That was then: Celebrating what was

Euclis20

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This is really great. Pete Carroll and Richard Sherman get together to back about the Butler INT:

View: https://twitter.com/TheVolumeSports/status/1694016586661978165?s=20
That's a nice clip. My favorite moment is they think that if they'd won that year, they would have won the following year, too. One of the really nice things about the Pats two title stretches is that they derailed two other potential dynasties in the Rams and Seahawks, and both of those teams know it.
 

Jimbodandy

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My favorite part is that Pete still doesn't sound convinced that it was a bad call. "Well, we only had one timeout, we needed four cracks at it, Bill came in with Goal Line, so duh, we throw." Still a checkers player who lost to the chess master.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Throwing the ball isn't a bad call. They only had 1 TO, to maximize their opps they needed to throw once.

The real issue, and I've been saying this for years, is that on that final drive they wasted two time outs in stopped clock situations. One after a catch in the middle of the field, and one after the Kearse catch. They were disorganized and sloppy and that's what cost them.
 

tims4wins

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Throwing the ball isn't a bad call. They only had 1 TO, to maximize their opps they needed to throw once.

The real issue, and I've been saying this for years, is that on that final drive they wasted two time outs in stopped clock situations. One after a catch in the middle of the field, and one after the Kearse catch. They were disorganized and sloppy and that's what cost them.
The first TO was after an incompletion right after the 2 minute warning. 2nd and 10 with 1:50 to play. I think that's probably what you meant to write, as it was a stopped clock situation. Just ridiculous for it to happen twice in a drive. At least I can semi understand the post-Kearse catch, there was a lot going on at that point.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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The first TO was after an incompletion right after the 2 minute warning. 2nd and 10 with 1:50 to play. I think that's probably what you meant to write, as it was a stopped clock situation. Just ridiculous for it to happen twice in a drive. At least I can semi understand the post-Kearse catch, there was a lot going on at that point.
Ah yes, thanks for the correction, it was IIRC on the Butler pass breakup that probably should have been called PI. As you say, idiotic of them to waste a TO there.

Had SEA won that game, BB would have gotten roasted for not calling his own TO, but given how the Hawks were running the clock there he must have figured they were in panic mode already and wanted to keep the pressure on.
 

Mystic Merlin

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Throwing the ball isn't a bad call. They only had 1 TO, to maximize their opps they needed to throw once.

The real issue, and I've been saying this for years, is that on that final drive they wasted two time outs in stopped clock situations. One after a catch in the middle of the field, and one after the Kearse catch. They were disorganized and sloppy and that's what cost them.
The TOs definitely hurt them. In terms of clock management they also let the clock run down from 1:01 to 0:25 after the Lynch run to the one yard line before the second down snap, which happened in part because they substituted their a
FB for an extra WR. If they scored on one of the next two plays, running the clock would be a very good thing, but - with only 1 TO left - they kind of forced themselves to approach the set of downs as if they had to throw at least once on second or third down. Pete doesn’t address that tradeoff.

I think Pete also glosses over the fact that the Pats ran out a goal line defense….with three corners. It was not a traditional goal line defensive grouping, so it wasn’t like Bevell caught the Pats in a bad personnel matchup (like a LB on a WR).
 

The Talented Allen Ripley

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Ah yes, thanks for the correction, it was IIRC on the Butler pass breakup that probably should have been called PI. As you say, idiotic of them to waste a TO there.

Had SEA won that game, BB would have gotten roasted for not calling his own TO, but given how the Hawks were running the clock there he must have figured they were in panic mode already and wanted to keep the pressure on.
Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
 

tims4wins

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Ah yes, thanks for the correction, it was IIRC on the Butler pass breakup that probably should have been called PI. As you say, idiotic of them to waste a TO there.

Had SEA won that game, BB would have gotten roasted for not calling his own TO, but given how the Hawks were running the clock there he must have figured they were in panic mode already and wanted to keep the pressure on.
It was on a PBU but a clean play. The PI was in the 3rd when he tripped the WR
 

Mystic Merlin

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Ah yes, thanks for the correction, it was IIRC on the Butler pass breakup that probably should have been called PI. As you say, idiotic of them to waste a TO there.

Had SEA won that game, BB would have gotten roasted for not calling his own TO, but given how the Hawks were running the clock there he must have figured they were in panic mode already and wanted to keep the pressure on.
That’s essentially what Bill has suggested; he addresses the TO issue at about the 2:30 mark of the following excerpt from the first ‘Do Your Job’ retrospective.

View: https://youtu.be/MeNYQaS3rZI


No doubt he was gonna get roasted if they lost. Shit, forget about the timeout - Collinsworth was even suggesting in real time that the Pats consider letting Seattle score despite being up four!
 

PedroKsBambino

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I may have made the comment elsewhere in these 120 pags, but for me that Belichick clip talking about the timeout and why he didn't take it is what is most unique about him.

- He completely understands all the tactical inputs---timeouts for both sides, clock, down/distance. He has said elsewhere he know Seattle had to pass once, as Carrol said. there is no angle in terms of objective info, stats, etc. that he hadn't processed in that moment.
- He is not above thinking about the emotion and 'feel' of it---he's watching the game, not starting at a play sheet, and he sees wilson walking back and forth, sees the Seahawks sideline confused. He is thinking about actual human behavior and performance and know it matters. He's good at this, and knows it counts. Not all coaches do (Mike Martz, anyone?)
- He has ABSOLUTELY zero concern about perception. There cannot be more than five NFL coaches who are willing to not call the timeout there, which is chalk. There may only be him. His own assistants are worried about him and his thinking about it. But he is totally still, calm, and assessing all of the objective and subjective info.
- As the play develops, he has actually practiced the precise situatoin enough so that the players recognize it and Butler had been coached up what to do. That is still unbelievable to me - you study every single play for three years from the other team so that in this precise situation your guy is ready. And he was.
- He makes the right call - no time out. Yeah, you can say 10000 things that could have changed but at the end of the day, he made the right call and it's a perfect combination of preparation, analysis, judgment, and fortitude.

Still hard to beleive it happened
 

lexrageorge

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And Butler makes a play that, on a good day, happens probably one time out of 100 that play is run.
 

Jimbodandy

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I may have made the comment elsewhere in these 120 pags, but for me that Belichick clip talking about the timeout and why he didn't take it is what is most unique about him.

- He completely understands all the tactical inputs---timeouts for both sides, clock, down/distance. He has said elsewhere he know Seattle had to pass once, as Carrol said. there is no angle in terms of objective info, stats, etc. that he hadn't processed in that moment.
- He is not above thinking about the emotion and 'feel' of it---he's watching the game, not starting at a play sheet, and he sees wilson walking back and forth, sees the Seahawks sideline confused. He is thinking about actual human behavior and performance and know it matters. He's good at this, and knows it counts. Not all coaches do (Mike Martz, anyone?)
- He has ABSOLUTELY zero concern about perception. There cannot be more than five NFL coaches who are willing to not call the timeout there, which is chalk. There may only be him. His own assistants are worried about him and his thinking about it. But he is totally still, calm, and assessing all of the objective and subjective info.
- As the play develops, he has actually practiced the precise situatoin enough so that the players recognize it and Butler had been coached up what to do. That is still unbelievable to me - you study every single play for three years from the other team so that in this precise situation your guy is ready. And he was.
- He makes the right call - no time out. Yeah, you can say 10000 things that could have changed but at the end of the day, he made the right call and it's a perfect combination of preparation, analysis, judgment, and fortitude.

Still hard to beleive it happened
This.

That to me is the difference. Carroll expected chalk from the Pats. But they didn't call timeout. He saw what seemed to be "goal line" from the Pats and assumed that they were committing to the run only, even though self-scouting would have shown him that they run that slant in situations like that a lot. Sure Butler and Browner and everyone played it perfectly, and Wilson could have eaten the ball maybe when he saw that. But I still think that Seattle being predictable and New England not being predictable helped set up that outcome.
 

Mystic Merlin

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And Butler makes a play that, on a good day, happens probably one time out of 100 that play is run.
It never ceases to amaze me how impressive the interception is. How many corners reliably hang onto that ball even if they make the read and undercut it? Wilson threw a bullet from six yards out from the rough equivalent of the left to right hash, and Butler has a full on collision with the receiver. Crazy.
 

BaseballJones

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It never ceases to amaze me how impressive the interception is. How many corners reliably hang onto that ball even if they make the read and undercut it? Wilson threw a bullet from six yards out from the rough equivalent of the left to right hash, and Butler has a full on collision with the receiver. Crazy.
Given the context, the stakes, the moment, and the quality, it is the single greatest play in NFL history. The second greatest is probably the Roethlisberger-to-Holmes TD at the end of the Super Bowl vs. Arizona.
 

JokersWildJIMED

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The play, given the stakes, timing, and degree of difficulty, is the greatest in NFL history, yet virtually all talking heads consistently refer to Pete Carroll as blowing the SB, rather than giving appropriate credit to Butler, thereby knocking the actual play down in various pecking lists. Things like the Tyree catch, Immaculate Reception, Mike Jones tackle, "the Catch", or the Holmes catch often rank higher on all-time play lists, but if we are being fair, it is not close. While all amazing plays, the Tyree catch was on 3rd down with still plenty of time left in the game, the Steelers didn't even go to the SB that year, the Mike Jones tackle was a fairly routine tackle and not "that" close (the stretch at the end made it seem closer), "The Catch" was in NFCCG and on 3rd down, and the Holmes catch (while timely and amazing) is certainly not unique among receivers. The Butler interception snatched the SB away from the Seahawks and destroyed a potential dynasty.

Edit...beaten by BaseballJones
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Given the context, the stakes, the moment, and the quality, it is the single greatest play in NFL history. The second greatest is probably the Roethlisberger-to-Holmes TD at the end of the Super Bowl vs. Arizona.
Malcolm hesitated for about 1 millisecond before running to EXACTLY where the ball would be. He went all in on the play; had he been wrong about it and Lockette ran to the corner of the end zone he'd be seen as a fool. Instead he's a legend.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Malcolm hesitated for about 1 millisecond before running to EXACTLY where the ball would be. He went all in on the play; had he been wrong about it and Lockette ran to the corner of the end zone he'd be seen as a fool. Instead he's a legend.
That's not a guess by Butler, really, it's coaching...there is video of the coaches telling him to do precisely what he did in the game against this set from a practice. He hesitated in practice and couldn't get to the receiver, so they said "no, from this set you just go". So he wouldn't have been responsible if the route were different, they had a defense for exactly the set and Browner (who of course knew Seattle playbook well) signals to him that yes, this is that play. The genius of Belichick is he coaches guys to respond to situations and that's precisely what happened here---Butler ran the defense they had coached him on for the set they taught him to identify. I'd be willing to bet a lot that if Lockette had gone to the corner instead that BB would have said in the postgame "yeah, that's the corner-whatever screen play, they always break that inside and that's how we defended it and Lockette changed the route. Credit to him" That's not to minimize Butler doing it, but it was anything but a guess. The video linked above covers it---virtually every Pats DB practiced how to respond to that exact play and was coached to do precisely what Butler did. The preparation to do that---across all the DBs even down on the depth chart to Butler---is just incredible

Also, just like I expect Tony Clark to get a hit off Keith Foulke's dying fastball in game 6 every replay, I expect Hightower to jar the ball loose from Butler and cause a fumble every single time I watch it.

As Jimbodandy notes, the other subtlety there is that the Pats ran 3 corners (Malcolm, GO) with a goal-line front for I think the only time that entire season. So Seattle's confusion wasn't 100% surprising, and Wilson not recognizing the D wasn't 100% shocking.

Just an unbelievable play and sequence, the coaching, the prep, Butler, and also Browner pushing like hell to prevent the screen.
 
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Ed Hillel

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What does "had we won, we would have won again" mean? They would have won again because they would have loved each other more in 2015? The Pats won in 2019 after a pretty shitty Superbowl in 2018, and beat Seattle after a pretty shitty exit in 2015. PHOOEY.

That is what I say.

PHOOEY.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I'm with Pete that you do have to plan for 4 plays, and that, once they got to that point, you have assume one of them will be a pass. I've posted that thought a lot in these pages. Lots of good points about how they got to that point. And it's debatable whether you want to throw the pass on second down or third down. Running on second down and passing on third down puts a lot more negative possibilities on the table, but only if you don't make the TD. You're at risk at that point of being predictable and really only being able to throw the fade.

The bottom line for me is that I think Carroll made a gutsy and correct call unless you assume that Lynch is just going to pound it in and you don't need three more plays. The chances for something bad to happen on that play were far less than the chances that something bad might happen on a third down pass with no time outs. I feel like he did a really good job of analyzing the cost-benefit of the hand that he was dealt with a winding clock, one time out, and up to three more plays. Which again is not to say that the conditions that led to him having to make that decision are not subject to criticism. But in that moment? I get it. Butler just made a fucking play. He made the play. And 80.6 point shift in championship probability.

Edit: Alot of this is to say that the second most important play in the game was having to call time out after the Kearse catch, as others note.
 

snowmanny

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I’ve said it before. The pass was the play. For all the Beast Mode stuff, he was not that good going for 1 yard, and the Seahawks were the worst in the league (over a couple of years) from the one yard line.

And then there was the problem of the defensive formation of the Pats, as noted here:

https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2018/6/5/17426540/seahawks-patriots-super-bowl-49-malcolm-butler-interception-run-the-dang-ball

The problem was they ran a play they had run (successfully) before, and the Patriots had therefore seen it, and Browner and Butler were ready. And Revis was covering the other side of the end zone.

All of America was rooting for Seattle, and you know how it is, when the team you are rooting for loses it’s because they screwed up (or the refs screwed up), not because you got beat. So all of America thinks the Seahawks beat themselves.

But, actually, the Patriots simply won that play.
 

SumnerH

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I’ve said it before. The pass was the play. For all the Beast Mode stuff, he was not that good going for 1 yard
After hearing so many people talk about how it was a sure thing if they'd just given it to Lynch, their very next game (the opener of the next season) they had a chance to prove it.

Final play of the game, Seattle 4th & 1, they hand it off to Lynch:

(9:11) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Lynch left guard to SL 43 for -1 yards (M.Brockers; A.Donald).

Beast Mode stuffed. Seattle turns it over on downs. Rams win.
 

jablo1312

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(I have no idea where to post this or who to share it w/ so figured there would be a few people in this thread who might be interested) procrastinating late on a Sunday night here rewatching the 2h of L1...something I don't remember at all, in part b/c they never discussed on the broadcast, is the attempted trick punt return on the 1st play of the 4th quarter;

View: https://youtu.be/noLK78Hgq0A?t=5465


Edelman runs up the left hash pretending to be fielding the punt, sucking in 3-4 defenders towards him. Meanwhile, Chung was on the right side and runs backwards to catch the punt over his head. If you watch the broadcast angle, you can see the gunner oppo Chung (Justin Hardy, #16) start running diagonally across the field towards Edelman before realizing what was happening and veering back to the left to tackle Chung right after he catches the punt (pretty impressive catch for a safety btw). Here's the coaches film:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaBbwBLFxus&ab_channel=ChipMaude


gets pretty grainy but I count 6 guys running directly towards Edelman, leaving 9 potential blockers on the left/middle to help Chung on the return if Hardy didn't make a heads up play to get over there (for naught in the eventual end of the game, but still a nice play). Pats set up reminded me of this:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fioVbt7eF8&t=22s&ab_channel=NFL


which happened to be run against the Seahawks when 2016 Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was their d-coordinator. Could've been a factor in someone giving Hardy the talking point about return trickeration- more likely is someone yelling out to Hardy to run to the left.

Anyways this doesn't really matter but I've watched these highlights approximately infinity times so was surprised this didn't stick out in my memory. I would've been so hype is Chung got a huge gain on that return, but probably not as hype as I ended up being in real life.
 
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jablo1312

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(other luke-warm take is that if hightower doesn't force the fumble on matt ryan chris ryan gets a piece of him enough that the pass falls incomplete at worst)
 

ernieshore

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I was half watching the PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta today and the on-course reporter (Colt Knost?) was describing the pin position on one hole and he said: “Jim - I think whoever set up this flag today has a sense of humor because this pin in 28 steps from the front of the green, and 3 from the right.”
 

Van Everyman

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(I have no idea where to post this or who to share it w/ so figured there would be a few people in this thread who might be interested) procrastinating late on a Sunday night here rewatching the 2h of L1...something I don't remember at all, in part b/c they never discussed on the broadcast, is the attempted trick punt return on the 1st play of the 4th quarter;

View: https://youtu.be/noLK78Hgq0A?t=5465


Edelman runs up the left hash pretending to be fielding the punt, sucking in 3-4 defenders towards him. Meanwhile, Chung was on the right side and runs backwards to catch the punt over his head. If you watch the broadcast angle, you can see the gunner oppo Chung (Justin Hardy, #16) start running diagonally across the field towards Edelman before realizing what was happening and veering back to the left to tackle Chung right after he catches the punt (pretty impressive catch for a safety btw). Here's the coaches film:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaBbwBLFxus&ab_channel=ChipMaude


gets pretty grainy but I count 6 guys running directly towards Edelman, leaving 9 potential blocks on the left/middle to help Chung on the return if Hardy didn't make a heads up play to get over there (for naught in the end, but still nice play). Pats set up reminded me of this:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fioVbt7eF8&t=22s&ab_channel=NFL


which happened to be run against the Seahawks when 2016 Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was their d-coordinator. Could've been a factor in someone giving Hardy the talking point about return trickeration- more likely is someone yelling out to Hardy to run to the left.

Anyways this doesn't really matter but I've watched these highlights approximately infinity times so was surprised this didn't stick out in my memory. I would've been so hype is Chung got a huge gain on that return, but probably not as hype as I ended up being in real life.
I remember the Dion Lewis trickery at the end of regulation (on which he might’ve scored if he doesn’t blow a tire) but not this. Good find and I totally agree about the Seahawks game – must’ve been an Ernie find.
 

tims4wins

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That trick return was nearly disastrous. Imagine if Chung muffed it. Difficult catch.

Everyone always says that everything had to go perfectly for the Pats to come back, but it really wasn’t exactly true.
 

rodderick

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That trick return was nearly disastrous. Imagine if Chung muffed it. Difficult catch.

Everyone always says that everything had to go perfectly for the Pats to come back, but it really wasn’t exactly true.
They missed an extra point, they then had first and goal from the Falcons 7 yard line and had to settle for a FG. The fact that it didn't all go their way even when the comeback started is a big part of what made that game so impressive.
 

Cabin Mirror

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I was half watching the PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta today and the on-course reporter (Colt Knost?) was describing the pin position on one hole and he said: “Jim - I think whoever set up this flag today has a sense of humor because this pin in 28 steps from the front of the green, and 3 from the right.”
I missed that remark, but I caught a few minutes of the golf yesterday (but I think it was a recording from Saturday) and I think the same guy made another crack about the SB. Something about how things were falling apart, players hitting provisional shots and then something like "it's starting to remind me of the Falcons in the Superbowl" or something. Jim Nantz did not seem amused.
 

Toe Nash

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That trick return was nearly disastrous. Imagine if Chung muffed it. Difficult catch.

Everyone always says that everything had to go perfectly for the Pats to come back, but it really wasn’t exactly true.
The biggest thing is that the Falcons could have (essentially) iced it so easily after that nuts Julio Jones catch put them into field goal range. All you have to do is run the ball three times and as long as you don't fumble (shit they could have just knelt) you would be looking at a 37-yarder to go up by 11, kicking off to NE with either 2:20 left and 3 NE timeouts, or something like 4:00 left and no timeouts if NE decided to use their timeouts while you were running clock. In either case that's two possessions and even if you don't think you can stop Brady anymore, the Pats would have most likely needed a successful onside kick to have not just ran out of time.

Instead they did:
1st down and 10: Run for a loss of 1, no big deal, you're running clock
2nd down and 11: Shotgun with 3 WR and a TE in the backfield to block, Ryan panics and takes a sack for a loss of 10 -- WHY ARE YOU PASSING OUT OF SHOTGUN? I could understand a draw, or a play action to try to get the first down but dropping out of FG range is the worst thing you can do here. Also the offensive line was so confused by a simple stunt that only one guy ended up blocking Flowers off-balance even though the Pats only rushed 4
3rd and 23: You're still in FG range, especially if you can get a few yards, so you're going to do a run up the middle or maybe a quick slant or screen, right? Nope, shotgun passing play and your left tackle blatantly holds.

At that point they absolutely deserved to lose and honestly Quinn should never call plays for a football team again.
 
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Euclis20

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The biggest thing is that the Falcons could have (essentially) iced it so easily after that nuts Julio Jones catch put them into field goal range. All you have to do is run the ball three times and as long as you don't fumble (shit they could have just knelt) you would be looking at a 37-yarder to go up by 11, kicking off to NE with either 2:20 left and 3 NE timeouts, or something like 4:00 left and no timeouts if NE decided to use their timeouts while you were running clock. In either case that's two possessions.

Instead they did:
1st down and 10: Run for a loss of 1, no big deal, you're running clock
2nd down and 11: Shotgun with 3 WR and a TE in the backfield to block, Ryan panics and takes a sack for a loss of 10 -- WHY ARE YOU PASSING OUT OF SHOTGUN? I could understand a draw, or a play action to try to get the first down but dropping out of FG range is the worst thing you can do here. Also the offensive line was so confused by a simple stunt that only one guy ended up blocking Flowers off-balance even though the Pats only rushed 4
3rd and 23: You're still in FG range, especially if you can get a few yards, so you're going to do a run up the middle or maybe a quick slant or screen, right? Nope, shotgun passing play and your left tackle blatantly holds.

At that point they absolutely deserved to lose and honestly Quinn should never call plays for a football team again.
That catch remains one of the greatest forgotten plays in super bowl history, at least outside of Atlanta and New England. The Pats largely kept Jones from killing them in that super bowl (just 3/60 up to that point, no TDs and just 3 total targets), but that play was insane - perfect throw by Ryan, perfect coverage by Rowe, and otherworldly hands and footwork by Jones. There was no fluky helmet shit by a scrub or an odd ball bouncing off multiple limbs, just an all-time great catch by one of the best receivers of the decade. I was mentally prepared for that play to be the nail in the coffin for the Pats (all quarter long the Falcons were just begging for one player on either side of the ball to make a big play to end it, and that should have been it), but instead it was just a prelude to the play calling and execution disaster you described.

Every great comeback has both a winner and a loser, both deserving of the name. The Falcons (particularly Quinn) definitely earned that L.
 

Van Everyman

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I don't know and wasn't sure how to look it up. Probably.
This piece suggests it was Shanahan, and he describes his thinking during that sequence:

Shanahan explained the reasoning behind not calling a run on second and 11.

“We haven’t converted a third down, really the entire second half, I think we were averaging one yard a carry rushing,” Shanahan said. “So, when you do that, the formula to keep giving the ball back to someone is to go run-run-pass. You’re going to [face] a third-and-seven at the best every single time. If you’re not converting third downs, that makes it tough. We did mix it up a little bit. I think we actually ran it more in the second half than we did in the first half. . . . Finally they got it within a score, we got it back and got pretty aggressive to get it down there [to the 22]. It was a second-and-[11] . . . tried to get a play to Julio. They played a different coverage, didn’t get the call I wanted so I didn’t like the call. I was hoping we could just get rid of it, but they had a pretty good rush and got a sack. Once that happened, I knew we had to throw because now we were out of field goal range. Threw it the next down to [Mohamed] Sanu . . . but they called a holding call on our left tackle [Jake Matthews] so that put us way back and we had to throw again . . . and we missed it. I wish I didn’t call that play on second-and-11 that led to that sack.”

Again, Quinn could have overruled it. Matt Ryan could have audibled out of it. Everyone involved apparently thought the play was going to work, until it didn’t.

The Patriots deserve a little credit on that one, for rolling out a different coverage that stymied the play. Also, the Patriots’ mystique may have caused the Falcons to press for a touchdown, due to concerns that against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady an 11-point lead with three minutes to play wouldn’t be as safe as it would have been against other teams.
The Falcons never really recovered after that loss. Shanahan went to SF and Quinn got the lion’s share of the blame for the team’s subsequent underperformance. But Shanahan is one of those guys the media seems to just think is so brilliant they almost never criticize him.
 

Toe Nash

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Interesting, thanks. I would think they were still in FG range after the sack, especially if they could have gotten just 2-3 yards, but that play did work to get them a good FG try...except for the holding.
 
Aug 9, 2015
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Interesting, thanks. I would think they were still in FG range after the sack, especially if they could have gotten just 2-3 yards, but that play did work to get them a good FG try...except for the holding.
It was a comedy of errors. Bad sack, bad hold, bad play calling. Sports is amazing in that an entire career (for Quinn, Ryan, Julio Jones, Shanahan, etc.) can be defined by three plays. But we'll take it! Could say the same thing about Asante Samuel's butter fingers. It's why BB can keep getting up at 430AM to work on this stuff. It's endlessly interesting.
 

Euclis20

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Had the Falcons run the ball, not picked up a 1st down, and then missed a long FG then Shanahan gets killed for letting off the gas, "you have to step on the Patriots' necks when they're down," etc.
When you blow a 25 point lead in the super bowl, you're going to get killed regardless. You make calls that give you the best chance to win, and Atlanta panicking after losing 1 yard on the first down run killed them. They were still in easy field goal range, safe plays to make it a 2 score game was still the correct call. It's not the same as getting to the very edge of field goal range (50-55 yards) and getting conservative - they were at the Pats 22, just a 39 yard field goal. And their kicker was Matt Bryant, who made the pro bowl and including extra points, was a combined 63 of 65 on 30 to 39 yards out that year. Running the ball 3 straight times was the right play, assuming there isn't a fumble or holding call that pushes you way back.

The Pats found themselves in a similar position two years later, needing one more first down against the Rams to completely ice the game. Calling runs were easy because the Pats had already run for over 60 yards on that final drive, but they were stopped at 3rd and short, setting up 4th and 1 on the Rams 24. The "step on their necks" play would've been to go for it on 4th down, so they could just kneel to end the game. The safe play was giving their very good kicker a 41 yard field goal to put the game basically out of reach, which they did, giving us one of the all-time best mic'ed up moments between Brady and Belichick:

At 35:40
View: https://youtu.be/1ZufziHTQ2k?si=6b2OtRuFULTxuDLW
 

Toe Nash

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Had the Falcons run the ball, not picked up a 1st down, and then missed a long FG then Shanahan gets killed for letting off the gas, "you have to step on the Patriots' necks when they're down," etc.
If they had run the ball three times for no gain they would have had a basically gimme FG to go up 11 as I detailed, and if the kicker choked on it no one would blame the playcalling there.
 

jablo1312

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Sep 20, 2005
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the underrated funniest part about the whole sequence is them calling (or Ryan making the decision) to throw to a player definitely headed out of bounds on the final 2 plays of the drive (one wiped out by penalty, the other incomplete). Gets lost in everything else but could've made a difference down the stretch if they game went a little bit differently.
 

Super Nomario

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This piece suggests it was Shanahan, and he describes his thinking during that sequence:


The Falcons never really recovered after that loss. Shanahan went to SF and Quinn got the lion’s share of the blame for the team’s subsequent underperformance. But Shanahan is one of those guys the media seems to just think is so brilliant they almost never criticize him.
Quinn is the head coach. He can tell Shanahan to do something different if he doesn’t like what Shanahan is doing.
 

Euclis20

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This piece suggests it was Shanahan, and he describes his thinking during that sequence:


The Falcons never really recovered after that loss. Shanahan went to SF and Quinn got the lion’s share of the blame for the team’s subsequent underperformance. But Shanahan is one of those guys the media seems to just think is so brilliant they almost never criticize him.
The QB and the HC get the bulk of the credit when things go well (for good reason), stands to reason they get the bulk of the blame when things go wrong (also for good reason). Even if Shanahan is the guy making the actual call, both Ryan and Quinn went along with it. What's transpired since then (Ryan had a few more solid years but never even got back to the pro bowl, Quinn was fired after going 24-29 over the next 3+ seasons, Shanahan hasn't won a super bowl but has had a few really strong seasons even without a legit QB) only highlights that it was Quinn/Ryan blowing their big moment, while Shanahan's future remains pretty bright.

Fans blame their own offensive and defensive coordinators all the time, but how often does the national media and fans thing about that stuff, especially years later? It's always the HC and the QB, not the coordinators. The general public thinks that the Seahawks throwing the ball at the goal line in SB49 is the worst play call of all time (not disputing it, it's just perception), but I imagine a much smaller percentage of the NFL public (outside of Seattle) knows who Darrell Bevell is.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Interesting, thanks. I would think they were still in FG range after the sack, especially if they could have gotten just 2-3 yards, but that play did work to get them a good FG try...except for the holding.
Yeah, that's the play that nobody remembers. 52 yarder even without gaining a yard even after the sack. The hold was so egregious, but I'm not sure that it impacted the play -- I don't think the Patriots were going to get there for the sack even without the hold, and the play they ran for Sanu was a really good one that should have won the game, assuming Bryant can make a 43 yarder.
 

Rudy's Curve

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The Pats found themselves in a similar position two years later, needing one more first down against the Rams to completely ice the game. Calling runs were easy because the Pats had already run for over 60 yards on that final drive, but they were stopped at 3rd and short, setting up 4th and 1 on the Rams 24. The "step on their necks" play would've been to go for it on 4th down, so they could just kneel to end the game. The safe play was giving their very good kicker a 41 yard field goal to put the game basically out of reach, which they did, giving us one of the all-time best mic'ed up moments between Brady and Belichick:

At 35:40
View: https://youtu.be/1ZufziHTQ2k?si=6b2OtRuFULTxuDLW
The game was over either way whether they converted or kicked a FG. I think it was within sneak range so I'm surprised they kicked given Brady was perfect on sneaks lifetime and a FG attempt could go epically wrong in a worst-case scenario, plus the Rams would get an extra seven yards with a FG miss.
 

Mystic Merlin

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The game is over either way whether they convert or kick a FG. I think it was within sneak range so I'm surprised they kicked given Brady was perfect on sneaks lifetime and a FG attempt can go epically wrong in a worst-case scenario, plus the Rams would get an extra seven yards with a FG miss.
With Aaron Donald and Suh in the middle, everyone expecting a sneak or interior run, and Brady himself suggesting a FG, I can’t say I was surprised they kicked.
 

BaseballJones

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The game was over either way whether they converted or kicked a FG. I think it was within sneak range so I'm surprised they kicked given Brady was perfect on sneaks lifetime and a FG attempt could go epically wrong in a worst-case scenario, plus the Rams would get an extra seven yards with a FG miss.
Right, but not over if they failed to convert or missed the FG. Which was the higher percentage play: the FG attempt or the 4th and inches conversion? Interesting question.
 

Rudy's Curve

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With Aaron Donald and Suh in the middle, everyone expecting a sneak or interior run, and Brady himself suggesting a FG, I can’t say I was surprised they kicked.
If Brady wanted to kick (which I had no idea about), then I understand. I'm just surprised given his perfect record on sneaks (many of which came against Ravens/Steelers/Rex Ryan defenses) that he wouldn't want to ice it himself.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Right, but not over if they failed to convert or missed the FG. Which was the higher percentage play: the FG attempt or the 4th and inches conversion? Interesting question.
Given Brady was perfect on sneaks (that is true, right?), I would've sneaked. Gostkowski had also missed from 46 earlier. Not only did a sneak probably have a better chance, but it has way less downside if it fails. A failed sneak gives them the ball at the 24. A missed FG gives it to them at the 31. A blocked FG gives them the ball god knows where.