The Seattle Seahawks were dominated in their loss to the New England Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday. The Pats won by a score of 24–19, so it wasn’t even that close. But the most interesting part of the game came when the two teams switched sides at halftime. The Patriots came back from halftime and went on to win Super Bowl 51 in epic fashion. However, it was during that second half when many wondered why the Seahawks didn’t run the ball more. It was widely believed that their runner-heavy offense would give them a significant advantage over the New England defense, but they only ran the ball 10 times throughout the entire game. So what gives? Let’s take a look at some potential explanations as to why Pete Carroll and company didn’t run it more than twice in almost three-quarters of football.
Why Didn’t the Seahawks Run the Ball?
There are a couple of reasons. The first reason is that the Seahawk’s coaching staff believed that they had a better chance to win by throwing the ball. The second reason is that the Patriots were expecting them to run the ball, and they had prepared for it. The Seahawks could have won if they had run the ball, but it would have been a lot more difficult. The Patriots were ready for them to run the ball, and they were able to stop it. If the Seahawks had tried to run the ball, it would have been a lot more difficult for them to succeed.
Why Didn’t They Stick To The Game Plan?
- The Seahawks were running the ball going into the game. They were very successful at it, as they were averaging 5.6 yards per carry in their first nine games.
- The Seahawks had scored a total of 44 points in their last three games, and they had averaged 17 points per game in those three games. In other words, they scored at a much higher rate than they did in the previous nine games combined (8.7 points per game).
- The Seahawk’s defense was playing well and had been able to stop the Patriot’s offense effectively on several occasions during the season, so why would they switch things up?
- The Seahawk’s offensive line was playing exceptionally well during the regular season and playoffs, so why change things up? The offensive line only allowed one sack against the Patriots during this playoff run, which is evidence as to why Seattle stuck to their game plan for most of this postseason run.
- The Seahawks believed that their offensive line was good enough to keep Brady and the Patriot’s defense off balance. They also thought that they would be able to run the ball effectively against them because they had been doing it effectively in previous games. However, things didn’t go as planned, and the Seahawks didn’t have much success running against the Patriot’s defense in New England’s stadium.
What Would Have Happened If The Seahawks Had Run The Ball?
- The Seahawks would have had a better chance of winning because they would have had more time to score. The Patriots were able to stop the Seahawks’ running game, as they only allowed 3.2 yards per carry and only allowed one rushing touchdown. Why? Because the Patriots were able to put pressure on Russell Wilson and force him into bad throws. If the Seahawks had been able to run the ball more, they might not have been forced into throwing it as much, and that would have given them more time to score.
- The defense would have been forced to be in passing situations more often, which could’ve led to turnovers and defensive scores. The Patriots’ offense is predicated on running the ball and putting up points early in games, so if Seattle was able to run it more than twice, it could’ve changed the game’s momentum completely by forcing New England into passing situations for much of the game. That means that New England would have needed a score on offense, but wouldn’t have been able to run the ball.
- The Seahawks would have had more time to score, which could’ve led to a win. If the Seahawks were able to run it more than twice in this game, they might have been able to take control of the game by scoring in the second half, rather than relying on their defense early on and trying to get a huge play late in the game. If they scored early in the second half when they had time, it might have changed how New England responded, since they would be forced into responding with an offense of their own rather than just standing still waiting for Seattle’s offense to score.
- The Seahawks would have been able to run the ball more because they would have had a better chance of winning. The Seahawks are one of the best running teams in all of football, and they would have had a much better chance of winning with a running game than a passing game. If they had been able to run it more, that could’ve given them more time to score and get back into the game even if they didn’t win it outright.
What Were The Seahawks Thinking When They Didn’t Run The Ball?
- The Seahawks had a good game plan going into the game. Obviously, they knew they had to run the ball more in the second half. But they also had to make sure that they were able to stop the Patriots from running it more. The key for them was stopping New England’s rushing attack, which is what happened. Even though Belichick and Brady have tried to make sure that their backs have a presence in the backfield, it was still an impressive defensive performance for Seattle.
- The Seahawks didn’t have enough time to prepare for an offensive play like this one (via NFL Game Pass). The Seahawks ran this play at least four times throughout the game and didn’t gain any yards on any of them. It was a creative play by Belichick and Brady, but it wasn’t one that you would expect from a team like Seattle with its run-heavy offense. If they did run this play more than once during their Super Bowl campaign, then I’m sure Pete Carroll would’ve made adjustments during halftime as well as in-game adjustments based on what his defense did against New England’s offense (or vice versa).
- The Seahawks were locked in on stopping the run. This is a common explanation for why the Seahawks didn’t run it more than twice. It’s not that they didn’t want to run the ball more in the second half, but they knew that their defense was going to be able to stop New England’s offense, so they opted not to push it too much and risk giving up big plays downfield. But I’m not buying this one at all; it just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason for them not to have any success running the ball in such an important game.
It’s easy to look back on this game and wonder why the Seahawks didn’t run the ball more. However, it’s important to remember that hindsight is always 20/20. During the game, the Seahawks’ playcalling was working because they were keeping the ball away from their opponents. If the Seahawks would have run the ball more during the second half, there’s a chance that the Patriots would have adjusted their defense to stop the run, and it would have opened up opportunities for Tom Brady to throw the ball. The Seahawks’ pass-heavy offense may have not worked out in the team’s favor in this Super Bowl, but it worked for them throughout the course of the entire season.