LOS ANGELES, February 1, 2015 — On Saturday, January 31, the Pro Football Hall of Fame added eight new enshrinees.
In March comes the NFL Combine, followed by the schedule release in April and the May 2015 Draft in Chicago for the first time. In between these events the NFL found time to play one more football game.
While Super Bowl (49) XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots was exciting, it came down to two teams trying to lose and one team wanting it less. Here are 25 takeaways from another thrilling Super Bowl in Arizona.
- The halftime show is complete nonsense. Bring back high school marching bands or get rid of it altogether. This game showed that football does not need commercials or other entertainment spectacles to succeed. Shakespeare was right. The play is the thing. The focus of the Super Bowl should be about football.
- Saying the Seahawks should have lost to the Packers is meaningless. The Packers should have lost to the Cowboys who should have lost to the Lions. The Seahawks played within the rules and deserved to be in the Super Bowl.
- Deflategate is not nothing but it is not everything. It is a mild thing. The Patriots championship is not tainted.
- Bill Belichick is not the greatest coach ever. Vince Lombardi has the trophy named after him for a reason. Belichick is great. He is not Lombardi, George Halas, Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll or Tom Landry. Let’s see how Belichick does when Tom Brady retires and this issue can be revisited.
- Tom Brady is not the best quarterback ever. Brady and Belichick won their four Super Bowls by a combined 13 points. They are one or two plays from having six or seven Super Bowl wins. They are also a couple plays from not having any Super Bowl wins. Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, John Elway and Brett Favre all rank higher. Brady had more talent around him on both sides of the ball for much of his career.
- Had the Seahawks won, they still would not have been the best defense ever. They are better than the 2000 Ravens, a true one-year wonder. The 1985 Bears were actually dominant for the five years from 1984-1988. The 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain is still the best.
- The Patriots are not the greatest NFL dynasty. The 1981-1998 49ers (although they won their last Super Bowl in 1994) rank higher. The Patriots barely won their Super Bowls. The 49ers blasted their opponents in three of their five wins. The Cowboys from 1992-1995 won three Super Bowls by double digits, although the third one was close. The 1960s Packers winning five times in seven years and 1970s Steelers winning four times in six years remain the two best dynasties.
- The Seahawks are done in terms of creating a dynasty, and would have been even if they had won. Last year the Seahawks had all the pieces in place to repeat. Next year Russell Wilson’s salary will increase from $678,000 to around $22 million. The salary cap will decimate Seattle.
- Pete Carroll should be nicknamed BOSS: Balls of Solid Steel. His decision to go for the touchdown at the end of the half was as bold as it gets. While it worked out, it was still the wrong call. Carroll should have kicked the field goal.
- With the game tied 14-14 in the third quarter and Seattle facing third and one, lining up in the pistol formation was not the right move. Seattle was far too reluctant to just hand Marshawn Lynch the football out of a normal formation. Seahawks Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell made some terrible play-calling decisions throughout the game.
- On the very next play on fourth and one, Seattle settled for the field goal rather than trust Lynch to get the yard. It was the right call that never should have had to have been made.
- Leading 24-14 in the third quarter, the Seahawks faced third and three from the Seattle 47. Wilson went deep to Jermaine Kearse, who made a juggling attempt but failed to come down with the ball in the red zone. If Seattle goes up 31-14, the game is over. Seattle had all the momentum. They should have just moved the chains. Failed high-risk plays stopped the clock and kept the Patriots in the game.
- Midway through the fourth quarter the Seahawks insisted on passing the ball rather than playing smashmouth. Their drive with eight minutes left took one minute off the clock. Two straight three-and-out drives allowed the Patriots to hang around. This falls on Darrell Bevell.
- With 2:52 to play the Patriots faced first and goal at the six trailing 24-21. The Seahawks had all of their timeouts. Pete Carroll inexplicably did not use a timeout after New England’s first down run. When the Patriots scored, 2:02 remained instead of 2:45. It was awful clock management. Belichick should have ordered a slightly shorter ensuing kickoff to force a runback and take away the two-minute warning from Seattle.
- Had the Seahawks won, Jermaine Kearse’s circus catch with 1:06 to play still would not have been the greatest catch in Super Bowl history. It was better than catches made by David Tyree and Santonio Holmes but not Lynn Swann. It would not have been the greatest overall play because the David Tyree catch contained two miracles, his catch and Eli Manning avoiding the sack to throw the ball.
- Letting the opponents score was the right call when the Patriots led by two points like they did seven years ago. It is not the right call when leading by four points like in this game.
- When the Seahawks ran the ball from the five yard line and got down to the one, Bill Belichick should have immediately taken a timeout on defense. Letting the clock run down from 1:06 to 26 seconds was reckless. Had the Patriots lost, Belichick would have been the goat. There was no reason to let the clock run. Timeouts are useless in the locker room.
- From the one yard line, anything other than handing off the ball to Marshawn Lynch on second down is idiotic. If Darrell Bevell made the call, Seahawks fans are right to want to burn him in effigy.
- Bevell has been considered a hot prospect for a head coaching gig. The end of this game may not permanently harm him, but it will delay him for awhile.
- Pete Carroll is a standup guy. He insisted that the decision to throw the ball from the one was his. He could have thrown Bevell under the bus.
- Marshawn Lynch was also classy after the game, even though the entire world knows he should have been allowed to run the ball with the game on the line. He declared football a team game. He comes out of this game a winner because everybody knows the Seahawks would have won had he gotten the ball.
- The Patriots will most likely not be returning to the Super Bowl with the core of this team. Like the 1967 Packers and 1979 Steelers, the 2014 Patriots are old. This game felt like their last dance.
- This was not the most exciting end to a Super Bowl. Adam Vinatieri won two Super Bowls on the final play, but had he missed his kicks the games still would have been tied. Mike Jones made “the tackle” that allowed the 1999 Rams to survive the Titans on the final play. That was the best Super Bowl ending.
- 2014 was not the worst year in NFL history. The league had many problems from domestic violence to Deflategate, but the NFL is climbing back upward. Rock bottom was 2012, when several high-profile NFL suicides left us all weeping for the families of the deceased and the game we love.
- Richard Sherman is still the biggest winner this week. Forget that he only had one pass thrown his way the entire game because Brady wanted no part of testing him. Go beyond the football field. Although the pain of losing the Super Bowl will hurt, the birth of his son will trump that. Any person blessed to hold their first newborn child in their arms knows it matters far more than anything that happens at work.