The Seattle Seahawks contested Superbowl XLIX with the New England Patriots, and came up on the short side. It wasn’t that the Patriots won so much as the Seahawks lost. There are many appellations for extraordinary events in the NFL: The Drive, The Catch, The Immaculate Reception, but this event may go down as The Call, and not in a good way.
This Superbowl lived up to it’s hype for 59:40; hell, even the halftime show was worth watching. Two tough teams battling. The first quarter was the feeling-out period, then the Seattle defense and New England offense showcased. Seattle was committed to taking away yards-after-catch, and New England brought back the West Coast offense with short passes underneath the coverage. Seattle went with man coverage the entire game, but New England QB Tom Brady will pick that apart if there is any whiff of a mismatch. The fact is that the Seattle defense couldn’t match the New England receiving corps. New England got some mileage out of the running game in the first half, but Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ shut that down in the second half.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson made plays with his legs, and showed his ability to loft a ball accurately downfield, while Tom Brady flicked balls quickly out of the pocket. The game was the Seattle hare of opportunity versus the New England tortoise of possession offense.
Cue the final two minutes.
After the Patriots had gone up 28 -24, Seattle found itself on the New England five yard line following an improbable catch by Jermaine Kearse. One play later, Seattle was 2nd and goal at the 1-yard line with 20 seconds left.
Let’s stop for a moment.
You are down by four points, and have to score a touchdown. You are on the opponent’s 1 yard line.There are 20 seconds of game clock. You have three tries to punch the ball in, and the best running back on the field that day to do it. You have one timeout in hand.
What would you call?
If you said ‘passing play’, congratulations! You could get a job with the Seahawks coaching staff! Play resumed, and “Wilson fires into the end zone. . . intercepted!” Game over. There was an unseemly brawl the next play, but the game was over.
What in the name of all that is holy was head coach Pete Carrol and his coaching staff thinking?
Give the ball to Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch, and you stand a fair chance of winning. Your offensive line has been doing the job all day, why doubt them now? Why in the HELL would you call a pass play when a running play would very likely win the game?
Worst-case scenario: you run a play, it doesn’t work, you’ve burned maybe 6 -7 seconds, Call a timeout. Run another running play. Maybe now you’re down to 5 – 6 seconds with the clock running. Run or pass, if you fail, you’ve failed trying. No shame in that. But to throw a ball when the rushing game was working . . . WTF!?
I’m not one for armchair quarterbacking, but the events in this game were . . . unusual.
TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury is something I know far more about than is literally healthy. My first experience came when I was 6, falling out of a car onto a curb, and I’ve had a total of four Grade III concussions, with a host of minor ones. And heck, I’m not being paid big money to sustain them.
I experienced another head injury a couple months ago when a piece of furniture I was lifting took the opportunity to let go and smack me in the head. The 150 lb piece hit me on the upper left side of my skull at 32 ft/sec/sec from a distance of 1.5 feet. It knocked me on my ass and temporarily stunned me. One minute later, the exact same thing occurred. I had to take a few minutes to recuperate.
As I mentioned, I’ve sustained severe head injury, but the most recent was in a league by itself. For a nearly a month I had severe headaches centered on the point of impact, and noticeable degradations in motor, speech, and cognitive functions. I didn’t seek medical attention. Not because I couldn’t afford it, or because I have some irrational fear of medical treatment, but because there wasn’t much that could be done.
I knew how the drill would play out if I went to the hospital. I’d be seen by a nurse, and recommended for an MRI. No matter what the scan showed (in this case, probably a skull fracture), there wasn’t anything that could be done. My biggest fear was a subdural hematoma, and when I failed to exhibit those symptoms, it was a matter of letting nature take it’s course. If I’d gone to hospital, I’d be in the exact same place I am now, minus thousands of dollars.
It’s only been the last couple of weeks that I’ve felt ‘normal’; no headaches and more-or-less normal cognitive function. But for a couple of months I was very concerned that I’d permanently lost cognitive capacity; everything was in sort of a haze. And in truth, I probably have, but not to the extent that it appeared on first blush.
I have gained understanding into why professional fighters at the highest levels only fight once or twice a year: the body just can’t take any more.