New England coach Bill Belichick Wednesday came to Pete Carroll’s defense, saying his Seattle counterpart does not deserve all the criticism he has received for the play call on second down with 26 seconds to play that resulted in a Malcolm Butler interception, sealing the Patriots’ 28-24 victory Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX.
Carroll, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and several Seahawks players have been the butt of jokes and scorn since botching a shot to win the game from the one-yard line. The overwhelming sentiment is that the Seahawks should have handed the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who had picked up four yards on first down, giving him 102 for the game.
In defense of the slant pass, Carroll said, “The other guy (Butler) just made a great play.” Belichick agreed.
“There has been a lot of criticism that I don’t think is anywhere close to being deserved or founded,” Belichick told WEEI radio, via ESPN.com. “That football team is very good, very well-coached, and Pete does a great job.
“Malcolm and Brandon Browner, on that particular play, just made a great play. I think the criticism they’ve gotten for the game is totally out of line, and by a lot of people who I don’t think are anywhere near even qualified to be commenting on it.”
Instead of handing the ball to Lynch against a stacked box, Bevell called for a slant to wide receiver Ricardo Lockette. WR Jermaine Kearse was supposed to dispose of cornerback Browner and make sure Butler didn’t get a bead on Lockette.
But Kearse couldn’t handle Browner and Butler beat Lockette to the ball. Russell Wilson either didn’t see Butler, or didn’t see him quickly enough. Butler became the first undrafted rookie ever to intercept a pass in the Super Bowl.
“I wouldn’t be able to say enough about Seattle,” Belichick said. “They’re a great football team, well-coached. They deserve so much credit for what they’ve done, and how well they’ve done it. I know they are disappointed, as we’ve been in that spot a couple times ourselves. So the high that we feel is probably not as high as the low that they feel. But that’s a really good football team.”