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Steelers Win!

Bliss.

Definitely a weird, controversial game, but we'll take it!

Bob Bobstein (mail):
Here's what referee Bill Leavy's crew did, point blank: It robbed Seattle.

2 huge phantom calls (pass interference and holding), and a 15-yarder on Hasselback for tackling. Ugh.

But a win's a win. Enjoy it, Steelers fans.
2.6.2006 9:04am
Joshua:
To me the game felt more like just another Monday Night Football telecast than a Super Bowl. Maybe it was because I didn't watch any of the pregame coverage (I watched the poker tournament on NBC instead), or because the game was played in a smallish venue by Super Bowl standards, or because the commercials were nothing special (in fact the Super Bowl ads have been going downhill for a couple of years now), or because even the Rolling Stones' halftime performance was a bit of a letdown (and ABC censoring it to death certainly didn't help).

Or, maybe it was just because, except for Willie Parker's 75-yard TD run and that Randle El-to-Ward reverse-TD pass late in the game, neither of these teams looked very good.

Still, you have to hand it to the Steelers for winning four straight playoff games on the road (even though they had a mostly friendly crowd for the Super Bowl, although I'm guessing much of it was locals rooting for Detroit native Jerome Bettis). For Bettis it was the ultimate storybook ending to his career.
2.6.2006 9:25am
Medis:
Smith's article is way overstated. The only call that was definitely wrong was the 15-yarder on Hasselback, and there is no knowing if that penalty affected the outcome in any way.

More broadly, you can't robbed of something you don't own, and the Seahawks never owned that game because of too many dropped balls and big plays given up.
2.6.2006 9:43am
cdow (mail):
That was the worst officiated game I've ever seen. In fact, I think the entire NFL playoffs were terribly officiated. A subpar game to cap off a subpar NFL season.
Steelers fans should enjoy their win, but in my mind it was tainted by the officiating and the mediocre play. Everyone I was watching the game with thought the Seahawks definitely outplayed the Steelers.
2.6.2006 10:33am
Justin (mail):
No taint on my terrible towel. That win was deserved.

The only call I thought was wrong and against Seattle was the offensive PI. The illegal block by Hasselbeck was the right call, if the wrong rule. There is no "going for the tackle" exception, nor a "no intent" exception to the rule, and that has been called consistently throughout the season.

Furthermore, on the 2nd called-back touchdown, there was holding, but the holding was on the other OG, not the one they called it on. I saw it clear-as-day during the play when it was live.

In fact, the Seattle guards were holding all day and were lucky they didn't get called for 3 times the calls. Nobody in the NFL (except perhaps the Patriots) blitzes with nearly the effectiveness and creativity as the Steelers, and the reason why the LBs seemed "quiet" the whole game is because the Guards overcame their lack of athleticism with their long reach.

In other words, call the game "correctly" and its still 21-13.
2.6.2006 10:37am
Aaron:
Earlier I mocked the Steelers and their fans for what I called "an unmasculine affection for bathroom linen."

Today I congratulate them; Ford Field looked like Heinz Field West--I have never seen a Super Bowl so dominated by one side's fans. The stands were a sea of yellow.

Pittsburgh's fans gave the Steelers the confidence to stay in the game. Seattle wasn't robbed--it gave the game away.

As for the officiating, it was about average for the NFL (although I expect better in the Super Bowl). Face it; Seattle never closed the door, got rattled and paid the price.

Congrats Todd and the rest of Steeler Nation for tying my beloved Cowboys with 5 Lombardi trophys. Hopefully we can have a tiebreaker next season.
2.6.2006 10:45am
RichC:
Superbowl XL MVP: Bill Leavey (R)
2.6.2006 10:46am
nextright (mail) (www):
3rd down conversions!
That was the difference.

seahawks 5 of 17 (23%)
steelers 8 of 15 (53%)
2.6.2006 11:25am
Hattio (mail):
The officiating was terrible. But the previous commentator who said Seattle gave the game away was right. Seattle has a good excuse, but the actual blame goes on them.
2.6.2006 11:55am
Mobius (mail):
"Never closed the door?" Come on. If it wasn't for all the bad calls, Seattle would have been in the lead, and the Steelers would have been rattled. The refs gave away the game.

And as for the 3rd down conversions, it's just proof that the Seahawks were robbed.
2.6.2006 12:25pm
Houston Lawyer:
What a boring game. Yes there were some close calls, but not obviously bad ones. One of the commentators mentioned that he had never seen such emotional intensity. I guess he's not allowed to watch college ball. I liked the magic refridgerator ad.
2.6.2006 12:29pm
Steve P. (mail):
I love the 'what-ifs' everyone always plays after a football game. The fact is that the Steelers won, and perhaps one call going the other way would have suddenly made the Seahawks break loose... but they had four quarters to break loose, and never did.

Jerramy Stevens dropped three passes (!!) and their defensive line let Willie through into the open field. Brown missed his first two field goals in an enclosed stadium. Hasselbeck was sacked more than Roethlisberger, even if he played better. In fact, Hasselbeck, Jackson, and Ward were the most consistent players on both teams. Still, it was Ward who pulled off the big receptions, and the MVP goes to the winner.
2.6.2006 12:40pm
David Matthews (mail):
"Brown missed his first two field goals in an enclosed stadium."

Actually, he made his first, and missed his second and third (from 54 and 50 yards, but I still hoped for better from a fellow Husker....)
2.6.2006 1:54pm
Edward Lee (www):
I think on Ben Roethlisberger's second INT, he was in decent position to tackle the DB but got shoved in the back. A penalty there would have placed the Seahawks at midfield. Instead, the Seahawks returned the ball all the way to the Steelers 20 and scored an easy TD.
2.6.2006 2:05pm
Kazinski:
There is no crying in Football, and the Steelers won the game. As a Seahawk fan I am frustrated that Seattle's offense was inconsistent and their their defense outplayed the Steelers offense except for three plays that accounted for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

The officiating was terrible, but it is no excuse for losing. After the Steelers had to overcome the botched officiating at the Indy game it is a shame they have to endure some second guessing on some calls that takes a little bit of the luster off their win.
2.6.2006 2:09pm
Steve P. (mail):
David --

Shoot, I must have forgotten that. He did make the 47-yarder, but missed the two over 50 yards. There's no shame in that, just disappointing for Seattle fans.

Place kicker is the worst job on an NFL team, since you get all the pressure and when you succeed, no one remembers (or, more accurately, making a field goal is the status quo). Still... I doubt I'd pass up the salary.
2.6.2006 3:05pm
Redman:
Any team with uniforms as ugly as Seattle's deserves to lose. I think that's why the zebras were against them. It WAS a poorly ref'd game. One call that I can't believe Holmgrem did not challenge was late in the 2nd quarter (I think he had all 3 time outs left) and a pass was ruled incomplete when the receiver clearly had possession after 2 steps with the ball, then it was knocked loose. The ball went another 15 yards then rolled out of bounds. Challege that and the Seahawks had the ball on the Pitt 20, not the 40.
2.6.2006 3:06pm
The Human Fund (mail):
Redman: I believe that the play you are referring to was blown dead as soon as the ball popped out. If that's the case, no challenge is allowed, as the play stops at the time the whistle blows (I assume on the theory that everyone on the field stops when the whistle blows, thus potentially altering the outcome of the play).
2.6.2006 3:27pm
Edward Lee (www):
Redman: I believe that the play you are referring to was blown dead as soon as the ball popped out. If that's the case, no challenge is allowed, as the play stops at the time the whistle blows (I assume on the theory that everyone on the field stops when the whistle blows, thus potentially altering the outcome of the play).

I think this is correct. However, this also leads to an interesting problem that may be of interest to the legal-minded readers of this blog. Many people have observed that because of replay, referees tend to let plays go on as long as possible. The assumption is that if they need to retroactively call a play dead (when a player goes down or OB), they can do so on replay. But this is not quite correct, because there is a fairly high standard of evidence required to change a call on replay. So sometimes referees err on the side of letting a play go on too long.

I'm not sure what the NFL instructions are, but I've read old NCAA rulebooks, and they clearly instruct the referees to err on certain sides when making calls (e.g., when in doubt, a pass is incomplete). But with replay, a pass that might previously have been ruled an incompletion may now turn into a game-changing fumble that cannot be overturned because the replay is inconclusive.
2.6.2006 3:37pm
jgshapiro (mail):
The problem with the NFL playoffs is the single elimination format. In a best-of-7 or best-of-5 matchup, you can be pretty sure that the best team won, or at least that they were pretty close and the winning team deserved to win. But in a one-off deal, if you make a couple of mistakes (or the refs do), the better team can easily lose one game. There's no guaranty (or even likelihood) that the champion is the team that deserves to be champion.

That's the feeling I was left with after this game in particular. I started out rooting for neither team (I had no dog in this fight), then leaned to the Seahawks after the bad pass interference call. By the end of the game, I was convinced that the Seahawks were the better team, and would win a series matchup, but had a run of bad luck and a couple of stupid mistakes (time management, dropped pass by Stevens) that along with the ref's mistakes (pass interference, holding, questionable Steelers touchdown) that cost them the game. Except for the trick plays, the interception runback and one long breakaway run in the third quarter, I don't recall the Steelers moving the ball very much.

At least the game was close, and the ads were good.
2.6.2006 3:54pm
Martin Grant (mail):
Redman: I believe that the play you are referring to was blown dead as soon as the ball popped out. If that's the case, no challenge is allowed, as the play stops at the time the whistle blows


While it is correct that anything after the whistle blow is unreviewable, as you state the whistle blew after he dropped the ball. Possesion of the ball to qualify as a completion or non-completion is reviewable. The resulting fumble and downfield rolling would have been after the whistle. However if the play had been challenged it could have been ruled a completion and then placed at the spot of the reception (a first down). Any following fumble recovery by either side and resulting gain would not have counted.
2.6.2006 4:08pm
nextright (mail) (www):
"Except for the trick plays, the interception runback and one long breakaway run in the third quarter, I don't recall the Steelers moving the ball very much."
HELLO! Most SuperBowl winners point to a few plays.
check the stats. Pittsburgh gained more yards per play than Seattle did.
as far as coaching. I have been a huge critic of Cowher. But I felt he coached a good game. He had a second year QB who was faltering under the pressure. He had to change his entire game plan. He took chances that could have edoomed the Steelers.

The issue, is that nobody ever gave Seattle the respect they deserved. so, the steelers were expcted to destroy them. Last time I checked the Pats barely won 2 of their 3 superbowls. I do remember a questionable call against Oakland.

Pretty amazing people seem to forget how badly the steelers played. Seattle should have beaten the steelers with the "bad" calls. They didnt, they were not the better team.

Pittsburgh has given up the short passes all year long. Hasselbeck had only ONE long pass completed. the west coast offense will put passing yards on another team, it will make the passing stats look good. mainly due to runs after the catch. After the first quarter the stats for total yards were virtually equal.

Mobius "And as for the 3rd down conversions, it's just proof that the Seahawks were robbed."

How? explain that. it makes no sense on its face. last time i checked third down conversions are an important stat.
2.7.2006 4:49am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
One thing that this whole affair shows-- your preconceived notions about what you want the outcome to be sure do impact your view of how the rules should be applied.

For example, I don't think that the Rothlisberger TD call was clearly wrong even though I was casually rooting for Seattle, but there are Seattle fans on the internets claiming otherwise today.

So... fillibuster Alito! No, wait...
2.7.2006 9:24am
cdow (mail):
The issue, is that nobody ever gave Seattle the respect they deserved. so, the steelers were expcted to destroy them. Last time I checked the Pats barely won 2 of their 3 superbowls. I do remember a questionable call against Oakland.

You can disagree with the "tuck rule", but in the New-England Oakland game, that inccomplete pass/non-fumble by Tom Brady was the right call under the tuck rule. If the "tuck rule" is so bad, then how come the NFL didn't get rid of it? Noone can dispute that it was an incomplete pass, not a fumble, under the rules. The rationale behind the rule is to provide a bright-line rule, not to leave it to an individual referee's judgment.
2.7.2006 6:18pm