View from New England: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was again making some interesting decisions late in a game against the Patriots, but this time it worked out for him.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The group Go West had a wistful song called “King of Wishful Thinking.” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is the King of Overthinking against the New England Patriots. He proved that again Sunday night with his brain stuck buffering in crunch time while he tried to match wits with Bill Belichick. Pumped and Jacked Pete made all the wrong moves once again against the Patriots.
It didn’t matter this time.
Carroll has instilled his team with so much resolve, resilience, and relentlessness that it overcame his questionable late-game strategy to hand the Patriots a 31-24 loss at Gillette Stadium. The sequel to Super Bowl XLIX lived up to the hype. The NFL wishes its prime-time product always came replete with this much cachet, quality football and entertainment value.
Seattle won a seesaw affair that saw five lead changes in the second half, as the Seahawks handed the Patriots their first loss since Tom Brady returned from his suspension and a sobering reminder their defense is vulnerable.
The upshot is that both of these teams are Super Bowl-caliber, but only one of these coaches has a doctoral degree in in-game strategy. Maligned for his disastrous decision to throw the ball from the 1-yard line in Super Bowl XLIX, Carroll made some head-scratching decisions Sunday night.
After Russell Wilson threw his third touchdown pass of the game — a steely-eyed 15-yarder on third down to Doug Baldwin — to put the Seahawks up, 31-24, with 4:24 to go, Carroll foolishly elected to go for a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra point to go up eight.
Seattle had the extra point blocked on its first TD.
Belichick was caught by the NBC cameras asking the same question as the rest of us, “Why is he going for two?”
“Yeah, we wanted to see if we could put it out of reach and make it a two-score deal,” said Carroll. Of course, the conversion failed, which meant the Patriots only had to march down the field and score a touchdown and kick the extra point to tie, instead of having to cross the goal line against Carroll’s vaunted defense twice — once for the TD and again for a two-point conversion.
It all worked out in Carroll’s favor when on fourth-and-goal from the 1, the Patriots elected to throw a fade to Rob Gronkowski. After Gronk and Seattle’s Kam Chancellor tussled for position like it was an offensive rebound, the ball harmlessly hit the turf and Carroll was off the hook.
Second-guessing is easy from the comfort of your couch or the press box. Sometimes a coach just can’t catch a break.
That was the case for Old Pete after the Patriots took a 24-22 lead on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 13 minutes left.
Wilson, who shredded the Patriots pass defense like an old pay stub to the tune of 25 of 37 for 348 yards and three scores, hit C.J. Prosise with a rainbow to the Patriots’ 2-yard line. Carroll had been excoriated for not running the ball in the Super Bowl.
Carroll was no doubt experiencing Super Bowl XLIX post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mindful of how he was criticized for throwing the ball on second-and-goal from the 1 in the Super Bowl, he handed it off twice. Poor Pete made the wrong call again.
The only problem is that he doesn’t have Marshawn Lynch, and had a quarterback that was lighting up the Patriots.
Lightweight tailback Prosise was stoned twice, getting stopped just short on his second carry. Carroll challenged Prosise’s second-down carry to no avail. They had to settle for a field goal and a one-point lead.
But you have to give Carroll credit. He had his team ready to play. The Seahawks didn’t wilt like the Patriots’ usual Foxborough foils.