The Seattle Seahawks’ decision to pass in the last minute of Sunday’s Super Bowl instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch will likely go down as one of the worst sporting decisions of all time. New England intercepted at the goal line and won 28-24 in a thrilling finish.
Former stars like Emmitt Smith and Dwight Clark said it was the worst play call ever in football.
We reached into our vault to find some other bad calls in sports history:
Keeping Buckner in: In 1986, Boston Sox first baseman Bill Buckner wasn’t taken out of Game 6 of the World Series against the Mets even though he was hobbling around on bum ankles. When the Red Sox scored two runs in the top of the 10th to take a 5-3 lead, manager John McNamara could have inserted Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement. Buckner was ailing but McNamara left him for sentimental reasons. He wanted Buckner to be on the field for the final three outs. Well, you know what happened. There were two outs, nobody on base, and the Red Sox were one strike away from winning their first World Series since 1918. However, the Mets came back to tie the game with three straight two-out singles. Mookie Wilson then fouled off several pitches before hitting a routine ground ball to Buckner at first base. The slow roller went between Buckner’s legs and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run from second. The Mets went on to win Game 7 and the World Series.
Stubborn Switzer: The Eagles and Cowboys were tied 17-17 in the 1995 NFC championship game. With the ball at their own 29-yard line and two minutes left, Dallas head coach Barry Switzer gambled. He went for it on fourth and one. Philly’s defence stuffed Emmitt Smith, but the play was nullified because Dallas didn’t get the play off before the two-minute warning. Switzer had time to reconsider his decision and punt it. He decided to give the ball to Smith again, with the same result. The Eagles took over and Gary Anderson kicked a 42-yard field goal to win the game 20-17.
Benching Tretiak: The Americans defeated the Soviet Union in the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” in the Olympics hockey semifinal. With the score tied 2-2 at the end of the first period, Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov benched Vladislav Tretiak, the best goalie in the world for reasons that were not entirely known. The U.S. won the game 4-3 and went on to capture the gold medal by beating Finland. Tretiak said Tikhonov later admitted that decision was one of the worst errors of his career.
Gretzky stews: Canadian head coach Marc Crawford left the game’s most prolific goal scorer, Wayne Gretzky, on the bench in a do-or-die situation at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. In a semifinal shootout against Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic, Crawford selected five players not named Gretzky, including defenceman Raymond Bourque. Canada’s five shooters were all stopped in the Czech Republic's 2-1 win. Even though Gretzky, at 37, was past his prime and had a history of struggling on breakaways, this decision will always be second-guessed.
Martinez stays in: Manager Grady Little left Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez out on the mound in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS championship against the Yankees. Boston was up by three runs until Martinez surrendered the lead, despite having three well-rested relievers waiting in the bullpen. The Yankees went on to win 6-5 in 11 innings.