1) Don't get too cute. What in the world was Seattle doing trying to throw the ball at the 1 with plenty of time left -- 20 seconds and a timeout -- to give Marshawn Lynch at least one more crack at a TD? He had almost scored from the 5 on the previous play. This is a lesson well worth remembering for Carolina. Just because everyone knows Cam Newton is good on the quarterback sneak from the 1? That doesn't mean you try a pass to the second tight end to "fool people." You run Newton up the gut from the 1. That's why Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's Wikipedia page was briefly hacked Sunday night following the game. (That "update" was quickly taken off by the powers that be, but here's a screenshot).
Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell's Wikipedia page has been hacked: pic.twitter.com/zlsxoqcDWw— scott_fowler (@scott_fowler) February 2, 2015
The play call roused a lot of other reaction too on Twitter, perhaps best symbolized by this one:
2) There is no such thing as too many pass rushers or too many good cornerbacks. That vaunted Seattle defense could not get to Tom Brady on his two fourth-quarter TD drives. It looked tired. And that's the best defense in the NFL. And once Seattle got one defensive back hurt, it suddenly looked very vulnerable. This is a lesson Panther GM Dave Gettleman understands -- I bet he will draft another pass rusher somewhere in the 2015 draft, because he loves them. Here's a little more advice for Gettleman.
That was the worst play call I've seen in the history of football.😞— Emmitt Smith (@EmmittSmith22) February 2, 2015
3) Throw the ball short against Seattle. New England scored 28 points by basically ignoring Richard Sherman's third of the field and throwing the ball short constantly for 8-10 yard gains by getting its wide receivers and tight end Rob Gronkowski constantly matched up against Seattle's linebackers. Carolina has lost four straight to the Seahawks and will play them a fifth time in Seattle in the 2015 regular season, and the Panthers have never scored more than 17 points in any of those previous four games. This was the blueprint of how to do it. Investing more in your offensive tackles also helps.
As for the one thing that's too late to change, Carolina should never have let Brandon LaFell get away. He's not a No.1 receiver, but he just won a Super Bowl ring and scored a touchdown in the biggest game he's ever played. He was plenty good enough to have stayed in Charlotte and would have given Newton one more weapon on a team that was offensively challenged all year. LaFell got to share the moment with his son afterward -- see Joseph Person's pic below and also follow all of Joe's excellent work on this game elsewhere on CharlotteObserver.com:
Prediction update: I picked the Patriots to win, 24-20, so I got the point spread right but was slightly off on the final score. This was one of the best Super Bowls I've ever seen, but like every Super Bowl it does leave me somewhat empty. We are now seven months away from seeing another meaningful NFL game.
Brandon LaFell with his son after winning Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/XpMfviRSM4— Joe Person (@josephperson) February 2, 2015
And incidentally, what about that "Nationwide and the dead kid" ad. Looks like a nice, sweet, kid-friendly ad and then, "Wait, what?? He died in a bathtub? Who green-lighted that one?" Had to be the worst ad Sunday night.