Monday, February 06, 2006

Worst Super Bowl Ever?

I love the city of Pittsburgh and generally admire the Steelers. Cower is a great coach; Hines Ward is a fabulous player; they beat the Colts--what's not to like?

But it's not clear that the best team won last night. (Actually, it's not clear that either the Steelers or the Hawks really looked like championship-caliber squads.)

If not for the benefit of some highly questionable calls, Pittsburgh probably loses that game. They trailed the Seahawks in first downs, total yards, and time of possession. They had more turnovers than the Seahawks and their quarterback finished with a passer rating of 22.6.

That's 22.6 for the winning quarterback! Makes you long for the legendary days of Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer. Does anyone have a link to a page with quarterback ratings for previous Super Bowls? Because I'd be surprised if there was another game in recent years where the rating of the two quarterbacks--combined--barely broke 90. (Hasselbeck and Roethlisberger put together totaled 90.4.)

In any event, maybe this was a fitting finish to one of the more disappointing NFL seasons. Everywhere you looked, the league suffered from disappointments that stemmed from things not on the field. The Eagles had their undefeated season demolished in the first week, when McNabb was speared. Before the season was over, they were playing without their star quarterback, running back, or wide-out. The Colts had their undefeated season wrecked when their coach suffered a debilitating family tragedy. And the Patriots, clearly still the class of the league, were so riddled with injury that they never really had a fair shot.

With the elite teams hobbled, the playoffs stunk with few close games and many, many instances of lousy officiating. So maybe last night shouldn't have been much of a surprise.


Anonymous said...

JVL, the "worst ever"? Don't you think that is a bit over the top? We we looking at some of the previous Super Bowls last night and a couple of them from the 1980's and early 1990's with the Bills or the Bengals really sucked.

Quaterback ratings are bullshit.

I thought the officiating was bad. The Seahawks should have had that first touchdown. In addition, I think Ben R. was clipped on the int. runback and it wasn't called (correct me if I am wrong about that).

Duane said...

There were three horrible calls in the game that cost the Seahawks the championship.

The first touchdown by Darrell Jackson was called back by a bullshit pass interference call that even the commentators said was nit-picking, and the second reception on the 1 yard line was called back for a non-existant holding.

Then to cap it all off they called Hassleback for a low block when he was tackling the BALL CARRIER after the interception! You CAN tackle the BALL CARRIER below the knees. That just rubbed salt (and 15 yards) into the wounds.

Seattle outplayed the Steelers and we would have been ahead 24 - 0 in the first half if bad calls hadn't cost us the game.

That being said...we had way to many legitimate penalties that took back massive yardage, stalled drives and kept us from changing the tempo of the game.

As for "worst ever"? I'm still fuming about it the next day so I'd say it was a pretty good game...all things considered.

Michael said...

First, the refs were at least consistent in their contact calling. If DJ's push-off was ticky-tacky, then so was the touch on Hasselback that the refs claimed turned his fumble into a down-by-contact.

The refs blew the holding call, but only because a different player executed the hold (it was actually a "horse-collar", but it was there, and several commentators noticed it on replay).

Second, Hasselback missed the ball carrier and hit the blocker. There is no "intention to tackle" exception in the rule book -- hitting a blocker in the knees is a 15-yard no-no, and Holmgren knew it, you notice that wasn't what he was grousing about post-game.

I thought Ben R got in on his touchdown when I saw it live, and watching a tivo-slow-mo of the broadcast slo-mo (in hi-def to boot) with a level on the screen makes me even more certain -- the ball was over the line in mid-air by 2-3 inches, then he was shoved back before he hit the ground. Even if you think he didn't make it, they would have almost certainly scored on their final down; Bettis has carried Ben over the line many times in this situation.

And per anonymous's question: Big Ben was indeed clipped on the interception runback, or he would have made the tackle instead of Hines Ward.

There was plenty of questionable officiating to go around, don't make things worse by ignoring the calls that went against the Steelers.

I'm really interested in catching the Wednesday show on the NFL channel where the NFL head official answers questions about the weeks calls. That should help clear the situation up.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to say which superbowl was worse, XL or XXXV. Both were terrible. I think the officiating was bad, but I'm tired of hearing people say that the offensive PI call in the endzone was BS. That call is made 100 out of 100 times. He stiff-armed the defender momentarily in order to create the 1 foot of separation necessary to make the catch. That was not a bad call at all. The Roethlesberger TD should have been overturned, at which point Bettis would have carried it in on 4th down from the 1 inch line. Same score, 30 seconds less on the game clock, big deal. The Hasselbeck low block was called properly, but shouldn't have been called since his intention was clearly to tackle the runner (he just missed). And yes, Roethlesberger was clearly blocked from behind on the int, which would have put the Seahawks back on the 50 yard line instead of the 20.

Anonymous said...

Quick note: The Colts lost to the Chargers the week before Dungy's son died.

Anonymous said...

Golly, the team with fewer first downs, total yards and lower time of possession won the game! Unprecedented! Maybe Congress should hold hearings. And Roethlesburger's pathetic passer rating (ah yes, the NFL passer rating, second only to the BCE rankings as the gold standard of pseudoscientific sports gobledygook - I mean, the top rating is 158.3? That inspires confidence). And some questionable (read: close) calls by the officials? How often does that happen? (See Steelers-Colts playoff game, which the Steelers still managed to win...)

Face it, the Seahawks could have won, but they choked. The Steelers could have lost, but they kept their head and cojones in the game.

Sure, this season sucked bigtime... if you were an Eagles fan. Out here in Pittsburgh, however, we saw our boys climb out of the grave, take on all comers, win pretty, win ugly, and take home the trophy. What's not to like?

Michael said...

Here's some stats that really jumped out at me, and may help explain to the referee-conspiracy-theorists:

Sea Pit
3rd-Down Conversions 5-17 8-15
4th-Down Conversions 1-2 0-0

Pittsburg simply didn't get themselves into tight spots as often as Seattle, and did a better job getting out of them than Seattle did.

Remember the 3rd-and-28 pass from Rothlisberger to Ward to set up the first touchdown? How many times did Seattle do something like that?

Both teams looked like their worst form from last season, with Seattle's dropped passes and Roethlisberger's deer-in-the-headlights panic this was one of the least-well-played superbowls in memory. But it wasn't the referees fault the teams were playing like third-string highschoolers. And it wasn't the referees fault that Seattle couldn't move the ball against the Steelers defense without committing penalties; this has been the case since the Steeler defense stiffened up back in November when the Steelers started their winning streak.

Here's their penalty record from the postseason:

6-39 7-90 Bengals
2-8 9-67 Colts
4-20 8-61 Broncos

They're just a tough defense to move against, and this has tended to frustrate offenses into committing penalties, especially these high-powered offenses that have gotten accustomed to easy scores.

Michael said...

Oops, forgot the most controversial penalty statistic:

3-20 7-70 Seahawks

Compare these to the other postseason Steelers games. They're just a tough, frustrating defense, and this frustration tends to lead to penalties for their opponents.

James Wigderson said...

So, how much did you lose betting on the game?

Anonymous said...

McNabb speared? I think you are more than mistaken here, and will use this as a blanket rejection of your analysis. Chad Lavallais put the ATL stomp on McNabb! No flag was thrown and there was no spearing. I assume you are from east PA -or heaven forbid -joisey; Suffering a little clouded vision and distorted memory recall at the minimum.

Can we get a review of the college football season? "The Temple Owls made a great run this season. Their 0-11 finish is not a true indicator of the talent and heart this team plays with. That 65-0 drubbing by Wisconsin should have been a Temple win, had the referees...