Friday, June 23, 2006

Super Bowl XL

I see no finer way to kick off this blog than to revisit the past NFL season, specifically the controversial championship game.
February 5, 2006

Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Seattle Seahawks 10

I enjoy sports. A large part of that is because I truly believe that the team that plays the best wins the game. But in Super Bowl XL, that was sadly not the case. Now I admit our faults: Four huge penalties, two long missed field goals, a blown play to start the second half, inexcusable lack of awareness on the reverse pass from Randle-El to Hines Ward (everyone knew it was coming), THREE drive killing dropped passes by cocky Jerramy Stevens. Feel free to dismiss me as a sore loser, but Darrell Jackson caught the game’s first touchdown. Throughout the NFL playoffs, we have consistently seen defensive backs and wide receivers push off one another far worse than what we saw between D-Jack and Chris Hope. Jackson was on pace to have an MVP caliber performance, barring that phantom call and his inability to stay in bounds on bombs from the best quarterback on the field, Matthew Hasselbeck (26 completions for 273 yards to Ben’s 9 for 123). Heck, Seattle was so superior early on that they finished with a six minute advantage in time of possession, a thought to be unthinkable against the time-sucking Steelers. But okay, we take the 3-0 even though it should have been 7-0. Fast forward to the second quarter, 3rd and goal, Ben Roethlisberger play-action fakes to Jerome Bettis, who had amazingly been stopped by the Seahawks defense on multiple occasions, and Ben bootlegs to the left but is clearly stopped short despite being ruled a touchdown. Referee Bill Leavy upholds the call with no explanation whatsoever. Even genius Michael Holmgren could not have made it any simpler when he was seen shouting, "It wasn't even close." Big Ben himself later admitted he did not get in. The Steelers’ 7-3 lead going into that sad halftime show should have actually been Seattle’s. Those two blown calls would have completely changed each team’s approach to the second half and therefore affected the outcome of the game more so than anything else. Someone suggested to me that a billion dollars or so may have been enough for Vegas to actually fix the game through the clearly biased referees. While I admit that idea is completely ridiculous, this makes me wonder what could have been: Seattle had 396 yards to Pittsburgh’s 339, despite seven penalties called against Seattle which accounted for 161 yards (!), and throwing in Big Ben’s supposed touchdown dive, two touchdowns! Referees should not have control over a buck and two touchdowns in any game, let alone the largest of them all. That all being said, congratulations to both Pittsburgh and Seattle. It is a pity that we will never know who the better team was.