The Steelers continued their storybook postseason with a 21-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. There’s no need to go into how fitting it was for Jerome Bettis to end his career with a Super Bowl win in his native city or how Pittsburgh’s commitment to Bill Cowher finally paid off. What was apropos (and less hyped) is how Bill Leavy’s NFL referee crew capped a post-season of questionable judgments by referees with yet another football game marred by the striped crusaders.
Not to take anything away from the Super Bowl Champs. The Steelers played well enough on offense (after the first quarter) against a team that led the league in sacks with 50. Willie Parker set a Super Bowl record for the longest TD run at 75 yards. Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward had 123 yards and a TD that came from yet another “gadget play” thrown by Antwaan Randle El.
However, some of the most game-breaking plays came from officials that chose to make the refereeing too apparent. I count four out of ten calls and one non-call that ended up costing the Seahawks momentum and turning the biggest game of the year into a mediocre mid-season bout. The seven calls that were tallied against the Seahawks accounted for 70 yards in penalties, not to mention the yards they recalled.
The first call came when a Darrell Jackson TD pass was negated due to offensive pass interference. Understandably there was some contact between Jackson and Pittsburgh’s Chris Hope, but the pass interference call (which didn’t give Jackson an advantage) looked a lot like jockeying for position. But one call, that’s bound to happen in any game. Luckily it was only in the first quarter.
The next was a questionable touchdown by Big Ben that withstood the booth review. That’s OK though, since the Steelers probably would have converted on fourth and inches. It was the following call against the Seattle Seahawks that pretty much iced the game.