Not handing off to Lynch the indefensible part of Seahawks’ loss

Feb 1, 2015, 10:22 PM | Updated: Feb 2, 2015, 8:13 am

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Football is said to be a game of inches.

The Super Bowl, however, came down to three feet, but after the Seahawks failed to reach the end zone it was Marshawn Lynch’s hands that were the question. Namely: Why wasn’t the football in them on the second-down play that turned out to be Seattle’s final snap?

Why didn’t the team that led the league in rushing – one with the league’s top hard-case running back no less – hand the ball for the 1 yard that would have been the final difference in the game?

It isn’t a question so much as a criticism. The single most inexplicable thing from the single most heartbreaking game in Seattle sports history.

The Seahawks threw a quick slant – out of a tight formation no less – in the end zone where things are already compressed, only to have cornerback Malcolm Butler drive on the ball, through Ricardo Lockette, and intercept Russell Wilson.

“I made the call,” Carroll said. “The guy made a great play.”

Accountability wasn’t the problem. Carroll took ownership of the decision. So did offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, though he also said Lockette could have made a better play on the ball.

Everyone else, meanwhile, is left to try and pick up the pieces.

“We’ve got Marshawn Lynch, one of the best running backs in the league,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Everybody makes their decisions, and unfortunately we didn’t get him the ball.”

All Lynch has done is rush for more than 1,200 yards for four successive seasons and rush for 102 yards in Sunday’s game.

There are two things at work here. One is the thought process that led to the play, the other is the ramifications it will have because this is the kind of decision that will echo throughout the offseason and into next year.

“We have the ability to take ownership of this in our locker room,” receiver Doug Baldwin said, “Including the coaching staff. There’s going to be plenty of blame to go around. We’ve just got to stay together.”

The explanation is pretty simple. The Seahawks had the ball, first-and-goal on the New England 5-yard line. Lynch carried the ball 4 yards on first down. On second down, the Seahawks changed personnel, had three receivers in the game while the Patriots were in a goal-line defense.

“All their big guys out there,” Carroll said. “At that moment I didn’t want to waste a run play. Throw the ball. We’ll come in on third and fourth down and we can match up.”

They never got the chance.

“Shoot, it didn’t turn out the way we hoped it to,” Bevell said afterward. “Of course I’d like to sit here and say I could have done something different.”

Indefensible. That’s what some have called Seattle’s decision to throw it. It was New England’s ability to defend that play, however, that was the problem, and the reality is that the Seahawks didn’t just throw it, but they threw it in tight quarters in a decision that looks even worse in hindsight.

“It’s tough because everybody is going to be pointing fingers at the coaches,” defensive end Michael Bennett said, “and all that kind of stuff, but it’s going to be on us to make sure that we stick together as a team and band together.”

Seattle has been on the other side of these games. Heck, just two weeks ago was an even more inexplicable victory.

That doesn’t make Sunday’s loss any less painful, especially because the game in essence ended on a play in which Seattle didn’t give its workhorse a shot.

Lynch left without answering questions in the locker room, walking out to the bus.

“Things happen in a season,” Bennett said, “and you get to this point, and you don’t ever want to lose, but there’s a chance that you might lose, and you’ve got to stick together as a team. I think that’s biggest thing.

“This isn’t going to determine our legacy in this league. We still have so many young players under contract, so many great players on this team, I think if we stick together and live with this, we could be something special.”

That’s what is so tough about Sunday’s game, though. Seattle was really close to doing something special. The Seahawks were three feet away in fact, and they didn’t give it to the guy who specializes in gaining that tough yard.

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