Even as a Pats fan who is no fan of Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, I'm sick of hearing the phrase "the worst decision in NFL history." I don't think the media has a clue to what actually took place on that fateful play on the goal line at the end of the Super Bowl.
As a former "Hall of Fame" high school football coach, I can at least appreciate the sophistication of pro football strategy, and I'm very surprised more coaches haven't stepped forward to support what was in all probability Pete Carroll's accepted strategy to win the Super Bowl, given the situation of being on the 1-yard line with 26 seconds, three downs and one time out left.
Clearly Marshawn Lynch running the ball in was their best option. But with only 26 seconds and one time out, this could reasonably be done on only two downs (the first running play had consumed 18 seconds.) Secondly, it was not a sure thing; Lynch had been stopped twice for virtually no gain on key third down tries.
So a pass added another option to score, since if it didn't look promising, quarterback Russell Wilson could simply throw the ball out of bounds, stopping the clock and thus preserving the two running downs for Lynch.
Some coaches have acknowledged that a pass was called for, but they say it should have been an action-pass, meaning a pass off a fake running play to Lynch, since the defense was expecting Lynch to run, and thus the pass would have been more deceptive and have a better chance for success.
I agree an action-pass had a better chance for success, but also a better chance for something to go wrong than just a direct snap to the quarterback. Remember, the overwhelming key to victory remains the two running plays to Lynch, so whatever the pass play, no chances should be taken with it.
The play that Carroll called was that play -- a direct snap to Wilson, no fakes, no nothing. If Wilson didn't like what he saw, he could simply throw the ball out of bounds. So why did he throw the interception?
Because I say in every other situation he has ever been in, given the defense he faced, he either completed that pass or the receiver dropped the ball. He had never ever perceived the possibility of an interception, and further had he been playing against an established defender, he wouldn't have been intercepted!
Wilson rightfully believed neither the inside linebacker or the outer corner back were positioned to possibly cover a quick slant pass to his right outside receiver. What he did not take into account was what was going on in the mind of Malcolm Butler, that rookie substitute cornerback, who was to make the incredible interception.
As Butler explained after the game, he knew as a rookie substitute, he was a target for Wilson and while he had both run and pass responsibilities, the one thing on his mind was he personally was not going to be responsible for losing the game for the Pats.
So as you watch the film, as soon as the man he would be responsible to cover if the play was a pass started to take a step inward, Butler instantly took a path to meet a possible reception, arriving exactly as the ball reached the receiver, catching the ball while simultaneously knocking the would-be receiver to the ground.
Defenders take at least a split second to analyze the play. Those defenders never would have made the play that Butler did. What was consuming Butler's mind -- which is obvious from the game film -- was his receiver was not going to beat him, never mind any other play.
From Wilson's Eyes, he sees Butler outside another receiver and defender. In fact, when he receives the ball from center, those players seem to block Butler from his vision. But even if not, it seems impossible Butler is in position to cover an inside move by the receiver. Wilson of course, doesn't take into account Butler moving instantly to the interception point from the time the ball is centered.
Carroll and Wilson were following a methodology at that goal line that had built a championship team. That they were defeated by the thoughts and actions of a substitute player reaffirms the power of teamwork within that methodology.