The questions will be asked for as long as the game is remembered:
“Why pass it there? How can you not use Marshawn Lynch on the goal line with the Super Bowl on the line?”
It is one of those rare scenarios in sports that continues to increase in it incredulousness as time goes on. Simply because Lynch has established himself as the most irresistible force in the game with the ball in his hands. His “Beastquake” runs have become a thing of legend, and not because he is the fastest, nor the strongest, runner in the game. But because he runs with a calculated mission that is so intense that it is safe to believe he’s not done until a referee is picking the ball up, either off the ground around whatever necessary number of defenders it took to bring him down, or straight from his hand as he has completed his mission in the end zone.
But neither of these outcomes had a chance to be, as coach Pete Carroll opted to look away from his most dangerous weapon at the most crucial juncture of the season. With three possible downs to go and on the heels of an incredible Jermaine Kearse grab that could have potentially put him in the big moment stratosphere with David Tyree in Super Bowl/Patriots killer lore, Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell got too smart for their own good. He co-signed a play from Bevell that called for Russell Wilson to go against his natural inclination as well, and sit in the pocket and throw over the heart of the field, with a high-risk pass that was picked off on a fearless break inside by rookie safety Malcolm Butler. And in a matter of seconds the Seahawks had handed their shot at another title to the Pats, instead of simply handing those hopes to the game’s most menacing runner.
It would have been the most poetic of all justice really. Let’s say that Lynch does get that ball, run into the heart of the Pats defense and come out on the other side of goal line with the ball in his hands. It brings the mission of making him into more of a pariah than playmaker full circle. He would have been the hands down MVP of Super Sunday, forcing the hand of the very same writers that criminalized him for refusing to play their game to pay homage to him all the same. He would have told the world to hold his piece in the most resounding and irresistible of ways.
But it wasn’t to be, because in some line of sense, Russell Wilson tossing a Dan Marino-style quick slant was seen as the safer course of business than running with the dog that carried them there. Okay, sure.
What is done is done, and there is no going back. The questions will continued to be asked, Carroll can continue to attempt to justify them, and Bevell can deflect the blame for the call, but there needs to be some reckoning made with the overlooked Lynch. It has been a year where uncertainty has hung over his presence and role as is. And now with free agency looming, his defensive coordinator freshly departed for Atlanta and the specter of being snubbed the biggest run of his life all in the mix, what’s next for the Beast?
It seems like a jump to way too far of a conclusion to say the Seahawks window has passed. They still boast an insanely good defense and have one of the game’s top maestros in Wilson, who is just beginning to scrape his potential headed into his fourth year. But what does it all mean without Lynch, who has been the most reliable and selfless presence the team has known? Can the show continue on without him while still living in or around the final Sunday of the NFL season? That is gamble they may not only have to take, but also may not deserve a chance to come out on top of.
Lynch, who clearly does not crave the spotlight off the field, absolutely thrives on and deserves it while on it. This is a man whose sole mission statement has been that “He is ‘bout that action”, but when the plot was at its thickest, he got glanced over for a pipedream of a shot at the end zone. It is disrespectful to the point of comedy, really. The fact that the fateful play itself was being called the “worst play in NFL history” all across social media and in households across the country while Tom Brady was still kneeling out the clock speaks to how much Lynch is respected. And then how asinine it was that Lynch didn’t even get one chance to make his impact on history.
All things considered though, Lynch’s stock has never been higher. He heads to free agency has the most talked about man in the game, both on and off the field. The respect is clear from the people, if not from his own coach last night. Time will tell how it all plays out, but if there is one thing to be sure of it is that nothing is for certain when it comes to Lynch. He could just as easily return to Seattle as he could walk away from the game completely. Marshawn is calling the plays now and there is no way to know what direction he is really looking at (although it would be great comedy for someone to ask—I would be quite “thankful” for the chance to hear his response).
But I’d put money on the fact that there’s a lot more action to get from the man. But he deserves to make everybody sit on needles to await his decision on how and where it comes from. Because Marshawn, more than anybody else, deserves the right to give two huge middle fingers to everybody that wants something from him, simply because he could not get the only thing he ever asks for when he needed it most: the ball. It is the most ironic of all takeaways in Super Bowl history is that the most jaw-dropping, memorable run from the Beast is the one that he never got to make.
I’m a firm believer that the closest I’ve gotten to Heaven is Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. In the meantime til we cross paths again, I’ll pass along the gospel of the Field of Dreams here, Cheap.Seats.Please, I70 Baseball, and ‘Live From The Cheap Seats’.