For a game that was scoreless well into the second quarter, Super Bowl XLIX turned out to be quite a contest. The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks combined for 52 points in the final two-and-a-half quarters of play, and the Patriots escaped with a 28-24 win, this after undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson at the goal line in the final minute.
“Spectacular,” two-time Super Bowl champion and current NFL on CBS analyst Phil Simms said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was awesome to watch. It really was. It was a little slow at first, which doesn’t bother me. I like a little defense and tightness at the start of a contest. But (there are) so many plays, (there are) so many things to talk about – and of course any time you get it down to basically the last play of the game, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Speaking of that last play, Simms – like pretty much everyone in the universe – did not like Seattle’s decision to throw the ball on second down, especially given how well Lynch had run all game (24 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown).
“I’m not going to second-guess; I’m just going to sit here and I’ll be the coach sitting on the couch, which I was,” Simms said. “(Marshawn Lynch) ran it to the 1, and I saw the run, I saw the movements – everting is clicking for you. I don’t care if they lined up extra men up there to stop the run. And really, all they were was one across because of the formation. Doug, I understand Pete Carroll’s reasoning. I believe what he said. I believe that’s what they really thought. But I would have run it and then decided whether to try to throw a quick pass, another run, call the timeout – whatever. But I definitely would have run it on second down just because of the power that that offensive line showed on that first-down run.”
To be clear, the questionable call does not take away from the brilliance of Butler’s play.
“Why was he in there?” Simms asked. “Where was Kyle Arrington? Well, they took Kyle Arrington out. New England’s one of the few teams (that will do that). If you’re not having a good game, (Bill Belichick is) not afraid to take you out and put somebody else in. The only guy that doesn’t get taken out, maybe, is Tom Brady. That’s just the way they go.”
While the play-call left much to be desired, Simms wasn’t overly critical of Russell Wilson’s game-ending interception.
“Every quarterback in the NFL would have thrown that football exactly like he did,” Simms said. “Because you really can’t read it. You see it real quick, it looks like it’s going to be open. Forget the reading of the play. If we see that play 100 times, the defender’s going to drop that pass at least 90. So the catch . . . blew me away.”
So did Belichick’s decision not to call timeout after Lynch’s run on first down. After Lynch was tackled, Belichick stunningly allowed a good 30 seconds to come off the clock, which made no sense. The Seahawks were going to score or they weren’t; if they did, you would have wanted to give Brady as much time as possible to mount a game-tying or game-winning drive, and if the Seahawks didn’t score, you could just take two knees and call it a day.
But not calling timeout? That was confusing.
“I was sitting there yelling over the fact that New England didn’t call a timeout,” Simms said. “I thought it was a blatant error, and they got away with it.”