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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Seahawks doomed by horrible officiating

Like other Seattle fans, I'm depressed that the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl, but I'm angry that we were robbed of any chance at victory thanks to horrible officiating.

As the AP's Dave Goldberg saw it:
-Darrell Jackson was called for offensive pass interference for pushing off Chris Hope on what would have been a 16-yard completion from Matt Hasselbeck. The call was a little ticky-tacky, but it was a penalty.

-A holding penalty on Chris Gray that negated an 18-yard completion from Hasselbeck to Jackson that would have given the Seahawks a first down at the Pittsburgh 23.

-A 34-yard punt return by Peter Warrick to the Pittsburgh 46 was called back by a holding penalty on Etric Pruitt. Although to be fair, there's nothing unusual about a penalty on any punt or kick in any game?

-Finally, some dubious clock management and play calling that forced Josh Brown into trying a 54-yard field goal late in the half. It was wide right, so the Steelers led 7-3 at intermission despite being outplayed for most of the half.

But that only was a preface for the mistakes in the second half - the Roethlisberger interception, a couple of more Stevens drops, then finally, the decisive penalty on Locklear.
And then, of course, there was that touchdown made by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that was questionable in the first half.

The Seahawks were cheated out of a Super Bowl title by bad officiating. Just about every time the Seahawks made a key play, the referees called a penalty and Pittsburgh got a break. The Steelers were outplayed in the first half and even some in the second half. Yet they got points and the Seahawks didn't.

The Hawks also suffered from missed opportunities, like Josh Brown's missed field goals, and Jeramy Stevens' dropped passes. But what really doomed the team was the horrible, shameful officiating.

Michael Wilborn of the Washington Post noted:
...The Seahawks should have had a touchdown on Darrell Jackson's reception in the end zone, but the officials called an absurd offensive pass interference penalty on Jackson, wiping out the score.

The Seahawks should have been ahead by a couple of touchdowns, yet found themselves down 7-3 at halftime because the referees blew another call. Roethlisberger's third-down dive into the end zone simply was not a touchdown, though it was called that on the field. Because less than two minutes remained, the call was reviewed in the booth. And everybody in the stadium plus everybody at home could see, clear and conclusively, that Big Ben didn't get the ball across the goal line. It wasn't a touchdown, plain and simple. Yet, the call stood and the Steelers had a touchdown they shouldn't have had.

Another penalty assessed to the Seahawks early in the fourth quarter, which negated a gain that took the Seahawks to the 1, also never happened. A penalty against Hasselbeck for blocking below the waist when, in fact, he was trying to tackle the interceptor, was also erroneous.
Wilborn thinks it would be "irresponsible" to believe "the officials were intentionally cheating Seattle". I don't. The bias was painfully obvious. The officials kept handing break after break to the Steelers. At the party I was at, the last major penalty, which killed a Seahawks offensive drive, drew a loud, angry roar from the attendees.
The situation was best summed up by a fellow fan who belted out, "These referees SUCK!"

Bill Leavy & Co. should never be allowed to referee another Super Bowl. Or another playoff game, for that matter.

UPDATE: Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock writes:
Bill Leavy and his crew ruined Super Bowl XL. Am I the only one who would like to hear them defend their incompetence?
Read his whole column, "Throw a flag on these Super Bowl referees".

UPDATE II: KIRO TV has an article "Fans Enraged Over Officials' Calls".

UPDATE III: Another good column, this one from the Toronto Star: TV unveils zebras at their worst (Lousy officials simply hijacked The Big Game). Another good column here from Bob George, who asks: "Stealing a win? Is that why they're called the Steelers?"

Still another good column from Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times: "Not so Super officiating".

The consensus is in. The officiating was awful. According to ESPN's SportsNation poll, the last time I checked (12:50 AM PST), 39% of poll respondents said what they would remember most about Super Bowl XL was the poor officiating, which is the categorical leader.

According to the breakdown, a whopping 88% of the poll respondents who live in Washington State said they would remember poor officiating the most. Oregon clocked in at 60%, Alaska came in at 65%, and Idaho was 57% for that category.

Finally, The Chicago Sun Times has a look at three of the bad calls.

Bill Leavy and his crew (Umpire Garth DeFelice, line judge Mark Perlman, field judge Steve Zimmer, side judge Tom Hill and back judge Bob Waggoner) ought to be fired. Well, maybe not all of them. But certainly Leavy.

Well, there's my sports rant for the year. We now return you to your regularly scheduled political commentary. Better luck next year, fellow Northwesterners.

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