Now that all the big names in sports reporting have had their say for a week, let’s review what happened in Super Bowl XLIX and predict the future of both teams for the 2015 season.
Fans deserved a competitive game after the fiasco that was Super Bowl XLVIII, and we got it. Although I had picked the New England Patriots to win the game, I can’t boast. The last minute of the game may have been the most exciting end to a Super Bowl in history. Well I guess I have to include the toe-dragging catch by Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII, after all, I am a Pittsburgh Steeler fan.
Jermaine Kearse’ catch while lying on his back was amazing, and appeared to give the Seahawks the game. With one yard to score and 26 seconds on the clock, Seattle chose not to give the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch. Russell Wilson attempted a goal line pass. Then came what I believe will go down in history as one of the greatest defensive plays in Super Bowl history. Patriots’ rookie Malcolm Butler broke through the arms of the receiver and intercepted the ball; game over.
Beginning with Cris Collinsworth, who was announcing the game, all I heard for a week was ‘why didn’t they run the ball?’ That’s not a bad question, but it may be unfair. Coach Pete Carroll took all of the blame for the call, but let’s look at what actually happened.
It was second down, and one yard to go; there were 26 seconds left in the game. Marshawn Lynch had been stopped a couple of times in the game, and Carroll knew that the Patriots were thinking ‘run.’ When the ball was snapped, Lynch sprinted to the left side of the field; I’m certain Carroll expected someone to follow him and assist the cornerback. No one did. The pass was badly thrown by Russell Wilson; it was intended to be low, and he threw it shoulder high, allowing Butler to become a hero. If the ball had been incomplete, or even caught without crossing the goal line, there was plenty of time to run the ball once or twice.
We fans are notorious armchair quarterbacks; but in this case Pete Carroll deserves a break.
Only a week later and the word ‘repeat’ is flying around. Winning back-to-back Super Bowls is a highly unlikely event. Free agency is the primary reason, but teams cannot afford to lose a key player to injury or suspension either. In addition, last year’s winner is always a ‘prime target’ the following year.
In Seattle’s situation, it is doubtful that Marshawn Lynch will be in Seattle this season. I don’t believe they can be extremely successful without him. Seattle’s excellent defense revealed some weakness, including in their vaunted secondary. They may be challenged by the San Francisco 49ers who will continue to boast the best offensive talent in the NFL, with a new coach, and new incentive. And the Green Bay Packers cannot be forgotten. They committed suicide in the second half of the NFC Championship game. If any one of five mistakes had not occurred, they would have been in Arizona last Sunday.
As for the Patriots, they will surely win the AFC East once again. However, Tom Brady is aging, and he and Gronkowski are at least 50 percent of the offense. Free agency will undoubtedly make several teams in the AFC stronger this year. With all of his success, the truth is that Brady’s style of game is ‘old school;’ it is the year of the mobile quarterback.
Regardless of the outcome, Super Bowl XLIX was one to remember.
By James Turnage