The New England Patriots won Super Bowl LI by doing the sensible thing: Calling a run play that allowed James White to bulldoze ahead for a 2-yard touchdown and secure the franchise a fifth Lombardi Trophy.
It was the strategy the Seattle Seahawks should have employed in Super Bowl XLIX against the Patriots. But instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks called a pass play near the goal line and Russell Wilson threw an interception to Malcolm Butler. Two years later, the decision still haunts the team.
New England avoided making the same mistake, but just barely.
After a pass interference call on Atlanta Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell put the Patriots on the 2-yard line, New England’s first play call was a fade to Martellus Bennett that was dangerously close to being intercepted by Vic Beasley.
A play that could’ve saved the game for the Falcons was erased a play later by White’s touchdown, and the deflection by Beasley became such an insignificant part of the story that neither Beasley nor Brady were asked about it after the game.
In a game that featured a pair of ridiculous receptions by Julio Jones and Julian Edelman in the fourth quarter during the largest comeback in Super Bowl history — Beasley’s inability to haul in an interception was seemingly forgotten, altogether.
The only chatter about the play came from Bennett, who was close to having a career-defining highlight from right in his lap.
"I wanted to get it because I knew I was going to be open when he called the play,” Bennett said. “I had him by a couple steps."
Generally, running near the goal line is a more efficient and successful option, and it’s certainly a much safer one. The Seahawks’ fortunes could have been much different in 2015 if Lynch was given the ball at the end of the game, and the Patriots were inches away from making a similar mistake against the Falcons.