New England Patriots’ Coach Bill Belichick, largely seen as a ruthless tactician who has often exhibited less-than-gracious behavior, showed great magnanimity toward opposing Super Bowl coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks when asked about the controversial Seahawk play call that resulted in Malcolm Butler’s game-sealing interception.
Appearing on Boston’s WEEI, Belichick lauded the Seahawks while showing compassion for their disappointment over the defeat, remarking that he knew the feeling himself from two losses in the Super Bowl. He said:
I wouldn’t be able to say enough about Seattle. They’re a great football team, well-coached. They deserve so much credit for what they’ve done, and how well they’ve done it. I know they are as disappointed as we’ve been in that spot a couple times ourselves. So the high that we feel is probably not as high as the low that they feel. But that’s a really good football team.
Then Belichick segued to the criticisms that have been leveled at coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell:
I think there’s been a lot of criticism that I don’t think is anywhere close to being deserved or founded. That football team is very good, very well-coached, and Pete does a great job. Malcolm [Butler] and Brandon Browner, on that particular play, just made a great play. I think the criticism they’ve gotten for the game is totally out of line and by a lot of people who I don’t think are anywhere near even qualified to be commenting on it.
Belichick described the fateful play and pointed out that the biggest plays of the Patriots’ season were made by inexperienced players:
First of all, Browner jammed the inside receiver, didn’t allow any kind of up-field penetration so that Malcolm could go behind it and drive downhill on the route. That was key, and then [Butler] made a good break on the ball and shut a very explosive, quickness to get there, Browner made a great play, too. I’ve been asked about playoff experience and all that; it’s good to have it, but I don’t think that’s nearly as important as guys being prepared and playing well. Two of the biggest plays of the season for us were Deron’s interception against Baltimore and Malcolm’s interception against Seattle. Those guys had about as little playing experience as you can get.
From the beginning of the season, when ESPN’s Trent Dilfer blasted the Patriots, saying, “They’re not a good team anymore,’’ to Hall of Fame coach Don Shula referring to him as “Beli-cheat,” toDeflateGate, Belichick has weathered many storms this season. Now he’s generous enough to try to banish the storm brewing in Seattle.