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06 Feb 2006

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl

This week, the Football Outsiders staff responds to Super Bowl XL in our usual roundtable e-mail discussion.

Mike Tanier: So what do Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tanier have in common? Neither of us crossed the goal line in the first half.

I try to not to complain about calls, but c'mon.

The Steelers are playing a lot of Cover-3, it looks like, and the Seahawks are trying to beat them by throwing hitches along the sideline. It's working to some extent, because they are hitting on lots of 7 and 8-yard completions. But the Steelers took away everything deep in the first half, and they are a tough team to execute 13-play drives against.

As for the Steelers offensive gameplan, well, after championing Whisenhunt I haven't seen much. Almost every positive play has been the result of freelancing.

Bill Moore: I don't think Roethlisberger got in, but I'm not surprised the review didn't overturn. Not conclusive. Can't see exactly where the ball is in the air. No goal line cameras is a joke, but where's ABC's 3-D technology to show the plane of the goal line? I can't believe that hasn't been created yet. But the real travesty is this:

The Darrell Jackson Non-TD at the end of the first half: How is that 1) not a TD, and 2) not reviewed? He catches the ball with left foot inbounds and his right foot hits the pylon. TD, right? Got no commentary other than Al Michaels saying "ooooh."

Hines Ward MVP?

Al Bogdan: Yeah, I voted for Hines.

Total Access on Wednesday should be interesting with the usual interview with Mike Pereira. Four awful calls cost Seattle 14 points and 45 yards. The Roethlisberger TD, the Jackson pass interference/non-TD, the Locklear holding call where he barely had a hand on the defender, and the truly ridiculous 15-yard low block call on Hasselbeck.

Even with those calls, though, Seattle didn't play as well as they should have, especially in the second half. The defense looked undisciplined on some crucial plays. How do you not stay in coverage when the Steelers give the ball to Randle El behind the line of scrimmage? How many times was Rothlisberger given wide open running lanes to get a first down or close to it? On the crucial third down when Seattle was down to only one time out left, Madden was right on calling a Roethlisberger bootleg. The entire defense collapsed around Bettis giving Ben an easy first down even with that awful spot.

Michael David Smith: Polamalu has deserved the attention he's gotten in the playoffs, but he didn't play very well today. The Stevens touchdown was totally his fault, and he wasn't nearly as influential against the run as he usually is. And speaking of Stevens, did he just have the worst game any tight end has had all year? How many times can you get hit right in the hands with a ball and not catch it?

Roethlisberger was lousy today. I really hate the fact that I turned to ESPNews after the game and the first thing I heard was, "Roethlisberger becomes the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl." Roethlisberger is about the last player who deserved to be mentioned.

My three MVP choices for the Steelers...
1. Hines Ward
2. Casey Hampton
3. The officials. A badly officiated game, and almost all the questionable/bad calls went in the Steelers' favor. I don't think Roethlisberger scored. I think the Jackson PI was questionable. I think the hold on Locklear was a terrible call, and I'm the guy who said before the game that Locklear holds all the time. The personal foul on Hasselbeck was absurd. Joey Porter probably should have gotten called for a horse-collar tackle. Peter Warrick's long punt return was called back on a hold that I didn't see (although just because i didn't see it doesn't mean it didn't happen.)

But Seattle shouldn't just blame the officials. Mike Holmgren is one of the best offensive minds in NFL history, but he did an awful job calling plays today. What on earth was Seattle doing at the end of both halves? And, hey, Tom Rouen, this isn't Canada. You don't get a point for kicking one into the end zone.

Al Bogdan: I forgot about Seattle's awful special teams. Rouen had some bad punts deep into the endzone, but a couple of those were downable inside the 20 if the Seahawks had anything resembling a punt coverage team. And what was Warrick thinking not catching that ball at the 20, and instead letting roll down to the two yard line?

On Seattle's poor time management, I didn't agree with their decision not to go for it on 4th down with 6:30 to go. Even if it's 4th and 13, you're cutting it very close to having enough time to score twice if you give the ball over to Pittsburgh there. If you punt it or don't convert, you still need to stop them on the first or second set of downs to have any shot at winning. Seattle was at midfield, so if they turn the ball over on downs, Pittsburgh isn't in field goal range, even after they get the first down. You have to go for it there.

Ryan Wilson: Don't have much to add, but the Stevens touchdown was a function of a good play call by Holmgren. Polamalu got picked and didn't have a chance to make a play. Give credit to Seattle. The holding call against Seattle was bogus, the low block against Hasselbeck was also bogus, but otherwise, I was fine with the officiating (spoken like a true Steelers fan). I was surprised Tom Brady didn't get the MVP for the coin toss and, oh yeah, Stevens is awful.

Mike Tanier: I think Holmgren called a very good game except at the end of the first half. End of the second half, forget about it, there's nothing you can do. Remember, Holmgren doesn't tell Hasselbeck to throw in the flat to Stevens; Hasselbeck reads the defense and figures Stevens has the best chance to get out of bounds.

Absolutely, viciously terrible officiating. I hate putting the game on the ref's shoulders, but I could not believe what I was watching on several plays. I really have a hard time writing about what the Steelers did well or what the Seahawks did poorly. Yes, the Steelers made big plays on offense and shut down the run fairly well on defense. But I know if I was a Seahawks fan this would ruin my spring and summer. I watched the Eagles get beat last year. The Seahawks ... I just hate to use the term "robbed". But ...

Michael David Smith: Polamalu looked to me like he was looking to the inside all the way on that touchdown catch by Stevens even though his responsibility was on the outside, which is why I think he deserves more blame than Seattle deserves credit. It's hard to say for sure without knowing the defensive call, but I think it's on Polamalu.

Aaron Schatz: Let me start by saying the following: The Pittsburgh Steelers are a great team. I am happy for Bill Cowher -- I never, ever bought that crap about Bill Cowher "not being able to win when it counted" or some such nonsense. I am happy for good guys like Bettis and Ward. I am happy for our man Sean Morey. I am happy for Big Ben, who is going to be a Hall of Famer someday. I am happy for Ryan, I am happy for all the Steelers fans who have supported our site, I am happy for all those fans who haven't had a title in over 25 years. The option play was an awesome play call. The Deshea Townsend blitz was an amazing play call. Casey Hampton was darn swell.


I am glad to see that everyone pretty much agrees with me. I feel so disappointed. I don't feel that the refs stole this game from the Seahawks. I feel that the refs stole a great game from us, the fans of the other 30 teams. Nothing says that with better officiating, Seattle would have won. Nothing says that if Seattle goes up 17-14, Big Ben can't march the Steelers down the field and win the game in the final minute. But wow, I really would have liked to see him try. I can't remember another Super Bowl where I came away saying that the officiating was horrible, and totally slanted towards one team.

Most of the egregious calls have been mentioned, but if I can add a couple more: Roethlisberger's Delay of Game where they gave him a timeout after the clock hit zero, and the fact that the folks upstairs did not review the play where Darrell Jackson's foot hit the pylon. I don't know, what's the rule on that? Clearly he had one foot in and the other one hit the pylon before landing out of bounds.

Watching in Boston, with no Pittsburgh fans and no Seattle fans, by the end of the game we were just screaming at the refs. The Locklear call was the worst, as Ian Dembsky pointed out, the Steelers were doing the same "shove" move on Grant Wistrom the entire first half. We started marking down every play where Pittsburgh was holding. When Randle El caught the seven-yard pass on third-and-6, Hartings was yanking on the jersey and shoulder of Darby. On Big Ben's scramble for a first down, Hines Ward yanked on Trufant's arm to keep him away from Big Ben.

They say holding happens on every play in the NFL. Every play is a judgment call. Fine, but why should all the iffy judgment calls go one way? You don't want to think about conspiracies, but it just seemed like for two weeks, the league, ABC/ESPN, the city of Detroit, and the NFL wanted the Seahawks to just go away so the Steelers could have the title, like Seattle wasn't even in the game. They ran those black and white vingettes of players talking about winning the trophy and the FIRST FOUR were Pittsburgh players. Maybe the way the officials acted was just subconscious.

Seriously, what was the deal with 90% of the tickets going to Pittsburgh fans? How does that work? Where did the corporate fat cats go who usually get these tickets? The Super Bowl shouldn't be a home game for one of the teams.

You don't want to fault the Pittsburgh players. Some of them didn't play their best games -- Walter Jones owned Kimo Von Oelhoffen, for example -- but they took advantage of their opportunities. And Seattle made mistakes. Dropped passes, Tom Rouen is terrible, the time management at the end of the second half was horrific, Michael Boulware overpursued on the play where Parker had the first 16+-yard run against the Seahawks since November and then there was nobody behind him, they didn't give Alexander the ball enough in the middle of the game, they started blitzing in the third quarter and the Steelers were picking them apart until Big Ben threw the interception to Kelly Herndon.

But I feel so unsatisfied.

Pat Laverty: That chop block call on Hasselbeck was horrendous. He was making the tackle exactly how the other 31 QBs would have. Throw your back at the ball carrier's feet. He made the tackle. He wasn't going after the blocker, he was going after the ball carrier. That official needs a serious review.

Tim Gerheim: This is the first game of the playoffs, and the first game generally in a long time, that I didn't care even the slightest bit who won. Usually after the game I find that I'm either glad or disappointed even if I didn't think I was rooting for one team or the other, but not tonight. Maybe it has something to do with the disappointing course of the game, but maybe it just means I don't care about these teams.

Right after the game, I commented that I had no idea how Pittsburgh won the game. The conclusion was that the defense played pretty well and the offense got a few big plays. Plus, unavoidably, the officiating. But that's still not a very satisfying explanation. I didn't think it was a case of Seattle just losing the game, but I have a hard time giving the Steelers a lot of credit. All in all a disappointing Super Bowl.

Oh, and I'm sorry, but since when do the Rolling Stones suck? Maybe nobody's good at halftime of the Super Bowl, but that was a terrible show.

Russell Levine: Well I think it's a little unfair to say the Roethlisberger TD call cost the Seahawks seven points. If he's ruled down, that's fourth-and-goal at the six-inch line, and a good chance that Pittsburgh goes for it, given that the Steelers still had timeouts to spend on defense had they been stopped.

The offensive pass interference call I don't think falls in the category of "horrible". He clearly extended his arms ... which is what every official looks for, and his action is what created the separation and the touchdown.
Plus, he did it in the end zone, with no one else around, and about six feet from the official.

Still, Seattle got the worst of it with the refs today. Not sure what happened on the Jackson play at the end of the half. Since ABC only showed the one replay, I don't know what happened for sure, but I thought it looked to be out of bounds at first glance.

I will throw another bad call that hurt Seattle at you. Joey Porter absolutely took Alexander down with a horse collar on the play before Hasselbeck threw the interception at the goal line. That would have been an automatic first down. On the replay, you could Porter clearly reach inside the jersey and take Alexander down by the shoulder pads. That's textbook.

Still, the Seahawks screwed up clock management at the end of both halves, missed two field goals, and generally looked discombobulated. Nobody on that team is going to sleep tonight. This was a game that was right there for the taking. Pittsburgh made a few big plays, but at no point did you feel like they were carrying the play. Seattle moved at will between the 30s, then fell apart in the maroon zone. They beat themselves as much as anything.

Al Bogdan: I didn't think Jackson was in on that play at the end of the first half. I saw his left foot hit in bounds, but I didn't see the right foot hit the pylon.

While I am 100% behind everyone that the officiating was awful and the bad calls were slanted against Seattle, let's not forget how many chances Seattle blew for itself without the bad calls. Awful special teams play all game. Terrible time management at the end of both halves. Not recognizing Pittsburgh's two gimmick plays, even when Madden called the Randle El pass before the play happened. Hasselbeck underthrowing a ball by five yards for his interception in the fourth quarter when Seattle could have taken the lead. Not stopping Pittsburgh from getting a first down twice on their final drive because of overpursuit on both the little Rande El screen and Roethlisberger bootleg. Even with the bad calls, Seattle should have won that game.

Michael David Smith: The NFL rulebook, of course, isn't available to the unwashed masses, so we're just going to have to speculate about whether the Jackson pass that he caught but was ruled out of bounds was a touchdown. But I think this is the relevant rule:

A player no longer can be ruled out of bounds when he touches a pylon unless he already touched the boundary line.

I just watched the play again. Jackson's left foot was in bounds and his right foot touched the pylon. I honestly don't know if that's a touchdown or not, but I do know that's exactly the type of play the league was thinking about when it made the rule that the booth is supposed to stop the game and review the previous play when there's a close call within the last two minutes.

I do think the earlier pass interference on Jackson was the right call -- it's just that it's a right call that NFL officials ignore at least half the time.

Pat Laverty: A reporter with any guts at all would go to Joey Porter today and ask him if he's still sickened about the one-sided officiating. If he says anything other than yes, he should be called out on it, big time.

Ned Macey: I think everything that needs to be said about the officiating has been said. I didn't think all the calls were that bad, but everything did seem to go against Seattle. After the Steelers survived the Colts in similar situations, I doubt they have much sympathy for the Seahawks.

The fact that the Seahawks came a couple plays away from winning is a pretty large indictment of the quality of play. The Seahawks missed two field goals. They threw a pick in the red zone. They gave up a 75-yard run. They gave up a trick play that involved Randle El and Ward (if it had been Haynes throwing to Wilson, then maybe I would understand, but how are you not ready for Randle El to Ward?). Stevens did his best Koren Robinson impersonation, and the list goes on.

I have two substantive thoughts. First, the Steelers three touchdown drives all involved a big play, and as usual, big plays are made possible by bad plays by the safeties. Seahawks and Titans' fans can discuss at length between who was worse, Anthony Dorsett or Pruitt, but what was more troubling was Boulware was responsible for two. He let Ward come free on the third and forever play down to the one. Then, he got caught inside on the Parker run and couldn't make a play even though he wasn't blocked. Of course, Pruitt should never have let it go for more than 20 yards, but Boulware (and a block from Faneca on Hill) let Parker get into the open field.

My other thought was that the Seahawks lost this game in the first quarter. They were clearly the better prepared team, and Roethlisberger was overwhelmed by the situation. They dominated the entire quarter and only led 3-0. They kept stalling around midfield, and Rouen kept punting into the end zone (and were it not for Stevens, he was certainly the goat of the game). If they had gone up 10 or 14 points, then they likely would have been able to control the game.

By the way, the Steelers kept their streak of preventing 100 yard rushers by allowing 95 yards on 20 carries to Alexander.

Aaron Schatz: It's interesting. We're all listing all the things Seattle did wrong, trying to prove to ourselves that Seattle would have lost the game even with fair officiating. We're really not talking much about Pittsburgh players who did not have good games, botched plays by the Steelers, things they did badly. But if the controversial calls in this game were split evenly between the two teams, rather than all being slanted towards Seattle, isn't the story this morning how Ben Roethlisberger choked away the Super Bowl with two interceptions, how Joey Porter didn't show up after mouthing off, how Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson creamed Kimo von Oelhoffen, how Jerome Bettis couldn't run the ball in his last game in his hometown, how the Seahawks picked on Ike Taylor in the first half, etc.?

Did Seattle really play worse than Pittsburgh, and make more mistakes? Again, nobody is saying that Pittsburgh should have lost, or that Seattle should have won. All we are saying is that this game should have had a level playing field. And, if you don't buy the idea that the officiating was slanted against Seattle, at least you have to admit that the officiating has been controversial all postseason to the point where nobody seems to know what counts as a penalty anymore, and the league has to do something about this.

Al Bogdan: Mike Pereira did a great interview with Mike and the Mad Dog on Friday where he sort of acknowledged that there is a disconnect between the officials themselves and between officials and teams at least on certain types of calls, like offensive holding. He said one of his goals for the off-season was to develop more of a consensus on offensive holding so that everyone was on the same page.

Michael David Smith: I hate to focus too much on the officials because I think the Steelers and their fans should be happy. I like Jerome Bettis and I'm glad his career ended like this. I like Bill Cowher and I think he earned a bust in Canton last night. I like Hines Ward and I think last night makes it very likely that he'll end up in Canton. I said before the draft that I thought Roethlisberger was a better quarterback than Manning or Rivers, so I always root for Roethlisberger, even though last night he played like crap. So I'm not anti-Pittsburgh, I'm just anti-bad officiating.

Ned Macey: I agree with Aaron that the Steelers played poorly, particularly on offense, but the only real surprise was Roethlisberger's bad play. We didn't think the Steelers could run the ball, and other than the one run, they didn't. Kimo got beat up by Walter Jones, but is that news? Porter was a non-factor, but I felt that Pittsburgh was alwyas trying to attack on the right side of Seattle's line, and they did get three sacks of Hasselbeck (including the huge one that put them in 4th and 13 and effectively ended the game).

Roethlisberger almost single handedly sunk them with his bad play. The interception to Herndon was one of the worst throws I've ever seen. But, he made one big play, and the other two big plays bailed them out.

Pat Laverty: On another listserv I'm on, someone asked if Roethlisberger's
performance was the worst ever by a SB winning quarterback?

Aaron Schatz: Good question. I plugged Big Ben's numbers into the formula from last year's ESPN article on the best quarterback performances in Super Bowl history. Based on that formula the answer is yes. These were the bottom five -- if you remember, the system was based on a scale from 1-100.

  • 50: Bob Griese, Super Bowl VII -- 8-for-11, 88 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • 42: Johnny Unitas, Super Bowl V -- 3-for-9, 88 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
  • 36: Joe Theismann, Super Bowl XVII -- 15-for-23, 143 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
  • 35: Trent Dilfer, Super Bowl XXXV -- 12-for-25, 123 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, only six first downs
  • 26: Ben Roethlisberger, Super Bowl XL -- 9-for-21, 123 yards, 0 TD passing (1 TD rushing), 2 INT, only seven first downs passing

Based on this system, yes, this was the worst performance ever by a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

Ned Macey: Does anyone think that Seattle should have run the ball more? They were moving the ball early, but the drives kept stalling. Alexander seemed to be running well the entire game, but he got almost no touches early. Was he successful once he got touches only because the Steelers were playing pass?

Also, since this is Football Outsiders, wouldn't we be remiss to mention that Engram had an excellent game?

Aaron Schatz: Bobby Engram had an excellent game except for a pass that he could have taken in for a touchdown had he realized Hasselbeck was actually throwing it to him.

I know I'm going to get a ton of hate mail now from Pittsburgh fans, and mean comments on the website. I picked against them. We had them lower in our ratings at midseason because of the Maddox game and the fact that they were getting played close by awful teams like Baltimore and Cleveland and Green Bay. Mike wrote that article about how teams that get in on the last day never win the Super Bowl. Well guess what, folks, that's how probability works. When you say "Seattle is a slight favorite" that means that there is still a 45% chance that Pittsburgh will win. When you say that teams that get in on the last day never win the Super Bowl, well, teams that got in on the last day never DID win the Super Bowl UNTIL NOW. What Pittsburgh did was amazing and special BECAUSE it was unique. 11-5 teams don't usually win Super Bowls. Teams below the top 2-3 in DVOA don't usually win Super Bowls. Sixth seeds usually don't win Super Bowls. If we were all supposed to expect this, it isn't really that special, is it?

Again, I hope Steelers fans understand what is happening here. I keep reading comments on our discussion threads about sour grapes. Let me give you an example:

"Can we accept that the refs made a few bad calls, that close calls against your team are not evidence of cheating and that possibly, maybe, in some fantastical way the Steelers outplayed the Seahawks?"

The problem with that question is the phrase "your team." The Seahawks are not my team and they are not the favorite team of any writer on this website. The FO staff has a couple Patriots fans, an Eagles fan, a Giants fan, a Bucs fan, a Lions fan, and a Colts fan complaining about the officials here. The guys I was watching with, you had a couple Patriots fans, a Vikings fan and a Bucs fan complaining about the officials. Kevin Hench picked the Steelers for FOXSports.com, and he wrote a column today about the bad officials. Michael "not David" Smith is not a Seahawks fan -- as I've pointed out, he's the best example of east coast media bias because he is the only other national NFL columnist who lives farther east than I do -- and he wrote a column today about the bad officials. Slate.com isn't exactly known for writing about sporting events immediately afterwards, but they've got a column up about the bad officials. Skip Bayless would rather rip his own balls off with his teeth than say something nice about the city of Seattle and HE wrote a column today about the bad officials.

Check out profootballtalk.com, and read the e-mails Mike Florio has been getting. Amazing. Pittsburgh fans need to understand just how angry the response is, on our site and others, from neutral fans of the other 30 teams. This is not a case of Seahawks fans whining and being sore losers. I have never seen anything like this in terms of fans of the other 30 teams taking to the internet and complaining about the result of a game. People who had nothing to gain from the Seahawks winning. People who PICKED THE STEELERS in many cases. This should not be happening. Throw out everything that any Pittsburgh or Seattle fan has to say about this game. Fans of the other 30 teams are not supposed to complain about the result of a Super Bowl. Something went wrong.

For those curious:

Seattle's DVOA: 24.0% offense, -19.5% defense, -12.4% special teams, 31.0% total.
Pittsburgh's DVOA: -4.3% offense, -15.1% defense, 7.2% special teams, 17.9% total.

* * * * *

Before we go, I want to thank everyone for their support and for reading Football Outsiders all year. It's been a pretty incredible year, it's been great to have so many new people reading our stuff and we fended off most of the trolls although you wouldn't want to read my e-mail. Anyway, I still can't believe that I get to do this for a living, so thanks to all the readers.

Don't stop reading, though. We've still got the awards balloting through tomorrow, the off-season free agent contest is coming soon, we have one more Every Play Counts (maybe), the season's final Scramble for the Ball on Wednesday, and the first edition of our off-season column Four Downs by the end of the week. Meanwhile, I'm going to take a nap for two weeks. Then we start on Pro Football Prospectus 2006, in stores mid-July. From all of us here at Three Feet High and Rising, this is your host Don Newkirk. Good night.

Posted by: admin on 06 Feb 2006

821 comments, Last at 06 Mar 2013, 10:22pm by adrianart.com


by mattfwood (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 7:18pm

Good one Hrudey. Excellent use of the smiley icon too. What have you been doing since you hung up your skates with the Kings?

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 7:24pm

People do that sort of thing *all* *the* *time*. You don’t get it. You said you did, but you don’t. It’s not an issue of whether or not it was a penalty by the letter. The issue is that if this is a penalty, WHY IS IT ONLY BEING CALLED IN THIS ONE SINGULAR INSTANCE?


No, it doesn't happen all the time.

At least, not in my opinion. And unfortunately, that's the part at which we're going to have to disagree, because unless you're going to go back and chart every game, it'll be difficult to prove one way or another.

I don't see pass interference like that without it being called. Especially not in a situation where the referee has a clear view.

by Phil (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 7:28pm

Joe, here's where we disagree. You assert that "had Harper returned the fumble for a touchdown" or "had Vanderjagt made the field goal" the Colts definitely would have won the game. Not so! I refer you to the Pittsburgh/Jacksonville game in Oct. The game went into overtime tied at 17. The Steelers received the OT kick off and Quincy Mogan returned it 70-80 yards, setting up the Steelers for a certain game winning field goal, correct? Wrong! Maddox fumbles the football and gives it right back to Jax. The Steelers go on to lose the game when Maddox throws and INT that is returned for a TD. The point is that stuff like this happens every single week in the NFL, but nobody really pays much attention to it until the playoffs. Even if Harper HAD returned the fumble for a touchdown, the Steelers still would have gotten the ball back with a minute left. Who knows what could have happened? Even if Vanderjagt HAD made the field goal, there's no guarantee that the Colts win in overtime. Too much crazy stuff happens in the playoffs. You keep trying to assert that if some hypothetical situation happened then it would absolutely lead to a particular outcome. I absolutely disagree with this. That Colts/Steelers game taught me that there is nothing certain in the NFL playoffs until the game is OVER.

And not to rub it in, but Harper didn't just trip over his own feet while returning the fumble. He was tackled by a very smart, athletic quarterback who was in excellent position to stop him. (Situational awareness anyone?) And Vanderjagt didn't just miss the FG by a few inches. He missed it buy 20-30 feet! In his own dome!!! That's called a choke. How about giving the Steelers a little credit for keeping the Colts out of the endzone when they absolutely had to and forcing a long field goal attempt from a "liquored up, idiot kicker" (Peyton Manning's words, not mine).

by Mogh (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 7:33pm

Re: #57
"Dare I say it … Cowher’s game plan was Belichekian in its brilliance."

Only a homer could say this and honestly (or even remotely) believe it. I have been watching the Steelers for 8 years now here in Pittsburgh and read stillers.com regularly and the fact of the matter is that Cowher does not coach well in the playoffs and the Super Bowl was just more evidence of that. Even the "master of the obvious" John Madden stated several times that the Steelers were playing without a plan. Cowher gets his team pumped up and rigged with a few trick plays each game, but that is the extent of his coaching. He is not in the Bill Belichick class of coaching and not even a John Fox, Andy Reid or Nick Saban. I grant he has great talent on his team and he motivates well, but that's it. Game planning, prep, insight and adaptation is not Bill Cowher's strengths, for sure.

Given the other things steelershomer has said (some of which is very goofy), I can only assume that what he/she is either contributing a joke or trying to demonstrate through a sense of the ridiculous that Cowher's gameplanning stinks. But there are enough people in Pittsburgh who 'drink the Koolaid' and think that Cowher is akin to God so I've responded just in case this person is serious.

The link below from stillers.com has a review of Cowher's prior brilliance for anyone who needs a history lesson on the Steelers coach.

by joeblow (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 7:37pm

603 - Go back and re-read. If Vanderjagt makes the FG, it goes into OT is what I wrote - not that Indy definitely wins. But if Harper scores, Indy almost certainly does win.

The point is that the game should have never been at that point in the first place because the Polamalu INT should have stood as intially called. And had Pittsbugth lost, either in regulation or OT, then you and every other Pittsburgh fan could have rightfully claimed that the officiating affected the outcome of that game - and you most certainly would have. Anybody, Steeler fan or not who says that there wouldn't have been an outrcry against the officiating had Pittsburgh lost that game is full of sh*t, because as it was, there was an outcry even *after* the Steelers escaped with a win in a game they would have won handily without incompetent zebras. You can't have it both ways.

by kyle (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 7:40pm

re: the chop block If Hasselbeck isn't called for the block that most people acknowledge was a bad call, the Steelers do not have the ball at midfield. Cowher doesn't call trick plays until they're near midfield. Given Pittsburgh's O's pretty poor performance in getting ten yards most of the night, even the so-called irrelevant bad call is relevant. Little things lead to bigger things. So even if you don't want to concede any other point, this game was taken out of the players hands.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 7:59pm

Dutch, if you weren't innumerate you'd grasp that a sample size of eleven doesn't indicate much. Now, if you want to post here your next five hundred or so picks, we can start to get a handle on your abilities.

Hey, freak, I didn't mean to ignore your post above. I would have liked to see more running as well, but the bottom line is that if Stevens catches the ball, the questions about Holmgren's playcalling fade a great deal. Now, if those passes had been broken up, the playcalling matter would loom large.

by Luke (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 8:00pm

The dutch plays too much with his crutch!

by Balaji (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 8:00pm

#604: I'm hardly going to be convinced of anything by stillers.com. A site with writers who need to use nicknames like "Cowhard" to make their points sounds like a bunch of whiners with an agenda. And this is coming from a Steelers fan.

A Cowher-coached team just won a Super Bowl. Yet I wonder how long those idiots (there, I'm calling people idiots) will wait next season before calling for Cowher's ouster.

by hrudey (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 8:01pm

601: Heh. Hrudey didn't retire with the Kings... but still, nice catch.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 8:25pm

Re #531:

Congratulations to the Steelers. They’re the champs, and that’s enough, or at least it ought to be.

Exactly, and I'll even agree with you that it was a far-from-dominant performance. It's just a shame that maybe 10% of the posts in this thread are about the game outside the officiating, and that seems to mirror the national conversation about Sunday.

by mattfwood (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 8:25pm

Re 604: Mogh - where is the Pittsburgh that you live in, where everyone has drunk the Koolaid and thinks Cowher is a god? Is that Pittsburg, Kansas? It's not the one in Pennsylvania, where people call for Cowher to be fired after every plaoff loss and most regular season losses too. You prove that point by slamming Cowher for his horrible game-planning after he just won the SB, having gotten there with three brilliantly coached games. Of course, that was all Whisenhunt and LeBeau. Cowher has nothing to do with those first three playoff wins.

Re 606: Does anyone remember the INT at the end of the first half in the Colts-Steelers Monday night game, where Hartings was called for this exact same penalty? I thought it was weird then, and it is still weird now, but it's in the rules. Maybe Matt got more of the ball carrier than Hartings got. I can't remember.

Finally, this was mentioned above briefly, but I think it bears spelling out. Aaron compared BR's performance to the other worst SB winning performances. I could just go find the formula and check for myself, but where does Elway's win over the Packers rank. He was 12 of 22 passes for 123 yards, INT, no TDs. He also had five rushes for 17 yards and one touchdown. Sound familiar? It does to me. But I can't remember anyone calling Elway a choker right after he'd won to raise his SB record to 1 and 3.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 8:47pm

#612: If this moves BR's comparable set closer to Elway, all the better.

Seahawk fans, I've been thinking about this and one thing we can all agree on is that it's impossible to pick the better team based on Sunday's game. How about we make this best 2 of 3? We'll petition the league to have superbowl XLI and XLII feature the Seahawks and the Steelers.

by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 9:05pm

#613: Exactly. That's why I'm so frustrated with the officiating. Because I would love to see these teams play again when there aren't so many stupid things going on around them. It was a fun, good game with a lot of intriguing matchups.

They don't get to play next year, do they? That sucks.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 9:15pm

So, uh, it has been almost two whole days. Isn't it time to stop arguing about the Super Bowl and start arguing about the draft?

by Cody (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 9:28pm

About the clock hitting zero thing, I think when the clock hits zero, there is almost a whole second left. They only show whole seconds on the TV, but i'm pretty sure they have tenths at least on whatever clock they use for the game. So just after the TV clock shows zero there is .9 seconds left. So if you had a horn then it would blow exactly one second after you see a zero on TV. It's still a little ballsy for a QB to wait all the way to zero though.

by Glazius (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 9:31pm

Okay, some things I'll say in regards to the predictive or even hindsight value of DVOA.

I think that DVOA starts to lose its value the longer a play lasts. It'll tell you, at snap time, how likely the blocks are to hold, how well the running back can hold the ball or power through the line, how well the quarterback can make a read, and how likely the defensive backs are to defend the receivers in their initial routes.

It essentially holds all plays of at least 40 yards to be equal, which isn't bad, because once the ball has gone 40 yards there aren't many ways for the offense as a whole to get it further (outside of crazy little latAREls).

Most plays that go 40 yards also last a while.

Now, this isn't unreasonable. Most successful plays in the NFL are the result of a series of planned actions by the offense. (and vice versa with the defense) In the eyes of DVOA, Parker's run, Roethlisberger's cross-body pass, and the gadget play are all anomalies.

Now, I don't want to say that the Steelers can magically make anomalies work in their favor. But, first, this year they had more... passes? plays? something over 40 yards (as a percentage) than any other team.

Second, I think we can all name at least three Steelers who fluke on and off. Parker has a chance to break it huge, and so does AREl, but for the most part they stutter around, try to find a hole, and get dropped within 5 yards. Roethlisberger can throw a pretty good ball across his body. It's not as perfect as a classic plant, but I don't think he suffers as much.

Third, Cowher has a lock on his coaching job that very few other coaches in the NFL have. He's more likely to play the longshots and probably more likely to design and approve a play with multiple points of failure, like the El/7/Wilson pass in Cincy. A play with multiple failure points is a play that lasts longer, and a play that, to some extent, can ignore what DVOA says should happen.


by dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 9:38pm


your another one that knows very little about football. You need more listening and less talking.

by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 9:53pm

#617: DVOA values a "slow and steady" approach, because in the long run, that has a high correlation with winning games. The Steelers' recipe for success (at least in the postseason) has been to hit some big plays (which get undervalued by DVOA), take a lead, and then pound the ball to eat the clock (which also gets undervalued by DVOA). Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with DVOA, just that it may not correlate well with the way the Steelers won games in the playoffs (and the SB, for that matter).

See more analysis on the Quick Reads thread.

by Andrew H (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:05pm

Re: Steve #600

Its not the bad calls that bug me, that is part of the game, and being an athlete myself I know this, it is the inconsistency of the calls. Call some against the seahawks, call some against steelers. But when you call holding on seahawks, please call it on steelers and vice versa, I am 100% ok with flawed officiating, but call it flawed both ways. It was like, today we are going to penalize seahaws for "holding" and the steelers for false starts but not holding. Also when it is a game of that magitude, it is taking the game in your own hands by making a questionable call on a point scoring play, IE: pass interference, also if you are going to throw a flag cause "the ref saw something we didnt" thats fine, just PLEASE call it before the defense whines for it, steelers OR seahawks. Im not miffed cause "they took our win", they took our momentum away with some crucial calls. A team of our caliber SHOULD bounce back and play all the harder but we are also a new team to the superbowl, so with the pressure of never being there, all the talk all week of the dominant steelers AND then the refs calling against you when you come out dominating the steelers....its demoralizing. Thats all I'm saying.

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:11pm

I do not think Cowher is a very good game coach for the most part. But there is a lot to coaching - identifying talent, motivating players, teaching, keeping a team focused, and on and on. Cowher is at least above average if not one of the best coaches overall. Thank god someone from the Schottenheimer coaching tree finally won a SB. Maybe Herm can be next.

The NFL needs to improve it's officiating. I could have written that before the SB; the game only confirmed that view.

I wanted the Seahawks to win but mostly because they were underdogs and because I always root against the rivals of my favorite team, the Chiefs. At least the Steelers beat the Broncos - yes, I'm a hater. Congratulations to the Steelers and to their fans.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:19pm

Game sucked, when do we do the outsiders draft?

I'm ready to grab the best RB available for my Colts.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:39pm

Dutch, I appreciate your dedication to the Steelers, which I share. However, proclaiming over and over that you picked all the games correctly in the playoffs and telling other writers that they don't know anything about football just isn't adding much to the discussion. It's just putting you on the level with those who find out one of the refs was born in Pittsburgh and who think they've found the magic formula that explains the calls with which they disagreed. In addition, the dubious syntax and inaccurate spelling in your posts don't do anything to augment your points. You have said enough in many of your posts to make me think you do know the game and could bring a lot to the table. However, the way you are going about it just isn't working.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:41pm

King Kaufmann in Salon and Tuesday Morning Quarterback on nfl.com have pretty good discussions of the game and don't wallow in the mire of officiating that we can't seem to escape in this thread. I enjoyed reading both.

by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:44pm

I agree with many that without the bad officiating, we would have had a better game. There was a lot of consternation about the officials in the games leading up to the Superbowl, but the largest stage shouldn't have these kinds of questions. And that's really the problem with the game, questions were left unanswered.

by randomn00b (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:46pm

A list of calls that completely sucked:
The Hasselbeck tackle.
Locklear's "hold" on the play that would have put the Seahawks up 3 in the 3rd Quarter.
The "hold" on Warrick's punt return in the 1st half.
Steven's two steps and drop counting as a drop, not a fumble.

A list of calls that set the standard incredibly high for the Seahawks:
DJax's push - It is Offensive Pass interference, but you see Ward doing the same thing 80% of games, and not get called on it.

Marginal calls:
Roethlisberger's rushing TD (this could have gone either way)

Steelers looked like they were lining up in the neutral zone on that key drive where the Seahawks were looking to take the lead by 3. Anyone else question this? There was a lot of holding on the Steelers that didn't get called, where it seemed like every single hold (no matter how minor) on the Seahawks got called.

It's annoying, because while the Seahawks didn't play our A game, I don't think the Seahawks were outplayed in this one, like we were in Jacksonville in Week 1, or NYG Week 5.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:46pm



by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:47pm

- It was a damn pass interference! See how Hope bounces backwards. You can use your arm to 'feel' the defender (they both did), but you can't push him backwards.
- Ben probably got in. And if you think he didn't, you aren't sure either.
- I don't get the hype about the holding call on Locklear. Locklear is behind Haggans and his arm is in front of him. That's holding.
- I didn't get the Hasselbeck - Taylor penalty. He dived for Taylor's knees... so thats a tackle. He didn't hit the blocker or intended to.
- The pylon non-TD was a TD. Should see the pylon as the endzone. So one foot in, 1 foot at the pylon: TD.

by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:53pm

It's truly amazing that in more than 600 posts no one has bothered to check, with statistics, whether there really was any bias in the officiating. This is FO, guys. Do the numbers!

Assuming that teams commit penalties at the same rate for each type of play (run, pass, return, run D, pass D, return D) did Seattle really get more than its share of penalties?

First, it must be said that the sample sizes are tiny. So be it. I never claimed bias, or that the refs threw the game.

On defense, there was one penalty: Hasselback's low block on the interception return. Now Pittsburgh "defended" two interception returns to Seattle's one, so a typical result would have the one penalty against Pittsburgh. Call that one a one-call bias against Seattle.

On kick returns, there were two penalties, both against Seattle. But Seattle had eight kick returns to Pittsburgh's four, so a 2-0 split is just as likely as a 1-1 split. (44.4%) Call that a no bias either way.

On offensive plays that never started, there were two penalties against Pittsburgh and one against Seattle. But Seattle ran 58% of the offensive plays. Call that a one-call bias against Pittsburgh.

On running plays, there were no penalties. Move along. Nothing to see here. No bias.

On passing plays, there were five penalties: 3 holding (1 declined) and 2 offensive interference. Four of the five went against Seattle. Seattle ran 70% of the passing plays, so we would expect them to get more than twice the penalties on passing plays. but how much more? Is a 4-1 split a more uneven result than a 3-2 split?

The answer is "no". 4-1 is the most likely split (36%) followed by 3-2 (31%) followed by 5-0 (17%). In other words, if each passing play had an equal chance of being a penalty, than there is a 53% chance that at least four of five penalties would be against Seattle, simply because they passed much more than Pittsburgh did. Call this one a no bias, or if you prefer, a rules bias against passing offense.

In summary:

One 15-yard penalty with no effect on yards-to-go versus one 5 yards-to-go penalty. The results of the penalty calls could hardly be any more normal. Seattle got more penalties because it played more offense and threw many more passes.

What about the non-calls and the replay and, and and?

Perfectly rational people (Aaron) fell into the trap of picking a conclusion (there seem to be a lot of calls against Seattle, so the refs are biased against Seattle) and then selecting evidence ("we started marking down all the plays where Pittsburgh was holding") to support one side. Human nature, yes, but not what makes FO special.

You are free to disagree with any particular call. But unless you claim that Seattle (or Pittsburgh) has a God-given right to fewer penalties, please don't claim that the little-yellow-flag throwers stole the game. It just ain't so.

FYI: I'm a Pats fan. During the game I ranted against the officials, just like you did. I cheered Pittsburgh for the first half and Seattle for the second. Please don't tell me it wasn't pass interference. Please don't tell me that ties go to the defense at the goal line or that you have Xray vision. Please don't tell me that there's holding on every play, but especially Pittsburgh's plays. Please DO tell me if you know whether the pylon counts as ground for establishing possession. I'm curious what the correct call is.

But only if you really know.

by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 10:57pm

614: Yes they do, February 4. It will be a good game, too.

by Andrew H (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 11:10pm

Ref # 629

"You are free to disagree with any particular call. But unless you claim that Seattle (or Pittsburgh) has a God-given right to fewer penalties, please don’t claim that the little-yellow-flag throwers stole the game. It just ain’t so."

You are right, they didnt steal the game, they stole a chance for a good game. Let the boys play instead of having a power trip. Its the superbowl, they are going to be playing just a little harder than the normal season. How can the steelers defense show itself off and our offense if they are worried about the zebras every play?!?!

by mattfwood (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 11:14pm

Yeah, the pylon pronouncements here have been pretty amazing. Everybody arguing what the call should be, no one who knows what the rule is. I don't either. I'm not faulting anyone for not knowing, but for going on and on without knowing.

For instance: "The pylon non-TD was a TD. Should see the pylon as the endzone. So one foot in, 1 foot at the pylon: TD."

Really?? If a guy catches the ball diving then, and both feet graze the the pylon before he lands completely out of bounds, you would call that a Touchdown? That would seem pretty bizarre to me. Or is this a special rule that says 1 foot + 1 pylon = 2 feet.

I'm with Nat here. Personally, I think it's pretty clear that two feet inbounds means two feet, not one foot and a pylon takedown. But since I do not know the rule for sure, I will not declare that it is or is not definitely a TD.

by bob (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2006 - 11:41pm

I must confess all the pitt apologists annoy me. the refs sucked, u guys have the ring, in all likelihood no1 will remember the refs having been horrible and pitt will still have the ring.

by RIck S (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:02am


Very thorough, but if the calls were as even as you say, why are the majority of neutral fans questioning the calls?

It seems to me that there is a lot of rationalization going on to justify Pittsburgh's win.

One factor not mentioned in your post was the time these penalties occured, that either changed points on the board, or significantly altered the momentum of the game.

by Bongo Bob (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:04am

Seems to me the pittsburgh fans suffer a severe case of cognitive dissonance, so we can basically dismiss their arguments. The overwhelming majority of the neutral fans agree with the seahawks fans, mike holmgren, bill parcells, skip bayless, michael smith, and virtually everyone else that isn't a pittsburgh fan that the seahawks were robbed.

In a way, this is also sad for the steelers and their fans because deep down, they know their win is tainted.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:05am

Ref #631

Cool. There's an idea that might be supported by the data. Did the officiating weaken the offenses much more than usual, and thus spoil the game? I suspect that two offense interference calls is unusual. My guess is that 3 holding calls for 79 pass plays is pretty typical. Zero illegal formation or illegal motion calls is certainly low, but these are two of the best teams, so maybe that's okay. I would also expect one or two defensive pass play calls.

It might be enough to stifle the offenses, but I'm inclined to believe it was good defense and poor offense on both sides of the ball that did most of the work.

Aaron, if you're there, could you look into typical rates for different kinds of penalties next season? Perhaps by type of play and/or by officiating crew? It might go with a Zebra column.

by The Other Vlad (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:24am

"Very thorough, but if the calls were as even as you say, why are the majority of neutral fans questioning the calls?"

Because there isn't much else that casual fans can say about the game (i.e. a meta-narrative).

by RIck S (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:36am

Name another SuperBowl where the officiating has become as talked about as this?

Is it the emergence of the internet? Is everyone really a closet Seahawk fan? Does everyone just want to bring up a controversy?

Reading the posts, including the above article published by those paid to provide content on this site have brought to question many of the calls in this game, it seems the neutral fans thiink that poor officating significantly affected the game.

I guess your definition neutral fan means casual fan.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:41am

ref #634
"Very thorough, but if the calls were as even as you say, why are the majority of neutral fans questioning the calls?"
Because they haven't read my post? (629)

Seriously, there were eight calls against Seattle versus three against Pittsburgh. It seemed like Seattle was getting flagged more than its share. Pair that with the disappointment of the goalline call, and it's not surprising that people reacted the way they did. But the reality is that Seattle got only its share of penalties.

When I started my analysis, I wasn't sure what I was going to see. Honestly, I had expected to see a measurable bias in the results, in which case I would have tried to show how unlikely random chance was to generate that bias. Instead I saw essentially no bias in the penalty calls. I had been fooled by the same effect that I'm guessing hit a lot of people.

As for the timing of the penalties, I'll agree that the OPI in the endzone was bad timing, but not on the ref's part. For Godsake, man, if you're going to push off, don't do it in front of the ref!

Holding calls kill drives whenever they happen. So timing isn't an issue there. And holding on big returns is often why they were big returns in the first place. Hasselback's weird low block penalty might have been bad timing, but four plays later that was moot. The X-reverse-pass could have scored from 70 yards out, and was no less likely to be called from the 50 as from the 40. It was the one play in the game designed for long yardage that actually got it.

So, no, I'm not a Pittsburgh fan, and I'm not rationalizing.

Just rational.

by dutch (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:45am

giving up a 75 yards run is inexcusable

giving up a trick play that was run identical in an earlier game against Cleveland is inexcusable

not getting off the field after a pitt penalty and sack on 3rd and 30 or so is inexcusable

holmgren not shaking Cowher's hand on the field after the 14 yrs cowher has put in is inexcusable

by richabbs (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:56am

As someone who has played football, quite often you get a game like this, and by a "game like this," I mean one where it "seems" like the team that lost outplayed the other team. Analysts try to find reasons, such as bad officiating, or they say what happened was an annomoly. This Super Bowl game, however, is a perfect example of why many football games, unlike a majority of baseball games, cannot be analyzed statistically, at least the traditional way of yards correlating with points.

In baseball, pitch counts do correlate closely with hits and bases do seem to correlate quite closely with runs scored. If you look at a baseball box score that didn't show the runs, you usually can tell who won. In football, there are quite a few variables (e.g., field position, turnovers, penalties, blocked or missed kicks) that are difficult to measure. Too often, just having a football stat sheet without the points scored leads you to the wrong conclusion on the outcome.

Now, with that said, sometimes in baseball you get an anomoly (I'm thinking the Marlins winning the WS over the heavily favored Yanks in 2003, or the '69 Mets team winning 100 games and the WS over a much better Orioles team) and you can clearly say that the better team lost. Aaron implies that the Steelers winning the Super Bowl was an anomoly, that they are an inferior team to the Seahawks (at least his DVOA says so) and, while he doesn't want to say the Steelers won simply because of the officiating, he believes there wasn't a level playing field because of the officiating. I don't buy any of it.

Your site was one of very few favoring the Seahawks. The Steelers were favored by 4 1/2 points by Vegas for two reasons. Mostly because they beat the Bengals, the Colts and the Broncos on the road in the playoffs, no small task. But they were also favored because the Seahawks hadn't beaten many good teams all year. Despite what your DVOA says, the Steelers were a better team at the time of the Super Bowl, Vegas knew it and the Steelers won the game by an 11 point margin. The officiating wasn't "slanted against Seattle." Seattle dropped enough balls, squandered a lot of time off the clock in critical situations, failed to tackle Parker on one long play and were fooled on another long play, and, most importantly, failed to score enough points to win. End of story.

by admin :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:58am

Mike Tanier picked the Steelers. Do Pittsburgh fans accusing Football Outsiders of being pro-Seattle just not like Mike Tanier and not read his articles?

As for me picking Seattle, what part of the phrase "this is basically a toss-up" do you people not understand? When your editors want a binary response, you give them a binary response.

by Flagstaff (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:14am

This thread has gone off into another dimension, and it's not a friendly one.

After skimming all the recent notes that either complain about or that mention 'all the bad calls," I have decided tht there were NO BAD CALLS. Just bad plays.

Seriously, if there were any calls that were provably wrong, there wouldn't be any dissension on those calls. But since every call under discussion is disputed, there is obviously no proof they were wrong, just that they were close.

So, for those who insist that the refs caused the game to be a snoozer, I say your blame is misplaced. The officials just called the plays. It was the players that turned them into close plays/penalties/TDs/no TDs. It was the inability of both teams to sustain long drives without needing the refs to look the other way that prevented any excitement from building.

by dutch (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:15am


BY the way, you said you don't believe Cowher is a good game day coach. How can you say that? When Cowher has a lead by at least 11 points, he is 103-1-1. If he wasn't a good gameday coach, isn't it reasonable to think he would have blown some of those leads? I mean the guy gets to 6 AFC Title games and 2 superbowls. Wit hQB's such as Kordell Stewart, Neil O'donell , a Rookie last year for goodness sakes. How can you not be a good game day coach wit hall those wins with Mediocre QB Play? Watch what happens now that he has his man Roethlisberger.

by richabbs (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:34am

I'm not accusing you of being pro-Seahawk. I'm accusing you of not being rational about the officiating during the game (as nat in #629 suggests) and I'm suggesting the reason for this is because you have to have some bias toward your DVOA system (which is natural) and your DVOA indicated that the Seahawks are a better team. Finally, I'm suggesting your DVOA system isn't very good, if it ranked Seattle as a better team and if it lead you to predict "basically a toss-up" for the game.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:36am

I'm going to post links to clips of some of the more talked-about calls. Again, sorry if someone has already posted these. 644 posts is a lot to wade through.

The first is of the hold on Locklear. Click my name.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:37am

This one is the OPI on Jackson.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:39am

And here's the pylon catch.

by Vash (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:39am

#634: Very thorough, but if the calls were as even as you say, why are the majority of neutral fans questioning the calls?

Isn't the entire premise of this site that the common knowledge is often wrong?

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:56am

Re: Andrew H, #620
its demoralizing.
As a fan of the Pirates, I’m well acquainted with demoralization!

by N Minnix (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:00am

I wasn't rooting for PIT, and I feel the officiating (and the Disney commercials) was certainly slanted toward PIT (was Tags openly rooting?), but I think some of your reactions are a bit over the top.
I agree, Big Ben's TD was a fluke. The mistake occurred when the SJ ran in with a spot, then changed his ruling when he arrived at the pile. Can't overturn it, tho, and PIT probably goes for it and gets it anyway. Poor work by the assistant.
The D-Jax PI was a must-call. PI gets missed a lot, but I wouldn't argue with that call at all. Altho the shove wasn't forceful, he clearly gained an advantage.
The Locklear hold on the completion to the PIT 1 was extremely questionable, especially considering that officials flagged PIT for that offense zero times and SEA for holding a total of six times (I believe, plus an Alexander false start and the D-Jax PI; one holding on Locklear PIT declined).
The low block call, as the rule stands, is ridiculous. Hass attempted to make the tackle - if he makes contact with a blocker or two en route, how is his intent still anything other than making that tackle? There's too many things to talk about with that one. If you guys have more info on that or I've missed it, please share it.
As far as the Jackson non-TD (pylon incident), I'd say (like others, altho the PIT fan saying the ball is the only thing that matters makes his comments irrelevant) a review wasn't necessary because it was clear that he didn't make the catch. The reference to the "relevant rule" applies to a player that has already established possession, which Jackson had not done because he didn't come down with two feet inbounds. Even in the end zone, to make a reception a player must get both feet inbounds. I've never seen a receiving player (correctly) awarded a TD when they've failed to make the catch. If Jackson had gotten two feet down and lunged for or kicked the pylon afterwards, even if no other part of his body was inbounds after the two feet, then it's a TD. No catch, no TD.
My friend couldn't believe they didn't call the horse-collar either, but then I asked him, When have you seen that call this season? I couldn't name a time, and I remember seeing a few. That rule is a myth.
I wish the league and officials had just let us have the game. It would've been better, and 21-17 would've been a lot more satisfying. Has anyone thrown out the "F" word (not the four-letter one)? I'm not a believer in that theory, but many a bipartisan fan seems to feel that SEA got a raw deal. All I heard was that SEA wasn't given respect, they dwell in the NW in relative anonymity, and the league certainly didn't help their cause. Do they want it that way?

by richabbs (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:08am

For those who want to see what a knowledgeable, neutral observer said about the officiating, here is a link to an article that quotes Titan coach Jeff Fisher on the officiating: http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060207/SPORTS01/6...

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:13am
by N Minnix (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:13am

To addend my comments in #651, I'm not making excuses for SEA, because they blew it. Coming in PIT was the hotter team, whether anyone believes that they were better or not. SEA deserved to win less than PIT did, for sure. SEA failed to overcome adversity, which is the mark of a true champ. They seemed just a bit intimidated, and PIT played with more purpose. Such is parity. I wouldn't trade it - we can't have the Game of the Century every year. The last few were pretty good, eh?

by nfl email (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:15am
by M.J. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:15am

If Seattle had been given the PI benefit of the doubt, and in my mind there was doubt, we wouldn't be talking about any of these other calls because it would have been a different reality on the field, and hence different things would have happened. That is how the officials affected the outcome of the game.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:17am

One more clip: Porter's "horsecollar" tackle on Alexander.

A tackle is not considered a horsecollar unless the defender jerks the ballcarrier backwards. You are allowed to grab the collar and ride the ballcarrier down, as happened on this play.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:21am

652 - Aren't you aware that Jeff Fisher is an irrational Steelers homer?

Everybody knows the zebras tanked the game for Pittsburgh. Hundreds of anonymous posts on the prestigious internet say so.

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:22am

Re: #652

Good old Jeff Fisher. Close friend of the Steelers, their fans and Bill Cowher (who crushed his leg and knocked him out of the league) — not!

by JSR (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:22am

DVOA is clearly ranked too high because Aaron Schatz is biased and his system predicted the wrong winner. Vegas oddsmakers are clearly better than this. Stillers rule, one for the thumb, the Hawks got run over by a Bus, lol!!11!

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:24am

I think it's funny when people say that Seattle made mistakes, and then go on to imply that Pittsburgh didn't. Pittsburgh made plenty of mistakes. They played poorly. If you don't believe it, look at the DVOA for two teams that game.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:25am

Mikey, Mikey, Mikey, Mikey!
Post a clip of Roethelisberger's pass to Ward on 3rd and 28!

The line of scrimmage is the 40... how come #78 is clearly 2 yards beyond the line of scrimmage before Ben throws the ball?

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:25am

#657, got a source for that, or anything? Not that we need another argument about authoritative sources for rules, but I'd really like to see the rule in its purest form.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:26am


They replayed that play during the game, putting a graphic line on the LOS, and he was behind it. Unless that graphic was off, which would seem odd, since there were no axes to grind at that point.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:28am

Ref #645

Oops. I described Aaron as "perfectly rational" and as having fallen into the trap of picking a conclusion and then gathering evidence. (Confirmation bias, I think it's called) It's a human failing, which sometimes hits humans like Aaron. In fact, Aaron's work is so respected because he doesn't fall into traps very often.

Aaron, I think picking Seattle was a good pick. It was mine, too. The games stats support the pick, too, but not the score. Luckily, I didn't place any of those (ahem) things that merely mentioning would trigger filters and keep this post from the light of day.

So, if I am right that the distribution of penalties was actually typical and unbiased, how could Seattle win the DVOA and still lose by 11 points? DVOA is tuned to measure how good a team is in ways it can hope to repeat each week. Pittsburgh won with a 75 yard run, a pass that was more like a punt (and may have been intended as one, who knows?), a 40 yard touchdown pass from a wide receiver, two missed field goals, a handful of dropped passes...

Other than the 40 yard touchdown pass from a wide receiver, which of these would any of us expect if these teams played again next week?

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:29am

663...ah, Putnamp, I had it earlier but I've been opening and closing so many windows that I lost it. I've got a league rule book at the office and I'll dig out the wording tomorrow if I have time.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:37am

I'm taling about an "Ineligable lineman downfield" penalty. Ben fakes out #78 who starts to run downfield, then the lineman realizes he is past the line of scrimmage by 2 yards and jumps back right as Ben is throwing the ball.

You can see it clearly on the live view... I think someone might argue "you can't tell from the angle" but the LOS is at the 40 and he is 2 yards past it.. when he jumps back he is at the LOS because #66 is right at the LOS.

You can't pick it up from any of the replay angles... because they focus in on Roethelisberger and happenings downfield.

by mcfly (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:38am

O-Linemen are allowed past the line of scrimmage on pass plays. Anything beyond 5 yards past the LOS is illegal.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:47am

An earlier poster wrote: "Name another Super Bowl where the officiating has become as talked about as this? Is it the emergence of the internet?"


You may recall that the Titans-Rams Super Bowl was dubbed the "dot-com bowl" because of the number of ultimately failed online businesses that bought time on ABC's broadcast that year.

The pronouncement was about six years premature - a lot of what we read about the internet at that time was about six years premature - THIS was the first internet Super Bowl.

The officiating controversy is largely, if not mostly, an internet-fueled phenomenon. Traditional media has eagerly participated, but let's be real, this debate started on the internet and has been turbo-charged by the same mix of passion, anonymity, general cluelessness, unlimited space, and occasional insight that has allowed the internet to poison political debate.

Welcome to the first major story from the sports blogosphere. It hasn't been a pretty baptism.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:50am

Oh gee, really? Lineman can go 5 yards down the line of scrimmage before being called on a penalty? I didn't know that. I guess you learn something new every day about the NFL rules. Do you have a source for that?

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:53am

Another clip: Ben's 3rd and goal interception and the return on which Bryce Fisher appears to shove Ben in the back.

Haven't seen a clip of the 3rd and 28 yet, but I'll post if it turns up.

by mcfly (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:56am

Based on the discussion in this thread, apparently the NFL rulebook is not available publicly, so all I can cite is my years of watching games. Also, since lineman line up on the LOS, if it were a penalty for them to go past the LOS on passing plays, there'd hardly be room for error, particularly on play action, where they might not be moving backwards initially.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:57am

I found the rule in ineligible lineman downfield:

What distance constitutes an "ineligible man" downfield and what is the rationale behind the violation? In other words, what advantage does an offense incur by having a non-eligible man downfield? -- Steve L., Glencoe, Ill.

It is a foul when an ineligible offensive player, which is difficult to describe but is often an offensive lineman, advances beyond his line of scrimmage after losing contact with an opponent at the line of scrimmage. It is also illegal when an ineligible offensive player moves downfield without contacting an opponent at the line of scrimmage. These restrictions end when the ball leaves the passer's hand. The offending player must be more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage prior to the pass to be illegally downfield. This guideline is used in college and professional football.

by Vash (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:57am

670: I thought that was common knowledge.

The most basic thing I can think of here (can't be bothered to go find proof, I need sleep) is play-action, where lineman may move past the LOS pretending to run-block.

by Vash (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:59am

673: Interesting.

671: That's too poor-quality to be of any use. Got anything clearer?

by mcfly (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:02am

I remember the rule being 5 yards, but that does seem to be a bit far (maybe I'm getting it confused with the cushion given to d-backs for contacting a receiver). Anyway, I trust your source better than my memory.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:06am

The link is from "Ask Jerry Markbreit".

From the video it looks like #78 is at least 1.5-2 yards beyond the LOS... then he jumps back when he realizes it's a pass play.

I think the key on play action pass is the "losing contact" part of the rule, and the fact that there is 1 yard of leeway.

Vash has been more than helpful in this thread, I'm sure he'd love to verify my observation.

There's really no point in bringing it up , other than to argue to the Steeler fans that the officials were less than perfect on Sunday.

by Vash (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:19am

677: Remind me tomorrow, if you will. My email is vash(seven)ehstampede at gmail dot com.

I may be biased, but I do have TiVo and contact lenses.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:38am

It's okay. I'm gonna watch the game again tommorrow and enjoy it, like a bad horror movie that has gained huge cult status in Pittsburgh. I'm gonna be happy because Hines Ward is half-Korean, because it's painfully funny to watch the ineptness of Seattle's receivers in staying in bounds, like watching victims flee from the killer in a B-grade horror movie hilighted by that Billy Bob guy on TMC, and then later on Sci-Fi channel. I'm gonna be happy because we can look forward to an offseason of the NFL revamping their officiating (I highly doubt that), and I'm going to enjoy the game from when the Steelers downed the punt until Hasselbeck overthrew his receiver... for some reason I was screaming at my TV for Hasselbeck to keep the pressure on and run another play while the 3rd quarter was winding down. I'm gonna be happy because the Redskins had the best offensive performance against the Seahawks in the playoffs, and I'll be happy because for some reason, Seattle grew on me as a likable team...

It wasn't as bad of a *game* as it was a badly played game, and that does include officials... hats off to you Steeler fans... and enjoy it until free agency begins.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:42am

629: nice effort, but that survey is wrong from start to finish. you open with a hugely debatable assumption. you include the false starts in the sample, even though these are "had to call it" calls, where discretion is essentially nonexistent (the "do-over" call notwithstanding); remove those, and now you've got a 6-1 split and everything looks different. you mention that the sample size is tiny, but you suggest (for no evident reason) that the size of the sample poses a problem for the "hose job" crowd but not for you. like every zebra defender on this thread, you ignore numerous non-calls, or act as if the only call that could be controversial is a flag that is actually thrown. (actually, you don't ignore this. you cite aaron pointing it out as if this makes him a wild-eyed nut.) since all the penalties except the hasselbeck tackle happen to have been called on offenses, you have chosen to pro-rate likelihoods based on the number of offensive snaps, but here's a bulletin: in some games, defensive players get called for penalties, too -- sometimes *all* the penalties -- and you'll note that the implication of seattle running most of the offensive plays is pittsburgh running most of the defensive plays. you think there's a rules bias against passing offenses? you haven't been keeping up on the rules committee's activities the last eight or ten years.

i realize you're trying to discuss it on a plane unsulled by the irreconcilably biased rival interpretations drawn from perhaps ambiguous visual evidence, and kudos for that. but the premise of your model is that penalties fall like random bolts from above, similarly likely to strike on any snap of the game. what a surprise that this premise leads one to conclude that the distribution of penalties was random!

there's a lot more light than heat here; everyone on this thread is by now firing from fixed positions. if you want to convince yourself you didn't see what most of us saw, or that it's not a problem without evidence of overt bias, go right ahead.

by mcfly (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:23am

I don't see what you're arguing here. The small sample size does speak against the "we were hosed" faction. Assuming each of the teams commit on average the same number of infractions, then you'd expect the distribution of penalties to be 50-50 over the long term. Over the short term, though, you could have distributions of 70-30 or even 90-10, just like flipping a coin. If you already think the refs were biased based on their calls, then naturally this argument will seem ludicrous to you, but statistically speaking, you do expect anomalies with small sample sizes.

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:28am

By the way, on Holmgren shaking Cowher's hand - neither coach could approach the other after the chaos. As soon as he could, Holmgren went to the Steelers locker room to congratulate Cowher. No illwill on either side, apparently.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:36am

Re: officials

Instead of making officials full-time, which I don't think will help, I think the "Pro Bowl" crews they use in postseason should be replaced by "Super Bowl" crews. That is, in the SB they use the refs that were rated best at each position. Instead, I think they should use the best overall crew. I had actually thought that's how they were already doing it after that particualr suggestion arose a few years ago, but according to an article I just read on espn.com that's apparently not the case.

by jstix (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:09am

I'm a lifetime Steeler fan, but also an athlete, football player and competitor (no, those 3 are NOT necessarily synonymous). I watched the refs take away Troy's potentially game-ending INT, and then watch him almost get justice by intercepting Almighty Peyton's very next pass. Once the Steelers got the ball 1st-and-goal on the 2, I KNEW it was over. When JB fumbled, I immediately told my brother that the Steelers just gave away that game and they cannot possibly blame it on the refs because they had their chance. No whining. They had the chance and almost blew it. Then, the defense sucked it up and earned the win AGAIN. Just like USC. No matter what you think about Vince's lateral or Reggie's fumble or any other calls, USC led by 12 with less than minutes to go. At that point, no previous event matters. TAKE THE GAME. The Seahawks still had the opportunity, but Dick LeBeau's brilliant defensive strategy (which, by the way, resulted in pedestrian stat sheets but new hardware for Troy and Joey both) mandated that Hasselbeck be patient and wait for the opening. He failed to do that, and gave away a chance he had. If this had happened to the Steelers, I'd actually be complaining about not running the ball as the Seahawks should've done more, the dropped passes and the ridiculous idea that anyone could leave Hines Ward alone when he "jogs" off the line of scrimmage and AR El goes into the backfield. I know there was a backup in there, but he sits in the same meetings and watches the same films...

by BigJay (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:18am

Here is the new rules I found http://espn.go.com/nfl/columns/clayton_john/1354105.html

the pylon rule states:
A player will be ruled in bounds if he touches the pylon at the goal line before going out of bounds. For example, a pass would be considered complete if one foot touches the pylon and the other foot is in bounds

by jstix (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:29am

Man, I love Israel's comment about the rule stating that you gotta throw and INT after a dubious holding call. That was classic! Gotta use that one at work today!

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:51am

mcfly, everything you say there is correct and ensues from the premise, "Assuming each of the teams commit on average the same number of infractions."

if you start with that assumption, there's basically no division of penalties (whether the sample size is 7 or 10) that can look conclusively "wrong." i'm glad to see you agree.

take it from the other side. assume there was some mis-, mal- or nonfeasance, whatever the cause. if a 90-10 split on a sample size of so few calls could be a random occurrence (as i agree it could), then your exercise in numerancy would be incapable of distinguishing an uneven playing field from bad luck. it doesn't help you any more than it helps me.

by Glazius (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 10:45am

687: Flipping a coin and getting 9 heads and 1 tail is a 100-to-1 shot. _Does_ it happen? Sure. But I think if mcfly pulled out something where the numbers were that off-kilter he'd suspect something was wrong.

Note that the refs not flagging penalties is also accounted for in the assumption. Pittsburgh and Seattle _were_ flagged at pretty much the same rate during the regular season, right?

Are you familiar with chi-squared analysis, mcfly? One-dimensional with one degree of freedom seems about right to look at the game. (Chi-square for the whole coinflip thing: 9 heads, 5 expected = (9 - 5)^2/5, 3.2; 1 tail, 5 expected = (1 - 5)^2/5, 3.2; total chi-square 6.4; 95% critical value for 1 degree freedom 3.38; coinflips 95% unlikely to be the result of random distribution.)


by wwtd (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 11:10am

Thanks for the brilliant insight Coach...

"Because of the enormous amount of coverage the game is getting, the officiating is getting scrutinized now more so than it has in the past.", Jeff Fisher said.

"Of course, I've only won 9 out of the last 33 games I've coached. So, come to think of it, maybe I should just S.T.F.U. and grow a beard."

by JMM (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 11:34am

RE # 685


Clayton isn't quite on the mark. A player touching the pylon isn't in, he just is no longer out as a result of touching the pylon. Very different.

by Phil (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 11:51am

I would say that penalties influence the development of the game, not necessarily the outcome of the game. The only way the Colts could have won that game is if the Steelers completely choked and gave it to them after the Polamalu non-INT. And if the Colts had won, I would have said the the refs influenced the game, but that the Steelers gave it away by not stopping the Colts when they had to. I feel the same way about the Seahawks. There were calls that were close, there were calls that were questionable, and there were calls that may have been flat out wrong. But with 9 minutes left in the game, the Hawks were down by 11 points and could have made a push. Did they? No, they choked. Abysmal play calling and abysmal clock management did them in. Iffy calls happen in every game. Great teams don't let it beat them. Merely good teams do. If the Seahawks want to get to the next level they will absorb this lesson and win the SB next year.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:06pm

669: I guess this will be known as the "blog-bowl." However, I think it's more than just the emergance of the internet that has feuled this contreversy. Last year there were a larger number of visitors to this site with rooting interest in the Superbowl (mostly Patriots fans, but a large number of Eagles fans, too), and that game sparked some debate, but nothing like what we've seen since Sunday. There are almost 700 posts in this thread already, verses 360 for the two weeks leading up to the superbowl. This game has clearly given us something to talk about.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:10pm

FWIW, Fisher was asked about the situation because of his membership on the Comeptition Committee.

Although that doesn't make him a Steeler homer -- the only thing we Ratbirds and Rivetheads can agree on is that we both hated the Titans -- Fisher, as a member of the league organ that will address this behind closed doors -- is not going to say anything against the current league line.

by Tequila (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:23pm

Interesting feedback here from a college official with NFL knowledge who watched the game with other refs:


The rules for offensive holding have a number of caveats, one of which (Rule 3-3 b) is that "if a blocker, after the initial forward thrust of his arms, does not immediately work to bring his hands on and inside the opponents frame," it is holding. In this case, I believe that the holding was up around the neck and shoulder area, he never brought his hands back inside the frame of the pass rusher, and, in BilI Leavy's judgement, it prevented the pass rusher from making a play on the QB.
This is a judgment call. Although it might not have been the most clear cut call of the game, it was considered a very reasonable call by those with whom I was watching the game.

The question about the "horse collar" rule was addressed earlier this season. The key thing here is that the officials must be sure that the defensive player has a grip inside of the shoulder pads (not just the shirt) and he brings the offensive player immediately to the ground.

In this case, it was probably ruled that he had not brought Alexander "immediately" to the ground. This was a penalty that was put in this year and I believe it was only called three times in the entire season. I would not expect to see it called in the Super Bowl unless it was particularly apparent and egregiuos.

I am not sure what was in the old "John Clayton article" but the rule differs whether it is a player who has obtained possession of the ball before touching the pylon or one that has not yet gotten his two feet down inbounds with the ball in his possession prior to touching the pylon. In the former case, it is a TD while in the latter, it is an incomplete pass. The overriding rule is the need to get both feet down inbounds before hitting the pylon. From everything that I have been able to learn from NFL officials, it foot is required to touch in bounds.


A third call was the offensive pass interference in the end zone against Pittsburgh. That was an easy call as the receiver gained separation by pushing out with his arm. You don't have to move the defensive back to be called for OPI. Remember, the offensive player has the responsibility of avoiding the defensive player. We all made the same call before the Back Judge got his flag (which appeared to get stuck in his belt) out.

4. The call on the tackle by the QB on the runback was merely an interpretation of the rule that says that on a play where there is a change of possession, no one can block or make contact at the thigh or below with anyone other than the runner. This rule is there for safety reasons. Although the tackler got the ball carrier, it looked to us like he got one of the blockers as well. As a result, the call was considered reasonable.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:36pm

Let it be noted that Fisher didn't claim that the holding call was consistent with normal enforcement of the rule. If holding was enforced by the letter of the law, games would last 5 hours, and scoring more than 14 points would be unusual.

Claiming that a current NFL coach is a neutral, in terms of providng a critique of the officiating in a Super Bowl which he did not participate in, ignores quite a bit.

I've yet to hear a retired coach or player, who is not a current employee of the NFL, or one of it's teams, claim that the holding call was consistent with the normal enforcement of the rule. In contrast, I've heard several such people remark that the call is inconsistent with normal enforcement. Perhaps they all have secret agendas.

by 1 more blown call (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 12:41pm

Just to fan the fire of poor officiating, no one has mentioned the "incomplete pass" to (stephens?) on the seahawks where he took TWO steps AND cradled the ball before it was knocked out. Let's add the hasselback scramble (non)fumble where the ref's didn't blow the whistle. They *ALWAYS* blow the whistle when a QB slides and I was actually surprised that they didn't prematurely blow it when he stumbled/almost slid 8 or 9 yards before he finally did.

Come on, I've refereed before and I know it is NOT that hard to make the right call. Those two, the hasselback "chop block" tackle, and the non-call on the horsecollar were the TRUE show-stopping bad "calls" of the game, IMO. The other stuff was kinda ticky-tacky (I wouldn't have called pass interferance in the endzone on that one and big ben's could've gone either way).

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:00pm

Re: #694

I noticed one official who discussed the game ended with the following:
Although no game is perfect, this [the Superbowl] crew will probably get high grades for the job it did.

by Galen Osier (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:01pm

Big suprise here:

NFL says Super Bowl 'properly officiated'

Associated Press

The NFL defended the officiating in the Super Bowl on Tuesday, two days after the Steelers beat the Seahawks 21-10 in the NFL title game. The league said Tuesday that no mistakes were made by the game officials, although Seattle coach Mike Holmgren might disagree.

"The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls made by the officials," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement.

The officiating has been a the major topic of discussion since Sunday night. Right after the game, Holmgren suggested that the first-quarter offensive interference call on the Seahawks' Darrell Jackson, negating what would have been the game's first touchdown, probably should have been "a no call."

Holmgren, a former chairman of the NFL's rule-making competition committee, fueled the debate Monday during a rally for the Seahawks at Qwest Field when he said, "We knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:04pm

696, I think the reason for inattention to the Stevens incomplete/fumble was that, although it was a bad call, it didn't apparently affect the game. Seattle punted directly afterwards, resulting in (as always!) a touchback. Pittsburgh got the ball about where it would have had it on the fumble recovery, with basically no other variables in between. There was also a nonzero chance that fast-moving ball, if not blown dead, could have reached the sideline or been fielded badly and knocked out of bounds to give the Seahawks a first down in the red zone ... which would be a Grossman/play-clock type of "bad call" that actually would turn out to injure Seattle.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:04pm

Tequila, would you agree that out of 100 incidences of such contact between a offensive tackle and a perimeter pass rusher, as was witnessed by Leavy in this instance, the flag would come out far fewer than 50 times? I see out-and-out muggings take place not infrequently, right in front of referees, particularly in the 2nd half of games, that do not draw flags. My gut feeling, which certainly could be inaccurate, is that contact such as this draws a flag fewer than 10% of the time.

Calling holding is like calling balls and strikes; what is paramount above all else is consistency. I believe that standard was missed by a wide margin here. I'd love to see a truly neutral observer, say a recently retired offensive tackle, or defensive end known for his speed rush, and have them sit down with the digital recordings of a couple hundred randomly selected third and long pass plays, and get their judgement as to what percentage of time similar contact is flagged for holding.

I think enforcement of holding is one of the least publicly examined aspects of today's refereeing, and it would be an interesting study. Finally, I fully admit to being irritated by the holding call, not only because it is inconsistent with normal enforcement, but also because it deprived fans of what would have been a far more interesting finish.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:14pm

Yeah, smeghead, that was what was unusual about the incorrect call on the Stevens fumble; if called correctly, it actually had a non-trivial chance of benefitting the Seahawks gigantically, and very little chance of benefitting the Steelers significantly, since one would have to assume Farrior recovering in-bounds, and then making a pretty long return.

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:24pm

698: The NFL has shown that it is willing to call out bad officiating. It admitted error on the Polamalu INT against the Colts, and in the '02-'03 postseason (IIRC) it admitted error on the game-ending busted FG in Giants-49ers; and that last one was a play that potentially changed the outcome of the game. So I think it is significant that they say this game was well officiated.

As a Steelers fan, I'm not going to say that this game was perfectly officiated (or well played). Probably there were calls that could have gone the other way. But I see no justification whatsoever for the officiating to be the only story of the postgame. (People have even brought up the possibility of conspiracy in this very thread.)

If the officiating was so awful, why can't people point to more clear errors? As the referee linked in 694 said, the Roethlisberger TD could have gone either way; Jackson did push off; touching the pylon doesn't establish possession; and the hold on Locklear was a judgment call. The only clearly wrong call I see was the PF on Hasselback. So we're left arguing about inconsistent enforcement of the holding rule, which is just ridiculous and subjective.

Why are the neutral fans so angry about the refereeing? Well, look at 700: "I fully admit to being irritated by the holding call, not only because it is inconsistent with normal enforcement, but also because it deprived fans of what would have been a far more interesting finish." I don't think any neutral person likes seeing big dramatic plays overturned, especially when the call seems to come late. It seems like it's not letting the players play. (And that goes for the touchdown too, which seemed like a dramatic stop.) It would've been a more exciting game if the refs hadn't called holding. Similarly, it would've been a more exciting game if Hasseback hadn't thrown an interception later. But the officials' job isn't to deliver an exciting game.

Summary: One blown call, and two judgment calls that go the Steelers' way, should not be the story of the game; especially given the 11-point margin.

by Tequila (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:29pm

Will, all I have to go on is my own repeated TIVO views, the articles above, and a lot of Internet outrage, much of which was stimulated by Madden's view of the play.

I watched the initial play and was screaming "HOLDING!" The first angle of the play I watched showed Haggans beating the OT around the corner, the OT falling down as Haggans made his turn to sack Hasselbeck, and Haggans staggering as the OT's arm dragged at his shoulder.

I will grant that we see this play quite often in the NFL with no call because the refs miss it, and I as a former DE/LB/OG in high school am probably more sensitive to line play and holding calls than the average fan who never played or played another position. Nonetheless, I think it was enough of a hold that it certainly has been and could be called, and if the ref actually saw it occur as apparently happens then it SHOULD be called. I'd put it in the same category as the offensive PI in the 1st quarter --- yeah, it happens a lot with no call, if it's further away from the official who has a slightly worse angle it probably wouldn't be called, but it is still a rule infraction and if the official saw it he should call it. Note that the Seahawks didn't protest the holding call at all when it occurred (nor the pylon "TD" call).

by Vash (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:45pm

#685, that article shouldn't be trusted, because later on it says:

The league simplified the marking off of dead ball fouls. Before, there were three different pages of ways for an official to mark off a personal foul. Now, any dead ball fouls by an offensive team will be marked off 15 yards and a new first-and-10 series will begin. That eliminates a percentage of those first-and-25 plays.

Which would mean that if an offensive player committed a personal foul after an unsuccessful third-down play, the offense would revert to first down.

by Vash (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:50pm

688: But an unusual result in either direction is significant, so you also have to count 9 tails and 1 head, making it 50-to-1.

The odds of getting 7:3 in either direction, on the other hand, very high. (I don't have the time nor the inclination to calculate that now.)

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 1:56pm

Regarding the Stevens catch and fumble. NFL officials have given the benefit of the doubt to incomplete rather than catch and fumble throughout the whole year. This at least is consistent with how they've been calling the games.

No further mention of the ineligible man downfield penalty on #78 during 3rd and 28... so I guess everyone is just going to ignore it. What about the holding penalty the officials missed on Hines Ward during the Roethelisberger busted play?

I agree both the Lockyear hold and offensive pass interference are legitimate penalties... but it seems like there were some penalties on the Steelers the officials missed, whereas they caught all of the Seahakws penalties. Legitimately it could be that they missed them... but that's why there are 700 posts here.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:10pm

My contention, tequila, is that such contact is not called holding a substantial majority of the time, even when it happens right in front of an offcial. In fact, far worse holding infractions occur with some frequency right in front of an official, and don't result in a call. Like you, I watch interior line play far more than the average fan, often using tivo to watch many plays in slow motion several times, just so I can clearly see each offensive lineman's performance on an individual play. In my opinion, that interpretation of holding by Leavy is very substantially at odds with how the rule is normally enforced, and as I stated above, consistency is paramount with regard to enforcing holding.

Matt, why is it ridiculous to examine the consistency, or lack thereof, in the enforcement of holding? Does it not have substantial impact on the quality of a football game, in the same way that consistent interpretation of the strike zone has an impact on the quality of a baseball game?

Mind you, I'm not among those saying officiating was the critical element in the outcome, or implying conspiracy or other such nonsense, or saying that the PI call was wildly incorrect (I think such activity which occurs right in front of an official will draw the flag a substantial majoirty of the time), or that the Roethlisberger touchdown was anything but a coin flip. Offensive line play, however, is something I watch very closely, and in my not completely objective opinion, that call was substantially at odds with normal enforcement, which is why I'd be interested to see an attempt made to examine the entire phenomena of holding enforcement in as an objective manner as possible.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:20pm

703, were you screaming for Bryce Fisher, too?

If so, you might have gone hoarse.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:22pm

Theres a reason why everyone here is talking about the officiating - The game wasn't that good. This was just a bad Super Bowl. The game was relatively slow and boring, the officiating was awful, the commercials were bad, the half-time show was bad. There really wasn't a ton to talk about as far as the game went - The officiating, Willie Parker's big run, and Hines Ward/Ben Roethlisbergers completion on 3rd and forever.

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:29pm

Re: #669 The officiating in SB XL would have clearly been a huge story with or without the internet. What the hell else would sports talk radio and ESPN have been talking about this week?

As for the sports blogosphere’s performance this week, I have to disagree with you again. I think, on balance, it’s been terrific. Plenty of unedifying screaming, to be sure, but a wealth of informed debate, if you’re openminded and you know where to look (like FO!). My sense is that MOST of the non-partisans who’ve complained about the officiating have gone out of their way to express respect for all that Pittsburgh accomplished this year and to acknowledge that they made plenty of big plays and might have won the game even if the questionable calls had evened out.

by Tequila (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:32pm

708 - Actually I was hoarse after the game. I could barely talk for an hour after Steelers/Colts.

No, I wasn't yelling at Bryce Fisher, however. Too busy balling myself into a fetal position on the floor.

707 - I'd agree that substantially worse happens, occassionally in front of the official, and doesn't get a call. I'd also agree that holding is called very inconsistently throughout the league as a whole. I don't think that particular play was a particularly terrible hold, but I don't think it was substantially out of bounds as far as normal holding calls go. Haggans' rush and consequent stumble definitely stood out to me as I watched it, and I think the ref had the same reaction.

by Robert L. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 2:33pm

Another common theme of this board seems to be that since Seattle outgained Pittsburgh and "played better", it must have been the refs who caused them to lose. Anyone remember the 2003 game in which the Steelers were outgained 303-168 by the Browns and still won? Or a recent game in which Pittsburgh outgained Cincinnati by 150 yards and lost? Yardage is meaningless. If you can't score when you need to, or make too many mistakes, you lose.

by Monty (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:09pm

Will, Re 561, now you're just being silly. And defensive again. (What's next? 'I know what I am, but what are you?') If you don't see the longest run in SB history as defying the predictions of no long runs based on stats of no 15+ busts before, then there is little (not 0% ) hope of honestly evaluating your analysis. Maybe you did get it more right than wrong, I'd like to read that, rather than boohooing over flagrant PI in front of the back judge.

Perhaps the right thing to say is, FO can only predict probabilities, and that's fine, but why/how did those probabilities not bear out in this game? More interested in that instead of Holmgren's crybaby act. Especially now that the NFL came out and said the disputed calls were (mostly) reasonable, this whole article seems silly. Embarrassed for FO.

by Balaji (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:15pm

#712: Don't forget the game Tommy Maddox started against the expansion Texans in 2002 (?). Pittsburgh gained over 400 yards of offense and held the Texans to about 50, but lost because Maddox couldn't complete a pass to his own team.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:23pm

That is, in the SB they use the refs that were rated best at each position. Instead, I think they should use the best overall crew.

No, that is what they're doing. They started doing that in 2003. Where'd you read that on ESPN? They're not right on this... that was Leavy's crew.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:24pm

Holmgren's act was crybaby, and Joey Porter's was... manly?

Holmgren was playing to the crowd, get over it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:25pm

It is also illegal when an ineligible offensive player moves downfield without contacting an opponent at the line of scrimmage.

Moves downfield. If the lineman shoved a D-lineman five yards back, and then lets him go, he's not an illegal man downfield. He just can't continue downfield. The question here is where did the O-lineman lose contact with his defender.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:25pm

706, I'm not ignoring it, and I appreciate you catching it. I didn't notice it at the time and didn't record the game, so I'm just waiting on a pertinent clip or still.

After that ... *shrug* It's the play on which one could most legitimately say, "The call didn't affect anything; Seattle should have made the play."

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:28pm


People are saying that Seattle outplayed Pittsburgh because they had a better performance by DVOA, not because they "outgained" them.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:29pm

Regarding the horse-collar tackle:

Wikipedia has a decent section on it, and they point out (as is pointed out elsewhere, on NFL.com if memory serves) the section about "immediately" means that you can, in fact, use shoulder pads to slow someone. You just can't pull the person down immediately.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:36pm

Pat (#715) - see the link in my name. I thought it was the way you said it was until I read this. I found it earlier this morning from the front page (not sure if the link is still there it is on the NFL page) under the heading "NFL defends officiating."

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:38pm

Monty, please explain how quoting you, and demonstrating that the asssertion made in the quote was erroneous, is silly or defensive. Or is your making a content-free accusation of silliness, or endeavoring to mind-read, and thus attribute defensiveness to me, something that can be responded to any worthwhile way?

Let me try again. A single instance of an event which defies a prediction based on quantitative analysis does not necessarily demonstrate any flaw in the method of analysis, unless one has the silly expectation that the method can somehow eliminate randomness as a factor. Why are you being so silly and defensive?

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:43pm

A call should not be considered "bad" just because it is not always called (e.g. the OPI in the endzone, holding on Locklear, etc.).
When I'm driving on the highway, I'm almost always above the speed limit. I haven't gotten a ticket for it yet, but if/when I do, I won't blame the cop. I'll be unhappy about getting caught, but it's still my own damn fault.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:45pm

Re: dutch: Yes, I’m sure your Allentown PA radio station will be very fair and impartial to callers suggesting the Steelers got some gifts.

Incidentally, Allentown is eastern PA. That's Eagles country. How many Eagles fans do you think wanted Pittsburgh to win, so they could remind Philly that they have five Super Bowl rings to Philly's zero?

However, dutch is in fact completely crazy saying there wasn't a Polamalu-like mistake in that game. Sure there was - Hasselbeck's low block, for one - a call that was clearly and completely wrong according to the rules, but made anyway. The severity may seem less, but it's always hard to judge. While that drive ended in a touchdown, handing the ball back to the offense later merely resulted in a Bettis fumble. It's tough to say that wouldn't've still happened.

by Tony C (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:45pm

The holding call on Locklear is obviously the key play in the equation here. Say what you want about the earlier calls (FYI, I thought the PI call was right, never saw anything showing the punt return hold, thought Big Ben did get in on the replay, the block on Ben was clean and the Stevens inc/fumble was called right) or the Seahawks drops, clock management, etc., the fact is at that moment they HAD overcome all those problems and were about to grab the lead in the 4th quarter. The after-effects of the call were deadly, for immediating following you get the horsecollar no-call, followed by the interception and the poor blocking penalty. It can be said that Seattle still failed to overcome these issues, but those kind of deflating events are tough for any team to quickly overcome. Look at the Steelers/Colts game. Once the INT was overturned, did the Steelers D come back out and stone the Colts? No. The Colts O carved them up like butter to make it 21-18, then the Steeler O even went 3 and out. It took awhile for the Steelers to get their legs back under them. That the Steelers caught the Hawks napping on the trick play shortly after the turnover was not surprising in that respect. It's why a lot of coaches like to throw the deep ball immediately after creating a turnover. The other team is reeling and vulnerable. Only in this case it had more to do with the officiating than the other team's play.

Now about the holding call. I've watched the play over and over, along with the replay Madden commented on, and I still don't see the hold. I see Haggans getting a great jump (offsides? it was close, along with the nosetackle. Frame by frame you can see a slight crossing of the ball early, but if you blink you'd probably miss it) but I also see Locklear moving his feet well and delivering the initial shove just below Haggans throat. If you watch the replay angle you can see that Locklear has decent, but not great position. His right hand provides the shove on Haggans, and you can see their helmets are very close together, with Locklear's arm clearly within his framework. The shove knocks Haggans offstride for a split second, but he keeps his feet working and is really leaning hard into Locklear. At this point Haggans is faced like he's running east-west, while Locklear is facing north-south. What strikes me at this point is how well Locklear keeps his feeting moving. His initial setup was at the twenty, he engages Haggans at the twenty-one, and keeps his feet going for FIVE yards, finally disengaging and falling to the turf at the twenty-six, with Haggans now at about the twenty-seven, a yard behind and four yards right of Hasselback, who's starting to step forward to make his throw.

I just don't see the hold. It looks to me like Locklear did an excellent job keeping his feet going and riding Haggans past the pocket. Haggans also did a great job keeping his balance and continuing to work to the QB, he was just a hair late.

Also, if you have the video, stop it just at the point before Hasselback delivers the throw, and look at the positions of Jones and Smith on the left side. It's almost identical to how Locklear and Haggans looked earlier. To me it didn't look like textbook holding, it looked like textbook blocking of a speed rusher try to beat you to the edge.

Now throw in the fact that only 1 holding call had been made up to then, on what was an obvious drag and tackle by the Seahawks RG. In Locklear's case there was no tackle (Haggans was released to continue to the QB), he engaged in a tight position, and he kept moving (six YARDS of blocking). The main things working against Locklear were that a) the play was out in open space, and b) Haggans made a terrific effort to actually get near Hasselback. But I think he got a bum rap here. And a very costly one too.

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:52pm

Re: #723

It's not so much that any of the individual calls was awful on the scale of the overturned Polamalu INT or the Samuel PI vs Denver. Almost all of the disputed calls can be defended to one degree or another. It's that virtually every marginal call went against Seattle.

It doesn't matter if it were random (most likely) or a conspiracy or whatever. The net impact of all of these coinflips going one way made things easier for Pittsburgh and harder for Seattle.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:52pm

James: Which... is in direct contradiction to the rules listed here. That's... bizarre.

I can't find a list of what Leavy's crew was during the year, so I can't tell if this is a misunderstanding.

Then again, the rules changes I read elsewhere said "mostly" together, so maybe that applies only to the non-Super Bowl games, and then the Super Bowl is an "all-star" ref game.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 3:54pm

Almost all of the disputed calls can be defended to one degree or another.

No - there's no way to defend that Hasselbeck block call. It's just wrong. That's what I meant by "on the scale of Polamalu's interception" - one that's just a wrong reading of the rules.

by JMM (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:02pm

RE 728
Quoted from 694: http://www.insidefootball.com/int/askofficial.html

Please let me know your thoughts on the comments here on the low tackle/block.

by Monty (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:06pm

Will -- sure thing, it's silly and defensive because a) you are misreading my posts, which were a request to put the game into a statistical analysis rather than boo-hooing about refs, which is silly, b) you are committing a logical error by asserting that my point about the long run prediction is wrong (it aint) and that even if it were that one wrong point invalidates my whole argument, silly again, and c)you are being defensive by assuming my posts are an attack on DVOA. Silly and defensive are judgement calls, perhaps you feel you have been sober and even-minded -- we'll just have to disagree. Ultimately, silly of both of us to argue over a football game. I don't think you are a bad analyst or a Seattle fan or whatever, I just want to see more takes on things like Vash's post above.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:20pm

So, it's, like Wednesday. Just throwing that out there.

Anyone think they are going to convince someone else three days and 730 posts later?

Just a suggestion that arguing might be counterproductive at this point. Several thousand words have been written about plays that add up to less than a minute of real time.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:21pm

Well said, 725. I think it's also the psychological crux for the sort of disgust/despair/vitriol that you see on, for instance, Florio's site the morning after, and in some of the argument here.

Before that sequence, the refereeing doesn't seem that off. PI -- marginal, maybe, and rarely called, but certainly callable. Ben -- the ref looks bad running in as if to spot the ball and then apparently changing his mind, but the call itself is certainly defensible, and as someone else pointed out here, "the poor dude had to rule something." Either ruling would be upheld by the inconclusive replay and by definition it would seem like a tough call to the other team.

But on this drive, a heroic march from the shadow of their own goalposts destined to be set to anthemic trumpets on NFL Films, you get the gut punch of a call about which the best that could be said is that much worse has been let go throughout the game, followed immediately by the horsecollar (which, yes, they never call, but you're thinking, "after that ticky-tack hold they just called, nothing for this?!"), followed immediately by the horrible low block, followed immediately by the dagger that changes a tossup game into a done deal. Anyone would feel cheated by that sequence, and it casts what preceded it in a different light. Now that phantom punt return hold earlier has gone from "once is coincidence" to "twice is a trend," and all the uncalled holds on Pittsburgh look like a jobbing instead of "let 'em play."

I said before the game in another context that these storylines are things we attach post hoc to an array of data points. Nobody seriously thinks it was a plot, or probably even that there was any appreciable subconscious bias. That doesn't mean that several coincidentally connected calls by different referees didn't have the effect tilting the playing field in a very noticeable spot; that leaves neutral observers with a very bad taste in their mouths and partisans (of which I am one) outright gagging.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:22pm

Please let me know your thoughts on the comments here on the low tackle/block.

The problem here is the comment "it looked to me like he got one of the blockers as well", which is a crazy comment - he's allowed to go after the ball carrier low, but if any blockers trip over him after he's on the ground, it's illegal?

It's entirely possible that this was the right call strictly by the rules, in which case it's not so bad - but it's still a bad interpretation of the rules, as it rewards a blocker for doing something intentionally stupid (running into someone already on the ground).

by J (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:24pm


Agree, it should not have been called; however, some Steeler (maybe Faneca) was called for the same type of play earlier in the season. I thought that call was bad...he tackled the ball carrier (after a turnover), but between the ball carrier and the would be tackler(Faneca??) there was another player. This player was not hit by the Steeler (Faneca??).

It was nearly identical to the play in the SB, which leads me to believe there must be some rule or an interpretation of some rule which mandates a flag be thrown.

On a different topic, how do you all think Big Ben will bounce back from this game?

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:26pm

Anyone think they are going to convince someone else three days and 730 posts later?


Just to point out, however, that in the span of those 730 posts, someone has:

1: linked to an article (from 2001) which seemed to suggest that Jackson was in bounds by its wording
2: had the accuracy of that article questioned out by several other sources
3: finally found an article by an actual official that explains the rule clearly, showing that the play was fine.

So I dunno - there are people arguing randomly back and forth, but there are also people who're continuing to dig up useful information.

For instance, I will now know to never trust a John Clayton quote again in my life. Okay, that's not new news...

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:35pm

#726 - What I am saying is that not all of the "disputed" calls deserve to be disputed. (E.g. I agree with #728 that the call on Hasselbeck's tackle was just wrong.)

Most of the postings regarding the OPI, and some of the other calls, maintain that the refs made a "bad call" because equivalent fouls are not usually called, even though technically it was a foul. My point is that the right call is the right call. Yes, we would all be happier if the calls were more consistent, but if that is your argument against the d-jax OPI (for example), then you should be complaining about the refs *missing* the call in the other situations, not that they *shouldn't* have called it in this one.

by Vash (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:37pm

695: Will, that's an obvious sample bias of voluntary response. Since most games are adequately officiated, these retired coaches and players are not inclined to go out of their way to say the officiating of a game was acceptable, even if that is what they think.
On the other hand, those who think it is poor are likely to be far more vocal.
Voluntary response bias: When one group is more likely to respond than another because of their response, the result is often a bias in favor of the minority.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:37pm

Monty, I don't really enjoy belaboring this, but now I'm truly curious: Do you or do you not cite one instance of a long run as being evidence of DVOA analysis falling short?

If your answer is "no", well, we have had an exchange over a fundamental misunderstanding of what your post asserted, although I think a reasonable interpretation of what you wrote does not lead to this conclusion.

If your answer is "yes", it can only be fairly concluded that you are just wrong about how quantitative analysis works, or you don't appreciate what the creators of DVOA have always conceded regarding it's limits under even perfect application. Why the heck would I be defensive about DVOA? It ain't my project.

Finally, what logical error did I make, precisely?

by Tony C (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:40pm

732, excellent analysis, I agree whole-heartedly. BTW thanks for reading my long-winded post.

by JMM (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:42pm


For those who want another look at OPI. See Hope hop (backwards.)

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:43pm

Rob (736), how does complaining about places where the refs behaved inconsistently somehow become contradictory when saying refs missed calls?

I at least am saying that if the game was called consistently, either we would have had more PI calls or that one OPI wouldn't have been called. If it was called consistently, there would have been a LOT more holding calls or the hold against Locklear wouldn't have been called. I would have been fine either way - either the refs can make those calls, or they can't, but they should do so in all situations.

The whole thing that I'm angry about is the inconsistent officiating. I'm not even angry about the whole one-sided angle, because in the end it doesn't matter to me.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:47pm

RE: 603

but here you are making an "implied" Assumtion that the Steelers would have gotten the ball back at overtime. The had a 50-50 shot of getting it. Also if they had run the fumble back for a touchdown (now be careful here because I am about to use some big words) "momentum" would be squarely in the favor of Indy. Also OT is jsut about who is the least tired, think about it. Both teams have been scrapping for 60 min giving it thier all, the least tired team wins.

Listen, I have been a Green Bay fan for as long as I can remmber watching football (1980) I have always supported my team through thick and thin. I see alot of that going on right now with the Seahwaks and the Steelers. We must ALL realize that the way the Officating is going right now is down the tubes. The NFL as a whole must make the rules less open for human interpretation and make them more straight forward as well. I think that if the NFL would clarify alot of things PI, Holding, the pylon, goaline in relation to the ball, fumble by opposing team going through the endzone, etc. and place cameras at both goalines, along with making the challenge rules a little less vaugue then we would get a better quality product. I realize that Ref's have a very diifcult job, but as an optmist I would really like to belive that the NFL could do these thigs so the "Fans" would not have to see a game go either way if a Ref, Side Judge, or whoever makes a bad call. Ref's are human too and they are prone to mistakes like all of us, however it pains me to see that the qulity of Refing a game is going so downhill.

As far as the Steelers go, they won hands down, no buts after this congrats to them and I hope all of you Steelers fans out there enjoy this win.

As far as the Seahawks go, you fought a tough game, however you had plenty of opportunities to close out this game early and did not capitalize on them. do not try and blame bad refing on bad decisions made by
1.) your head coach
2.) your Offensive Cooordinator
3.) your Quarterback

Can we please just move on now?

by Don Denkinger (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 4:56pm

The holding call looked spotty from the angle that we saw on ABC. But how many people clainmng that it definitely wasn't / definitely was holding have seen the game film from several angles, including the one of the official that threw the flag? How many people claiming that 'that PI is never called' can provide any concrete examples? How many people claiming that there was a 'block in the back' on Ben can demonstrate a similar instance when such a block is called? (It seems that intercetption returns are governed by a considerably laxer set of blocking rules than, say, punt returns). How many people expressing a definitive view on the pylon call actually know what the relevant rule is? How many people claiming 'virtually all neutrals say the refs sucked and all the calls went against Seattle' have read the TMQ and King Kaufamnn pieces? Sure, Skip Bayless says the refs were a joke...ergo it must be true?

As one recent poster disclaimed, nothing will be settled that hasn't already been after 750 posts. We live in a world of few absolutes other than death and taxes, but one of them is likely that when someone claims that they 'absolutely' know something on the basis of their own observation or limited (e.g., single camera angle) evidence, without providing corroboration....well, you know that they are lying.

PS While DVOA is certainly a useful statistical framework, it would appear to take a linear approach to a set of nonlinear outcomes....eg it will tend to underweight the significance of big plays. DVOA rates the Colts higher than the Steelers a few weeks ago, and I didn't hear many people claim that the Colts outplayed the Steelers. Most honest evaluators, I think, would suggest that the teams were relatively evenly matched. Ergo, I wouldn't bet the ranch on Seattle's higher weighting ; nor would I point to the final score as a clear indicator of the Steelers'superiority.

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 5:01pm

#714 - I am not saying that the refs did a great job, I'm just making a point about the nature of the complaints. As you said, what is needed is more consistency...but that doesn't make Jackson's touchdown legit. The ref that made that call did *not* screw up (that call). He made the right call at the right time - it's not his fault that it's a call that is often missed. As in my earlier post, if I get caught speeding, the cop that catches me was just doing his job. The fact that I have sped 100 other times without being caught doesn't have anything to do with him.
It just so happens that that particular ref was in perfect position to make the right call on a *huge* play. But there's a reasonable chance that the huge play doesn't happen without the push-off.
You are absolutely justified in complaining that the refs should call things consistently, but what's really important is that they be consistently correct.

by Phil (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 5:02pm

I'll see your big word and raise you two big words: "reading comprehension." I didn't say anything about the Steelers getting the ball in OT. I said that even if Harper had returned the fumble for the TD, the Steelers still would have gotten the ball back with about a minute left in regulation. Antwaan Randle El can't return a kick for a TD? Vanderchoke can't kick a ball out of bounds, giving it to us at the 40? Yes, at that point, the Colts would have m-o-m-e-n-t-u-m but the Steelers still would have had a chance to win in regulation, whether you believe it or not.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 5:05pm

RE: 745

Sorry my eyes were starting to blur after about post 500 about the lousy refs. I was just saying that the outcome is the outcome steelers won and that is that because they did the little things to win the game.

I hate to go on what if's, I don't like them never have never will that why I gave your boys (I can assume correctly that your are a steelers fan right?)
props in the same post no buts about it.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 5:06pm

Sure, that's a possibility, Vash, and I would give it stronger credence if even just one recently retired coach or lineman not in the employ of the NFL or one of it's teams would say the call was consistent with how holding is normally enforced. The bias should not completely eliminate one type of response, and thus it is not unreasonable to conclude, in combination with other evidence, like one's own observation, which is admittedly not without problems, that the call was at odds with normal enforcement of holding.

Like I said, I'd love to have a panel of recently retired line coaches and linemen view a few hundred randomly selected pass plays, without knowledge of whether a penalty was called, and have them pick fifty or so interactions which they thought were similar to what took place on Sunday, and then see what percentage of the fifty actually resulted in penalty.

This would give us real insight, although certainly not definitive, as to the consistency of holding calls in general, and perhaps lead to some suggestions for improvement. If it turns out (and I don't think it would) that such interactions are nearly always flagged if the official has an excellent angle, but they only occasionally do, it might suggest that adding an extra official to observe line play would improve consistency. I think this is a stronger possibility with paas interference calls, so this is an idea that may have broader applications.

by bleyle (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 5:11pm

some more clarification on the low block from TMQ Reader Animadversion...an abusrd call, but technically the right call? i rememeber being flabbergasted when i saw this call in the steelers-colts game:

"Yesterday I wondered how Matt Hasselbeck could have been called for "low block" on the same play on which he was credited with a tackle. Andy Neidlinger of Wayne, Pa., was among many to note that in the Pittsburgh at Indianapolis regular-season game, Jeff Hartings of the Steelers was called for low block in the same situation. After an interception, he went low to get past a defender and take down the intercepting player, and was called for low block and credited with the tackle simultaneously. See the Game Book entry at 27 seconds in the second quarter. Jim Haywood adds Bill Leavy was the referee in both the Super Bowl and that game. The rule says that following a change of possession, neither team may block below the waist. On both penalties, Hasselbeck and Hartings made low contact with a defender for the intercepting team, then legally tackled the intercepting player. It sounds to yours truly like an offseason rules clarification is in order. The rule against low blocks during turnovers, designed to prevent defensive players turned into blockers from blocking low in the open field and causing injuries, should be clarified to apply only to blocks, not to attempts to break past a blocker and tackle the ballcarrier. "

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 5:12pm

The only thing that annoyed me about Jackson's pylon catch was that it wasn't booth reviewed. It really should have been. In a game like this, it's close enough to look a second time.

by hrudey (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 5:46pm

Re: 700 (and I've stopped reading, so I apologize). Tony Boselli meets your criteria of a recently retired lineman, and he has said flat out that that hold should not have been called on the radio this morning (though he's said it for a few days). If that "hold" were called only a third of the time that it happened, games would be 4 1/2 hours long at a minimum.

by Don Denkinger (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:03pm

Re 749: IF (and this is a big if) the rule is such that the pylon has no relevance either way, then there was really no basis for review, as Jackson pretty clearly did not get both feet down on the (literal) field of play.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:08pm


It's not a big "if". See the article linked at #729, which contains the wording with regards to the pylon. It's always "two feet in, you're in, else, you're out." So no review was needed.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:10pm

I at least am saying that if the game was called consistently, either we would have had more PI calls or that one OPI wouldn’t have been called.

As King Kauffman has stated, OPI like that does not occur often without being called. He's openly asked for people to send him examples of it occurring without being called in a game. If you think that people get away with that often, maybe you should send him a clip of it occurring.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:11pm

Vanderchoke can’t kick a ball out of bounds, giving it to us at the 40?

And psst: Vanderjerk doesn't kick off. If he does, he should just kick it out of bounds, as it'd be longer than his kickoff last year versus the Patriots ended up being.

Fire Mike Vanderjagt!

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:13pm

750 - I would take the testimony of an offensive lineman with a grain of salt, in this case. If ever someone is going to be biased regarding holding calls, it would be an O- (or D-)lineman.
That would be like asking Michael Irvin about OPI. Oh, wait...

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:31pm

re: 754

I think we have all agreed on that point that Mike Vaderchoke needs to go

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:34pm


I have been posting here for a while now, how the heck do I get the quotes I pull from the article or from other peoples posts to "Italisize"?

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:40pm
by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:41pm

well that did not work

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:42pm

blockquote cite="well that did not work"

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:43pm

crud niether did that.

by G Waugaman (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 6:51pm

Re. 725 and follow-ons:

Agreed that the Locklear holding call is the key officiating decision of the game; most of the rest of the calls/non-calls in the game amounted to background noise. Especially given the eventual result of the possessions/drives/etc., and that all other calls appeared arguably correct (except for the low block call, which was of more minimal impact-- 15 yards of field position of the 71 yards needed to score a TD).

You also provide a detailed description of the Locklear holding play, except that even on the ABC replay, I see Locklear's hand still on Haggans' right shoulder and from behind, as Haggans is finally releasing. Everything up to that point was fine, but right or wrong, I believe this "hooking" is what the referee saw in making this call. Was it enough to warrant the holding call? Well, Haggans was twisted and eventually goes down to his knees, not far from Hasselbeck. Agreed that this chain of events is something that you might see at least a few times over the course of a football game, but I do believe that the hook/fall in the vicinity of the QB was the rationale for the call.


by Jerry (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 7:24pm

Re #757:

less-than i greater-than to start italics, /i inside the brackets to stop italicizing.

And the Jerry Markbreit Super Bowl column is linked on my name. He agrees with the crew on the field.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 7:46pm

thank you so much I have been trying to figure this out for a while now

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:12pm


I would take the testimony of an offensive lineman with a grain of salt, in this case. If ever someone is going to be biased regarding holding calls, it would be an O- (or D-)lineman.
That would be like asking Michael Irvin about OPI. Oh, wait…

That was too good but a great point, every postion player in the NFL will argue on what should be called and waht should not be called.

by The Other Vlad (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:16pm
by jmathews (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:17pm

Going into the game my take was that if the Seahawks executed the way they had throughout the season, I saw no way that PIT would beat them. I saw nothing on Sunday to make me change my mind on that view.

The refs did not cost Seattle the game, they kept the game close. Seattle's lack of execution cost them them game. Specifically it was Steven's drops, Hasslebeck's misfiring of the long ball, and Boulware's misplaying of those long plays. Even with the bad calls I saw no evidence of:
1. Pittsburgh's vaunted defense stopping Seattle's offense- Seattle stopped themselves with drops and bad throws and penalties but Hasslebeck wasn't hurried and the drops were inexcusable.
2. Pittsburgh's offense being able to put together any sort of decent drive on the Seattle defense with anything resembling consistency. They couldn't run or pass consistently all night. Seattle's defense played well and PIT had to resort to gimmicks and broken plays to move the ball.

If Seattle had not uncharacteristically (for this season at least) executed poorly, they would have won this game even with the bad calls. If they had executed and not had the bad calls, they would have routed PIT and it wouldn't have been close.

(FWIW, Bucs fan)

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:24pm

Even with the bad calls I saw no evidence of:
1. Pittsburgh’s vaunted defense stopping Seattle’s offense- Seattle stopped themselves with drops and bad throws and penalties but Hasslebeck wasn’t hurried and the drops were inexcusable.

Thats what I said in my previous posts

As far as the Seahawks go, you fought a tough game, however you had plenty of opportunities to close out this game early and did not capitalize on them. do not try and blame bad refing on bad decisions made by
1.) your head coach
2.) your Offensive Cooordinator
3.) your Quarterback

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:29pm

Re: 763
He didn't directly disagree with the crew, but I'd hardly say he agrees with the crew. Markbreit didn't provide a direct answer to the OPI or the Holding calls... other than to say "Officials should be certain a foul was committed". No comment was made on the Roethelisberger plane call.

He did provide satisfying answers to the pylon play, down by contact on Hasselbeck, and personal foul (which is within the rules but still seems like a dumb rule). I wasn't aware the replay official looks at the play and then buzzed the referee to "challenge" the result.

I'm going to re-iterate, a penalty should've been called on Steelers #78 on the Roethelisberger pass to Ward on 3rd and 28. He was 2 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, then jumped back smartly as Ben threw the ball. Of course it's "ticky tack" to call, but well within the boundaries of other calls that were made. I think this is the strongest case Seahawks can make for poor officiating. Even though I felt the other calls were "ticky tack", they were within the bounds of what is illegal.

by jmathews (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:31pm

It reminds me of what my coach told me back in high school when I tried to blame the refs. He said that unless you are playing a perfect game you have no one to blame but yourself. Only after your have done everything perfectly and you still lose can you look outside yourself for a cause. Seahawks don't pass that test even to a casual observer.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 8:47pm

The holding call against Seattle was bogus, the low block against Hasselbeck was also bogus, but otherwise, I was fine with the officiating (spoken like a true Steelers fan)

OK, but the holding call was the one call that screwed up the game beyond recognition. 14 point swing, and any momentum Seattle has was destroyed.

by SF Yinzer (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:08pm

14-point swing? Bullshit. Pittsburgh turned 2nd-and-20 (and 3rd-and-28) into a touchdown, and even if Ben didn't get in on 3rd, he was sure as hell going to get in on 4th.

The refs didn't make Hasselbeck take a sack or throw an interception - 1st and 20 sucks but is far from an automatic punt.

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:11pm

Re: 728 Note that I said "almost" all of the calls can be defended to some degree.

The Hasselbeck low block call might be the hardest of the controversial SB calls to defend and it might be technically as bad or almost as bad as the Polamalu INT overturn, but its consequences, 15 yards of field position, while not insignificant, had nowhere near the impact of the Polamalu play (change of possession at a critical point in the game) or the Samuel PI call (39 yards of prime field position, handing the Broncos their first score).

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:14pm

BTW, Rouen is the goat of the game, even over Stevens. Stevens at least made two plays. TD catch and a near TD catch, that would have set them up 1st and goal at the 1.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:15pm

I’m going to re-iterate, a penalty should’ve been called on Steelers #78 on the Roethelisberger pass to Ward on 3rd and 28. He was 2 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, then jumped back smartly as Ben threw the ball.

Do you know where he was when he lost contact with his defender? When Markbreit states "a yard past the LOS" he actually means "a yard past his LOS", that is, a yard deeper downfield than where he lost contact with the defender.

If he drove the defender back about two yards, and then let him go, that's not illegal man downfield.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:17pm

had nowhere near the impact of the Polamalu play (change of possession at a critical point in the game)

Tough to say. The Steelers got possession back via a different turnover later - the turnover by downs - and promptly fumbled the ball away. They were also stopped and forced to punt once before. It's tough to say that the Polamalu interception would've killed the Colts right then and there.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:23pm

RE: 772

The call on Locklear. No idea what you're talking about.

by Ken (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 9:55pm

Re: 771,772 - The Locklear hold call wasn't striclty speaking a 14 point swing. It didn't negate a TD from my memory of the game (the receiver was tackled at the 1 yd line) They might have scored a TD from there... Then again they might have scored after the penalty. They didn't.

Did anyone else think Mike Holmgren grousing about Ben's TD going into the half was inappropiate? I can't remember a coach ever complaining during a game about a borderline call. Myself and several other people I was with thought he was pretty rattled and the Seahawks were in trouble in the 2nd half.

by SF Yinzer (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 10:06pm

Right, the call on Locklear. After which, they had 1st-and-20 at the Pittsburgh 30 yard line, down by 4 points. That's still field goal range, with three downs to either increase their chances or even go for seven. Instead, Hasselbeck throws an interception, gets penalized, Pittsburgh picks up ten yards in a couple of plays, then the Seattle defense gets burned by a trick play.

None of what happened between the holding and the Pittsburgh touchdown had to happen or was even likely to do so; hence my objection to the "14-point swing" characterization.

Now, you might say that Seattle was so demoralized by being put into the horrible position of 1st-and-20 at the other guy's 30 yard line, down by 4, with 12 minutes to go, that it's totally understandable for them to collapse; but a team that gives up in that situation, IMHO, doesn't deserve to win.

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 11:00pm

775, re 769: Do you know where he was when he lost contact with his defender?

I just watched the NFL highlight clip of this and he isn't engaged with a defender at all; he just wanders down the field, and as Matthew Furtek says, jumps back when he sees that Roethlisberger is going to throw. So fair do's to Matthew, looks like he was illegally downfield on the play. It's understandable that the refs didn't see it, since there was no action in that part of the field, but Seattle would have a case there.

(Caveat: I'm not sure if the rules change when the QB is scrambling out of the pocket. I think the illegal contact rules change when the QB leaves the pocket, not sure about man downfield rules. Vash, especially in re 674, do you have anything?)

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 11:53pm

#78 starts strattled between the 40 and 41. He is the right tackle. Seattle is only rushing 3. The #94 rushes up field and #78 contacts around the 43. He engages and they block until the 46. At that point Roethelisberger looks like he's going to scramble, so #94 runs back downfield. #78 then runs forward to the 38, realizes he is back and jumps back as Ben throws.

I was hoping NFL.com would have a different angle, but they have the same feed.

by Mentos (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2006 - 11:58pm

We know the refs sucked. What I want to know is why. Were they under the influence of any substances? Are they Steelers fans? Does the NFL have random drug testing for the referees? We need to find this stuff out and stop rehasing plays of SB XL, because that is getting very boring.

by Andrew (A.B.) (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 12:39am

Re: 769

I'm positive that the rule is (or was) that lineman can advance up to five yards beyond the line of scrimmage before being considered illegally downfield. I can't find any evidence on this, though.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 1:46am

Re: #783

Here was the rule back in 1994, straight from my copy of the NFL rulebook:

It is a foul when an ineligible offensive player, prior to a legal forward pass:
(a) advances beyond his line, after losing contact with an opponent at the line of scrimmage;
(b) loses contact with an opponent downfield after the initial charge and then continues to advance or move laterally; or
(c) moves downfield without contacting an opponent at the line of scrimmage.

These restrictions end when the ball leaves the passer's hand.

So if there once was this mythical "5 yard" rule, it was gone by 1994.

by JMM (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 10:16am
by Phil (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 11:36am

Ok, truce. Yes, a life-long Steelers fan. Too young to see SB IX and X but I remember SB XIII and XIV quite well. Been waiting a long time to get one for the thumb. Need to start working on the other thumb now. Btw, I rooted for the Packers in their last two SB appearances, so we're cool.

by Steelers Rool! (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 1:30pm

Yeah, baby! We got one for the thumb! Now Yinz just gotta make sure it don't slide off and get stuck in my bum crack.

Now all I need is 5 teeth!


by J.S. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 1:36pm

RE 786

Yea and I feel i will be old and gray by the time my packers get back to the superbowl, what will it be XLI? lets see they went to I and II and then XXXI and XXXII so, yep thier next superbowl apperance will be in XLI!!!

we still need one for the pinky or index finger take your pick. lets just hope your Steelers do not suffer from a wack happy off season like we did last year and maybe you will be able to go back to back.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 1:41pm

RE: 784
Here was the rule back in 1994, straight from my copy of the NFL rulebook:

yea but that was 12 years ago, i am pretty sure that they review the rule book every year right? so they may have a slightly different version of that by now.

Damn I wish I was John Madden, you know he gets a rule book every year. has to or how else would he be able to interpret the play and the calls....
of course I think he likes the word "horsecollar" a bit to much but oh well...

by lewis (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 2:47pm

For those that think the game was fixed, I am with you. But I am not complaining. Before the game started I guessed the games was fixed so that either the Steelers will win by at least 10 points, or the Seahawks wins by 3 or 4 points. I was right.

by Phil (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 6:08pm

Well, the Steeler's offseason just got off to a very good start. Ken Whisenhunt has pulled his name from consideration for the Raiders head coach vacancy. Very smart move on his part. All we have to do now is sign Randle El and get Duce Staley healthy and we should be in excellent shape to defend the title.

Packers will be all right. I know someone who thought free agency would Green Bay in the 90's, but signing Reggie White was the beginning of their second golden era. A couple of good drafts, a couple smart free agent signings, and you'll right back in the playoffs. Just look at da Bears.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 6:37pm

RE: 19

Would the Steelers have gotten better field position than their own 20 as a result? Doubtful.

Finally, down by contact does not have to be a tackle. If he's going down and he's touched, it's down by contact. What's embarrassing is that the refs screwed up the call initially, forcing Seattle to waste a challenge.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 7:11pm

re: 791

I know, I know "just have a little faith baby" has been my matra(sp?) for a long time and when I finally did get to see my team in the superbowl and win it it was great. I just hope Arron Rodgers is the next Favre for Green Bay not the next "Magic" Majowksi(sp?) (shows you how much I remember the early 90's, just can't spell that idiots name)

by Rob (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 7:11pm

#472 - great analysis of the game.

Yes some calls went against Seattle in the game but most were warranted. If it were played "by the book" then Seattle's best play (the interception runback) would have been negated by an illegal block in the back.

What surprises me the most is the difference in class of the coaches. When the Indy game was nearly lost by what the NFL admitted was a bad call (Polamalu INT), Cowher rebuked his own player (Porter) for blasting the refs. On the other hand, while many Seattle players showed more class, the classless, arrogant control-freak Holmgren blasted the refs at the Seahawks rally.

The fact is that the refs are human and mistakes are made. Sometimes the calls all seem to go one way, as they did in 2001 for the Patriots starting with the "tuck rule". If you are a football team and you do not want the game determined by close calls, then play better football.

I think it is obvious that LeBeau had the scheme to shut down the fabled and overrated west coast offense. Unlike 1988, he has no players the caliber of Montana, Rice, Craig, and co. I am starting to think that this offense may never win a super bowl as long as half the league is playing it (more practice for the defenses to shut it down) and there are not enough Montanas or Steve Youngs to go around.

Considering that Pitt won playing one of their worst games all year, I think the NFC is so weak that any of the six AFC teams could have beaten the Seahawks.

by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 8:21pm

I'd like to refer this discussion to the comment linked on my name, since it seems more appropriate here.

by Vash (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 9:10pm

#792: This complaint is ridiculous. NOBODY saw Foote touch Hasselbeck, because he barely grazed him. It's a perfectly acceptable non-call, and the lost challenge (1) was never used, and (2) is irrelevant if they got the second right too.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2006 - 11:01pm

It turned out not to matter, but it could have cost them.

by Don (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 1:33am

What is this I hear about Leavy and Cowher being old school-mates? If it's a true story the NFL oughta pick up a terrible towel and throw a penalty. And how does a team (Pittsburgh) get only 3 penalties thrown at it in an NFL game? Two of the penalties were obvious false starts. Come on. Does anyone really think any team on any given Sunday commits only 3 penalties? It's gonna take a lifetime for me to believe there wasn't some kind of motive for the refs and the NFL to make life a living hell for the Hawks. The only way around something like that is to re-sign the free agents, bring Alexander back and do it again nexr year. This time play a game that Leavy and his crew of flakes can't throw.

by Vash (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 2:34am

797: But it didn't, so why is there a complaint about it?

And does anyone disagree that the contact was far from obvious, therefore making the call on the field perfectly reasonable?

by Joel Dias-Porter (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 3:23am

#799 I do.

by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 11:58am

Post 794 got it exactly right. The best cure for poor officiating is to play better football. If the Seahawks are for real, they will learn from their SB mistakes and win it all next year. Until then, let it go.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 6:31pm

RE: 38

And I do think that Stevens’ non-fumble was as egregious a miscall as some of the other ones being brought up.

Maybe, but that play didn't have much of an impact. Would Pittsburgh have recovered the ball with significantly better field position than their own 20? No. If Farrior had been able to recover it inbounds, where would they have started their drive? Keep in mind that the ball went flying downfield when Stevens lost it.

by Joel Dias-Porter (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 9:04pm

#799 Actually, I don't. It was almost impossible to see in real time.

by Joel Dias-Porter (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 9:07pm

Actually I'd like to end this horrible thread (in which I gleefully participated) with this thought . . .

Worst. . . SuperBowl. . . . Analysis . . .. Ever.

by Mentos (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 10:56pm

Re: 804. I thought the commentary here was boring after the first 246 or so posts. Really, what we need to do is find out if there is random drug testing of referees. If not, I may have to stop watching NFL games.

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 11:26pm

re: 799 Look, if the situation in this game were exactly reversed and the Steelers had both lost a relatively close game AND seen the other team get the benefit of the doubt on virtually every close call, I have little doubt you would have been screaming and tearing your hair out all week. Metaphorically, anyways.

Obligatory Steeler Troll disclaimer: I think the Steelers might well have won without one for the thumb on the scales of justice. My gut feeling is that Pittsburgh was a more deserving champion, for many reasons. It's just unfortunate Seattle didn't get a fair shake in the SB.

by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 12:35am

803: My point exactly.

by SteelerBill (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 9:21pm

Did anyone catch the Seahawks radio broadcast of the game where they stated that it 'was holding'? You can hear it on NFL Network Game of the Week....

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 10:28pm

Rick S (#196 )--
Bottom Line Pittsburgh fans, it is unprecidented to have this kind of controversy following a Super Bowl.
You missed the Raider, Steeler, and Ram fans, all howling conspiracy theories after Superbowl 36.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 10:48pm

Re #809

Wow, totally wrong thread. Sorry about that.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 11:10pm

Click my name for the Big Ben play which got called a TD. Did anyone see Faneca tackling Hill? If that isn't holding, then Locklear's play sure as hell wasn't.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 3:11pm

And how does a team (Pittsburgh) get only 3 penalties thrown at it in an NFL game? Two of the penalties were obvious false starts. Come on. Does anyone really think any team on any given Sunday commits only 3 penalties?

Week 3 Seahawks vs. Cardinals. Seahawks get called for 3 penalties.
Week 10 Seahawks vs. Rams. Seahawks get called for 3 penalties.
Week 14 Seahawks vs. Eagles. Seahawks get called for 2 penalties.
Divisional Playoff Game Seahawks vs. Redskins. Seahawks get called for 2 penalties.

Week 1 Steelers vs. Titans. Steelers get called for 3 penalties.
Week 16 Steelers vs. Browns. Steelers get called for 3 penalties.
Week 17 Steelers vs. Lions. Steelers get called for 2 penalties.
Divisional Playoff Game Steelers vs. Colts. Steelers get called for 2 penalties.

It happens.

by Dutch (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 7:59pm

It is surprising to me that there is so much confusion over the Pilon rule. Reading the rule change(A player no longer can be ruled out of bounds when he touches a pylon unless he already touched the boundary line. from: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/5153800. It just says that a player is not out of bounds by touching the pilon, that does not make him in bounds. He still needs to establish himself in bounds by getting two feet or one other body part in bounds before contacting the ground out of bounds...Clearly this was no where near a TD based on that...why is this so hard to figure, and why do people think it should have been reviewed?

by steelersin06 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 5:33pm

I haven't seen any perspectives from anyone actually at the game in this thread so here are mine. Haven't had much time to post lately and maybe no one cares anymore anyway.

I was sitting right on the 35 yard line in the third deck, fourth row. Unlike the rest of the stadium, my section was about 40% Hawks fans, 60% Steelers (as an aside, I did not see nearly as many "corporate types" as I expected). Both the offensive pass interference in the end zone and the "Locklear hold" were on our side of the field. The Hawks fans next to me were angry about the pass interference call, because they said "that call is never made", not because it was not P.I. I happily agreed with them at that point, as they gleefully pointed out after the Heath Miller offensive P.I. They felt a lot better about the P.I. after Miller was called also.

On the Locklear hold, I was standing up screaming for the flag, while the Hawks fans around me sat down in disgust because they thought it was a clear hold.

No one in my section thought that the pylon TD was a score either, but we had a pretty terrible view of that play.

Talking with some Hawks fans during and after the game, some said stuff like "you guys got more breaks" but there was no "conspiracy" or "we was robbed" talk.

Now my sample size was pretty small(one section of Hawks fans, talked with maybe 10 after the game), but I was shocked the next morning when I flipped on ESPN and heard all the complaining. It's possible that the Hawks fans I interacted with were not representive, but I wonder how much of this stuff is TV storyline driven, especially with the media's love of controversy. I mean, if people at the stadium (mostly without the benefit of replay and incessant announcing) did not think the calls were especially bad, it makes me think that maybe people's opinions are being influenced a little too much by the boob tube. Although, I will freely admit that the only disappointing thing about being at the game was the lack of multiple, and good, replays.

On a different note, almost all the Hawks fans I interacted with were classy and fun, and I wish them and their team luck next year (as long as it is not against the Steelers).

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 5:35am

RE: 808

Or how about Big Ben admitting he didn't get in? That's the player himself.
It shouldn't have mattered, anyway. Big Ben managed to get within inches of the goal line because Faneca tackled a Seattle LB.

RE: 809

Yeah, homers are always going to think their team got screwed. But after this Super Bowl, it was the fans of 31 teams complaining about how the Super Bowl was a farce versus Steelers homers who insisted that the calls were correct, or didn't influence the game, or some other stuff.

by tim (not verified) :: Fri, 02/17/2006 - 7:55am

why would they put this article up with only 2 lines on dvoa ?

by Gary (not verified) :: Sat, 02/18/2006 - 12:03pm

Big ben never admitted he didn't get in. Since the game ended, there have been published pictures using a plane line that show he did.

Big Ben was obviously blocked in the back on the long interception return. No call.

Big Ben was robbed by a yard on the spot on a late game 3rd and 5. Still got the first by inches, though.

Heath Miller was called for a mystery offensive interference call in the first half on a play that resulted in a first down otherwise, where no replay was ever shown, how often do you see that??

The only obviously bad call in the game was the Hasselbeck deal and that was 15 yards, not exactly a gamebreaker.

You see, there were bad/questionable calls both ways, but only one team consistently overcame them, while the other team was left to whine. And yes, I've heard all about the impartial fans, but that's the same deal, when one team is losing and not overcoming tough calls, folks are going to hop on that bandwagon. Too much whining.

by Joey Poopalopous (not verified) :: Sat, 03/04/2006 - 3:05pm

Yeah I would agree with that assessment, Gary.

by calvin (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 5:16am

first of all yes some calls went the steelers way. in the rule book the offensive pass interference call was the right call. the holding call he had a fist full of jersey. the personal foul call on hasselbeck was wrong in my opinion. big ben was over the goal line. the replay clearly shows the ball went over. not much of it mind you but it did cross. the touchdown catch where jackson hit the pylon. he never established possession of the ball. that being said. cowher had a good game plan defensively. keep hasselbeck contained keep him from running to the outside and getting that second look. seattle's offense got frustrated and impatient. that's how ike taylor got the interception. returning again to the officials. they had nothing to do with seattle's mental mistakes, poor management of time, dropped passes, catching two long passes out of bounds, willie parker's 75 yd. touchdown run. the better team did win. games come down to big plays. pittsburgh made the big plays. seattle had their chances but they didn't make the big plays. mike holmgren and who ever wants to. can complain about how if the refs would have called a better game than they would have won, or had a better chance to. as stated before. there were two long passes that were caught out of bounds that could have been big plays that weren't made, dropped passes that should have been catches that could have been big plays that weren't. seattle allowing a 3rd and 28 to be converted. refs had nothing to do with that did they? bottom line seattle was understandibly frustrated by the refs. they didn't keep their composure. lost their focus. made mental mistakes, that ultimately cost them the game.

by SteelerDoug (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 4:58pm

I can't believe even after the 2006/2007 season started...it's still alive!!!

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