Monday, February 06, 2006


In a game that was more historic than well played, the Pittsburgh Steelers completed what may be the greatest stretch run in NFL history by defeating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL, capturing the 5th Super Bowl championship in franchise history. The Steelers' victory also provided a storybook ending to the Hall of Fame career of Jerome Bettis, who in his final game won the Super Bowl in his home town of Detroit. This Super Bowl had quite a few firsts and records, including the following:
1. Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher won his first Super Bowl, silencing critics who said he couldn't win the big game.
2. The Steelers became the first No. 6 seed to win a Super Bowl, as well as the first Super Bowl champion to win 3 road playoff games en route to the Super Bowl.
3. The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl.
4. Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker had the longest run in Super Bowl history with his 75-yard touchdown, breaking Marcus Allen's 22-year-old record.
5. Seattle defensive back Kelly Herndon recorded the longest interception return in Super Bowl history, breaking Willie Brown's 29-year-old record.

While this game was exciting in the sense that the outcome was uncertain until the final 5 minutes, the fact is that Super Bowl XL ranks right up there (or down there) with Super Bowl V as one of the worst played Super Bowls by both teams. Seattle receivers dropped a number of passes, the Seahawks had quite a few big plays called back because of penalties, and they were plagued by uncharacteristically poor execution and clock management at the end of both halves. And although they won the game, the Steelers played one of their worst games of the season. For much of the game (especially in the first half) they had problems covering Seattle receivers, and their offense didn't seem to have any rhythm until the second half. The Pittsburgh defense didn't get in many of the big, intimidating hits that define them. Both quarterbacks threw key interceptions in scoring range, and 2 of these interceptions (one by each team) changed the momentum of the game. And there were some key calls by the officials---the pass interference penalty that nullified a Seattle touchdown, the Roethlisberger touchdown, and the reversal of the Hasselbeck fumble---that may have played a role in shaping the outcome of the game (fortunately, the officials made the right call on all 3 plays).

If there was one thing that made the difference in this game, it was the big play. The Seahawks didn't make a lot of big plays (and it seemed that most of the ones they did make were nullified by penalties), while all 3 Pittsburgh touchdowns were the result of big plays (Roethlisberger's 37-yard pass to Hines Ward on 3rd & 28, Parker's 75-yard TD run, and Antwaan Randle El's 43-yard TD pass to Ward). Ward's big plays (5 receptions for 123 yards and 1 TD, 1 run for 18 yards) earned him the game's Most Valuable Player award.

Despite their problems defending against the pass and the scarcity of big hits, the Pittsburgh defense played pretty well. The Steelers held league MVP and leading rusher Shaun Alexander, who set the NFL record for touchdowns in a season with 28, to 95 yards on the ground and no touchdowns. The Steelers also limited the NFL's top scoring team to only 10 points. And despite not getting the type of pressure on the quarterback that they had against Indianapolis and Denver, the Steelers still sacked Hasselbeck 3 times.

In the end, however, it doesn't matter whether or not it was a pretty game. All that matters is that THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!!!


art rogers said...


You left out the two muffed calls by the officials on Seattle's drive where Stevens' reception on the one yard line was called back by a phantom holding call - John Madden, on watching the replay, said "there was no holding in that picture." This would have given the Seahawks 1st and goal on the one yard line, almost guaranteeing a touchdown.

Also, after the inerception that insued, they called a penalty on Hasselbeck for a good tackle - again the replay and subsequent commentary shows a blown call.

Both of these were key to the game. The Steelers would have been down three and receiving a kickoff instead of the generous midfield line of scrimmage they were given by the bad calls - midfield, where they like to call their "gadget plays" like the one with which they scored.

Now, I am glad for Cohwer and Hines Ward, and especially the Bus. I also know that the bad calls were no guarantee of a Seahawk win,or any other outcome, either. I think the Steelers were the better team last night - at least the way everyone was playing, and I know it must be nerve wracking to play in the Super Bowl.

Still, I think the NFL needs to come clean about these calls and to deal with the terrible officiating that has plagued the playoffs all year. Moreover, someone owes the Seahawks at least an apology for burdening them so heavily with the bad calls at a key time. What's the point of instant replay if you can't reverse key calls in the Super Bowl, where it matters so much?

Wes Kenney said...


Don't go here. You won't like it.

Kevin Hash said...

Hey Tim,

Check out hershael york's blog. It is a defense of the IMB policy. I begged him to write something, cause the silence from the IMB was deafening and I was largely hearing one side.


Tim Sweatman said...


Apparently I was the only person in America other than the official who saw holding on that Seattle pass to the 1. To me it looked like the Seattle lineman had his right arm hooked underneath the Steeler defender's left arm. On the Hasselbeck penalty, at first I thought that was a strange call (and a bad one), but on the replay it looked like he was trying to make the tackle but missed the runner and hit the other Steeler player's leg, which is technically a penalty. This is one of those rules that the league needs to revisit during the offseason. (A similar call went against Pittsburgh in the Indianapolis game.)

There were definitely too many bad or questionable calls in this game, but they went both ways. Two Seattle fumbles were ruled incomplete passes, and a blatant pick on the Seattle TD wasn't called.

As far as instant replay, a bad call on the Hasselbeck fumble was overturned and the ball given back to Seattle. The biggest problem with replay is that it can't be used on judgment calls, which happen to be the calls that the officials mess up the most.

This game may be an example for why the bye week before the Super Bowl needs to be eliminated. Both Pittsburgh and Seattle finished the season strong and played great in the playoffs, then the off week hit and killed their momentum and especially their offensive rhythm. It surprised me that two teams that each scored 34 points against very good defenses in the conference championships combined for 31 points in the Super Bowl, especially since neither defense played its best game.

art rogers said...


The holding was a bad call because, although the position of the hand was in a place where holding could occur, it did not. The lineman neither leveraged the rusher nor really impeded him in any way - legal or illegal.

As to the "block" by Hasselbeck, he was attempting to tackle the ball carrier and did so. That was evident to everyone watching EXCEPT the ref. The contact with the blocker was incidental to the tackle and should never have been called.

BTW, Sportscenter just showed some more stuff on the refs and bad calls. It's really kind of a pity for the teams. The Steelers have people saying they might not have won, although I think they would have done so. The Seahawks really believe they should have won, or at least had a chance that was stolen from them.

The touchdown/offensive pass interference call, by the way, I thought was legit. It was certainly a ticky tack call, but the guy's hand was on him and he flexed as he went the other way. I thought it would have been a touchdown if there was no contact - he would have been open. When you put your hands on the defender, though, you open yourself up to the interference call, and he did.

The scale tipper for me is my wife. She comes from a family of football coaches. Her brother is the defensive coordinator for Oklahoma's 4a state champ - 3 years in a row and 5 of the last 6 years, her home town high school. Her statement to me when I complain about the officiating: "It's part of the game and you still got to get the job done."

I walked in last night and she said: "Man, the officials were terrible. The Seahawks got robbed."

'nough said.