Monday, February 2, 2015

On Pete Carroll's Play Call to End Seattle Seahawks' Drive and Lose Super Bowl XLIX and Bill Plaschke's Column

Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times sports columnist, posted a column after the game called "Pete Carroll blows it for Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX."  In it he expresses the disappointment of many but, in his case, cites to an earlier play call Pete Carroll made while coaching at USC that was also second guessed and considered by many a huge mistake.

Below is my email to Bill in response to his column and Pete Carroll's play call:


I was among those who were rooting for the Seahawks and crest fallen by the interception to end their drive.  But, two thoughts:

1. I'm not quite sure Carroll's play call was the "the worst coaching decision in the history of American sports championships," a position you didn't quite embrace but which you cited in your column.  Other columnists have noted that the call had some statistical support.  See Neil Greenberg; and, Matt Bonesteel

2. I offer you my own tweet that I posted shortly after the play:

The Lord giveth (Kearse catch), the Lord taketh away (Butler interception). #SBXLIX @Patriots @Seahawks

Who expected Kearse to end up with the football on the prior play? Was that not a gift, particularly as the second Patriot player, thinking the ball was falling to the ground, simply leaped over Kearse rather than kick the ball, pounce on Kearse (and risk a penalty) or otherwise assure that the ball fell harmlessly. Surely there was some "magic" or at least luck in that. Similarly, Butler's interception was a bit of magic or luck as well.  Things balancing out?

I enjoyed your column, particularly the historical perspective on Carroll's play calling, and, yes, the ghosts will haunt him.  But his or his offensive coach's call may not have been the dumbest imaginable.  Had the ball been given to Lynch and had Lynch failed to score or, worse yet, fumbled it while trying, the critics would have been all over Carroll for not first trying a pass to catch New England off guard (whether they were, in fact, or not) or at least keep them honest.

Thanks for your columns!  I enjoy them.