After two Super Bowl appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us on Saturday mornings for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.
By Greg Wright
February hurts less in July, doesn’t it?
In my wife’s family, they call the first day of every month Fool’s Day, and it might be tempting to look back on Super Bowl XLIX, played on February 1 this year, in that light.
But with the luxury of five months’ perspective, Darrel Bevell’s play call on Seahawks’ final offensive snap of what’s now being called one of the greatest Super Bowls is looking less foolish and offensive all the time.
After all, that play was not Seattle’s final chance to score. With the Patriots backed up to their own 1/2-yard line just afterward, a safety was not out of the question. Nor was a fumble in the end zone recovered by the Seahawks for a touchdown.
Game planning was certainly not at fault. The Hawk M.O. was followed to a tee, keeping the game close with a stifling, limiting defense (even with three injured defensive backs) and an explosive, patient offense. The goal of keeping the game close with a shot to win at the end was met, continuing an amazing three-year run of having a lead at some point in every game.
Yes, the Hawks gave up 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, and a Super Bowl record 37 pass completions overall to MVP Tom Brady.
But it would be hard to ask more of a hamstrung defense playing against arguably the greatest coaching/QB combo in NFL history performing in career-best form. Brady’s instincts and discipline allowed him to complete the short passes he could and needed. He took what the D let him, and that was it.
It’s certainly true, however, that the Hawks beat themselves on February Fool’s Day. But it ultimately wasn’t Michael Bennett jumping offside on that crucial post-interception defensive stand that lost the game.
It wasn’t Malcolm Butler making a career-defining play to pick the ball off.
Nor was it Ricardo Lockette failing to extend his arms a little more to catch the ball, or even Jerome Kearse failing to win the one-on-one battle with Brandon Browner on that play.
No, what made the Seahawks February Fools this year was the fact that they are just too good.
I know you’re thinking, “Say what?!?!?!”
That’s why Brandon Browner got away.
That’s why Brandon Browner was on the Patriots’ defense in the first place.
That’s why Browner was able to diagnose the play on the line of scrimmage and tip off Butler to look for the slant.
That’s why Browner knew Kearse’s tendencies and played the block perfectly.
I see it clearer and clearer the more often I replay that snap.
Brandon Browner, who wouldn’t have been in the NFL in the first place if not for the Seahawks, a player who learned the Seahawks way to a tee and now has two Super Bowl rings running, a corner back who, all things being equal except asking price and suspensions, could very well having been starting on the right side of the D for the Hawks in Super Bowl XLIX instead of playing for the Patriots, is the reason the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl.
But let’s face it, 12th Man. The Hawks are good. Darned good. It might feel a little foolish to lose Super Bowl XLIX not to Tom Brady but to Brandon Browner–the one that got away. But we’re lucky to have this team in Seattle.
Just imagine what surprises the coming season will bring. Maybe Bryon Maxwell will eliminate us in the NFC Championship!