Seattle’s last play was Russell Wilson’s fault, not Pete Carroll’s – USA TODAY
There were many actors in Seattle’s Super Bowl defeat, each playing their own special role in one of the biggest collapses in NFL history. Just 36 inches from a back-to-back title, an interception on a bizarre play call clinched the game for the opposing New England Patriots. So, whose fault was that ridiculous turn of events?
Don’t worry. There’s plenty of blame to go around. (Note that we’re only blaming Seahawks players, because the ultimate catalyst for this legacy-defining play was the man who made the pick — Malcolm Butler — but we’ll get to him and his unbelievable play in a second.)
5. Ricardo Lockette
Seattle’s offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, hung his receiver out to dry after the game on Sunday.
That’s a low-down thing to do. The problem is, he’s kind of right about it. Lockette was a little soft going to the goal line. Can you imagine Rob Gronkowski letting Butler get position like that? Or Dez Bryant? Or Calvin Johnson? Of course not. BUT RICARDO LOCKETTE ISN’T ANY OF THOSE PLAYERS. He has 18 regular-season receptions in his career. He’s scored three touchdowns in 32 career games. Going to him with the Super Bowl on the line is like if the Seahawks had opted to start Tarvaris Jackson instead of Russell Wilson.
I have a saying that I’ve had to use many, many times as a Washington Redskins fans. I’ll adapt it here: It’s not Ricardo Lockette’s fault he’s Ricardo Lockette. He is what he is, a third or fourth receiving option. Don’t go to him if you’re not ready to deal with the obvious, potential consequences. Bevell seems like the type of guy who fights for a deal on a used car, then complains when it breaks down.
4. Marshawn Lynch
He should have gone Beast Mode and either stolen the ball from Wilson or just run to the middle of the field to take the shotgun snap under center. Take matters into your own hands, bawse.
3. Darrell Bevell
As much as I’d like to put Darrell Bevell No. 1, especially for putting this on Lockette, he’s still only second in command. He called the play. But, ultimately, the final decision rests with the head coach.
2. Pete Carroll
Give Pete Carroll credit: He took his medicine, admitting that the play was his fault. For as ego-driven as Carroll can seem at times, this was a solid, respectable thing to do.
Unfortunately, with the play that we tried to execute, the guy makes a great play and jumps in front of the route and makes an incredible play that nobody would ever think he could do. And unfortunately that changes the whole outcome. […] And they’re on the precipice of winning another championship, and unfortunately, the play goes the other way. There’s really nobody to blame but me, and I told them that clearly. And I don’t want them to think anything other than that.
That’s a stand-up quote. Oh, don’t get me wrong, this Super Bowl error almost negates last year’s win, but at least he accepted responsibility. He doesn’t imply Lockette could have gone harder to the ball, which he could have. He doesn’t put it on Bevell, which he should have. He puts it on himself and it’s impossible to find fault with that. Carroll is the leader of the team. He gets the credit when they win and the blame when they lose. Lsat year, he got the credit. This year, he gets the blame.
1. Russell Wilson
Are you surprised that someone other than Bevell or Carroll could top this list? Don’t be. Somehow, Wilson has escaped blame in this mess.
First of all, no truly great quarterback would have received that play call in his helmet and stuck with it. “You want us to do what?” Wilson could have changed the play at the line of scrimmage, even with New England stacking the box for Lynch. Still, you can’t put too much onus on him for going with the play: Wilson was just following orders, showing he’s a soldier, not a field general. (You think Brady or Peyton Manning lets that happen?)
The second part is harder to quantify because Malcolm Butler made an UNBELIEVABLE break to the ball to get the pick. Look at where he is in relation to Lockette as Wilson winds up for the throw.
That’s just a great INT. But could it have been avoided?
What we’ve heard is that Lockette could have gone harder and that Butler broke to the ball like he was Usian Bolt getting out of the blocks. But what about Russell Wilson?! That ball should already be out of his hands. He has Lockette wide open but paused every-so-briefly before releasing. If he gets rid of the ball early, worst case is that Lockette gets tackled before the goal line. Holding onto it for that split-second brought Butler into play.
Granted, this is as bang-bang as a throw gets. The still shot is deceiving. It took less than a second for Wilson to make this pass.
But he weakly takes his 2.5-step drop, throws the ball of his back foot and sails it high, right to Butler. If that ball is low and around Lockette’s hip, there’s no chance interception. Wilson did everything wrong on that play. Had he received the shotgun, stood tall and whipped the ball to Lockette, Seattle would be planning a Super Bowl parade today.
The play call was the real culprit. Of course you go to Marshawn Lynch, the NFL’s leader in rushing touchdowns the past two years and a short-yardage beast. But once the call was in, Wilson shouldered the burden. He was throwing the ball to an inexperienced receiver and he did him no favors with a soft, late pass.
Bevell and Carroll deserve all the scorn they’re receiving today and in the future. But let’s save a little for the man who actually made the throw.