Of all the ridiculous plays that had to come together for the Seattle Seahawks to win the NFC Championship this past Sunday (and there were a lot) perhaps the most "overlooked" came with roughly five minutes left, when Packers safety Morgan Burnett caught a deflected pass to not-quite ice the contest. Instead of trying to take it to (or near) the house, Burnett slid to prevent a fumble (which is selfless if, say, there's 20 seconds left), pointed to the air as he was being congratulated by teammates, and jogged off the field. It was the high-point before the implosion for Green Bay, as the next five minutes (plus overtime) unraveled before their very eyes, causing one of the most absurd losses (of any sport) in recent memory.
Apparently Burnett wasn't the only Pack defender who thought he should hit the turf, as 13-year-NFL-veteran Julius Peppers was giving him the "no mas" sign to give himself up and end the play. You may have noticed, as a viewer, that at that moment there were no Seahawks defenders in the picture, no matter how wide your screen was.
But today, new (wider-screened shots) confirm what many/all of us already thought, which is that Burnett had an opportunity to continue going, for a while. Why keep writing when I can just embed video proof? That's a great point by me, so here's a zoomed out replay for all to see:
On top of that, here's Twitter proof of Peppers telling him to go down instead of setting up a block:
Even in hindsight, Burnett defended the decision saying:
"I don't take nothing back that I did. It's easy to sit here after it happens, to sit here and say you should've done this or should've done that. If the outcome was different, we wouldn't even be talking about it."
He later added:
"It's nothing that I would change or nothing that I would take back."
Avoiding the obvious that if the outcome were different nobody "wouldn't even be talking about it," it was part of a string of baffling plays (from the coaches on down) that prevented the Packers from making their sixth Super Bowl in franchise history (even when Seattle was very clearly trying to just hand it to them). In fact, it wasn't even the worst play in the waning minutes of the game. But still, it's just one of those plays that seems (reasonably) innocuous in the moment, but later on makes you question "Hey just why did he do that again, exactly?"