NFL: Did We Witness the Worst Play Call in Super Bowl History?

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images

Many people view Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks as the best running back in the National Football League. While some may disagree, there is no arguing that Lynch is at the very least, one of the top three running backs in the NFL. With that being said, it would be safe to assume that Lynch would get the call anytime the Seahawks reach their opponents’ one yard line. In Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks proved why it’s never safe to make assumptions.

On second down and goal from the New England Patriots’ one yard line with 26 seconds left to play and a Super Bowl title on the line, the Seahawks chose to put the ball in the air rather than hand it off to their star runner. For reasons that will never make a whole lot of sense, Seattle lined up in the shotgun and threw a slant pattern on a play that will likely go down as the worst play call in Super Bowl — and possibly NFL — history.

 

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Since becoming one of the dominant teams of the NFL, the Seahawks have had a smash mouth offensive identity. In 2014, they had the best rushing offense in the league by a fairly wide margin. Leading up to the game-deciding play, their workhorse, Marshawn Lynch, had run for 102 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, and the Patriots had struggled to slow him down all day. Instead of riding their best offensive player to a second-straight Super Bowl title, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called for a slant pass to wide receiver Ricardo Lockette that was ultimately picked off by this year’s surprising Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler. To make matters worse, the Seahawks had a timeout at their disposal. Even if Lynch had failed to score on second down, the timeout would have left them more than enough time to run two more plays if need be.

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has taken responsibility for the play call, and has even offered this insight into his thinking. “I made the decision, I said, ‘Throw the ball,’ and we went with the play that we thought would give us a chance to get in the end zone. We were going to run the ball in to win the game, but not on that play. I didn’t want to waste a run play on their goal-line guys. It was a clear thought, but it didn’t work out right. The guy [Butler] made a play that no one would have thought he could make.” Falling on the sword for Bevell is commendable, but Carroll will now have to live in infamy as the coach who made the worst play call in Super Bowl history.

What’s frustrating for everyone associated with the Seahawks is that they played well enough and made the plays they needed to be world champions. After allowing the Patriots to take the lead late in the game, the Seahawks, led by big pass plays to Marshawn Lynch and Jermaine Kearse, marched down field in no time to set up a first and goal situation with 1:06 left in the game. The Seahawks should be celebrating their second Super Bowl title in two years right now. Instead they will be faced with an offseason full of second-guessing and finger-pointing.