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Well, That Was Horrible


Congrats to the Pats, solidarity with Packer fans! Some notes:

  • I’ll have more about chance and Patriots Super Bowls when I finish my BallGhazi post, but let me say that however sick people get about hearing about Brady and Belichick, they’ve earned all the hype.  As I said in the comment thread, watching the Pats on offense was simultaneously painful to watch as a Seahawks fan, but also beautiful as a football fan.  The Lane injury was obviously critical, making a lot of bad matchups inevitable, but B/B and McDaniels exploited the holes with ruthless precision again and again.  (OTOH, if I were a Falcons fan I wouldn’t be thrilled with what I saw out of Quinn today — as Collinsworth pointed out, the number of times Gronkowski was left in vanilla man coverage against linebackers was bizarre.)  It’s impossible to resolve the Peyton/Brady debate because of the unanswerable counterfactual of what Manning would look like if he was working with Belichick, but it’s just a remarkable body of work the two have put together.  I think only Montana/Walsh can measure up, and that league was more easily dominated.  And if you think that the winning is based on taping defensive signals or slightly underinflated footballs, you’re going to keep losing to them.
  • On The Play — for once, I’m going to fully agree with the conventional wisdom.  It’s not that I always think you should run in that situation.  But the Seahawks have the best running game in the league by 20 percentage points of DVOA, and the Pats have a pedestrian run defense.  And it’s important to observe here what makes Lynch great — greater than his yards-per-carry numbers — is that he’s not a boom-or-bust back like Barry Sanders; some highlight reel runs aside his strength is consistently getting positive yardage.  There should be a very strong presumption in favor of the running play there.  It would be one thing if the call was a clever play action pass that left someone wide open in the endzone, but not only was passing a bad idea that particular, high-risk pass call was inexplicable and abysmal.  And as big a fan as I am of Wilson, he shouldn’t escape blame — whatever they expected to happen didn’t happen, and that ball had to be sent out of the endzone.
  • It’s irrelevant now, but I didn’t understand why Belichick didn’t use a timeout after Lynch was stopped at the 1 — Seattle wasn’t getting the ball back if they got stuffed, and if they punched it in New England only needed a field goal.  I suppose one could argue that Belichick didn’t want to give Seattle time to think through a play call, and if so you’d have to say it worked brilliantly.  As much as I admire Belichick, I’m more inclined to think he got lucky.
  • Hopefully we won’t be hearing the “they should just let him score!!!!!1!!!!!!” line with a defense ahead again for a while.
  • It will also be largely forgotten, but as horribly as Carroll and Wilson screwed up the biggest play of the game the way they played the end of the first half was beautiful.  The contrast to how McCarthy played for a field goal at the end of the NFC Championship is telling.
  • One downside of having a strong rooting interest: it’s hard to appreciate how good that game was.

…I still can’t find the text (video here), but Carroll’s explanation after the game was bizarre.  You’re going to waste second down? Because the other team is selling out against the run on the goal line?  His 9/11 trooferism is more coherent.

…Personal to Darrell Bevell: when you call a bafflingly poorly-designed play to a marginal third-string wide receiver, it’s really bad form to throw the receiver under the bus. You presumably knew that Lockette wasn’t Calvin Johnson when you called the damned play.  As Brien says in comments, this is exactly the kind of thing Belichick doesn’t do; he plays to his players’ strengths and doesn’t demand things they aren’t capable of.  Rodger Sherman: “This is a bad look for Bevell. He made a call. That call was for a converted track star with 18 career receptions to fight for a ball on the goal line.”

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