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Devastating Loss Leaves Seahawks' Carroll With 'Challenge Of His Career'

Gregory Payan
AP Photo

As the Seahawks and their fans begin the process of trying to move on after Sunday’s heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, the fallout from the controversial play call continues. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says a comeback from this will be the challenge of Coach Pete Carroll’s career.

The Interception Felt Around the World

Art says that interception was the only thing anyone was talking about after the Super Bowl — at the press table, in the locker room, back at his hotel, on his plane ride, at the gate, on the cab ride home.

“I’ve never seen anything so consuming in American pop culture as Pete Carroll’s misplay,” Art said.

To recap, the Seahwks had a second and goal at the 1-yard line, meaning they had three opportunities to score.

“Carroll said that one of the three plays to get the ball over the goal line needed to be a pass [to drain the clock],” Art said. “He felt there were only two things that could happen on a pass in that tight space — either caught for a touchdown or an incompletion. But over on the other sidelines, he was dealing with a very smart man, Bill Belichick.”

“Pete wanted to score, but he didn’t want to leave any clock time. And in my view, that was being greedy,” Art said.

Outsmarted By Belichick

Art says he learned after the game on Tuesday that Belichick set up that same Seahawks play for a scout team to run against the No. 1 defense.

“The Pats knew that formation was going to result in a pass play. So he actually outsmarted Carroll, because he anticipated the play,” Art said.

Art says that’s where the risk came in throwing the ball.

“Giving it to Marshawn Lynch is not likely to result in an interception. It might be a tackle for no gain. In fact, the statistics show that in the regular season when Marshawn had the ball on a one-yard carry for a touchdown, he only succeeded once in his five tries. It was not a given,” he said.

The play itself had higher risk, says Art, but it could’ve been done.

“With just a little bit of a change in that pass, I think they would’ve had a touchdown and everyone would’ve hailed him [Carroll] as being a bold genius. But now, he’s got a dunce cap for the rest of his career about this play,” he said.

‘The Challenge Of Pete Carroll’s Career’

Carroll has admitted to breaking down in the middle of the night after the game and weeping. He knows he let fans down.

"This will be the challenge of Pete Carroll’s career. To fail at that level, at that moment, in that circumstance is indelible. It’s become a pop culture American phrase for failure. Now, he’s got to accept responsibility, pull together the team behind a belief — again — in process and preparation, and rebuild the confidence in him and [Russell] Wilson because it has been damaged,” Art said.

“Time will heal some of it. Pete is a master psychologist in terms of finding the right buttons to push to motivate people,” Art said. “The odds are against him, but the odds have been against him for a lot of years in a lot of places with his unique style of positivity. It is the challenge of his career.”


You can find Art Thiel’s work at Sportspress Northwestand

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.