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Marshawn not a sure bet on 1-yard run

Tuesday, February 3, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

In the anguished aftermath of Seattle’s Super Bowl loss comes rationale from an unlikely source: Boston.
   Alex Speier of The Boston Globe wrote today, “Seahawks’ play call not as bad as you think.” He refers, of course, to the last-minute interception that flipped a near-certain Hawks victory into defeat.
   Everyone living this side of Pluto has heard the lament, “Why didn’t they let Marshawn run it?”
   Speier taps Seahawks statistics to show that a Beast Mode TD was far less certain than you might think.
   It won’t dull the pain of losing to the Patriots, but consider:

  • Of the 106 passing plays from the 1-yard line in the NFL in 2014, none resulted in an interception or fumble.
  • Of Lynch’s 281 carries in 2014, 20 ended in lost yards, and two others were fumbles. That means he got bad results 7.8% of the time.
  • Over the three years Lynch has played with Russell Wilson, he’s fumbled 20 times and lost yards on another 77 plays, 10.7% of all his runs.
  • Five times in 2014 Lynch carried from the 1, but scored just once. That’s a 20% success rate versus the NFL average of 57.5%.
  • Over the past three years, Lynch has failed to score from the 1 more often (7 times) than he’s scored (5).

   If you think the writer is picking on Marshawn, no. He notes that in Wilson’s three years, from the 1-yard line, the Seahawks have successfully passed for a touchdown only 3 out of 8 times.
   The upshot of all this is that Lynch may well have been less than a 50/50 bet had he carried the ball.
   Of course, he would have had more than just one shot at gaining that yard. So the Globe stats offer little consolation for anguished fans still angry over the interception.
   These stats help to rationalize Pete Carroll’s game management. But in my heart of hearts, I think fans would be celebrating a Super Bowl win today had Carroll made a different call.
   Run the ball.

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