Tuesday, February 07, 2006

thoughts on Super Bowl XL

There has been a lot of talk and comments regarding the poor officiating in the Super Bowl. What made it look really bad was that every close call, or every important call went against the Seahawks. I'll recap some of them and my thoughts on them.

1. Darrell Jackson's offensive pass interference call in the 1Q when he scored a TD. The TD was negated and SEA had to settle for a FG.

The call: this was a terrible call, even if it was the technically correct call by the NFL rules. These type of penalties are rarely called in any game. It probably happens all the time, and probably to higher extremes. If this call is correct, it means there are probably 500 calls during the regular season that are incorrect. Should the NFL argue that this is a technically correct call, then they should be hammered for allowing so many bad calls during the other games. On ESPN.com, it says "Under the rules, pass interference took place but sometimes the call isn't made." No, that's WRONG. It's not "sometimes the call isn't made", it's RARELY is that call made. That's the problem. Fans and teams just want consistency, it's not that tough.

But with all that said, that was a first down play. It was still first and 20 at the PIT 26, and in the three subsequent plays, SEA lost 3 yards and had to settle for a 46 yard FG. If SEA had succeeded in getting another first down and finally scoring a TD, no one would be talking about it. So blame the officials, yes. But also blame SEA.

2. Roethlisberger's TD. The replay official couldn't see enough to overturn the call. It was so blurry, and the angle wasn't exactly on the endzone line, that I'd have to agree with him. Can you fault the official at the end zone that called it a TD? Possibly - because he didn't seem to signal TD until Roethlisberger made his last lunge with the ball into the endzone - but by that time his knee was already on the ground. This was a bang bang play. I'd have to give the benefit of the doubt to the officials...and even if not, the probability of converting a 4th and inches (yes, Cowher is definitely going for it) is very high. And even if they don't convert, having the ball 1st and 10 at their own 1 inch can have lots of problems for the Seahwaks. So I chalk this up as no big deal if it was an isolated incident. It only becomes a big deal when it is seen in the context of the rest of the game - because it is one of a handful of calls that went against the Seahawks.

3. Horsecollar non-call on Porter. That should have been 15 yards. It was a bad non-call. At the time, it was 2nd and 25 and Alexander gained 7 yards after Porter horse-collared him. That's illegal now - making a tackle by grabbing the back of the should pads or helmet. It's possible it was only the jersey, but from the two replays I saw, it looked like shoulder pads. I wish I could see more replays to be sure. But if I'm right, then the refs blew that call....and it would have been a first down instead of 3rd and 18. I do need to see more replays to confirm it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was tough for the refs - they are right there on the field and have a much clearer line of vision. It is these little things that really added up during the game.

4. Haselbeck's penalty after his thrown INT. That was 15 yards. It was a bad call, but it was only 15 yards.

5. Holding calls. Holding can probably be called on just about every play. Many times when it is called, it is suspect. There are no ways to reverse a holding call even when it is bad, and the umpire makes all the judgements. That makes it really easy for the consipiracy theorists to imagine the ump is getting paid off. I recall two important holding calls on SEA where they gained significant yardage but was called back. Neither was obvious. Again, it's another case where if it was an isolated case, it wouldn't matter much to anyone. But the fact is, all of these calls went against the Seahawks, and that's where it starts to look very fishy.

The NFL has come out and said they think the referees did a good job officiating the Super Bowl and the rest of the playoffs. Fooey. If those refs worked for any competent company that didn't need to keep an image, they'd be fired. Actually, no, that's not necessarily true...they wouldn't be fired, but they'd be hired full-time instead of part-time. These officials have full-time regular jobs. The NFL gigs they have are only side jobs. That blows my mind. How can a billion-dollar industry allow that to happen. To save a few dollars? That's a stupid way to run a company or a league. Tagliabue is the one to blame for all this crap. A cynic could say that the reason he doesn't like Las Vegas and gambling on the NFL is because he knows its a pre-determined event. I'm not a cynic, but I still think this Super Bowl sucked.

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