The Seattle Seahawks absolutely annihilated the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14, laying a 58-0 beatdown on the hapless Redbirds. However, rather than discuss how well the Seahawks played or just how terrible the Cardinals have become, sports talk radio on Monday is likely going to be dominated by one play in the fourth quarter that didn't have any impact on the game at all.
On 4th-and-23 from the Cardinals 33-yard line with 7:21 remaining in the game, backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who had entered the game for some garbage time mop-up duty, threw a long pass to reserve wide receiver Jermaine Kearse that fell incomplete.
This isn't to say that the pass didn't have consequences, however. It didn't take long for the Twittersphere to light up with incredulity that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll would commit such a despicable act as to throw a forward pass.
Um ... Wow. The Seahawks just threw it into the end zone on fourth down up 51-0 in the fourth quarter.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 10, 2012
Pete Carroll's Seahawks throw into the endzone on 4th and 23, up 51-0. "What's your deal?"— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 10, 2012
Hey Pete Carroll, no need to keep passing the ball so much when you're up 51-0. You're not impressing the BCS folks.— Nancy Gay (@nancygay) December 10, 2012
Now I'm not going to hold up Pete Carroll as some sort of paragon of sportsmanship, but the "outrage" being expressed at what the Seahawks did on Sunday is ridiculous.
First, the Seahawks didn't "run up" anything. Seattle threw for all 216 yards and one touchdown as a team against the Cardinals. The score of Sunday's blowout had a lot more to do with Arizona committing eight turnovers (two of which were returned for touchdowns) than it did with the Seahawks not taking their foot off the gas.
Second, if you've never heard of Matt Flynn or Jermaine Kearse there's a reason for that. They're backups, and they don't get a lot of opportunities to get game experience during the season. For a team with playoff aspirations to want those players to do a little more with that opportunity than just pound it up the gut three times and then punt isn't poor sportsmanship. It's smart coaching.
Finally, this isn't Pop Warner football. It's the National Football League. New England head coach Bill Belichick has often been accused of running up the score, and as FootballGuys points out Belichick wasn't shy about the subject when speaking to NBC Sports about it back in 2007.
“I’ve been coaching too long,” Belichick said. “I remember being on that side. When I was coaching defense it was my job to keep the score down, not theirs. When you’re playing defense it’s your job to stop them. It’s not (the offense’s) job to not score. It’s like I tell the offense, what the (bleep) do you think I send you guys out there for? To punt? We have a punt team for that. That’s not your job. Your job is to go out there and score points. If you come off the field and you haven’t scored points you haven’t done your job.”
Granted, Belichick may be a jerk, but he's spot on.
So, while fans of the Cardinals and possibly even their players and coaches are no doubt seething about the perceived injustice perpetrated upon their organization they're both wrong and missing the point.
Even if Carroll's only motivation was rubbing it in that's not what they should be angry about.
They should be angry because the Arizona Cardinals are a horrible football team.