January 18, 2015

Seahawks Advance to Super Bowl 0x31 with 16-Point Comeback: Down 16-0 at the half and 19-7 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 on the first overtime possession with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse. Wilson was terrible until he wasn't, throwing four interceptions before leading one of the greatest comebacks in an NFL playoff game. The Seahawks become the first Super Bowl champ to reach the game the next season since New England in 2005.

posted by rcade to football at 06:50 PM - 43 comments

Wow, this game is not starting well for Seattle. Jesus...

posted by hincandenza at 03:56 PM on January 18

Clay Matthews made a blindside block on Russell Wilson to his head on that interception return in the 2nd quarter. Wilson's head was badly jolted, but he seems to be okay. If Matthews had made more contact, Wilson would be out of the game for sure.

I'm glad Matthews got the flag, but that's dirty play that should be fined (at least).

(If that had been Suh making the hit...)

posted by grum@work at 04:17 PM on January 18

Matthews' chance to play the Super Bowl should be in question after that head hit.

This game is not at all what I expected. Seattle has been giving the ball away so cheaply it boggles the mind.

posted by rcade at 04:36 PM on January 18

Yeah, there was a little life in the third, but it feels like GB is just dictating everything in the game. Can't belive how bad Wilson has been.

Sure hope NE isn't this off-kilter...

posted by hincandenza at 05:25 PM on January 18

Oh, great.

Now, after Wilson shits the bed for 55 minutes of the game, he throws a game winning touchdown in OT.

I guess that'll keep the "Wilson just knows how to win" bullshit alive for another game.

posted by grum@work at 06:33 PM on January 18

I know the retort of "just don't let them score a touchdown," but NFL overtime rules suck. (Not a fan of either team in the game today, for what it's worth.)

posted by holden at 06:40 PM on January 18

I think I need a double espresso, just to help calm down from that NFC game... wow.

posted by hincandenza at 06:41 PM on January 18

I guess that'll keep the "Wilson just knows how to win" bullshit alive for another game.

When that ball hit the top of its arc, I couldn't help but remember Tebow's one-play OT win from a few years back. For those exact reasons.

posted by Etrigan at 06:44 PM on January 18

but NFL overtime rules suck.

Agreed. The fact that Rodgers doesn't even put on his helmet in OT is silly.

posted by grum@work at 06:47 PM on January 18

When that ball hit the top of its arc, I couldn't help but remember Tebow's one-play OT win from a few years back. For those exact reasons.

Tebow had a better game.

Look it up.

posted by grum@work at 06:52 PM on January 18

How does Ha-Ha Clinton Dix not get to the two-point can of corn that Russell Wilson threw to Luke Willson?

posted by rcade at 06:57 PM on January 18

Tebow had a better game.

Look it up.

Statistically speaking, Wilson had a shit game, so ya?

posted by jmd82 at 08:11 PM on January 18

Brandon Bostick letting the onside kick slip through his upraised hands is reminiscent of Asante Samuel's whiff on the sure pick of Eli Manning's sideline pass that preceded the David Tyree helmet catch in the SB. Devastating missed opportunities.

posted by beaverboard at 08:39 PM on January 18

I had to listen to the 4th quarter and OT on the radio in the car. Kevin Harlan got so viscerally wrapped up in the game, I thought he was going to bring up a Rod Stewart hairball.

posted by beaverboard at 08:45 PM on January 18

Tebow had a better game.

Look it up.

So you're saying that Russell Wilson "just knows how to win" even better than Tim Tebow does.

posted by Etrigan at 09:05 PM on January 18

Seahawk fans imitate Heat fans.

posted by grum@work at 09:25 PM on January 18

So you're saying that Russell Wilson "just knows how to win" even better than Tim Tebow does.

Is that even possible?

Isn't that like asking if God could make a grilled cheese sandwich so hot that even He couldn't eat it?

posted by grum@work at 09:27 PM on January 18

I'd feel worse for the Packers, except a) they did it to themselves in several ways even before the OT, b) I live in Seattle and c) there's still an active discussion over in today's huddle thread about the Dez Bryant "incompletion" last week. Especially given that last one, GB was kind of lucky to even be playing today.

But yes, I think sudden death is dumb; play a shortened OT "quarter" of like 10:00 if you must, but otherwise let them play it out. It's a timed sport after all, this isn't baseball where events determine the end of a playing period, so switching to that model in OT makes no sense to me.

Besides, as the 4th quarter showed us, a whole heck of a lot can happen in the last few minutes of a quarter. :)

posted by hincandenza at 01:26 AM on January 19

but NFL overtime rules suck.

Agreed. The fact that Rodgers doesn't even put on his helmet in OT is silly.

They could have gone to penalty kicks like soccer :) (Note: I'm a soccer coach and this still feels like the worst way to end a game, but I have no better answer)

What are the other options? Have both teams play until someone does not convert on 4th down, increasing the risk of injury do to tired players? College football's answer to OT is not bad, but one first down and you are in chip-shot FG range and completely eliminates the thought of field position.

I do not think the NFL's solution is perfect, but IMO it is slightly more realistic/fair than college in the way to end the game.

posted by prof at 11:00 AM on January 19

Punt, pass, and kick competition.

posted by NoMich at 11:14 AM on January 19

Why not just play a set amount of time, and the winner is the team that is ahead at that time. If it's still tied, play another set amount of time. Eventually, someone is going to score and the other team won't.

I think it's a bit weird to be worried about tired players getting injured if you are still saying they have to play the current NFL OT rules. There are 45/46 players on each roster that is dressed for each game. If they are getting tired, use a substitute. Who knows who could be the surprise hero.

(I remember when the Edmonton Oilers sat Petr Klima for the first two and a half overtime periods of a Stanley Cup finals game (because he's a TERRIBLE defensive liability), but were forced to put him on the ice eventually because of the exhaustion of his teammates. Lo and behold, he scores the game winning goal just seconds later.)*

And really, if the teams were worried about injury, please explain why Sherman was out there with what looked like a broken/sprained/separated shoulder/arm/elbow for the entire 4th quarter.

*The fact that it happened almost 25 years ago is kind of melting my mind right now.

posted by grum@work at 02:42 PM on January 19

Football is too grueling a sport to play full overtime quarters. It's a shame Green Bay never got the ball again, but a team worthy of the Super Bowl should be able to keep an opponent out of the end zone on its first overtime drive.

posted by rcade at 04:15 PM on January 19

I disagree with all of that except the word "full". :)

I'm with grum on this; just play out the quarter, and if you're worried about a tie after one OT, then maybe have fair method of conclusively and fairly determining a winner after. While grueling, the offense and defense are different sets of players: no matter how tired GB's defense might have been in not preventing that final TD, the GB offense had just been resting for several minutes and would certainly be majorly fired up to at least take their own shot at scoring after the Wilson-Kearse TD. I'd challenge anyone to find a single GB offensive player who'd say "Eh, kinda glad they scored, I was too tired to play any more anyway what with all the grueling I've been doing lately". :)

Also the "team worthy of the Super Bowl" part is odd to me; there's no handicap in professional sports, so the Packers don't have some NFL requirement to score more points in less time than their opponent. Average teams score a TD in about 20% of their possessions; sudden death means there is at least a 20% chance the game was just decided by a coin flip. Why even play the first 4 quarters, then? Just flip a coin before kickoff and go home early.

I think if we were striving for fairness and justice, we'd do one of the following:

  • Full-length OTs, no ties allowed: Keep playing OT quarters until there's a victor at the end of time. Brutal as hell, but damn exciting stuff
  • One full-length OT Quarter, ties allowed except playoffs: Similar to today, except we avoid the sudden death element
  • Shortened OT Quarters, no sudden death: Basically a shortened 8-10 minute quarter(s), played in full until a victor is determined.
  • Equal possessions like innings: The teams trade possessions like innings, and after each "inning" if the score remains tied they play again. Home team has the advantage of going second, so they know if a FG is good enough. This gets confusing thought with handling turnovers via fumble/interception
  • Penalty kick style decision: Boring as heck, but you could do something like teams trading FG attempts from increasingly far distances.
Probably the only unfair one is... exactly how they do it now, with sudden death. Call me a purist, but clock based sports shouldn't have sudden death, or if they do it should be fair (FG kickoffs, equal possessions, etc).

If Seattle can score a TD in overtime and then say "Hey were ahead- quick just stop the game clock and call it for us, we win!", then why can't GB just stop the clock with 3:52 left in the 4th and say "Hey look, we win!"? 99 times out of 100, they would be right, too.

posted by hincandenza at 04:57 PM on January 19

All that aside, holy cow that game was a roller coaster to watch. The final TD was almost anticlimactic: everyone in the room in the Seattle home I was in hesitated a second- maybe making sure it was called a catch and TD, that there was no flag on the field- before erupting in cheer. Even with the excitement there was this sense of surrealness, like this isn't really happening since everyone a half hour ago was quietly resigned to thinking "Eh, good run boys, get 'em next year".

Now that I'm finally forced to root against Seattle with them facing NE, it's gonna be a rough next two weeks of trash talking on Facebook.

posted by hincandenza at 05:01 PM on January 19

otherwise let them play it out

Why this is not the rule in playoff football is hard to understand. It works for hockey, it works for basketball, although the periods are shortened, but there is no limit to how many OT periods could be played. I agree with the idea of requiring each team to have a possession, except in the case of a TD. If you think about it, the possession requirement makes NFL OT almost the equivalent of the college rules. NFL kickers are generally accurate from 50 yards or less. Thus, a team would need merely to reach the 35 yard line or so to make a field goal. Unless the starting line were pushed back from the college rule of the 25 to about the 45, a field goal on each possession is automatic.

I think the real reason for the NFL OT rule is TV. Having an OT period that is limited to 15 minutes of play gives the network some certainty of when it might resume its schedule. Of course, in playoffs, you can not have a tie, so the 15-minute limitation is not possible.

posted by Howard_T at 05:41 PM on January 19

Also the "team worthy of the Super Bowl" part is odd to me; there's no handicap in professional sports, so the Packers don't have some NFL requirement to score more points in less time than their opponent.

Sudden death overtime has been part of the NFL playoffs since 1946, so the Packers had a requirement that has been faced by playoff teams for almost 70 years -- don't let your opponent score in overtime before you do. Thanks to the 2011 rule change, the Packers had an even lower requirement than that -- don't let your opponent score a touchdown on its first possession.

It's not like the Packers were blindsided by the situation, like a team affected by an obscure rule or a controversial call (hi, Dez!). Sudden death is the fundamental rule of overtime. They knew what it would take and let the Seahawks march right down the field. To me that failure, more than the onside kick or two-point conversion, is where they became Super Bowl pretenders.

If Seattle can score a TD in overtime and then say "Hey were ahead- quick just stop the game clock and call it for us, we win!", then why can't GB just stop the clock with 3:52 left in the 4th and say "Hey look, we win!"? 99 times out of 100, they would be right, too.

That's an absurd comparison. The former is an NFL rule in place for longer than either of us has been alive. The latter is nothing like any rule in any level of football ever played.

Trying to rationalize a scenario in which sudden death overtime isn't legitimate NFL football is like making a case against the forward pass.

posted by rcade at 06:17 PM on January 19

Well, the 15-minute limitation would still be possible, provided you had a similarly constrained resolution if still tied after OT for TV purpose. *koff* Such as my suggestion to have a track and field style kickoff, where each team kicks from 5yd further FG range until someone misses. Around 60 yards, shit's gonna get real. ;)

posted by hincandenza at 06:20 PM on January 19

Why this is not the rule in playoff football is hard to understand. It works for hockey ...

I don't think it works all that well for hockey. After 2 OTs the players typically are completely out of gas. The quality of play is so bad that the winning goal often seems more like a fluke than a moment of greatness.

posted by rcade at 06:22 PM on January 19

On another topic, I want to see the all-22 view of the Morgan Burnett interception with 5:13 left in the game. If he doesn't slide, it looks like he had a shot at a pick-6 or at least a 20- to 30-yard-return to put the Packers in field goal range. There were almost no potential tacklers on the side of the field he was running towards as he caught the pick.

posted by rcade at 06:33 PM on January 19

rcade: Trying to rationalize a scenario in which sudden death overtime isn't legitimate NFL football is like making a case against the forward pass.
Wait, what? You're having a different conversation now. I'm not making a case that sudden death isn't "legitimate" because it has no historical support. I- and I think Howard_T among others- am saying it's fundamentally not a "fair" method to accurately determine a winner, and thus should be changed. I mean, lots of things have a long historical basis as The Way Things Are Done. That doesn't prevent us from changing them!

The example I gave of stopping time before the end of the 4th quarter was using an intentionally ridiculous argument taken to its logical extreme. Why did Seattle "get" to stop the clock without GB even getting a chance to answer in kind, after Seattle scored and took the lead? Or if GB had won the coin toss and done the same thing? In my opinion, if we're being "fair", clock based sports should never end in the middle of a time period, excepting some event that makes the game itself unplayable on the field (hurricane, earthquake, etc).

And this gets back to the "two definitions of fair" that I believe trips up so many sports arguments. One definition says "fair" is an application of rules that is blind to whoever may currently benefit or suffer under them- this is your argument that all teams knew the Sudden Death rules, they've been around for decades, so who can complain? Yes, the teams weren't blindsided, nor are they held to different types of rules.

But another definition says "fair" is something striving towards justice, or accuracy in assessment. That a method of determining a winner is valid, justifiable, merit-based, and agreeable to all parties. If Seattle held on to that lead through the end of OT... no one in GB could really argue Seattle didn't win "fair and square". Each team would have had several possessions, and controlled how long they held the ball; you can't easily argue that GB losing after that hypothetical didn't truly lose.

I hope that clarifies what I mean by different conversation, that we're talking past each other because of different but equally valid definitions of "fair". I'm critiquing the current rules as unfair by that second definition, because they- in a timed sport especially- are not giving both teams equal and reasonable chance at victory.

Imagine soccer changed its rules and now penalty kick shootouts were done where they flip a coin after regulation, and the winning team lines up for 5 shots, and if they make any of them- bam, match is over. Other team doesn't ever kick at all. If that rule change for soccer were proposed tomorrow, would you think the rule "fair"? Would you be for or against such a rule?

posted by hincandenza at 07:12 PM on January 19

everyone in the room in the Seattle home I was in

I'm in Wisconsin, and when Seattle went up near the end of regulation, there were screams from surrounding houses as if someone was being violently murdered.

posted by LionIndex at 07:28 PM on January 19

rcade: On another topic, I want to see the all-22 view of the Morgan Burnett interception with 5:13 left in the game. If he doesn't slide, it looks like he had a shot at a pick-6 or at least a 20- to 30-yard-return to put the Packers in field goal range. There were almost no potential tacklers on the side of the field he was running towards as he caught the pick.
We had a long debate about that while watching, and like you I'd like to see how wide open it was. The argument for was, like you say, go for the yardage to maybe even get in FG range. The argument against- which I was making at the time- was that you're already up 12 points/two touchdowns with 5 minutes to go in the game. Play safe, don't make big mistakes like fumble or turnover the ball. If he'd fumbled the ball after that interception, there's a decent chance Seattle could run it all the way in amid the chaos, and now it's 19-14 with 5 minutes to go.

It was the smart move at the time. Had they then got even a couple of first downs they'd have iced the game. Even going three-and-out, they burned 1:12 off the clock, and Seattle didn't get the ball back until 3:52 still down 19-7. Seattle didn't even score until 2:13 left; if GB recovers that onside kick, they could have taken a knee and left Seattle with 13 seconds to score an 8-point touchdown (and yes, I'm well aware of my previous statements on gaming the clock :) ).

But yeah, in retrospect... what a terribly managed end game by Green Bay.

posted by hincandenza at 07:33 PM on January 19

I hope that clarifies what I mean by different conversation, that we're talking past each other because of different but equally valid definitions of "fair". I'm critiquing the current rules as unfair by that second definition, because they- in a timed sport especially- are not giving both teams equal and reasonable chance at victory.

I understand what you're getting at better, now. I thought the 2011 rule change made sudden death more fair, so I think there's room for considering whether sudden death is fair.

But I'm going to challenge the idea that it's inherently unfair to let a team win a football game by scoring a touchdown first in overtime because the other offense never gets the ball.

There are three components to a team: offense, defense and special teams. All three can score, so why does the offense need to touch the ball for an overtime to be fair?

Seattle scored touchdowns on 22% of its drives in 2014. NFL teams score touchdowns around 16% of the time when they start on their own 16, which is around where Seattle began the final drive. So Green Bay began the drive with around a four-in-five chance of preventing a touchdown, leaving out other variables.

posted by rcade at 07:52 PM on January 19

So here's a possibility that just popped into my head:

Beat the clock sudden-death: Determine who goes first (flip a coin, home team, whoever had the last possession, whatever), and that team plays until someone scores. But the clock runs up -- that is, it starts at 0:00 -- and when someone scores, the clock starts counting down on the ensuing kickoff.

That is, Seattle goes first in OT. They run the same plays and wind up scoring a TD after 3:19. So the clock starts at 3:19 as they kick off to Green Bay. When the clock hits 0:00, if the game isn't tied, we have a winner; otherwise, you do another similar beat-the-clock period, switching who gets the ball first.

Or, if Green Bay gets an interception on that first possession, then runs a few plays and kicks a field goal after, say, 5:00, then they have to kick off to Seattle, who now has 5:00 to score as well. If Green Bay gets another turnover and scores another field goal with 1:30 left, well, Seattle gets another try for a TD.

posted by Etrigan at 07:59 PM on January 19

It was the smart move at the time.

I thought it was too cautious at the time. A slide makes sense when your team can run out the clock on an opponent. I don't think it made sense there, when it seems like field goal position was his for the taking.

Philosophically, I think it's better for a team late in the playoffs to show boldness and try to seize victory than to use caution to hold on to a lead. It doesn't always work, but the mindset often pays dividends with more aggressive, confident play later on. When Mike McCarthy went for two field goals on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and one-half line, I thought he was playing it way too safe. Seattle was going to get points. Green Bay had the running game to make those touchdowns a high-percentage play.

posted by rcade at 08:00 PM on January 19

Beat the clock sudden-death ...

I like this.

posted by rcade at 08:02 PM on January 19

Forgot what I came in here to say this time:

MMQB has a good piece on exactly how Seattle determined they'd try the fake field goal:

Now for the bigger and bolder decision, the play that ignited Seattle's comeback, punter Jon Ryan's 19-yard touchdown pass to Garry Gilliam on a fake field goal. Ryan had been lobbying for the call during the week of practice, after special teams coach Brian Schneider's staff identified the weak link in the Packers field goal block team.

Reserve linebacker Brad Jones was recklessly aggressive coming off the edge on film. He consistently darted hard to the inside in an effort to get the block, and often went to unnecessary lengths to do so. Against Dallas in their divisional game, he lined up on the left side three times and on the right once, and on one attempt he tried to leap over a blocker only to get stonewalled.

So with five minutes left in the third quarter and Seattle still trailing 16-0, Carroll gave Ryan the go-ahead to execute a fake specifically designed for this game. Ryan had two options: 1. Take the snap and roll out to Jones' side with either Garry Gilliam (left side) or Luke Willson (right) as a receiving option. If the linebacker covers the receiver, Ryan should run. If not, throw it.

2. If Jones isn't on the field, take a delay of game penalty and then kick the field goal.

"Kickers are head-jobs anyway," Ryan said within earshot of Hauschka, "so you don't want to screw them around."

posted by Etrigan at 08:02 PM on January 19

I think we've come to an agreement, rcade: we're talking the same language, but just quibbling on details. Good enough for me fot today, that's the spice of sports. :)

We're also in agreement that McCarthy was way too conservative all game, including when it most visibly mattered. I'll always appreciate the teams that go for it, like the FG fake Etrigan mentions, or the times NE went for it on 4th even with a lead. Didn't the NYT even start a "Fourth down bot" that would assess the value of going for it on 4th far more often? Late in the post season as you say is no place for the timid.

I like the beat the clock idea a lot, although it's almost too cool for pro sports. It's like HORSE with a clock. The only quirk: what if the first play is the 2014 opening Superbowl snap/safety on the Broncos. Does Seattle now get the ball back and Denver has a single shot to force a safety on a QB who can simply kneel? Or if its the Broncos who get it, well... good luck scoring at least two points on your first and only play before the clock runs back out!

posted by hincandenza at 08:50 PM on January 19

Soooo...has the shipped sailed on that punt, pass, and kick competition idea to settle the game?

posted by NoMich at 09:11 PM on January 19

When Mike McCarthy went for two field goals on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and one-half line, I thought he was playing it way too safe.

That's probably why I'm not as pissed about how the OT worked out as I could be (since I picked GB).

McCarthy was absolutely brutal in his decision making at the start and end of the game.

Kicking the two field goals when you are inside the 2 yard line is just stupid. Even if you fail, you are forcing the opposition to start from inside their own 2 yard line! That's a dream scenario for the defence, and if they can hold them to 3-and-out, you are probably starting on the Seattle side of half when you get the ball back.

Then, as they were marching down the field at the end of the game when trailing by 3, McCarthy didn't use a damn time out until there were 19 seconds left on the clock. He should have used two of them to at least make an effort to go for a TD to avoid OT. Then, even when he decides to use a TO, he flubs that. Why leave 19 seconds on the clock to kick the field goal. Why even give Seattle a chance to return the kick-off and possibly throw a hail mary?

The only reason Seattle deserved to go to the Super Bowl is that McCarthy made it perfectly clear that his team didn't deserve to go to the game, and someone has to go...

I like the beat the clock idea a lot, although it's almost too cool for pro sports. It's like HORSE with a clock. The only quirk: what if the first play is the 2014 opening Superbowl snap/safety on the Broncos.

As for the "beat the clock" option, if the defense scores points on the opposition's possession (safety, interception, fumble recovery), the game should be over. In this case, the Broncos scored -2 points, so Seattle's offense would only need to score -1 points or more to win, and that's an automatic win in my books.

posted by grum@work at 09:15 PM on January 19

As for the "beat the clock" option, if the defense scores points on the opposition's possession (safety, interception, fumble recovery), the game should be over. In this case, the Broncos scored -2 points, so Seattle's offense would only need to score -1 points or more to win, and that's an automatic win in my books.

That re-introduces the true sudden-death aspect that seems to be distasteful to people, though.

posted by Etrigan at 09:40 PM on January 19

NoMich: Your suggestion is still being reviewed by the Sportsfilter League Office. It'll probably be implemented and tested at the college level first. :)

Hm, grum makes an interesting argument that dovetails with rcade's notion, that offense/defense/special teams all can score. Maybe you could make it true HORSE, but with a single letter: home team gets the ball first on their own 20. If they score anything, the away team gets the ball on their own 20 and the same time to score at least as much. Score more and you win, tie it up and we go again, fail to score as much and you lose. If the home team fails to score and has to punt, the away team now gets a free possession from wherever, to score anything, and put the onus on the home team to respond in kind from the same punt catch spot or lose. If the defense scores off a non-punting/downs turnover (INT, fumble) that changes possession, that's the game- you failed to score, the other team did not. If special teams scores on a kick return etc, the other team gets one chance to respond when receiving a kick from the same spot.

It adds a dimension that would really wreak havoc with the McCarthys who would suddenly have to balance various risk taking moves. Given the nature of it, theres no reason to not go for it on 4th, unless your punt would put them further back ththan the 20yd line. And going for a FG, even a long one, might be worth the risk, or it might not. If your FG kicker is much better than his, and your defense playing well...

But honestly, just let them play for the full N minute quarter and you'll solve for most edge cases automatically. And maybe instead of double OT if it comes to that, you then have NoMich's punt, pass, kick competition. :)

posted by hincandenza at 10:39 PM on January 19

That re-introduces the true sudden-death aspect that seems to be distasteful to people, though.

Kind of, but not really. If you have the ball and then let the other team score during your possession, why would the other team need to do anything during their own possession? I guess you could let them just kneel down for four plays in a row, and call it a game, but that seems really weird and anti-climatic.

But honestly, just let them play for the full N minute quarter and you'll solve for most edge cases automatically.

Yes.

posted by grum@work at 08:33 AM on January 20

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