|Yes, Yes It Is|
It is rare, very rare, that a game, and a season, can come down to a coaches' decision.
The games are too long, with too many moments that can go one way or the other, to allow for that kind of minimalist analysis.
And then there's this game, and the ending of it... and ye freaking gods.
Seattle, with the ball, with momentum, with the dominant power running back of the age, having just seen him bust it for four yards to the left, nearly scoring the go-ahead touchdown...
Having ran it 24 times for 102 yards and a score already, and it's not exactly built on big boom runs, really...
Having not been through for a loss in a really, really long damn time...
THROWING THE BALL ON SECOND DOWN....
THROWING A SLANT INTO TIGHT COVERAGE...
LOSING THE GAME / SEASON / CHAMPIONSHIP on that decision, and, to give credit, New England's Malcolm Butler made an outstanding play on the ball for the pick.
And, um, of any team to get away from the running game there, Seattle? The most dominant running game in football, with, once more with feeling, the dominant power running back in the game?
Had Lynch gotten the ball and scored there, it's 31-28 with about 25 seconds left, and New England with one timeout left. It's not exactly a 100% chance of victory, but it's something like 90%, really.
(And yes, feel free to throw some shade at QB Russell Wilson for the pick, and for not just checking out of the Idiot Play Call and give it to Lynch anyway, but all of that seems quibbling in the scope of Carroll's mind melt.)
So it's Yet Another Championship for Boston, and this one is the biggest gift of the lot, and maybe also the most satisfying for their fans, really. To come down from 10 points in the fourth make this the biggest comeback in SB history. To survive a tip catch for the ages, with visions of Tyree and Manningham dancing in their heads, is even more amazing. To overcome the From Nowhere efforts of Seahawks WR Chris Matthews, who went for triple figures and early MVP honors without a catch in his career before this game...
Well, I try to avoid dumb narratives here, and make it more about the talent and coaching and decision making, rather than Heart or Character or Determination or God or what have you. All of these factors would have been to the wayside if Lynch just gets the ball and gets in.
As much of a coin flip as we've ever seen at this level. As much randomness as imaginable. As little skill or acumen possible in picking the winner, from a gambling standpoint.
And maybe the best game ever in the SB, even though I hated the ending.
And with that... takeaways from the 59.5 minutes of game that will be forgotten about...
> The refs went for roughing the punter instead of running into at the end of the Patriots' first drive, proving that the refs were in the tank for Seattle
> Unlike many of their opponents, the Patriots were content to be patient on offense, and exact enough, at least outside of the red zone, to get away with a lack of running game
> QB Tom Brady's red zone pick at the end of the first quarter was part of a troubling trend of red zone mistakes this year
> 92 total yards and zero points in the first quarter had to excite the Under Bettors, not that it wound up working out
> An effective Danny Amendola confuses me
> Converting 3rd and 9 to WR Julian Edelman for 23 yards, and then the TD to WR Brandon LaFell, showed the Seattle secondary's injury-related weakness
> Not having a completion for 25 minutes is becoming something of a trend in Seattle games
> Lynch's second quarter score was mind-boggingly violent
> Brady to Gronkowski for the go-ahead score was perfectly executed, predictable, and didn't speak well for Seattle's coaching
> Wilson to Matthews for the tying score was as ballsy as ballsy gets, if only for running a play with just six seconds left on the clock
> Seattle failed on multiple short yardage third downs with power runs to Lynch, which, I don't know, might have made Carroll's later brain fart slightly less... nope, still terribly bad
> Bobby Wagner's pick to set up Seattle's third touchdown as MVP-esque, and made a man wonder why he wasn't assigned to Gronkowski on every play
> Seattle kept losing defensive starters to injury after INTs
> Doug Baldwin sullied the honor of a league awash in scandal by pantomiming a poop or egg drop, and also clearly angered Football God, or something
> Monstrous play by Brady and Edelman to convert on third and long and keep it a game
> Brady to Amendola for the Pats' third TD was as good a ball as he can throw, really
> An uncalled trip set up a subsequent three and out for Seattle
> In the long run, Brady's first INT in the red zone might have been a winning play for New England, since it resulted in a Seattle injury that set up the later scores
> Wilson to Lynch on the fly route to start their final drive was damn near perfect
> Jermaine Kearse's juggle catch to get the ball deep was absurd
> And then the world, and Twitter, and everything else, ended...