The Fumble That Never Should Have Been

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

One mistake stands out above all others in last Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, and it isn't what you may think.

What were you feeling when you saw the Seattle Seahawks recover DeAngelo Williams' late game fumble deep in the red zone of last Sunday's game? I'm sure denial, frustration, and anger were at the top of the list.

How about Williams? What do you think he was feeling? I imagine it was many of the same emotions you and I were dealing with. But the stinging pain from the awful realization that he had let his teammates down at the worst possible time was a burden he was left to bear alone. This is a shame because the weight of this untimely mistake shouldn't have been placed entirely on the shoulders of Williams. That's right, there was one more villain in this tragic scene who was completely overlooked, until now.

Need proof? Take a look at this GIF for a few moments. If you take your eyes off the 'main character' for a moment, then you should notice another egregious error of omission on the play. The answer is obvious if you pay special attention at who enters the screen just as Williams gets by Earl Thomas. See for yourself.

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3212007/defumble.gif

If your answer is Steve Smith, then you are correct. His oversight is obvious, and even more clearly evident in this video from NFL.com, which gives a broader view of the play.

There is no doubt in my mind that Smith's failure to block was the precursor to the fumble. Watch again as Williams avoids Earl Thomas's initial tackle, then turns ever so slightly back inside in an effort to avoid Richard Sherman, who should have been preoccupied with Smith. Personally, I don't believe Thomas ever catches Williams from behind if Smith had been blocking his assignment to begin with. As it played out, Thomas was able to punch the ball out only because he was slowed down by the shoulder tackle of an unoccupied Sherman.

Here's the truth. Football is the ultimate team sport, and this is one of the many reasons we are drawn to this game. A multitude of players are responsible for the failure or success of any given play, and this particular one is no exception.

I would like to respectfully submit to you that Williams' fumble never happens if Smith would have been blocking Sherman instead of peaking back at the play. This is unusual because he is notorious for sacrificing his body more readily during these type of running plays. I also found this misstep to be very ironic given the fact that Smith was seen barking at Frank Alexander and Armond Smith on the sidelines for hurting the team with their own brand of blunders.

From my perspective, Smith's carelessness was no less significant than any of the other errors committed during this gut-wrenching loss. As a respected veteran, his attention to detail, or lack thereof, can shape the identity of this team in a way that most other players can't. This is all about accountability, and I can only hope Smith was transparent enough to admit that he was partly culpable for the result of that play. Ultimately, it is this type of honesty and humility that can be the catalyst for something far greater than any of us can imagine.

What do you think CSR? Let us know in the poll and the comment section that follows.

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