Congrats to gmack and the Steelers for a terrific run. Evidently, it’s hard for a Seahawks fan to be anything but frustrated tonight. The comment below notwithstanding though, I don’t mean to imply that the Steelers didn’t deserve to win. They made the plays, and game was lost when they failed to cash in again and again after having the Steelers on their heels in the first half. The officiating certainly was atrocious; even leaving aside the reviewed TD (I didn’t think he was in, but Rob is right that it wasn’t unambiguous enough to reverse), I maintain that the pass interference call was marginal at best, and the 3rd quarter holding call (and, of course, the subsequent inability to distinguish between a block and a tackle on the follow-up interception) farcical.
But, of course, it doesn’t matter. The game in which I’ve had the strongest rooting interest in the previous decade–Flames/Canucks Game 7 in 2004–had similarly bad officiating. As background, when the Flames last played their archrival Canucks in the playoffs, they had a 3-1 lead and lost 3 straight overtime games. In Game 6 in 2004, they came back from a 4-0 deficit and then lost in triple overtime. In Game 7, the Flames had a 2-1 lead in the last 30 seconds. Jarome Iginla, who scored both goals, had a shot at the empty net and just missed. But as he shot, someone threw a jersey on the ice. By NHL rules, the play has to be blown dead, which means faceoff in Vancouver end, goalie back in, game over. But, OK, maybe they should ignore the formal rule in that context. Much worse is that on the ensuing rush, Canuck forward Markus Naslund knocked Iginla’s stick out of his hands, and Iginla tripped over the stick. No call, although a slashing the stick call that had no impact on the play had been called in the previous minute. The Canucks, now on a effective 5-on-3, scored with 6 seconds left. At that point, it felt to any Flames fan like the world was about to end. What happened next is what a team has to do–the Flames scored less than 2 minutes into overtime, with Iginla setting up the winning goal. And, of course, that’s what the Steelers did after being the victims of a call even worse than those.
So the Seahawks have no excuse at all; they didn’t lose because of the refs. Holmgren didn’t react well to the calls that went against him (the 2 bizarre, ill-designed running plays after the Jackson call and the atrocious clock management after the touchdown review being nadirs.) The difference in the game–which certainly isn’t surprising in retrospect–is the Steelers’ huge edge in the receiving corps. Stevens–who really needs to shut his yap (see, Porter can trash-talk because he, you know, backs it up)–was horrible of course, but Jackson’s inability to keep a second foot in bounds at the end of the 1st half may have been the most important play of the game, and any halfway decent NFL receiver has to get a touchdown on that. Ward and Randel-El are on a whole other level from these guys. The officiating was irritating because it nearly ruined the game, and it’s just unacceptable in a Super Bowl, but a good team has to overcome bad breaks. The Steelers did last month; the Seahawks didn’t.
So the Steelers are full credit; they won, and they certainly earned it several times over this year. They’re the better team.