Pete Carroll’s now infamous decision to THROW the ball on the one yard line with 26 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX has become the most miserable mistake known to every man in the football world. Pete Carroll in effect lost a game that was all but won. And not just any game. It was the Super Bowl for PETE’s sake! (Pun intended)
Pete snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. This term is an ironic reversal of the right way to end a game, which is the old saying “to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.” This idiom means to suddenly win a contest when it appears that loss is a foregone conclusion, to succeed in an endeavor through reversal of fortune, skill, effort, or good judgment.
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is to suddenly lose a contest one seemed very likely to win, especially through mistakes or bad judgment. And the key word here is “suddenly.” It’s like getting whipsawed on a roller coaster or getting the chair pulled out from under you or slipping on a sheet of ice – it is jarring and bone jangling.
Pete Carroll will have to live with his decision for the rest of his football life, and he will forever be the bain and banter of football pundits everywhere, because he’s the smart coach that outsmarted himself. But Pete Carroll isn’t the only one that is going to have to live with himself; we all have to live with ourselves and our dubious decisions too.
Pete Carroll is not the only one that has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Lest we seem to be too hard and too harsh on Carroll, we must take a minute to examine and observe and scan and scrutinize some of the choices we’ve made along the way.
Truth be told, all of us have made some absurd and asinine assumptions that have in effect lost, for us and for others, critical and crucial “games” in some sad and sundry seasons of life. How many play calls do you wish you could call back? How many “Noooooooooooo!” moments have you had along the way? How many first and goal-to-go gaffs have gone south for you?
We’ve all made bad calls that we thought were good calls — and in the end, we had to say “it wasn’t supposed to work out this way.” And that’s where grace comes in. God’s grace is sufficient for every boneheaded play and every boondoggled performance. Grace covers a multitude of sin and shame. We’ve all had fumbles and foibles and pitfalls and shortfalls in our tragic comedy called life.
But thank God for grace.