It took me a little longer than usual to write about the finish to the Super Bowl because it took me until the morning to snap out of the daze. Hell, if I had still been eating chicken wings at the time of the interception, I may have ended up in the hospital from choking on my food. I was rooting for the Patriots to win and was resigned to the inevitable loss after the circus catch made by Seahawk receiver Jermaine Kearse.
Then came the inexplicable play call.
One thing I know for certain, I am really glad I am not Pete Carroll or Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell today. I give Carroll credit for taking the heat, but wonder why he didn’t override Bevell’s play call. He can say anything he wants about playing for third down and running the clock out – it was just plain dumb. Marshawn Lynch was nearly unstoppable in the second half, cutting through the Patriot defense like a knife through butter. There is zero excuse for not giving it to him until he either scored or the Patriot defense rose up and stopped him. I guarantee you every Seattle Seahawk fan would have accepted defeat a lot easier had that been the case.
What we saw Sunday night is another example of something that I believe plagues sports today – overcoaching. It was only a matter of time before something like this happened in the biggest sporting event in the country.
You can find examples of this in every sport. It’s as if coaches and managers have to prove they have superior intellect by doing things that go against the grain. College and professional football may be where this is most apparent (going for it on fourth down at strange time, bizarre play calls, gadget plays that almost never work, etc.), but very few sports are immune.
Baseball managers have run amok in recent years with defensive shifts, 97 pitching changes, and 5,286 signs laid down by the third base coach between pitches – 5,285 of which are often read wrong by the batter or baserunner. Game times have increased exponentially because of a lot of the constant tinkering.
Basketball overcoaching generally manifests itself in bizarre substitution patterns. How many times have you watched a college basketball game, seen a player hit back-to-back three-pointers, then find that player on the bench ten seconds later because the coach wanted to put someone else in? What happened to riding the hot hand? College and pro basketball is not the local CYO league – everyone does not have to play!
What about golf? I just wrote about Tiger Woods the other day. Golfers today often have a swing coach, a putting coach, and a mental coach. Really? The result is often what we see with Tiger Woods now. So much conflicting information is fed into the brain that at some point there’s mental overload and gridlock.
Thank God coaches aren’t allowed during a tennis match!
The sport that may be the most immune to this modern-day match of wits is hockey. Some of that is because of the constant flow of action during a game. With the exception of trying to match lines or yanking a goalie who gives up three in the first period, there’s not much for a hockey coach to do once the game starts – the players play.
Having said all of this, it was perhaps the most exciting Super Bowl I have ever seen. The ending was surreal, but it was a wonderful game between two great teams. It was, without a doubt, one of those games we will talk about for a long time. It was a true vision of both agony and ecstasy. Unfortunately for Seattle fans, it was all brought about by a coach who thought he had to prove he was smarter than everyone else.