I’ve been wanting to write this for a while. But to be honest it’s actually been so draining. Steelers win the Super Bowl! I’m ecstatic! Yet I’m living in a town where I’m having to defend and explain basic football calls and rules to everybody. For weeks. They were still bitching on the radio tonight on the way home.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a student of the game. I have now watched the game back through twice. And to be 100% honest I saw three blown calls. And much to the Seahawk fans chagrin, only 1 went against the Seahawks. That was the call on Matt Hasselbeck for blocking low while trying to make a tackle. He actually whiffed on the player whose path he crossed in order to make the tackle. Had he made contact, it would have been a legit call, but if he did, I didn’t see it. I know this play well because it was a play called against the Steelers on a Monday night game this year versus the Colts. At the end of the first half the Steelers threw a pick and a tackle was made, but the player (I think it was Alan Faneca) smashed through another player to make the play on the ball carrier. The extra yardage lead to a field goal and lead to Bill Cowher going for an onside kick in to start the third that failed. Ball game.
The two other blown calls were a fumble by Jerramy Stevens and a block to the back on the long interception return. On one of Jerramy Stevens drops, he actually brought the ball into his body turned and made a “football move” before getting hit and dropping the ball. The play was blown dead as the Steelers corralled the football. Since the whistle was blown it was not a challengeable play. But after watching it several times, it clearly was a fumble and the whistle should not have blown.
On the Super Bowl record interception return as Ben Roethlisberger attempted to make a play he was shoved in the back. The call should have been be made and the play should have come back to the spot of the infraction and then walked back from there.
As for the calls that people in Seattle feel they were jobbed on, all were legit.
First the offensive pass interference call that negated the early touchdown. The rule states that an offensive player cannot push off from a defender to create space to make a catch. Watching the play, that is exactly what happened. Jackson made contact with the defender who had his feet planted, and the contact forced both feet to jump back a step. To address the other two issues on the play. The official was not late on the flag. Watching it, he actually fails to pull it out fully on the first tug and succeeds on the second as the defender starts to make his case. (Not that complaining actually works, by the way...) The other thing I heard was that there was illegal contact by the defender prior to the pass. The rule states that once a quarterback rolls out of the pocket, the 5 yard no contact rule no longer applies, even if a quarterback returns inside the tackle box. Once a pocket is dissolved it stays dissolved. Hasselbeck rolled right, dissolved the pocket and then returned to make his throw. Contact prior to the pass was allowed. But not by either player after. Correct call.
Next is the holding call on the Seahawk completion to the goal line. There is no such thing as a mild hold. A hold is a hold. The lineman was beat but continued to keep his arm hooked on the defender once the defender had passed him. If a defender is past you, you cannot hook his arm or drag him off of his path. Simple as that. And to those who feel that it was called because it was a big play, need to understand that the official calling the play has no idea what is happening downfield. They watch the line. Plus theories like that are asinine. Correct call.
The touchdown dive by Ben. The rule is that if any portion of the ball breaks any portion of the plane of the goal line, it is a touchdown. If you know me, you know I hate this rule. I hate players diving over a pile, reaching out with a ball and then pulling it back in. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. But that is the rule. And under the rule, it was a touchdown. I have watched the play frame by frame on HD and I am telling you a portion of the brown of the ball breaks the plane before contact forced it into Ben’s body. The official whose job was only to watch the line, made the initial call. Some think he didn’t based on him initially raising one arm as he ran toward the ball and then raising his second after a few steps. But if you watch he is putting his whistle in his mouth and then blowing it handless as the second arm raises. Not the best technique, but I’ve seen it before and doesn’t change the call. As it was, the play was reviewed and was not turned over. (Unlike the Hasselbeck fumble later in the game that was correctly reversed in the Seahawks favor.) Touchdown and correct call.
Later there was a play in which Jackson caught a ball near the end zone, but failed to keep both feet in, however he did knock over the pylon. Simple, simple call. The current rule states that the pylon no longer indicates inbounds or out. It is has no bearing on any play under the current official rule book. Honestly I don’t even know why they are still there. But that’s for another time. Feet not in. Correct call.
These were the big ones, but I’m fairly certain I’ve had to address other ones too.
If you feel I missed one, let me know. I’ll totally discuss it.
But if you are a Seahawk fan you have to understand calls did not cost Seattle the game. Poor clock management, dropped passes, throwing key plays too close to the sideline and, in general, mental lapses will not win you games. Not scouting your opponent properly will not win you games. Thinking the officials are screwing you will never win you a game. If the Steelers had packed it in against the Colts after the blown interception reversal (a play the NFL admits was an error) instead of sucking it up and finishing the game, they might never have made the Super Bowl.
The biggest thing that hurt Seattle though seemed to be preperation. Watching the two Steelers-Browns games a little closer should have helped. The Steelers ran the same Randle El to Ward play in the first Cleveland game and the same run play that sprung Parker for the record breaking long TD in the second meeting.
Look at the comparisons:
Cleveland game 1
TD Hines Ward, 51 Yd pass from Antwaan Randle El
Drive: 3 plays, 61 yards in 1:41.
TD Hines Ward, 43 Yd pass from Antwaan Randle El
Drive: 4 plays, 56 yards in 1:50.
Same reverse, same route, same result.
Cleveland game 2
TD Willie Parker, 80 Yd run
Drive: 1 play, 80 yards in 0:12.
TD Willie Parker, 75 Yd run
Drive: 2 plays, 75 yards in 0:22.
Same blocking scheme, same hole, same result.
BTW - Faneca was sick on that play by the way. Actually for the whole game, and honestly gave an MVP like performance.
The Steelers made plays in the game when it counted. Ben’s conversion of the 3rd and 28 in which he left the pocket and stopped on a dime at the line of scrimmage before finding Ward at the 3 is an incredible play. Even more amazing to watch the second time through.
I understand the Seahawk fans frustration. I’ve been there. Statistically the Steelers whooped the Patriots in the AFC Championship a few years back. BUT they gave up a few big plays. Game over.
And if you were there the day the Steelers got called for a phantom roughing the kicker call vs. Tennessee a few years back you’ll know that I am capable of murder. Same with the Thanksgiving they got fucked on the infamous coin toss.
Teams grow. Fans recover.
World Champs baby.
I hope the Chief was watching.