And it looks like both Sunzi and the Yi Jing got it wrong. But not quite. Let's look again at what those texts suggested.
My Sunzi analysis pointed to the key match up being the Seattle offense versus the New England defense and that, indeed, is what the game came down to. At the critical moment, however, the Hawks lost sight of their strength. Instead of doing what virtually the entire country was expecting, run "beast mode" into the end zone, they threw a quick pass over the middle into traffic. Apparently, they were trying to use the clock, which seems absurd with only 20 seconds left. If that was the case they were violating a key Sunzi principle: always go for the quick victory. They had three downs, two time outs, and the best rushing offense in the game. In essence, they forgot who they were, they failed to "understand yourself," and thus they lost.
The Hawks defense gave up more points than I expected, or should we say the Pats offense scored more than they had in past Super Bowls against stout defenses. But the Seattle defense ultimately did what they had to do: they put their offense in a position to win the game.
Just like back in 2007, the terms of the Sunzi analysis were correct. But the Seahawks failed to maintain their focus on key Sunzi ideas: know your strengths, go for the quick victory.
As for the Yi Jing, friends of mine who work with the text more than I sometimes remind me: the Yi is never wrong, but we sometimes fail to fully understand it.
In my case, I focused too much on the "supreme success" indicated by hexagram 17, "following," toward which conditions were tending. And conditions were tending in that direction. The Kearse catch seemed to illustrate how the Hawks were aligned with Dao: fate was working for them.
But then they lost track of themselves. Here is what I said at the end of the post: "if they are able to stay within the particular dynamics of the game and exploit their inherent strengths, they are going to come out on top."
This is precisely what they failed to do in the last 20 seconds; they did not "exploit their inherent strengths." They were distracted by other concerns, and thus they failed.
If we look back to hexagram 44, "Coming to Meet," the nine in the third place has a commentary that warns of "painful indecision in behavior:"
But if we gain clear insight into the danger of the situation, we shall at least avoid more serious mistakes.
That is what did not happen. The Hawks lost sight of the danger of throwing a short pass over the middle into traffic on the goal line when the defense was generally cheating forward.
It's sad, really. So close yet frustrated. Such is the folly of humanity, and why we need to keep consulting the old books to continually learn how to act according to the natural unfolding of Dao.