There are arguments about whether Seattle’s last play call was the worst in Super Bowl history. My father did some research (I don’t remember Super Bowl 5) and proved that it was based on the following criteria :
- There can be one and only one play that can be considered THE WORST play call in 49 Super Bowls.
- Analyze all SB won by 7 points or less. There are 18 listed below (no Roman Numerals).
- Need to analyze if the losing team could have won or tied the game on the last series within the last two minutes.
- Need to analyze yard line and down if losing team had the ability to win in the last minute and did the call possibly cost them the game.
This analysis should put the matter to rest
- SB5. Colts 16 – Cowboys 13 (Colts won on last second FG so eliminate this game)
- SB8. Dolphins 14 – Redskins 7 (Redskins scored on the blocked FG with 2 min left and never got the ball again. Eliminate)
- SB10. Steelers 21 – Cowboys 17 (In the fourth quarter, “Pittsburgh ran on fourth down (Maybe this could have been a worst call instead of punting if Pitt lost?) and gave up the ball on the Cowboys’ 39 with 1:22 to play. Roger Staubach ran and passed for two first downs but his last desperation pass was picked off by Glen Edwards”.) Eliminate–desperation pass is not a bad call.
- SB13. Steelers 35 – Cowboys 31 Despite heroic effort by Staubach, down by 18 in 4Q Eliminate “Then the Cowboys recovered an onside kick and Staubach took them in for another score, passing four yards to Butch Johnson with 22 seconds remaining.” Cowboys didn’t get it back.
- SB16. 49ers 26 – Bengals 21 Eliminate “The Bengals managed to score on an Anderson-to-Ross 3-yard pass with only 16 seconds remaining.”
- SB23. 49ers 20 – Bengals 16 “The 49ers started their winning drive at their 8-yard line. Over the next 11 plays, San Francisco covered 92 yards with the decisive score coming on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Joe Montana to wide receiver John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining.” Eliminate since 49ers won at the end.
- SB25. Giants 20 – Bills 19 “Buffalo’s Scott Norwood had a chance to win the game with seconds remaining before his 47-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right.” So the call did not beat them – Eliminate
- SB32. Broncos 31 – Green Bay 24 Eliminate – Heroics by Favre fell short – “After a timeout, Davis waltzed into the end zone to give Denver a 31-24 lead with 1:45 remaining. Freeman returned the kickoff 22 yards to the Packers’ 30, and Favre completed 22- and 13-yard screen passes to Dorsey Levens to reach the Broncos’ 35 with 1:04 left. But after a 4-yard pass to Levens and incompletions to Freeman and Brooks, John Mobley knocked away Favre’s pass to Chmura with 32 seconds left to give the Broncos the Vince Lombardi Trophy.”
- SB34. St. Louis Rams 23 – Titans 16 Eliminate – Final play stopped one yard short – Can’t say this was the worst call: “Warner fired a deep pass down the right sideline to Bruce, who caught the ball at the Titan’s 38, cut toward the inside, and outran the defense to the end zone to give the Rams a 23-16 lead with 1:54 left. The Titans drove downfield, and McNair avoided a sack and completed a 16-yard pass to Kevin Dyson to place Tennessee at the Rams’ 10 with six seconds remaining. With no timeouts, McNair attempted a quick pass to a slanting Dyson, who caught the ball in stride at the Rams’ 3. However, Jones reacted quickly and stepped up to tackle Dyson at the 1-yardline as time expired.” Hard to blame the call unless you say he should have thrown it in the end zone, but this play could have scored.
- SB36. Patriots 20 – St. Louis Rams 17 – Eliminate, Pats won on last play “Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal as time expired gave the New England Patriots their first Super Bowl title.
- SB38. Patriots 32 – Panthers 29 Eliminate – Pats won on last play “Adam Vinatieri kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds remaining as the Patriots won their second Super Bowl in three seasons.”
- SB39. Patriots 24 – Eagles 21 Eliminate –“The Eagles forced a punt, and beginning at their own 21 with 5:40 to play, needed 13 plays to drive 79 yards, capped by McNabb’s 30-yard touchdown pass on a post-pattern to Greg Lewis with 1:48 to play. Fauria recovered the onside kick, but the Eagles’ defense forced a punt. Dexter Reid downed Josh Miller’s 32-yard punt at the Eagles’ 4 with 46 seconds left, and Harrison intercepted McNabb’s pass three plays later to clinch the title.” Doesn’t seem to be a bad call that cost the Eagles the game.
- SB42. Giants 17 – Patriots 14 (Giants scored on pass to Burruss at the end so eliminate this one)
- SB43. Steelers 27 – Cardinals 23 Eliminate “(:15 left) (Shotgun) 13-K.Warner sacked at PIT 49 for -5 yards (56-L.Woodley). FUMBLES (56-L.Woodley), RECOVERED by PIT-99-B.Keisel
- SB45. Packers 31 – Steelers 25 Eliminate “4th and 5 on Pitt 33 (:56 left) (Shotgun) 7-B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete short left to 17-M.Wallace.” Rodgers kneels twice to end game.
- SB46? Giants 21 – Patriots 17 This is interesting. Belichick may have had the closest worst call. With Pats up 17-15 On second down at the Patriots 6 and with only one timeout remaining, Belichick had his defense stand up as Bradshaw took the handoff. Bradshaw thought about stopping short of the end zone, then tumbled in untouched.”I was yelling to him, ‘Don’t score, don’t score,’” Manning said. “He tried to stop, but he fell into the end zone.”Brady couldn’t answer in the final 57 seconds, although his heave into the end zone on the final play fell just beyond the grasp of lunging All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. New England (15-4), winner of 10 straight since a loss to the Giants in November, was done.”Belichick said Giants would have kicked a field goal anyway so by letting them score he gave his team a chance to come back, but as the 2015 SB showed nothing is definite. Maybe he should have relied on his defense? I’d say this was probably a good move on his part though.
- SB47. Ravens 34 – 49ers 31 Eliminate. Balt had the ball on their own 8 with seconds left and score 34-29. They took a safety to make it 34-31 and punted with 4 seconds left. Prior to that, SF had four plays from the 8 with just over two minutes to go, but no score. There were no controversial calls that cost SF the game. SF claimed Crabtree was interfered with on a 4th down pass but there was no flag.
- SB49. Patriots 28 – Seahawks 24 Seattle pass on 2nd down on the one yard line with 22 seconds left, interception and they had the NFL’s leading rusher. This was The WORST Super Bowl call of all time. All the others have been eliminated
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll parses words saying, “It was the worst result of a call ever” during an interview for the Today Show (1:45) on February 5, 2015. That sounds like the definition of a bad call to me, no?
Of course it’s only a bad call because it didn’t work. If they scored then it’s a “gutsy” call, but they didn’t so it’s a bad call. If it was 4th down, it wouldn’t have been the worst call, but because it was in the last minute, and they had two more downs after that one, it became the worst call. The call turned an almost certain victory into defeat. There were no Super Bowl bad calls that were even close. People could say that Lynch might have fumbled. That’s true but the call would not have been controversial.
There were lots of exciting Super Bowls, so why is this considered the best? That’s another argument.