Gino Spadaro: February 26, 2017
It’s 2nd and 11 with 4:40 left in the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have the ball on New England’s 23 yard line with an 8-point lead. After a spectacular catch by Julio Jones, the Falcons seemed to have regathered their momentum that they lost and were going to finish New England off by running down the clock and kicking a field goal to go up two scores with around two minutes left. That was not the case though. Surprisingly, it was actually far from it.
We see this over and over again in the game of football. Coaches are put in situations where the play call should be obvious, yet they elect to run a different play, resulting in a negative outcome. Two of the past three Super Bowls have exemplified this. Seattle was on the one or two yard line against New England in Super Bowl 49 with a chance to win the game. Instead of handing the football off to future HOF running back, Marshawn Lynch, Seattle elected to pass, resulting in an interception and New England winning the Super Bowl. Super Bowl 51 contained a very similar situation. Atlanta had all but won the Super Bowl. All they had to do was run the football two more times and kick a field goal. I’m not really sure what happened. Maybe after a run play on first down going for negative yards, OC Kyle Shanahan got scared. But the Falcons elected to pass on 2nd down and 11 and Matt Ryan got sacked, forcing the Falcons out of field goal range and eventually punting. If there was one thing Atlanta couldn’t afford to do, it was to give Tom Brady the football down one possession with the Super Bowl on the line.
Had Seattle and Atlanta ran the football in those situations, Tom Brady would only have three rings. But I guess running the football simply made too much sense.
Everyone talks about how Bill Belichick is a football genius, but is he? I’m a huge fan of Belichick and 100% believe he is the greatest coach ever, but I think what Belichick does best is that he doesn’t overthink big time situations. In fact, I think teams like Seattle and Atlanta lost to New England because they outsmarted themselves trying to outsmart Belichick and his staff.
It’s crazy. Even NFL coaches overthink the simplest of scenarios. If it makes too much sense to do something, you’ll often see coaches elect to do the exact opposite. Just run the damn ball, man.