Monday, February 06, 2006

Seahawks Had To Fight Steelers And Officials

Someone needs to call the Detroit PD because the Seattle Seahawks got robbed.

Anyone who watched Super Bowl XL with an unbiased eye knows that the MVP award should have gone to the officials – not Hines Ward.

Bill Leavy and his crew did everything in their power to ensure that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jerome Bettis, the feel-good media story of the week, came away with the Lombardi Trophy.

Never before in the history of the biggest sporting event on earth have the zebras been so visible. Never before have their decisions made such an impact.

The Seahawks were screwed. There’s no better way to say it. A spoonful of sugar won’t make the medicine go down any easier for Seattle, their fans or any lover of professional football in general.

The proof is in the videotape. Four bad, no horrendously bad calls, spelled the end for the Seahawks.

Matt Hasselbeck connected with Darrell Jackson for an apparent 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The play was nullified on an offensive interference call that clearly wasn’t.

It was ticky-tack all the way. Jackson and corner Chris Hope were both trying to establish position and while Jackson did use his arm, he did not create any separation by knocking Hope backwards or off his angle. Which is what the rule book states as offensive interference.

Jerry Rice, Torry Holt, Michael Irvin and many other top receivers make or made their living doing what Jackson did and it’s never called. If anything, Hope was grabbing at Jackson beyond the five-yard boundry.

Next is the Ben Roethlisberger mystery touchdown. In the second quarter, the Steelers had the ball with a third-and-goal at the Seahawk 1. Roethlisberger ran the QB Draw and took a dive to try and get in.

The side judge was running to mark the spot of the ball at the inch line and for some unknown reason, hesitated and raised his arms for the touchdown instead.

I’m sure everyone who worships the Black and Gold we’ll swear by all that’s holy that the ball crossed the plane. Just as every Seahawk fan will say he didn’t. That’s the dichotomy of perception – no two people see anything the same.

Regardless, I’m willing to bet that eight-out-of-ten times a touchdown is not called with different officials in place. In my opinion, Roethlisberger never broke the plane. He put the ball across the line after he was down and it shouldn’t have been a score.

But the worst - and most damaging call - came early in the fourth quarter.

With the Steelers up 14-10, Hasselbeck hit tight end Jerramy Stevens with an 18-yard strike that gave Seattle the ball at the Pittsburgh 1. Or so they thought.

Leavy called right tackle Sean Locklear with a supposed holding call, so instead of first-and-goal at the 1 and the chance to complete a 98-yard touchdown drive and take a three-point lead, Seattle faced first-and-20 at the 29.

Three-plays later, Ike Taylor intercepted the Hasselbeck pass, destroying the Seahawks’ spirit and costing them a chance for the championship.

The call was bogus. New Hall-of-Famer John Madden saw no infraction and said so. The replay showed no holding. Apparently Leavy and his crew don’t know what holding is. Locklear should’ve gone over, grabbed him and demonstrated personally.

The icing on the cake came during the interception. Hasselbeck went low to tackle Taylor, which is legal when going after the ball carrier. For some otherworldly reason, he was called for a chop block – a 15-yard personal foul that gave the Steelers a short field at their own 44.

Four plays-later, a demoralized Seattle team put up little resistance as Pittsburgh scored to set the final tally at 21-10.

Who knows what would have happened if those calls had gone Seattle’s way?

They dominated the first half – Pittsburgh didn’t have a first down until 19 minutes had passed. And even with Mr. Official against them, the Seahawks rang 400 yards of total offense on the vaunted Steeler defense.

Truth be told, it wasn’t a very good Super Bowl to watch. Mistakes and sloppy play dominated. Neither team looked like world champions.

In the end, the Seattle Seahawks gave a valiant effort, but couldn’t overcome the Pittsburgh Steelers or the officials.

Nothing can change the outcome. History will acknowledge the Steelers champions for the 2005 season. A history making fifth title (tied with Dallas and San Francisco) is theirs. No one can take it away.

In time, what will be forgotten is how the outcome of the greatest game on its grandest stage was taken out of the player’s hands by the referees.

The only questions that remain in the aftermath of Super Bowl XL are – where will Bill Leavy put his MVP award and what’s the maximum penalty for robbery in Detroit?

No comments: