Hines Ward was selected as the MVP of Super Bowl XL. Five receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown are respectable numbers. As I’ve mentioned before, it was the type of consistent performance that helped me win our fantasy football championship. But Ward wasn’t the difference maker.
Despite what ESPN.com headlines say about Big Ben “propel[ling]” the Steelers to a win, it wasn’t he of 22.6 QB rating with two interceptions who brought Lombardi back to Pittsburgh.
It wasn’t Moron Porter with a measly three tackles, whose mouth proved bigger than his play.
Nor was it Troy Polamalu who was essentially a non-factor. As I predicted, Michael Boulware proved to have a bigger impact than this one-time SC safety. Though both had five tackles, Boulware had an interception, which unfortunately the ‘Hawks offense couldn’t turn into points.
The press wanted it to be Jerome “the short bus” Bettis, but on two consecutive tries, he couldn’t punch it into the endzone leading to Rothlisberger’s phantom touchdown.
Nope, it wasn’t any of these guys.
The NFL wanted Bettis to win it–they were sympathetic to Cowher and his SuperIneptness too. And Detroit, a city of burned out buildings; a city whose greatest recent contributions to American society and culture are Kid Rock and Eminem? This city needed some kind of connection to a game their team will never see. They found it in Bettis and he delivered 43 yards on 14 carries. And color me dumbfounded that they didn’t just say, “what the heck, everyone wants it, lets just give the MVP to Bettis.”
They should have given it to the officials.
Seattle was the #1 or #2 least penalized team in the NFL. In the Super Bowl they were penalized 7 times for 70 yards, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story. As Michael Smith of ESPN.com points out,
The Seahawks lost 161 yards to penalties when you combine the penalty yards (70) and the plays the flags wiped out (91). By halftime alone, when it trailed 7-3, Seattle had had 73 hard-earned yards and a touchdown eliminated.
While the Steelers, an oft-penalized team during the regular season, only had 3 penalties for 20 yards–two of which were blatant false start penalties in the first quarter. Apparently not even the blatent horse collar tackle of Alexander by MotorMouth Porter was enough to draw a little yellow for the Hawks. Not only did the officials turn a blind eye to Pittsburgh penalties throughout the game, they called ridiculous ones on the Seahawks.
Case #1: Jackson’s TD was called back on a weak “push off” in the endzone. This horrible call turned a touchdown into a field goal and sucked momentum away from the Seahawks. As I discussed with Justin, a Jazz fan from Salt Lake, Jordan pushed off, but Jackson didn’t.
Case #2: Hat tip to Matt from Kennewick for this one and the accompanying article. Again, from Michael Smith:
Some penalties meant points; others meant field position. A holding call in the second quarter negated Peter Warrick’s 34-yard punt return that would have started Seattle in Pittsburgh territory.
When Pittsburgh couldn’t make the tackle, an official was always there to make the play.
Case #3: Early in the 4th quarter, with the ‘Hawks down 14-10, Hasselbeck completes a pass to Stevens taking them to the 1 yard line only to be called back because of a holding penalty. Locklear’s hold in the 1st quarter was legit, this one was a farce.
Case #4: On the next play Hasselbeck was sacked and on the next play he threw an interception. Adding insult to insult was the “low block” penalty called against Hasselbeck–the guy who made the tackle on the runner. This penalty was among the worst I have ever seen. They could have picked up the flag when they realized that it was indeed Hasselbeck who had made the tackle, but they didn’t. They decided it was better to be wrong and ignorant than right and fair. Holmgren was right to complain to the officials at the half.
Case #5: This one is best told by the Seattle PI’s Jim Moore.
In the fourth quarter, while the Steelers milked the clock, I swear I saw the play clock tick down to “0” before the ball was snapped, but Pittsburgh magically called a timeout, apparently with a nanosecond to spare.
Instead of a delay-of-game penalty and a third-and-11, the Steelers, of course, came out of the timeout and got the first down on a pass to Antwaan Randle El.
The Steelers always seemed to get a call from the officials just when they needed it. Talk about performing in the clutch.
The company (NFL) storyline was a storybook ending for the Bus in Detroit. The officials know who signs their checks and delivered accordingly.
Despite the horrible officiating, the Seahawks still had a chance to win this one. A failed conversion on 3rd down by one of my favorite players, Mack strong, three dropped passes by Jerramy Stevens and two missed field goals by Josh Brown probably would have been enough to give Seattle the win. With the odds stacked against them, those mistakes and the officials in their pocket will give the Steelers the win every time.