Russell Wilson threw his fourth interception of the NFC Championship game with just over five minutes remaining and the Seahawks trailing 19-7. The ball went off the hands of receiver Jermaine Kearse, and right into the hands of Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett.
And that’s when it got interesting. With a field of green ahead of him, Burnett – perhaps because teammate Julius Peppers told him to – just went down. He took a couple steps and slid down as if the game was over.
As we know now, it clearly wasn’t.
Just how much room did Burnett have ahead of him? If you look at the GIF above or click the video below, you’ll see the two closest receivers to Kearse were running deep patterns. They weren’t catching Burnett. The running back on the play, Marshawn Lynch, ran a pass pattern to the bottom of the screen.
There was nobody in front of Burnett. His defense would have been blocking some burly lineman and Russell Wilson. I’d guess there was a greater than 50 percent chance Burnett scores on the play.
[Aside: You have to wonder if the DeMarcus Lawrence fumble recovery-and-fumble two weeks ago crossed Burnett’s mind. Obviously there was much less time left in that game, but you can be sure the moment was talked about by the Packers either before the drive or during the week.]
It’s unclear why Peppers signaled to Burnett to slide. Did these two have no idea how much time was left on the clock? Even conservatively, if the Packers gain 30 yards on the return, they’re starting in field goal range.
Yes, I know Brandon Bostick is getting most of the blame for not catching the onside kick, and that’s understandable. But what was Burnett thinking?
Here’s the All-22 photo: