The defense gives up a deep pass late in the game and the coach is too aggressive. But if the coach sits back in a prevent and the Chargers move quickly into the red zone, where they throw the winning 14-yard TD pass in the final seconds, then it’s a matter of the prevent preventing you from winning. Can’t you just hear it?
Along the same lines: The offense fails to convert a third-and-5 run and it’s another case of being too conservative. But if they try something more daring and it backfires, the coach is an idiot for abandoning what had been working. How easy is that?
Had they thrown a pick on third-and-5 or fumbled the ball trying some exotic end-around, you can bet I’d be sitting here pointing out the 11-yard gain on the previous third-and-5 run, or the 33-yard TD on the earlier third-and-8 run.
I’m not defending the way Seattle called its offense or defense late in the game. I’m just pointing out that those of us in the armchair QB business get to have it both ways, which is why it’s important to make every effort at fairness in dissecting these situations.
Here is some additional information on the third-and-5, while it occurs to me: The team faced five third-and-five situations in the game. Seattle threw for gains of 24 and 11 yards on the first two, both from four-receiver personnel with Mack Strong in the backfield; then came the 11-yard run from one-back, three-receiver personnel; then came an incomplete pass for Jerramy Stevens from regular personnel with split backs, and the Chargers nearly sacked Matt Hasselbeck on this one; the final third-and-5 also came from regular personnel, this time I-formation, and in retrospect you might wonder why they didn’t consider using three-wide personnel to disguise the run a little better, but there might be a good explanation for this).