The Wages of Silence

After a boring first quarter and a half, that was highly entertaining. I usually root against the Patriots (unless they’re playing the Cowboys), but one thing you’ve got to give them – if they’re in a Super Bowl, it’s going to be an exciting game that goes down to the wire. They are now six for six on that score in the Brady/Belichick era. By the way, little remarked upon is the fact that the Pats have now tied the Steelers and Cowboys for most Super Bowl appearances all time, with eight. They are, like it or not, NFL royalty in the SB era.

With everyone talking about the terrible goal line call, less attention has been paid to what strikes me as baffling clock management on both sides. Darrell Bevell, the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator, explained the decision to throw on second down because, if the play didn’t result in a touchdown, it would, at least, have killed the clock. But leaving aside the fact that Seattle had a time out left, there was a non-trivial chance that the throw, had it been completed, would have resulted in a tackle short of the goal line, given where it was thrown. If the Seahawks were concerned about time, they didn’t need to allow as much time to run off the clock as they did. They could have run a play with 30 seconds left, instead of 20, which would have given them enough time, with the remaining time out, to run two more plays.

I also don’t understand the Pats’ decision to let the clock run down as far as they did, unless they reasoned that the ‘Hawks were boxing themselves into a pass-only corner by leaving themselves so little time.

In any event, a strange ending all the way around. Had Seattle won, it would have continued a quite remarkable streak of Pats’ Super Bowl losses powered by essentially non-replicable pass completions.

And all of this – combined with the crazy circumstances surrounding Seattle’s win two weeks ago – should remind everyone that, for all the talk about character, heart and blah, blah, blah, luck, flukiness and randomness play inescapable roles at the highest levels of elite competition.

Having said all that, Malcolm Butler deserves all the credit he’s receiving. He made a fantastic play. Good for him.

A quick comment on the post-game interviews. Here are some of the words and phrases I heard repeated by various and sundry participants before and after the game: “we played til the end.” “We never stopped believing in ourselves and each other.” “We just took it one play at a time.” (no, really, I heard that one).  “I try to get better every day.” “We play for each other.” “We always believe we have a chance to win the game.”

As Crash Davis reminded us long ago, there is a script. It gets read over and over again with almost no variation.

So, thank goodness we’ve spent so much time the past two Super Bowls talking about Marshawn Lynch’s refusal to talk.

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