Super Bowl has wild finish


Jordan Wolf, Sports Editor

On Sunday, Feb. 1, a record 114.4 million people tuned into NBC to watch the New England Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Thanks to a wild finish, 114.4 million people were also left wondering “what just happened?”.

On the surface, the explanation is very simple. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw an interception to Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, sealing a victory for New England. However, the ending was much more complex than that.

Let’s first take a look at what lead up to this. Entering the fourth quarter, the Seahawks lead 24-14. Many people, such as De Soto High School senior Caesar Villa, assumed the Seahawks would close the game out and win. Therefore, many people, like DHS senior Caesar Villa, doubted Tom Brady.

Brady was ready to lead the Patriots down the comeback trail. Three minutes, 68 yards, and one touchdown pass to Danny Amendola later, the deficit was cut to three.

After the Patriot defense forced a three-and-out, Brady lead the New England offense down the field to a score again, this time finding receiver Julian Edelman for a three yard touchdown pass. They now had the lead, 28-24, with two minutes left.

However, the Seahawks weren’t ready to roll over and die yet. After a few long completions to Marshawn Lynch, Wilson had the Seahawks in prime position to score.

This was, in part, thanks to an unbelievable catch by Jermaine Kearse, who caught the ball after it was tipped by Butler, and bounced off his own foot. The play seemed eerily similar to that of former New York Giants tight end David Tyree; an improbable, ridiculous catch that seemed to spell defeat for Brady.

However, fate had it another way. Two plays later, Butler stepped in front of Wilson’s pass, intercepted it, and scheduled the championship parade for New England.

But how, and more importantly, why did that happen?

The Seahawks had the ball on their one yard line with just under 30 seconds on the clock, and one of the league’s best running backs, Lynch, in the backfield. It’s a playcall anyone who’s played a game of Madden has made: just run the ball up the middle.

There’s no need to get complicated, try to outsmart the defense, or anything. Just give the ball to Lynch.

However, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell saw it differently. They called for a pick slant pass across the middle.

Carroll’s only explanation thus far was that they were intending to drain the clock down with an incomplete pass, and run the ball on the next down.

Wait, what?

That doesn’t make any sense. It’s not like there was a minute or two left on the clock, there was 30 seconds. I know I said not to doubt Tom Brady, but it would be one of the greatest drives of all time for Brady to lead the team down the field to a score in 30 seconds.

The inner conspiracy theorist inside of all of us wants to think that the Seahawks wanted the game winning touchdown to come from Wilson, the poster boy of the franchise, and not Lynch, the off-the-field-issue fueled walking anecdote. But for rationality’s sake, we’ll act like that’s not the case.

Honestly, all of the blame should not fall on Carroll. Had Wilson hit his receiver and not the hands of Butler, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The playcall would’ve been seen as “bold” or “genius.” After all, the Patriots did have their goal line defense in, which was effective at stopping the run during the season.

But Wilson didn’t complete the pass. Butler, an undrafted rookie from the University of West Alabama, read the play, and jumped the route.  You read that right, the guy who played in the Gulf South Conference intercepted the Pro-Bowl quarterback in the final seconds of the biggest game of the year.

Football is a crazy game. The days, weeks, and even months of strategy put into planning and preparing for a game can be destroyed in one singular moment by one man’s decision, or by another’s instincts. It truly is a test of both physical and mental ability. That’s why we love it.