For better or worse, so often does a Super Bowl, the entire season, and the fate of a pair of worn out and determined teams come down to a singular player on a singular play. It seems that everything across some five months and 21 weeks of games, from eight divisions and 32 teams fighting through a regular season, can be boiled down to a handful of massively tense and important plays that will forever live in infamy.
Now, surely everything doesn’t actually come down to one play. Each snap is predicated on what happened before, and everything that takes place in a game is a product of that past. That is all philosophical and theoretical though; and while that’s a bit of fun to think about the butterfly effect and the series of maybes that lead to a fumble or a missed field goal. It’s some great fun to pin the blame on the execution of a single professional.
That’s because football comes down to each and every play. It’s a stop-and-start game; it’s not fluid like hockey or basketball, to a lesser degree. So when teams are in these incredibly dramatic situations, with a chance to win or lose, a chance to make the big play or let down himself, his team, and his fans, it makes for a great watch and plenty to talk about afterward. The player is the goat, and it’s not always, and in fact rarely, fair, but such is how sports are boiled down.
So for now, let’s leave aside some discussion of team and personnel and strategy. Inspired from the conclusion of Super Bowl 49, here are the biggest goats in the NFL’s Championship History
15 Eugene Robinson, Super Bowl XXXIII
14 Leon Lett, Super Bowl XXVII
13 Freddie Mitchell, Super Bowl XXXIX
12 Rich Gannon, Super Bowl XXXVII
11 Kerry Collins, Super Bowl XXXV
10 Asante Samuel, Super Bowl XLII
9 Neil O’Donnell, Super Bowl XXX
8 Earl Morrall, Super Bowl III
7 Jackie Smith, Super Bowl XIII
6 Thurman Thomas, Super Bowl XXVIII
5 Joe Gibbs/Joe Theismann, Super Bowl XVIII
4 Wes Welker, Super Bowl XLVI
3 John Kasay, Super Bowl XXXVIII
2 Scott Norwood, Super Bowl XXV
1 Pete Carroll/Darrell Bevell, Super Bowl XLIX
Nothing is more egregious, more inexcusable, than the play call made by those in charge for the Seahawks with a chance to win the game. With second and goal from the one, with 26 seconds and one time out, Seattle barely pretended like they were going to hand off the ball to the league’s most powerful, tackle-breaking back who was just three feet away from a Super Bowl ring and MVP. Instead, Carroll, who has assumed responsibly for a call made by OC Darrell Bevell, lined up Russell Wilson in shotgun and had him throw a no-read pass to a player who had caught 18 passes in his three-year career on a medium-to-high risk play that required several players to execute perfectly. Well, it didn’t quite work out, leaving the entire world wondering: did you forget you had Marshawn Lynch?
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