I’m sorry for doubting you, Bill Belichick.
Up until this morning, I really thought that Bill Belichick had cost the Patriots their chance at a 4th Super Bowl by not calling a timeout after Marshawn Lynch’s run to the 1 yard line. You have Tom Brady in vintage mode, and you can get the ball back with 50 seconds left and 1 timeout only needing a field goal. Definitely call a timeout and get the ball back after Seattle scores on the next play, right?
Wrong. And I was proven wrong this morning when I read Bill Belichick’s explanation of why he didn’t call a timeout. Those beliefs were solidified when Bill Simmons, who was another Boston sports figure this week who went completely vintage and dialed back the clock for one of his best performances ever, put into words exactly how smart BB was and why he didn’t call the timeout. As Simmons perfectly phrased it, Bill Belichick mindfucked Pete Carroll.
The Hooded One didn’t call the timeout because he saw the offense that the Seahawks were in, with 3 wide receivers, so he and his defensive coaches put in Malcolm Butler, as shown by this vine in a post by Barstoolsports. They then stacked the box and baited the Seahawks to throw, trusting their defense. Belichick felt that letting the Seahawks throw the ball on 2nd down, hopefully getting either a pick (because the pass play was so obvious) or at least an incomplete pass that would set up 2 plays for a goal line stand to win the Super Bowl, would be the better option than calling a timeout and letting Seattle figure everything out.
How perfect is that? The coach of the Patriots before Belichick, who was absolutely awful when here (I remember hearing Scott Zolak say that players would openly laugh and not pay attention during Pete Carroll’s meetings and speeches), gets blown out of the water on the biggest play of either of their coaching careers. The decision to pass wasn’t that terrible, actually, but the decision of the type of passing play was. Russell Wilson is listed as a 5’11” QB, and is probably shorter, and the chances that his pass gets deflected in the air, especially when there are 37 linebackers and defensive ends on the line of scrimmage at that time, is really high, relatively speaking. Wilson should have rolled out and thrown to the back of the end zone to the really tall Chris Matthews or Ricardo Locklear so that the pass would either be caught or incomplete. The Pats had 3 cornerbacks on the field, one of which was an undrafted free agent rookie who is also 5’11”. Why not challenge the Pats D in a way that can’t burn you?
Belichick knew that Carroll, Wilson, and a receiver like Locklear might make that fatal mistake, and so be allowed them to crash and burn. If your opponent is trying to drive themselves into a brick wall, why stop them? Just get out of the way and let it happen.
I can’t believe I doubted Belichick. I think it’s still debatable as to whether or not it was the right call to not call a timeout, but it’s clear that BB had a plan. I never should have though otherwise for a second. That’s why he’s the best of all time, and that’s why anyone who argues with that claim is as wrong as I was from Sunday night until Wednesday morning.