IT'S EASY to question the play-calling after a goal-line, game-deciding turnover. But if Russell Wilson had completed his quick slant to Ricardo Lockette for a one-yard TD, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, along with coach Pete Carroll, would have been lauded for having the guts to throw when everyone was expecting run. Even some Patriots could appreciate the choice. "If I'm an offensive guy, that's the play I want drawn up," said cornerback Brandon Browner, a former Seahawk. "It's man-to-man, you stack receivers like this"—he put one fist in front of the other—"and boom, you try to pick the [defensive back]. They had a good play, but we knew them."
Instead, the pass led to Malcolm Butler's indelible interception—which is good news for New England coach Bill Belichick, who had actually committed the biggest coaching blunder of the night. Immediately after wideout Jermaine Kearse made his fluky 33-yard catch at the Patriots' five-yard line, the Seahawks called timeout with 1:06 left to gather themselves. At the end of Marshawn Lynch's four-yard burst on the next play, 1:02 remained—plenty of time for Tom Brady to drive for a tying field goal in the event that Seattle went up 31--28 on second down. But Belichick, who had two timeouts left, chose to let the clock wind down.
He said after the game that he planned to spend a timeout following the next play, provided the clock hadn't already stopped. Even so, he let nearly 40 seconds elapse. Had Bevell's call worked, Brady would have had less than 26 ticks to work with rather than a minute or so.
Thanks to Butler, Bevell is the coach who's being savaged. Hindsight is everyone's favorite perspective.