to say nothing of a third chance). Therefore, you have to run the play with the best chance of scoring a TD on that down.

Ridiculous. At that point in the game, you have 22 seconds and up to 3 plays to score. You don't have to do it quickly. You have to do it, period. There's no bonus for getting it on the first play. The only thing that counts is getting it at all.

It's like saying if you have a batter down 0-2, you have to strike him out on the next pitch, because if you don't you could walk him. And of course you don't. You just have to strike him out. Whether it's on an 0-2 count or 3-2 doesn't matter.

In this case, the question is whether calling a pass improves those chances. I think it's reasonable to think it would. I certainly wouldn't say that it absolutely could not.

And now I see that I quoted your entire post, broke it up, and responded individually to each piece, which is a sure sign that I've stopped being productive in this conversation.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:20pm

Had you asked me before the play call what I would think about them throwing a quick slant to Lockette I would have said that would be a fucking stupid thing to do. So sorry, this isn't hindsight and I highly doubt it is for the overwhelming majority of people complaining about the call.

by DRohan :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 4:19am

The decision before the half wasn't an either/or situation. Of course, there was a risk they might have been foregoing the three points, but in fact they didn't. The play was a quick pass and :02 remained on the clock. Had it been incomplete, they still could've kicked the FG.

As far as the run/pass option at the end, there may be numbers indicating that there's only a small advantage of running versus throwing, but this decision wasn't being made in a vacuum. This was Marshawn Lynch against the Pats short yardage running D. Seattle got too cute. Trying to plan out a situation where you run all four plays there is unnecessary. Just run it in. If you have to throw on a later play, deal with that then, if it comes to that. How many Pats fans were hoping for another handoff to Lynch? When making an important decision like this, it's often simplest to consider what the other team hopes you DON'T do (this is often the case on 4th and short--fans of the defense typically breathe a sigh of relief when the offense decides to just kick it back to you).

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 4:47pm

"The decision before the half wasn't an either/or situation. Of course, there was a risk they might have been foregoing the three points, but in fact they didn't."

Well, yes, in hindsight it was obviously a risk worth taking. But there's a lot that could have gone wrong. A penalty (causing a runoff), a sack (Wilson took one in a similar situation against the Falcons in the 2012 playoffs), an INT to a defense that definitely knows the pass is going into the end zone or simply the play taking too long. I'm not sure the chance of the touchdown was even the 10% I mentioned earlier. I just think it was a huge risk and probably a bigger gamble than a second down pass, but hey it worked so it will never be mentioned again.

Also, did you know that since 2012, the Seahawks are the worst team in the league at scoring from the 1 yard line? It's true. That's the biggest problem with the "just hand the ball off to Beast Mode" line of thinking. We didn't see it happen, so people just assume that there is a 100% chance he scores there. It's nothing even close to that.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:37am

I don't know if math says running for a generic offense against a generic defense is the best call. I'm absolutely certain that math says that, when you have Marshawn Lynch and the #1 rushing offense, and you're facing a defense that plays the pass better than the run, running is the better call.

I'm sure that most Pats fans will agree with me that they dodged a bullet there. Carroll is taking the blame on his own shoulders, but I feel like he's protecting his coordinator.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:47pm

Then there's this.

by Athelas :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:01pm

Hey Aaron--this is the Nationwide ad!

by JimZipCode :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 3:25pm

My stepdaughter and I were yelling at the TV as the Seahawks lined up in shotgun, "What're you DOING?!??" So this isn't results-oriented thinking: I was appalled at the choice before they snapped the ball. The INT confirmed my expectations. On an incomplete I likely would have said something like, "Ok, now stop screwing around and run the ball!"

If they had gotten the TD on the pass, I would have whooshed the air out and looked over at my stepdaughter and said "WOW. I thought that was going to be a disaster!"

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:17am

On other teams it's not insane but Marshawn Lynch carried the ball 24 times and he was not stopped for a loss on any of them. Twice he was stopped for no gain. If there's anything like a guarantee in football that's it.

I thought the New England defense did a great job of meeting him early in the backfield or line of scrimmage particularly in the 1st half yet he still always made 3-4 yards.

(Plus there is the possibility that New England decide to concede the touchdown to give themselves at least 20-secs - although as they didn't do it at 1-min or call timeout, I assume they were relying on their defense to make a stop)

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:21am

"Twice he was stopped for no gain."

Those two plays were on third and two and third and one. Again, the Seahawks were the worst team in the league in short yardage running last year. They were much better this year, so lets split the difference. It is nothing like a guarantee that he scores there, even with 2 or 3 goes at it.

I find it funny that Vince yells at the Seahawks for running Lynch into a crowded line when everyone knows they're running..and then yells at them for not doing that.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:51am

I find it funny that Vince yells at the Seahawks for running Lynch into a crowded line when everyone knows they're running..and then yells at them for not doing that.

They put themselves in no-win situations both times by going to spread formations in short-yardage. Why not load up with tight ends, or use a sixth lineman as they often did throughout the season?

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:54am

Don't teams actually run better out of spread formations than in other formations? A 6OL formation wouldn't have been a bad idea, I've always wondered why teams don't do that more.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 7:11am

I think, in general, yes, but that assumes defense will adjust to spread formation by going to nickel/dime look. In both these runs, Seattle spread the field, but New England stuffed the box anyway.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:24pm

Right before the Butler pick, I was arguing with a friend about whether the Pats should concede the TD. I was definitely against the idea on 1st down.

The problem with conceding the TD is that it's really not easy to score a FG quickly, esp. not for the Patriots. With Wilson or Flacco you have a QB that can make long passes for quick drives. That's really not Brady's game. And they tried it against the Giants 3 years ago, and it failed.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:36am

That pass reminded me of so many Favre INTs. Billy Schroeder. Corey Bradford. Derrick Mayes. Favre would throw a quick slant to the WR, the DB would jump the route, and either deflect or intercept the ball. It worked for Favre when he had Brooks, Freeman, Walker, Driver, and Jennings. It didn't work with mediocre receivers. I think that play works with Golden Tate or even Baldwin. But you don't do it with an untested WR.

by techvet :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:38pm

Rodgers loves the play with Cobb.

by otros :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:58am

"Aaron Schatz: I'm sure this repeats some of what I've put up on Twitter, but... This is my first time attending the Super Bowl. It's been a really interesting experience but I'm really ready to play this game."

This takes the "we" when talking about the team you root for to a whole new level

by Purds :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:59am

Fun game to watch as a mostly neutral observer (Colts fan). Stunning ending. Too bad it was such a bad call in all aspects (not your strength; no real good upside if the play doesn't work -- how does an incomplete help there?; you have Beast Mode, three downs and a time out left). Would much rather have seen strength against strength and then Nicovich or someone like that cause a fumble, rather than finishing the game wondering: what was he thinking?

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:56am

"how does an incomplete help there?;" The thinking was that if they wanted to get off 3 plays, one of them had to be a pass given the time left. And second down is probably the best time for it.

The real problem was not calling a time out after the first down play. Then again, maybe they were waiting for Bellichick to do it. I certainly was.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:08am

Bingo. They assumed the next act by the opponent, instead of doing what needed to be done, which was either line up fast and get the next play off quickly (which probably makes a run more likely), or call a time out. Go back and see it; they wasted a gigantic chunk of time.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:06am

New England did what I feared they would. Every other great pass offense with a great qb tries to attack seattle conventionally. NE decided to stick with short routes. Even with all the yac and big pass to Gronk, brady's ypa was 6.6. I suspect his average depth of target was 5 yards or less.

This isn't to knock brady, its to celebrate the genius of the pats. Dvoa for years has shown that attacking the middle of the field yields a stronger dvoa than the outside. This strategy effectively Sherman, Maxwell and Thomas.

Personally, after watching this sb, I'm trying to figure out why more teams don't just try to build an offense around slot receivers and tight ends. Outside long throws are risky. Short inside throws where the receiver runs underneath the coverage, typically against linebackers - feels like a no brainer. And honestly, if Brady doesn't throw that pick, the Pats come away with at least a FG and they score on more drives than not. It was just a brilliant approach all around to a terrific defense.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:09am

Ummm, that is conventional for the pats.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:11am

It is and yet no one tries to copy it. Not Rodgers, not Brees, not Peyton. I wish they would, but none do.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:25am

Because they don't have the same scheme and personnel. You can't simply create a dink and dunk offense that relies on quick reads and the league's best TE out of thin air. Plus, it's what Brady excels at so the offense fits. Rodgers and Brady are entirely different QBs.

NE's offense doesn't matchup as well with other teams as well as GB's does. Doesn't make it an inherently better scheme.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:29am

In prior years, other teams have led the league in short dvoa. This isn't something Brady alone has figured out that others have not. Ok, maybe you need Gronk to make it work, but this pattern has been in existence before Gronk was GRONK. 2010, 2009, 2007, even 2008 with Cassel showed that NE is a short passing team.

It may not be a day to day more explosive scheme, but it feels much more effective when you eventually run into a team with a dominant set of corners.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:57am

The Patriots were a short passing team in 2007, the year Moss set the record for most receiving TDs in a single season?

by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:18pm

That was also the first year they had Welker, who caught 112 passes, and Donte' Stallworth, who caught 46 passes (many of which were receiver screens). Moss definitely provided the deep element, but it was the first year for the Patriots that their ball control was focused around short passes from a spread formation.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:55pm

Yeah, I was admittedly being somewhat tongue in cheek.

But while Welker was a big story that year, especially among the people who were really digging into football strategy (as opposed to more casual fans), I don't think anyone would have categorized it as a "short passing offense". Moss was a huge part of that offense, and the downfield passing game was a huge part. It's an element that they don't have in this iteration, honestly.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:00pm

ACtually, I think it was Scott who did a breakdown and found they were actually MORE bent toward passing short than in other years. Sure, they threw bombs to moss, but those were just more effective and remembered than failed bombs to Chad johnson.

by apbadogs :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:00am

Look at the receivers Rodgers and Manning have...would you dink and dunk with them?

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:36am

Average throw was 5.9 yards beyond LOS tonight, which is like nothing.

Brady's 2-of-26 in his Super Bowl career on passes thrown more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
His YPA in the Super Bowl is 6.50.
Yet he's 4-2 in these games and literally can say he's one play away in each from 0-6 or 6-0. It's that tight.

I'm not sure anyone else can be this successful with numbers like that, but they make it work better than anyone. Alex Smith gets crucified for dinking and dunking, but he never puts up the points like Brady. Maybe he would in this system, but we'll never find out. And I still think Brady and Belichick will retire together, so we'll probably never know what Garoppolo can do with BB.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:33am

Alex Smith never had the pocket awareness, mobility, or field vision that Brady had, so I doubt it would have been this successful.

I hate to view this as Brady being unique. I've seen Brees be effective throwing screens and dump offs in 2009 as well. You need a requisite talent for reading defenses and understanding the offense. That said - Ne seems to have read FO more than any other team. Short passes have the best dvoa per risk. So do middle of the field throws. Combine the two and you hit the sweet spot. Why more teams don't try this is a curious puzzle for me.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:57am

"I suspect his average depth of target was 5 yards or less."

It was 5.9. Wilson's was 19.7.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:08am

As a Jets fan I'm so glad Revis got a ring. I'm also resigned to him playing for Rex in Buffalo for the next four years and destroying the rest of the division.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:15am

Ne proved to me that a team, as long as they get enough chances, should eventually win a sb. In some weird way, the colts remind me of the pats. For years they tried and tried and eventually, all the marbles broke their way. Of course, the pats won 3 earlier, but those teams bore little resemblance to this iteration.

It was a total team effort against another excellent team in a very close SB. As always, a few plays here and there made the difference. Congrats to Pat fans and enjoy it. It will hopefully retire Spygate forever.

I will add something personal. As a colts fan and Manning fan, part of me is bitter with jealousy at the Pats. They won during the colts first renaissance and they won again with the new one. Try as Manning could, he was destroyed by this defense one year ago, the same defense(more or less) that the Pats defeated today. Were it as simple as Brady>Manning, I would be more accepting.(seriously, I hated SHaq, but he was the most dominant bball player I ever saw so I accepted it much easier.)

But with the pats, its diff. I noted this after the SPurs won their title. Every year we predict the spurs/pats to die and they never do. They are at the forefront of tactis and intelligence. Popovich and Bellichick are truly special coaches and to be paired with special players like Manu, Gino, Duncan/Gronk, Brady leads to special things. Spygate and deflate gate should not obscure the fact that Bellichick and the pats really are a special special organization. People call it BB voodoo, but there is a reason he is what he is. He truly is amazing and I just wish I had him as a coach, regardless of his faults. The pats are in good hands as long as he coaches.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:48am

An interesting piece might be done on injuries which have occurred during Super Bowls which have had a large impact on the outcome. Losing a db early, and Avril for a good chunk of the 2nd half, really gave New England more options. In February 2008, the Pats lost Stephen Neal, and then the Giants interior pass rush really ramped up. I'm sure there are other examples.

by amin purshottam :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:53pm

In the last SB against the Giants, Gronk was seriously hurt and was a decoy for most of the game. A healthy Gronk and I think the pats win that game.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:51pm

I think that had Brady not wrenched his ankle in the 2007 AFCCG, the Pats win going away. Brady just couldn't avoid the rush. These things happen frequently...such as Welker in that meaningless season finale vs. Houston, and Rodgers this year. It's never a good time to be injured, but there sure are bad times.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:48am

An interesting piece might be done on injuries which have occurred during Super Bowls which have had a large impact on the outcome. Losing a db early, and Avril for a good chunk of the 2nd half, really gave New England more options. In February 2008, the Pats lost Stephen Neal, and then the Giants interior pass rush really ramped up. I'm sure there are other examples.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:52am

Dwight freeney in the 09 sb. Ugh, my heart still aches from that one.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:57am

Yeah, I'd forgotten about that.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:52am

Nose tackle Tim Krumrie, by many accounts, was the 1988 Bengals' best defender. He broke his leg on the second series of Super Bowl XXIII. The Bengals went on to lose 20-16.

by NYMike :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:51am

Shields and Woodson got hurt for the Packers just before half-time in 2011, which led to a closer outcome. The Packers defense dominated before they went out.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:44pm

At the same time, the Steelers O was without Maurkice Pouncey and Emmanuel Sanders

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:21am

Another good one. I'm sure careful review would reveal more to my fogged memory. It might be an interesting article.

by Purds :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:49am

Well, if we can step back one game in the tournament, the Pats losing Talib in last year's AFC Championship was a killer to them and really helped Denver.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:43am

The Patriots lost starting TE Lin Dawson on the first play from scrimmage in SB XX. With his services, maybe they lose 46-16.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:44am

And they also lost both safeties in the win against Carolina, fueling the Delhomme-Smith-Muhammed comeback

by Athelas :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:46am

That's what I was thinking of--when Eugene Wilson went down, that was bad, but when Rodney went down, I didn't think there was any way the Patriots would be able to hold on.

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:49pm

Titans started Super Bowl 34 down starting FS Marcus Robertson and lost starting SS Blaine Bishop during the game. Two backup safeties against the Greatest Show on Turf! Starting wideout Yancey Thigpen, who was 11th in DVOA that year, also missed the game.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:38am

What happens at the end of the game if Seattle hadn't gone offsides? Does Brady take the safety and then Seattle is trying to drive to win in the last few seconds with a field goal?

by Amp :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:05am

As a neutral I was so disappointed when Seattle jumped offsides - was really interested to see what was going to happen there.

by Led :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:06pm

Easily could've been a false start on the center there. He nods his head sharply twice. You see a center look back through his legs when the QB is in the shotgun all the time, but Brady was under center. The only reason for the center's head movement there is to simulate a snap. And it worked. It actually worked twice but the first time the DL got back.

by duh :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:23am

Brady dives forward and down and hold on to the ball for all he is worth.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:45am

Problem is that the game was relying so much on the snap count there. The Seahawks pretty much had to try to guess the snap..if they gave Brady even half a second he'd be right back at the line of scrimmage.

by apbadogs :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:02am

I don't see anyway they would take a safety there and give the ball back to Seattle with decent field position, 2 timeouts and only needing a FG to win.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:28am

I was thinking dive forward to half yardline, make Seattle use last timeout, then take the safety. Which would have cost me money in one of those stupid random grid pools, but hey, sure would have made things interesting. Would have given Wilson one last chance for some deep ball magic.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:13pm

Unless BB has said differently, I doubt taking a safety was ever part of the plan. 2 Brady snaps and non-aggressive sneaks making sure to keep the ball out of the endzone. Glad it didn't come to that...

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:22pm

Up 4, a safety is a terrible idea. Up 6, it's not bad. A safety there would have let the Seahawks win with a FG.

Great execution on the hard snap count to get the offside.

by mbmxyz :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 3:10am

Brady said they used a silent snap count the entire game. He drew Seatle offsides on last series using a three nod silent count, the only three nod count he used in the game. Have no idea who does the nodding or even if a silent count nod is similar to a a nod as generally understood.

by Athelas :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 7:22am

Brady said it was the center who does the head bob. Brady & Belichick had discussed this prior to the play and thought there was a chance that going from the 2-head bob they had used during the whole game to the 3-head bob might get the aggressive Seahawks to jump offsides.

As anyone who has seen one of the Belichick A Football Life knows from listening to Belichick explaining to the late Marquise Hill in training camp, if the offense is backed way up on its own goal line, if the O is called for offsides, that is a 6-inch penalty, but if they get the defense to jump, it gives them 5 yards. This is drilled into every Patriots player constantly.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:24am

Another thing I wanted to say was, regardless of how it ended, it was a great effort by Seattle considering the state of their defense. Their secondary was all sorts of banged up (Sherman apparently needs Tommy John surgery), they lost their best pass rusher in the third and they were so thin at DT they were playing a fullback there at times. Just another reminder that you need to be good and lucky to win, and the injury gods were not smiling on them.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:29am

Well last year they caught all the breaks, and you can't win 'em all. I honestly think the Pats would've won at least another ring and possibly several more if they could've kept Gronk healthy the past few seasons. Seattle put up a hell of a fight, under the circumstances. I thought Seattle's Achilles heel was the inadequacy of their receivers, and I bet Percy Harvin and Golden Tate enjoyed last night, even if they wouldn't admit it. It seems fitting that the Patriots walk away with the trophy following the worst season of my lifetime (you can trace the frustration from Detroit through Dallas and Green Bay before getting to the super bowl)

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:39am

Seattle's receivers were a problem throughout the season. At one point they went 5 wide and all of those guys were undrafted! That's gotta be unprecedented.

Letting Tate go and keeping Harvin was a massive blunder.

With that said, I don't think the receivers were a problem in this game. The defense did more to lose the game than their offense, which was understandable given the lack of health.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:48am

The defense was devastated with injuries. Personally, I put the game losing interception on Lockette, not Wilson. You can't let the corner deny you position there (of course the play call was original sin)

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:58am

I know WHY the defense lost the game and I don't blame them at all, but they did lose it.

I still don't think the play call was that bad and that Wilson's getting off a bit easy. Scott alludes to it in the commentary. If Tony Romo throws that pick, all the discussion is on him and none of it is on Jason Garrett or Bill Callahan's play calling.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 7:38am

If Romo or Manning got killed for that throw, it'd be stupid, is the subtext of that comment. That's why you bring up the poster children for unreasonable criticism

by apbadogs :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:03am

That's because Wilson has won a SB and he's the "aww shucks, I'm such a great guy" QB.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:17pm

Jesus likes him quite a bit as well...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:28am

Seattle had a very weird night on offense. Ultra effectiveness at times, and then complete non-effectiveness. When you are thin on defense due to injury, you need your offense to minimize three and outs, when playing a smart qb who can be effective while throwing 50 times. I thought Seattle's offense stunk in the fourth quarter, and really, after getting their last score, despite getting down to the goal line on their last possession.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:49pm

"Seattle had a very weird night on offense. Ultra effectiveness at times, and then complete non-effectiveness."

That's pretty much been the offense all year. Wilson seems like an incredibly streaky quarterback, prone to going an hour without completing a pass and then suddenly morphing into a combo of Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:43am

I need to go rewatch the final minute or so in real time because it was a mess!!

- I'm not entirely convinced that Marshawn Lynch didn't go down to avoid scoring the touchdown with 1-min to go.
- I'm surprised BB didn't concede the TD, like he did for Ahmad Bradshaw against the Giants three year ago, to give Brady a minute to play offense.
- I'm surprised that BB didn't use one of his timeouts with a minute to go. Letting the clock tick down to 20-secs for the next Seattle play seemed foolish.
- Obviously there is the question of why Seattle called a pass rather than try to punch it in with a RB who had made positives gains on just about every one of his 24 runs.
- I'll let Butler off for running the ball out of the endzone instead of going down for the touchback because it was so in the moment.
- I'd like to see the incident the refs called the Patriots for unsportsmanlike conduct after the interception. I got the impression it was for celebration which given the situation seemed like a harsh call.
- Would have been interesting to see how the Patriots played from the endzone - interesting to see them initially set up in the standard victory formation with the two players at the back of the endzone which misunderstands their role as being to prevent an opposition player running a fumble back!
- The massive brawl that ensued after the first kneeldown was just against the flow of the game. Real shame but will be quickly forgotten.

But I just watched the Super Bowl and thought "Wow just wow, what an amazing game".

by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:35am

On Butlers int they would have spotted the ball at the 1 yard line, even if he downed it, as that is where he caught before momentum push him back into the end zone.

by Cythammer :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:53am

If he took it back into the endzone from the 1 and downed it or got tackled, wouldn't that be a safety? I remember some Rams player doing this a few years ago.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:41am

Only if he intentionally brought the ball into the end zone. If Butler got down it would have been a touchback, because it was the force of the collision that knocked him into the end zone.

by Sakic :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:42pm

That is the rule but from what I've seen over the years the referees are surprisingly stingy when it comes to ruling a touchback on an interception near the goal line. I've seen many occasions where a DB has made an interception near the one yard line going full steam and falls down in the end zone and they still rule him down at the one. He may have been coached to bring the ball out no matter what until he hears the whistle.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:47am

" I'm surprised BB didn't concede the TD, like he did for Ahmad Bradshaw against the Giants three year ago, to give Brady a minute to play offense."

Yeah, but that didn't work. I'm glad the Pats played defense, and that's not just hindsight.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:36pm

There's a massive difference between conceding the touchdown up four when the other team needs the touchdown, versus up two when the other team is in easy game-winning-field-goal range and able to run out the clock. In the former, conceding the touchdown when the other team isn't guaranteed to get it is an enormous gamble. In the latter, it's close to being the only possible way you can win because the other team are actually more likely to win if they don't score the touchdown.

by Lyford :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:34pm

" I'm glad the Pats played defense, and that's not just hindsight."

I'm glad they played defense, too, but in my case it's entirely hindsight. ;-) I was actually yelling at the TV when they stopped Lynch on first down. I thought they would have been in a much better position had he scored with 1:05 left then tackling him at the one left them in.

Whether that's right or wrong, I'm glad that it worked out the way it did...

by duh :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:32pm

I can't quite decide if Belichick decided to not call timeout to give Seattle the chance to make a mistake at the end there or if he was standing there thinking 'not again, this CAN'T be happening again' like most Patriots fans

by DRohan :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 4:33am

The more I think about it, I wonder if BB was forcing Seattle to consider the pass. Calling TO would make it possible for them to go run-run-run. But I may be overthinking it a bit.

by dryheat :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 8:37am

I think everyone's overthinking it. Given the clock and scoreboard, I think Belichick decided to win or lose on that goalline stand. He wasn't going to change personnel based on Seattle's offensive package, so let the game play out and hopefully your guys win the mini-game, and consequently, the actual game.

by Bucs_Rule :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:04am

With 20 seconds left and one timeout, if Seattle runs the ball and gets stuffed they burn that timeout. That happens again and they don’t have time to run a play on 4th down.

Either 2nd or 3rd down has to be a pass. If you run on 2nd down, you risk that on 3rd down if a player gets tackled before the endzone the game is over. Another reason to pass on 2nd down is New England LBs and Safeties would be playing the run, a great spot for a play-action pass to a TE or Lynch.

On that last play Lynch quickly got behind his defender for an easy TD catch. His defender hesitated whether to follow Lynch or watch for Wilson sneak. On play-action the effects would be much greater.

by DGL :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:20am

They had 20 seconds left and one timeout for two reasons: 1, they let the clock run down to 0:26 before snapping the ball on the second down play, and 2, they burned a timeout at the beginning of the drive with the clock stopped to avoid a delay of game penalty.

Both were stupid. Lynch was tackled with about 1:00 left on the clock; they could have easily snapped the second-down play at 0:40 or sooner. Even with one time out left, that's plenty of time to get off three plays without "having" to pass on any of them. (Second down at 0:40, play ends at 0:35; third down at 0:20, play ends at 0:15, call TO if neither of those two had a clock stoppage.)

And calling the TO at 1:50 with the clock stopped before 2-10 at the NE 49 blew my mind. There's 1:50 left and you're at midfield - yseems to me the time out is worth a lot more than the 5 yards.

by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:24pm

I'm not convinced that Seattle played the clock wrong. If they score a TD, there's a huge difference between kicking off to Brady with 40 seconds left than with 20 seconds left. I think they were right to run it down to 20 seconds, and I actually don't hate the play call either.

If they run on second down and get stuffed - which had happened with two previous short-yardage Lynch runs in this game - then they have to pass on third down because they'd be out of timeouts. But if they pass and anything but an interception happens, then they can be unpredictable on both third and fourth down. It should have been a safe throw, and Butler just made a great play.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:47pm

I keep reading about Seattle needing to be unpredictable. Who gives a shit about predictability? You're at the 1. You are a power rushing team. NE struggles in this situation. Why on earth do you need to be unpredictable? You line up and win the battle in order for your beast of a running back to advance 36 inches. This isn't freaking rocket science. Do what you do best with your best players. Don't try and do something you don't excel in simply because it is unexpected. You don't need that to be successful here.

by D2K :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:49pm

"Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman the paperboy the evening Tv"

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:10am

NE faced Baltimore with a stout d line and a weak secondary. The dline had McFee, Suggs, and Dumerville. Ne Prevailed.

Ne then face Seattle with their legion of boom - Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman. NE Prevailed.

How? Because the approach they take avoids both. Quick passes to neutralize the rush and passes short to the inside to avoid the secondary. Again, dvoa supports the view that short intermediate routes have the highest payoff. Unless you take the view that Brady is the only qb that can make such a system work(which the evidence doesn't support), I don't get why others don't mimic this.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:17am

I agree with you. Every time I watch Brady, I find myself thinking "couldn't anyone do this?". I objectively know that not many people could, but it just looks so easy. I think the main thing it takes is patience and discipline. A lot of teams have intermittent success on short passes against Seattle, but for whatever reason, they get away from it and wind up behind in the down and distance. I find it interesting that another offense that had a lot of success against Seattle was KC, whose offense is basically a poor mans version of the Patriots offense.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 7:24am

Well there's certainly a premium level of skill in being able to perform something which, on it's own may be relatively straightforward, over and over again, under extreme pressure, without error. KC were able to execute for games, even stretches of games at a time this season, but eventually their consistency dropped away. New England's didn't.

For European soccer fans a good Brady comparison would be Xavi Hernandez, the Barcelona/Spain legend, who would seldom if ever make a highlight reel, but achieved a level of consistent technical excellence in ball control and short passing game after game, season after season, that is basically unmatched in the history of the game.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:37am

Yeah, it's really not that easy. Not only do you have to have a QB who is very accurate on short throws, and makes incredibly pre-snap and post-snap adjustments, but you have to receivers who almost never drop the ball. There were maybe 1-2 drops on a very high volume of throws, and some of Brady's even have that downward trajectory that's difficult to catch. Edelman and Gronk obviously, but also Vereen have great hands.

by MJK :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:01pm

Also, receivers who are incredibly smart and trained in the offense. NE runs one of the most complicated pass offenses in the league. That's the reason why LaFell was not a factor early in the season, and why so many WRs have failed in NE despite having Brady throwing them the ball. Routes and timing are all predicated by pre snap reads by the QB AND the WR.

by SandyRiver :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:32pm

I think Tanier's post-game write-up brought up a good point. Except at TE, Pats' receivers are a level down from the league's best corps, but they are undoubtably the most flexible. Add Vereen and there are five good receivers who can all line up at all the receiver positions, and no one is better than NE at adjusting formations to dictate who covers who. Other teams try to adjust and one still sees games in which the weak link gets targeted 15+ times and the best cover guys only twice.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 6:25am

I remember reading an article where BB was essentially looking for two things in a QB - good decision-making and accurate. That describes Brady and the offense you see being run. There's a reason why Ryan Mallett is no longer the backup in New England (I'm not sure which).

And then you just need guys who can catch ball after ball. If I recall last year Brady had a group of WRs who dropped balls time and time again but they still made it to the Championship game.

Osi Umeniyora was in the studio for the British broadcast and he talked about how the Giants used pressured by Justin Tuck up the middle to take away Brady's comfort zone of stepping up in the two SBs they won. Last night Brady's 2nd int came up after a spell of that kind of pressure - where although the Seahawks weren't getting to him, he became unsettled.

But essentially the offense you describe is very effective if the QB makes the right decision, throws accurately and the guys can catch.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:52am

In both games the Patriots found the one weakness in the other team's secondary: Melvin on the Ravens, Simon on the Seahawks.

It's better to have a complete offense than to be reduced to using only dink-and-dunks. One of the problems is that it takes so many plays to move the ball, and a lot of things can go wrong on any play: penalties, turnovers...

The Pats' O-line deserves credit for protecting Brady all day. After their struggles early and late in the season, that was an impressive effort.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:57am

Also credit the Pats defense for getting a lot of three and outs, driving up the amount of time the Seattle pass rushers were on the field. Bill Walsh always said the key to NFL football was a 4th quarter pass rush. Bill was nodding his head from the Great Film Room in The Sky last night.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 7:46am

Seattle fans can now identify with Packer fans where the coaching staff have a guy perfect for a situation but the coaches choose like the fifth best option for a critical play. McCarthy will have John Kuhn carry the ball near the goal line but heaven forbid he trust his uber qb. Guess some of that rubbed off on Bevell. Sorry about that.

Seattle's defense finally ran out of gas. NE was breaking tackles late where for three quarters guys were getting wrapped up.

Seattle is getting killed for the late 3 and outs but if the refs call an obvious interference where the Pats defender lunged after falling down to trip the Seattle WR maybe the Hawks do something on that drive.

Surprised Wilson didn't keep the ball a bit more on the read options. The Patriots were completely selling out on Lynch carring the ball. The end was repeatedly crashing down the line. Why does Wilson kill GB on that play but was fine always giving the ball to Lynch?

Except, of course, at the one yard line

by Cythammer :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:13am

Looking back over the whole playoffs, it's disappointing how many outcomes were heavily affected by injuries and/or strange refereeing decisions. I think Seattle would've won if they hadn't lost Lane and Avril, but then again they would've lost last week if Rodgers was 100%.

The defenses of the decision to pass make some sense, but that still doesn't change the play choice itself being wretched. Running a risky play with a high change of an interception is insane. Why not have Wilson roll out with instructions to only throw it if a player is wide, wide open? This just seems like common sense the average person who's played Madden for a few hours could've provided.
And is it that important to get in three plays if one of those plays has a much higher chance of disaster? Running twice with Lynch from the one-yard line seems like a better option to me than three plays if the first of those is a pass.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:44pm

I think the Packers win the SB with a healthy Rodgers. Very unfortunate for them.

by ansum :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 3:19am

Injuries are real. Every week! That's just football.

by billsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 8:13am

First multi-int SB MVP since TB12 in XIV.

by apbadogs :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:06am

I thought Edelmann would get it.

by billsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:02am

Me too. Besides just the 9/109/1, Edelman made the play that most changed the outcome of the game when he dove head-first into Lane's knees after the first INT, knocking him out of the game with that disgusting-in-slow motion broken arm.

by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:08am

He was the Patriots' entire offense, for good and for bad.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:17am

I keep hearing on how Brady 'stepped it up' in the fourth quarter. I don't know how you laud the qb and not acknowledge that the Seahawks pass rush vanished once Avril went down. Like that 3rd and 14 play where he had forever and was able to easily step up to make a pass. That type of action was completely not possible the first three quarters as the Seattle d-line was making it impossible.

New England was able to help more on Bennett once Cliff was out. Irvin is a one trick pony so not a worry there for a decent lineman who can move laterally.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:36am

This is where Seattle's offensive variance killed the Seattle defense. The three and outs (one aided, as you note, by a dpi non-call) killed the Seattle pass rushers, especially given Avril was out.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 9:37am

delete repeat

by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:12am

One interesting thing that I haven't seen covered much is the big hit Chancellor put on Edelman in the second half. It was referenced as a strategic element in Audibles, but not from a health aspect. For what it's worth, I was watching the game with seven other people, and every one of us thought Edelman was clearly concussed - both watching him run after the hit and a few other times after that. He also referred to the Seahawks as "St. Louis" in a postgame interview. Yet he played the rest of the game, without undergoing concussion protocol.

With concussion awareness being such a hot button issue, I think it's interesting that such an obvious hit on the biggest stage of the year is getting overlooked.

by aces4me :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:25am

I wonder if it was because the play wasn't penalized. It made it easier to ignore it.

by apbadogs :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:39pm

I think his not going down and continue to run played into it as well. He wasn't knocked flat and then got up woozy.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:26am

All the Internet docs insist that Wilson was concussed by the Matthews hit but no questions or comments by the media after the game or in the following two weeks.

Pretty obvious that in big games unless the player all but passes out the team is sticking him back in the game

Nor do I read of any of the fans of the respective teams complaining.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:39am

Surprised the heck out of me too. I was stunned Edelman stayed in the game.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:25pm

Agreed. He took a huge hit and then after his elbow and knee touched the ground he did not know he was down.

by Lyford :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:43pm

"For what it's worth, I was watching the game with seven other people, and every one of us thought Edelman was clearly concussed - both watching him run after the hit and a few other times after that."

Interesting. I didn't notice the (unpenalized) helmet-to-helmet hit (looking at elbow and knee) and never saw anything that made me even wonder about Edelman until people starting tweeting about it three or four minutes later.

He also referred to the Seahawks as "St. Louis" in a postgame interview. Yet he played the rest of the game, without undergoing concussion protocol.

According to Dr. Chao, Edelman did, in fact, undergo the concussion protocol.


" Much of the confusion and uproar stems from a misinterpretation that the concussion protocol requires all concussion checks be performed off the field. Perhaps the use of “check” causes the confusion. Concussion checks or screens are done on the sidelines. If there is suspicion of head injury as a result of the screen, that subsequent concussion check or evaluation is performed in the locker room. Of course, doctors can choose to bypass the sidelines if on field symptoms are evident.

I am not defending the current rules and one can argue that the current protocol is inadequate. However, from my vantage point the existing concussion protocol was followed..."

by ansum :: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 3:25am

I get your point but I didn't feel that it was obvious that Edelman was concussed given our footage. If you want something egregious, watch Cribbs get KO'd and return shortly after (if i remember correctly).


by big10freak :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:32am

On a minor note I didn't expect 'falconfan' vanishing type act in the Audibles.

I expected the Seattle fans who were so engaged in previous threads to be here posting their thoughts.

Not a criticism. Just surprised.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:41am

uh, maybe because it's still early in the morning on the west coast

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:55am

Hasn't slowed those posters down in the past.

Again, just an observation.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:25pm

Perfundle is probable, Pen is questionable...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:31pm

Pen would need to explain how Brady suddenly acquired the RisingUPWhenitReallyMatters Clutch-o-meter, that he was sure Russell Wilson had title to, until two weeks ago.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:36pm

Well I guess none of them showed up. Perfundle will probably show up on a later thread, but most of the rest I could do without.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:08pm

Some are probably still staring at the TV in disbelief

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:39pm

Give them a break dude, I couldn't go near anything NFL related after the niners lost to the Ravens. There are several Seatrolls I'd happily be rid of but the more reasonable ones will need a little time too.

by aces4me :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:38am

I'm a Pats fan and if we would have lost that game I wouldn't have read a football related website for 6 months. I don't blame them at all.

by Athelas :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:48am

After the 2007 Super Bowl, I didn't have anything to do with sports until a month into the Red Sox regular season. I know what it is to lose like that and I feel for them.

But I am just so freaking happy today! Work is closed for a snow storm so I'm just watching and reading everything Super Bowl all day!

by Purds :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:35am

Enjoy it, Ahelas! I am certainly not a Pats fan, but I am glad for all you guys living around me (I live in CT)!

by nat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:53am

One thing people seem to be missing about the final, fateful pass by WIlson is that Lynch had not been very successful on short yardage earlier in the game. He had been stuffed on 3 of 5 attempts (2 of 3 inside the ten). In this situation, with the Patriots forced to sell out against Lynch, he might have had a 1/3 chance of scoring.

If he had run and failed, Seattle would need to burn its last timeout, and then either throw a pass, run and risk the clock running out, or kick on third down for a little bit less than 50% chance of winning in OT. A pass play is most likely. Except this time the Patriots would be ready: Much riskier.

With a pass on second down, the Seahawks got to run the passing play in favorable circumstances. With the kind of pass called, the only thing bad that could happen was an interception. An incomplete would allow them another play with both the run and pass good options.

Too bad for them (and a great play by the Patriots) that Wilson threw the pick. But don't blame the call. It was gutsy, but it was playing for the best chance to win, based on how Lynch had done so far in the game.

Finding someone to blame is fun, in a shallow kind of way. But sometimes your team loses because the other team made one more great play than your guys did.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:09am

If a pass is to be called, there are better ones to choose from, with a lower int chance. If what Carroll said was true, that they saw the pass as a throw-away, fine if the scored, fine if they didn't, then that isn't the pass to call.

I'm, going to back and check; I think the Seahawk wasted a huge amount of time between Lynch's first down run, and getting the snap off on the pass. I think they made a real mistake in assuming a Pats timeout, when there is absolutely nothing to be gained from making that assumption. I mean, if the Pats call it, then you'll have all the time in the world to decide what to do. The Seahawks were coming out of a timeout when Lynch ran on first down. They should have a had a 2nd play called with the same personnel package, and should have gotten it off within a just a few seconds of Lynch being stopped short of the end zone. If the Pats call time out, fine, you can adjust then. This is the end of the game, and you don't have the luxury of wasting seconds.

by DGL :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:26am

Yes - the first down play started at 1:06 (so ended around 1:00); the second down play was snapped at 0:26. SEA should have easily been able to get off the second down play by 0:40 or so, and had no problem running three plays without being in an obvious passing situation in any of them.

Of course, if they hadn't wasted a TO to avoid a delay penalty on 2-10 from the 49 with 1:50 left, they could have let the clock run down to 0:26 and still been able to run three plays without being in an obvious passing situation.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:34am

I suspect very strongly that Carroll, in a very intellectually lazy manner, simply assumed Belichik would call time out, when there was absolutely no advantage in making that assumption, and then they were disorganized and flustered when it wasn't called. Really no excuse for this.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:37pm

It's akin to McCarthy likely assuming in overtime that Carroll would have his team go into a shell to play for a field goal once Seattle got to the Packers 35 yard line because that is what Mike would have done.


by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:28pm

I disagree with your analysis of the clock management. I think Seattle was correct to run the clock down to about 20 seconds before second down, because it gave them plenty of time to run three plays (so long as one was a pass) while minimizing the amount of time New England would have to respond in case of a score.

The only advantage to snapping the ball at 40 seconds would be that Seattle could have run the ball three times, but I think that's outweighed by giving the Patriots a real shot at a FG drive to respond, instead of giving them the ball back with under 20 seconds left.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:17pm

If you don't think there is an advantage in not telling the defense whether you are likely going to pass or run, we will have to differ. There's a reason why Belichik didn't let them score on first down. Having a four point lead in the last minute of the game is a helluva lot better than being 3 points behind, unless you know for an absolute fact that you are going to have a good chance at a td to win the game in regulation.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:09am

If he had run and failed, Seattle would need to burn its last timeout, and then either throw a pass, run and risk the clock running out, or kick on third down for a little bit less than 50% chance of winning in OT.

If they'd kicked a field goal, they'd have lost 28-27. Touchdown was the only option for Seattle.

by nat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:28am

Oops. I forgot it was down four not three. My bad.

It was the Patriots who had the option to kick for a tie. Duh.

So I think the point of passing was to preserve the chance to have three tries to score. A stuffed run would have forced the timeout, which would have forced a pass on third down.

Unless Carroll had the biggest balls ever, and ran on third down, knowing a failure would end the game.

It's all moot, though. The 1.5-3.0% chance came through, and the pass wasn't just knocked down. It was intercepted.

by jfsh :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:04am

Am I the only one who thinks Belichick's decision not to call a timeout at the end of the game was one of the craziest, ballsiest, best (in hindsight) coaching decisions ever? Way crazier than letting the other team score. With all that time coming off, the Patriots were incredibly unlikely to score if they got the ball back. But everyone was expecting the timeout, and you could almost feel the pressure and stress build as they realized no time out was coming. It certainly paid off.

Incredibly Belichickian. Time running down, he coolly pushes all his chips into the middle of the table knowing his opponent will blink first. I am confident in saying no other coach in the league would have made that call.

by SFC B :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:09am

I thought that too when it was happening. When he didn't call TO immediately after the run to the 1 I figured they were just going to let their defense try and hold. Incredibly ballsy.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:14am

It worked out because his opponent somewhat stupidly assumed the timeout would be called, when there was nothing to be gained from making that assumption. Whether Belichik thought it might result in confusion on the Seahawks' part is something I don't know.

by Jeremy Billones :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:01pm

Actually, I think many coaches wouldn't have called time out, but simply because they hadn't considered trying to conserve time for their offense. Other coaches would have called time out once the offense was in formation, to set their defense. We credit Belichick for the ability to recognize the need to conserve time for the offense *and* deliberately choose not to, possibly to pressure the offense.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:03pm

My feeling about that is that Belichick didn't put much value into "our drive after the Seahawks score". The Pats tried that against the Giants 3 years ago and it amounted to nothing. They were better off this time trying to stop the TD in the first place.

A timeout there would have helped Seattle. BB looked at the field, like the matchup he saw, and decided he didn't want to give Seattle a time out to let them re-think their offense. If he'd called a time out, that would have given the Seahawks an extra 30 seconds or so and also an opportunity to change back to a running formation.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:30pm

My feeling about that is that Belichick didn't put much value into "our drive after the Seahawks score".

That's my feeling as well. While NE was generally able to move the ball on SEA during the game, they were only able to do it using methods that were time-consuming. I frankly don't think they had much of a chance to get into even marginal FG range with only 45 sec and one time out.

by CaffeineMan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:05pm

I thought it was gutsy as well (in hindsight) but at the time I thought it was the right call and I didn't even think twice about it. Given how you have to attack the Seahawks defense, I couldn't see the Pats getting down the field in the amount of time that would have been left, timeouts taken or no. Thus, the decision to go all in on this drive and bet on the defense rather than the offense. It felt right to me and I was surprised at all the hullabaloo afterwards about it. I guess it was another "4th and 2" kind of a call, looking back.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:42pm

A decision that works in hindsight does not make it a good decision. Betting your life savings on a Keno card is a awful decision that could end up with you extending your wealth beyond your wildest dreams. Doesn't make the decision correct, just means you got lucky. That happens literally all the time.

by jfsh :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:38pm

Oh, I totally agree. But none of us knows the true probabilities of the possible outcomes at that point - all we can look at is whether it seemed logical and whether it worked or not.

And even though it seemed totally crazy to me not to call a TO, it also looked to my eyes like it had a positive effect for the Patriots in that the Seahawks got flustered. Whether Belichick knew that would happen or not, we can only speculate. For most other coaches, maybe ever other coach, I would say absolutely not.

But The Hooded One is a different breed.

by CaffeineMan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:45pm

Not sure if you were replying to me, but the hindsight comment was my hindsight regarding it being a controversial choice, not whether I thought it was a gutsy choice. I still think it was absolutely the right call, given how difficult it was to move the ball rapidly on the Seahawks D, and I thought so at the time as well.

by Peregrine :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:22am

Some thoughts on the final sequence.

* Seattle spent two timeouts earlier on the drive that might have been useful in the end.

* After the crazy Kearse catch, the Seahawks had 1st and goal at the 5 with 1:06 left and one timeout. Trailing 28-24, they need a touchdown and have up to four plays to do it. The Patriots have two timeouts.

* Personally, after that Kearse catch, I think the Seahawks should have channeled Gus Malzahn, the Auburn head coach, and gone to the tempo run offense. Run the ball up to four times with either Lynch or Wilson handling each time, while the clock continues to run between plays. This maximizes the number of plays you can run, gives you the best chance of scoring on any single play, limits the ability for the Patriots to substitute, and also burns clock so that the Patriots will have limited time to score a tying FG.

* I think the Seahawks were surprised that Belichick didn’t call timeout after the Lynch run that set up 2nd and goal at the 1 with about 55 seconds left and the clock running. At the conclusion of that play, the Seahawks had all the time they needed, as well as one timeout, to get up to three more cracks at the touchdown. But they let the clock run down to 26 seconds before snapping the ball on the intercepted pass. In my view, the Seahawks made the mistake of putting themselves under time pressure. It wasn’t a concern until they made it that way. Their priority should have been scoring the touchdown, not burning down clock.

* Before the 2nd down snap, I was talking to the TV and calling for the Wilson keeper off the read option. Worst case scenario, if he’s pinned by a DE, he can scramble outside the box and throw it away, bringing up 3rd down and still having the timeout so you can do whatever you want on both 3rd and 4th downs.

* There was some debate about whether the Patriots should let the Seahawks score, but Belichick made the right decision to make a stand. The Seahawks needed a touchdown and there’s no guarantee they’d get it even with four cracks (witness the Niners-Ravens contest from two seasons before). When the Patriots let the Giants score in the 2012 Super Bowl, at the time they were up two points and the Giants could simply sit for the FG.

* Was Belichick right to not call timeout? I find that decision harder to defend. If the Patriots call timeout after the Lynch run, then if the Seahawks score on the next play New England would have like 45-50 seconds and one timeout to kick a FG. If the Seahawks had scored on that 2nd down play after running the clock down to 26 seconds, I think the Patriots would haven’t had a realistic chance to get the FG. But by not calling timeout, it seems Belichick put the pressure of time on the Seahawks coaches and they didn’t respond as well as they should have.

* Heck of a play by Butler. Weird play call.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:28am

Exactly. It takes Seattle more than 40 seconds, coming out of a time out, to run Lynch down to the goal line, and then get the next snap off. This is a very, very, severe coaching failure, much worse than the play call itself. Seconds are gold in that situation, and it is completely inexcusable to waste than many, coming out of a time out. That is completely, wholly, on Carroll.

by nat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:43am


The issue was that running the second down play any sooner than they did risked a "let them score" response by the Patriots, with time and timeouts enough to drive for a field goal and OT.

It wasn't a failure of clock management by either coach. Carroll took a final Patriots field goal drive for OT out of the equation. Belichick countered by using the clock to constrain Carroll's options.

Carroll countered again by calling a pass play to preserve his chance to run three plays from the one yard line... at a small risk of an interception. That's a risk he would have faced if he had called a second down run that got stuffed anyway. Unfortunately, the risk did not pay off.

Ballsy. By both coaches.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:58am

If I have to risk having the lead within the last minute of the game, or risk being behind in the last minute of the game, I'm taking the former risk. If you want to run a "throw away" pass play, as Carroll called it, then you don't run one that involves a throw into the middle of the field where the qb has to get the ball out very fast.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:00pm

Do you really want a slow moving pass play? If I'm worried about anything on a pass play at that point, it's a sack, not an INT. I'd rather call a pass that gets out of my QB's hand quickly than some Russell Wilson Scramblepalooza.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:18pm

Russell Wilson's strength is being smart with his feet. There isn't a qb in the league I'd rather have on a goal line bootleg, with the knowledge that he can't take a sack, and does not absolutely need to throw for the td. The guy is just incredibly smart at getting out of bounds, or throwing it away, when it is called for.

In contrast, there's at least a half dozen qbs, maybe more, I'd rather have, if healthy, throw the pass that was picked off.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:38pm

I'll have to maybe admit that I haven't watched as much Russell Wilson as other people, then. I don't think of that as a particularly difficult throw, or one outside of Wilson's skill set. But I can't claim to be a particularly skilled football observer.

by Sakic :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:25pm

It depends on the type of play called. If I was 100% sold on going with the pass I would've gone with a play action roll out giving Wilson the option throwing for it, running for it, or just tossing it quickly out of bounds if there is nothing there. With the world expecting Beastmode in that situation maybe you leak a tight end out wide open in the clear. In any case, barring a sack they can still go either run or pass on the final two plays with the timeout remaining.

Edit: My response was for Duke, not Will, slow typing today but it looks like he had the same thought I did.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:07pm

Apparently the Seahawks were intentionally burning clock.
Their prior playoff loss had happened when they took a 1-point lead on Atlanta, only for the Falcons to have a game-winning FG drive with less than a minute on the clock. And two weeks ago, GB had a FG-tying drive with less than a minute on the clock.

Carroll learned from experience, but he took the wrong lesson. Both the Falcons and the Packers have much better deep passing games than the Pats do. By over-fearing a potential comeback, Carroll put the cart in front of the horse. He needed to make "scoring a TD" the only priority, and not worry about burning clock.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:22pm

I really, really, think people underestimate the disadvantage of being down 3 points with forty seconds left, against a good defense, even with possession of the ball on your own 20.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:59pm

" I really, really, think people underestimate the disadvantage of being down 3 points with forty seconds left, against a good defense, even with possession of the ball on your own 20."

Were the Seahawks a good defense at that point? They were missing their best pass rusher, their best corner was playing with an injury that requires Tommy John surgery, their star safety had a massive knee brace, and they had a corner who shouldn't have been on the field. The Patriots had shredded them two drives in a row, and I don't think a third was unlikely even with only 40 seconds left.

I thought Bellichick made a massive mistake in not calling timeout, but it ended up working out for him.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:04pm

Agreed. I don't think he can implicitly know that Seattle would be discombobulated on the next play. Seattle having a timeout pretty much ensured they could run whatever they wanted. And given its at the 1, the better probability is that they are going to score. It was a shockingly dumb decision from a coach who should know better.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:23pm

The Patriots had shredded them two drives in a row, and I don't think a third was unlikely even with only 40 seconds left.

NE "shredded" them via clock-consuming sequences of short passes over and over again. No time for that with 45 sec left even with a timeout. NE did not have big-play capability vs. SEA that night.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:36am

Well, then there's the question of NE's odds of getting into FG range in 45 seconds with one timeout.

One thing we saw all game was that NE could not move the ball quickly (in terms of clock). Only moved it via lots of short, middle stuff. Exactly the sort of things that burn the clock that NE didn't have.

Maybe BB figured that playing with Carroll's mind there was their only chance? I have no idea. I would be lying if I didn't say *I* was yelling for the timeout, though. (Well, alternating between that and "Jesus f****ng Christ, not three games in a row!")

by aces4me :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:44am

You and every other Pats fan on the planet.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:08pm

I had left the room because I didn't want to watch the replay of the Tyree helmet catch. :)

by SandyRiver :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:53pm

The association made by every Pats fan, I'm sure. So what do we call the Kearse catch? (Or does it not matter because it didn't decide the game?) My nominee is "pinball catch", as the ball hit Kearse at least four times, on various places, before he finally grabbed it.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:58pm

For whatever reason (well, probably the juggling) it reminded me of this Jason Sehorn pick 6: http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-york-giants/0ap2000000148684/Jason-Sehorn-...

In other news, I couldn't remember Sehorn's name, but a google search for "new york giants db married to actress" puts him at the top of the list. So he's got that going for him.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:15pm

Kearse's catch reminded me of the Packers-Vikings game won in OT on this catch by Antonio Freeman.

by dank067 :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:59pm

Was somewhat disappointed Michaels didn't bring up the resemblance to the Freeman catch since he was on the call for that one too! But given that it happened 14 years ago and he's called god knows how many games over the years I'm sure it was nowhere near the top of his head.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:49pm

Agree with pretty much all of this, Peregrine. Adding...

**IMO, Seahawks lost that game more than Pats won it. Still think the Seahawks are/were the better team, but coaching (and injuries) really let them down. Why weren't they running the ball more even when it was 24-21?

**The iffy latehit call in the 3rd quarter on Edelman ended up being a huge call. I know we can do this all day with calls, but that one really stands out. Maybe Pats still score, but if they didn't, not sure if Seattle throws the ball rest of the game.

**Speaking of Edelman, he (probably) should not been in the game after the hit he took. NFL has to get better about this, these guys shouldn't be playing after these head hits. I'm sure Avril wanted back in, but it was correct to take him out of the game. Edelman should have been taken out too.

**Agree with anyone saying that Lockette didn't go get that ball. He did not. And heck of a play by Butler.

**The Pats are dreadfully boring to watch. I know that's what Settle was giving them, but ugh. The first half (till the Matthews catch) was about as boring as football can get.

**The coaching at the end of the game was dreadful by both teams. Not going to rehash what everyone else is saying; lot of smart guys not thinking there.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:02pm

I'm pretty sure that ticky-tack late hit call (on a Vereen reception, actually) was a makeup for missing the penalty on the shot on Edelman on the previous play.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:08pm

True, forgot that happened right before.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:38am

Somehow the Seahawks managed an 80 yard 5 play drive in 29 seconds that used 1 timeout to stop the clock and had 2 runs. I think they could have run it 3 times on the last set of downs with their one time out if they had been prepared.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:43am

Yep, I've gone back and checked. It was inexcusable disorganization which hugely contributed to this sequence that has Seahawks fans in grief, and Patriots fans in celebration.

by ClavisRa :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:58am

Is there any way Duron Harmon can make a play on that crazy Kearse reception, instead of hopping over the action and going out of bounds? I think the answer is probably no, because any hit on Kearse will be a penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver, and any dive towards the ball probably results in a collision with Kearse. This bothers me, but clearly for player safety, there's no other alternative, barring some silly touch football style rules. Still, it seems like he had better alternatives then running himself out of bounds, which nearly allowed Kearse to stand up and run into the end zone.

I had been explaining to my dad on the Pat's game winning drive that the clock won't matter because the Hawks have three timeouts and the two minute warning. The only way it matters is if they are disorganized and make mistakes because of the time pressure. Still surprised that's what happened!

The Pats offense shows why stats like YPA are not a great tool for analysis. They play the situation, and the most common situation is 10 yards gets you a first down. Four yards on 3rd and 3 is not good for the YPA, but pretty great for moving the chains. The Hawks have a much better YPA, but I'll take the Pats in 3rd and long any day.

Did the Hawks hit every single attempt at a big pass in the first half? Sure seemed like they did. Not sure why the Pats safeties were never a factor. Wilson was incredibly accurate, but still, they needed an incredible run of consistently hitting difficult passes to stay in the game the first half. I think the Pats win this match up 3 out of 4 times, usually by a comfortable margin.

Brady has one thing to work on this off season. Stop throwing off-platform for interceptions, especially in field goal range. He takes amazing care of the ball, but that was a glaring fault all season long.

What was that formation the Pats were in, backed up to their end zone with 20+ seconds on the clock. Did they not realize the danger of that situation? A Seattle safety there means they have a shot to receive a kick, and one long reception puts them in range for a game winning field goal. Luckily Seattle bailed them out with yet another bad encroachment/fale start penalty. Carroll needs to fix that next season; those penalties really hurt them this game, including turning a Hawks 3rd and 1 into a 3rd and 6.

Really amazing game. And that final interception was just a stunning moment. Poetic redemption for three crazy completions across three Superbowls.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:14pm

Yeah I heard some criticism of Harmon at the time, but watching the replay it was obvious he was doing everything possible to avoid a collision with Kearse and risk being flagged. Clearly he'd been coached that way - i.e. to know that once he didn't have a play on the ball he had to get the hell out of the way of the receiver.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:55pm

I am sure he was not thinking there was any realistic chance he would hang on to the ball and was indeed trying to avoid him. Of course, had he hammered him and knocked the ball loose, a penalty would have been a lot better than what happened.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 1:12pm

Harmon might not have thought the ball was still live. I didn't.

There is some confusion about the "defenseless receiver" rule. You're allowed to hit a defenseless receiver. Just not in the head area. With Kearse lying on his back, that wasn't a risk. But you're not allowed to hit a player after the ball is dead. So I think Harmon thought the ball was dead.

Brady's recent interceptions, esp. the first one yesterday, are more about his decision-making than anything else. Young Tom Brady didn't force the ball as much as Brady has done recently. He had more trust in the rest of his team than Brady does these days.

Hopefully Brady will loosen up a little bit with the fourth title.

by PaddyPat :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:23pm

It fell into a bit of a pattern at the end of this season--1 howler of a pass, usually in the first half of every game. They were especially odd because they don't appear to be a result of diminished physical skills--just horrible decisions from a guy who's never been prone to such things in his career...

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:57am

I find it odd that people are killing the Seahawks for that playcall on 2nd down at the goal line, but the fact they had to burn their second timeout utterly pointlessly earlier that drive. That, to me, was the crucial point. If you have two timeouts, I have no doubt whatsoever they're going to run Lynch on that 2nd down play, because they can kill the clock and then have the option on 3rd down to run again or throw. They've got one timeout left, so, basically, if you run Lynch on 2nd down and he gets stuffed (which would not be unprecedented, as the Patriots had been keeping him pretty well in check), you have to call timeout, and you're out. On 3rd down, your options are to run Lynch again (which is an absolutely win-or-lose proposition, as you can't stop the clock), or to throw the ball. A lot of bad things can happen with that pass and no timeouts. Sack? Game over. Bad snap? Game over. Tackled in the field of play? Game over.

Yeah, it wasn't the highest-percentage play in throwing to a nobody WR, but you're also throwing to a nobody WR covered by some UDFA. You're not throwing at Revis or Browner. My take is throwing the ball on 2nd down is the correct call, because, if it doesn't work, you can run on 3rd down. Yeah, it got picked, but that's a bad result, not a bad call.

If Seattle has one more timeout, that ending sequence is absolutely and utterly different. Burning that second timeout is where Seattle should be getting torched, not the playcall. The playcall happened because they had one timeout left.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:09pm

Browner is heavily involved in that play, in that the jam makes Butler's drive on the ball possible, and there are very few corners better suited to make that jam than Browner. Look, if you get lined up fast after first down run, you have time to do anything you want. If Belichik wants to give you a three point lead with forty seconds left, let him.

by jeffd :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:14pm

You can see it in my post number 142, but I think the first timeout was much worse. Not only did they lose a timeout, but they lost it after burning about thirty seconds of game clock.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:20pm

Yeah, burning a timeout after burning 30 seconds is pretty darned inexcusable. It was a mess of a possession, concealed by great first play, then a great catch that had a huge element of luck.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:28pm

Yep, either way. My general take is calling a pass in that situation is completely understandable simply because they had ONE timeout. Two timeouts and everything is different. Even with the second one, sure, they have to run downfield, but THERE'S A MINUTE LEFT IN THE SUPERBOWL MAYBE YOU SHOULD BE PREPARED TO HURRY. And all. I mean, it's maybe the kind of situation where you should think about being ready to run downfield, particularly when a large part of your offensive success in the game has been, you know, throwing the ball deep.

I not only think passing was not a bad call, I think it's the right call. You can stop the clock *once*. Argue the particular pass call or blame Lockette for doing a half-ass job or anything else, but throwing the ball on second down makes complete sense to me.

by SuperGrover :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:39pm

Even if I agreed with your argument (which I don't), it presumes there was less than 30 seconds on the clock when 2nd down commenced. THAT WAS ENTIRELY SEATTLE'S FAULT. The 1st down play ended with over 50 seconds on the clock. Had they been prepared, they could have ran the ball again with 35 seconds or go. If that play doesn't succeed you call time out and have over 30 seconds to execute two plays. There is absolutely no need to force yourself into a situation in which throwing the ball on 2nd down from the 1 is a good idea.

It's almost as if Bevell couldn't think one step ahead of himself. His first thought after the big play was to run some clock. Then, all of the sudden he's like "Oh shit we don't have enough time to run three plays we had better pass!" He's never looking beyond the immediate thought and constructing a logical plan that takes the entire situation into place.

Given the urgency of calling plays you cannot create complex plans in a moment's notice. That's why these scenarios must be evaluated and concise plans defined beforehand. Seattle should have had an "Under a minute, inside the 5 needing a TD" plan already in place and should have executed on it. Trying to do so in the heat of the moment ends up with you throwing to an undrafted 28 year-old 4th wideout from Fort Hayes State with 18 career receptions with the God-damn Super Bowl on the line.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:52pm

To be clear, Danimal states above that the Seahawks really screwed the pooch by being so disorganized on that entire drive.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 3:15pm

Yeah, that was my point. My issue isn't they threw on 2nd down from the 1 yard line. My take is considering the situation they had put themselves in at that point, throwing on 2nd down from the 1 was absolutely a logical decision. The Seattle coaches should not be excoriated for making that call. They should be raked over the coals for everything that happened earlier on that drive. Never before and never again will having wasted a timeout have such an impact.

Carroll and Bevell are getting hammered for passing. I'm not saying they shouldn't be hammered, but they should be hammered for something else; for putting themselves in a situation where passing on 2nd and 1 was, actually, the logical call at that point. They kind of idiotically stumbled down to the 1, and, from that point, bad stuff happened.

by jeffd :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:09pm

Lost in the furor over That Play is how not good the Seahawks final drive was.

Recall: Seattle started the drive with all three timeouts, on the right side of the two minute warning.

2:02: Wilson throws 31 yards to Lynch. OK, off to a good start. See you on the other side of the two minute warning.
1:55: Incompletion.
1:50: Incompletion.
1:41: 11 yard pass to Ricardo Lockette, first down. They still have a pulse. Still, the play calling to this point is bizarre. You've got two minutes and all three timeouts; you don't want to feed the beast? Even worse: following this completion they burn their first timeout; they were not ready to get another play off. Not only do they lose the timeout, they lose almost thirty seconds off the clock. This is a disaster; they cannot do this. If they're not ready to get the play off they must call the timeout as soon as they convert the first down.

1:14: The Pass. Seattle ball on Patriots five yard line.
1:06: Seattle calls timeout two. This one is defensible; you've got to move the entire team like forty yards.
1:06: Lynch runs inside the one.

At this point there's about a minute left to play. Seattle runs the play clock down and then throws the interception. People are arguing they had to throw on second down so they'd have time and thus the playbook open on third and fourth down. Which is... nonsense. They had a minute to run three plays. They chose to burn over half of that minute. Seattle wasted about half of the game clock they started the drive with. It's inexcusable.

by Purds :: Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:09pm

I was just watching the last play over and over on sports center (I know, I know), but it made me thankful of one thing we haven't need to discuss: the officials. The play was a clear interception, even though receiver and defender collided. So glad in hindsight that it wasn't a play that needed officiating. It's about time this post season that we had a game decided by coaches and players, not by oddities or questionable flags.