The final, fateful directive Pete Carroll made in Super Bowl 49 just under three weeks ago was to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, to call a pass from the 1-yard line in the Super Bowl. It was a counter to New England bringing in a heavy set of defenders to stop the run with 26 seconds to play and the Patriots leading 28-24.
[caption id="attachment_29849" align="alignright" width="480"] Coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks react immediately after Russell Wilson's interception from 1-yard line with 20 seconds left in Seattle's 28-24 loss to New England in Super Bowl 49 Feb. 1 (Drew Perine/Staff photo).[/caption]
No need to remind you that Russell Wilson's interception cost Seattle a second consecutive Super Bowl title. Since then: a non-stop torrent of national, even international criticism upon Carroll and Bevell for the worst call in Super Bowl history.
Carroll's not surprised. And he's been counseling Bevell -- plus the entire franchise -- about it.
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“No, I had the intuition to what was going to come, immediately, because of all the scrutiny that’s so clear and obviously. Everyone likes to play that placing-the-blame stuff. I’m not surprised at all,” Carroll said today here in Indianapolis while leaning against a wall in the suite lounge of Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the NFL scouting combine.
“We were as clear thinking and knew what was going on as we ever can be. We were so ready to win that football game, I can’t tell you. But they made a play that just took it away. They did a fantastic job.
"There was a time needed for healing; we respect the heck out of that. And then we move ahead."
Carroll and the Seahawks' staff of general manager John Schneider, scouts and coaches are interviewing college players, measuring and assessing them, meeting with agents and readying not only for the draft that begins April 30 but free agency that begins March 10.
But everywhere they go here -- in the concourses of this giant stadium and adjoining convention center carrying looping TV replays of the Super Bowl, through questions from the media and the well-intended wishes of colleagues and acquaintances around the league -- the Seahawks can't escape the most excruciating title-game defeat the NFL has ever seen.
"As we get back to this, we are hard at it here. Our scouts are deep into what's going on, having a blast here at the combine," Carroll said. "But when the players get back in late April they will be ready to go. I absolutely count on that, and the leadership from this team will be ready to go, and we will be very excited.
"We are not at ending points. We are so much in the middle of this. It’s just a thrill to be a part of this time at the Seahawks. ... I mean, I can't even express how much fun we are having as we move forward.
“The old adage about 'the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat'? You just watched it. You watched it over a 12-month period. And it couldn't have been more obvious. There are great lessons, great growth to come out of that. That's what's going on here. A team could not have gone through more, you know? At the high end of things -- you could lose all your games. At the high end of things you couldn't be through more than we've been through. This will make us extremely strong as we move forward. Sometimes that's hard to see, when it hurts. That's OK. We'll make it through that."
Carroll said he has discussed with Bevell handling the criticism that's going to be around for a while.
"We've definitely talked about it," Carroll said. "And I've talked to the entire staff, the entire club. Not that that means it's all done. We continue to work close and communicate consistently so that everybody is on the same page and my guys are in great shape and strong and ready to go forward.
"There is great opportunity for us to grow. And I'm working through it, I think, in really solid fashion. I should be. I should be pretty damn good at this at this time, you know? It's important that I am. I've got to lead a bunch of people to being special again. But this is a great lesson, this is a great lesson for all of us.
"It's not about that it happened. It's, what are you going to do about it?"