Is Pete Carroll a poor sport? That's the debate after the Seahawks kept pouring it on as they rolled to a record-setting 58-0 trouncing of the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
With Seattle leading 51-0 and facing a fourth-and-23 with just over 7 minutes left in the game, Carroll let Matt Flynn attempt a pass instead of punting the ball away. They threw again on third-and-6 with under 3 minutes left in the game, and former NFL coach Herm Edwards is taking Carroll to task for keeping his foot on the pedal.
"There comes a point when you know what the score is and you still play football, but there's a way you can play it and show some sportsmanship," Edwards said in a postgame debate on ESPN.
Edwards said the Seahawks should have just stuck with running the ball exclusively and ending the game as quickly as possible.
But Carroll insists he wasn't trying to rub it in anyone's faces. Instead, he was trying to get Flynn, Seattle's backup quarterback, some badly needed game experience.
"Matt Flynn got to play finally and I was thrilled as our whole football team wants to see him in the game and he needed to throw the ball a little bit," Carroll told 710 ESPN's "Brock and Salk" on Monday.
Carroll pointed out he never knows when he'll have to call on Flynn to come into a game, and would have preferred to give him even more opportunities to throw but didn't want to be a bad sport. He also wanted to keep making first downs and keep the ball out of Arizona's hands. He said he was thinking about the Cardinals and their beleaguered head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, the entire time.
"I've been there so many times. I know what you do and I know what it's like on the other side and I also know what the reaction's going to be," Carroll said.
"Rep[etitions] in the NFL are precious," agrees former Seahawk Dave Wyman. "When you're not a starter, you don't get to practice. You get about 10 percent of the reps," Wyman told the Dori Monson Show.
"You've got a back up quarterback. You'd like to have him ready. Quarterbacks go down all the time. I don't understand all that talk," Wyman said.
Former Seahawk and Husky Brock Huard feels the same way. He said Carroll handled the blowout more than appropriately.
"If it's college football, where the disparity between the talent can be so great, that's one thing, but this is a team that beat you Week 1. This is the NFL full of 53 grown men that are all getting paid handsomely and if you can't play and you can't keep up, well, I apologize, that's on you, that's not on the home team," Huard said.
Wyman, who's been on the losing end of more than a few blowouts, said the Arizona defense would have (or should have) been offended if Seattle had simply started taking it easy or even taking a knee.
"That would be more humiliating to the defense to take a knee and to not try," Wyman said.
"Pete Carroll has enough to think about during the week he has enough to worry about every coach in the NFL, his tail is on the line so worrying about not running up the score is ridiculous."
While some speculated the Cardinals simply quit Sunday, Huard said shame on them if any of them did.
"These are your resume builders. This is it. If you go out there and you are lackluster and you shut it down and you quit, well, good luck for the next coach that comes in," he said.
Carroll said Whisenhunt didn't say a word about the score after the game when they met at midfield, and Whisenhunt even apologized in his postgame press conference for his team's abysmal performance.
"You just try and do it with as much integrity as you can, but you also have to play the game. And sometimes it's so bad you can't do anything about it," Carroll said.
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