Pete Carroll
Peter Carroll, the head coach and executive vice president of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo courtesy of psychologyofsports.com)

by Mike Reistetter

“WHY DIDN’T THEY RUN IT?” everyone shouted at their TV screens when rookie New England Patriot Malcolm Butler intercepted reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson at the 1-yard line at Super Bowl XLIV in Arizona on Sunday.

Trailing 28-24 following a sensational catch by rookie receiver Jermaine Kearse, the Seahawks appeared to be taking over the game. With elite running back Marshawn Lynch, many had felt the Seahawks were in an incredible position to run away with their second consecutive Super Bowl victory.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has taken a lot of heat from the media for what would be the decisive play call. With no timeouts left in his pocket, Carroll called for slant pass from the shotgun, later stating the logic behind this was that if the pass were to be incomplete, it could serve as a timeout for a run to follow. But quarterback Russell Wilson ended up throwing the pass right into the hands of Patriots receiver Malcolm Butler.

Carroll’s justification later on further revealed that he wanted Russell to “one up” Pats QB Tom Brady, who has three Super Bowl titles of his own.

Many would have loved to see Brady and the Patriots’ quest for another ring destroyed following the “DeflateGate” scandal that was generated as a result of the AFC Championship game two weeks earlier against the Indianapolis Colts. An investigation determined that the Patriots, who defeated the Colts 44-7, had used 11 deflated balls out of 12 during the blowout. Releasing a certain amount of air from footballs has been said to optimize the gripping for throwers and receivers. Following the scandal, both Brady and Coach Bill Belichick spoke at a press conference and swiftly denied any knowledge of said deflation occurring.

Research conducted by analysts suggest that Carroll’s call was not as disastrous as the majority of people believe. Advanced statistics surprisingly revealed that there was a higher success rate for those who have thrown on the 1-yard line as opposed to running. Regardless, the risk was enormous, and Carroll ultimately paid the price, taking the blame for his team’s loss.