Upon further review….

It’s even WORSE.

The national reaction so far as been the WORST SB ever in terms of officiating. Just atrocious. It’s actually nice to see some national types call out the refs. And, look, it’s not as though the refs were 100% of the reason they lost. The Seahawks did something, or better said, didn’t do something very important that they did all year long – they DIDN’T SCORE TD’S!

But what hurts so much? It’s not so much as the Hawks had penalties and drops, but it was in the context of the game and when/where the problems happened that just killed this team! Phantom penalties, phantom TD and Stevens drops, all at the worst possible times, = 10 points and a loss.

What’s more though? After further review today, a play that is not being made a big deal turns out that it SHOULD have been a big deal. Less than 2 minutes to go in the game, Hass hits D-Jack down the sideline. D-Jack gets one foot in, and the second foot hits the pylon. He didn’t get two feet down, so it’s incomplete…..right?? Well, WRONG.

Turns out, two years ago the NFL changed this rule specifically for plays like that. If a WR gets one foot down in-bounds, and the second foot hits the pylon, it’s a TOUCHDOWN! Now, it’s not so much that the Hawks didn’t challenge this play, it’s because they couldn’t because it was less than 2 minutes to go until the half. But the fact that the booth didn’t stop play and take another look at what was a close play anyway, but the fact that Jackson hit the pylon with foot #2, as of two years ago, that’s a TD!

Pulled from a comment in Mike Sando’s Blog:

There was a link to an article by John Clayton detailing the rule changes that were applied at the owners meetings. It SPECIFICALLY deals with the issue of a pass completion with one foot in bounds and one hitting the pilon. Here it is:

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.

http://espn.go.com/nfl/columns/clayton_john/1354105.html

Just brutal. How about the 15-yard personal foul on a QB making a perfect tackle on Taylor on the interception! Or the D-jack p-i call, in which there was clearly contact on both sides and in no way did either player gain an advantage, it should have been no call and a 7-0 lead, and hell, I’ll say it, they might have RUN AWAY with this thing. All with Small Ben being a 22.1 QB rating, the worst in SB history.

Second, the injuries to 3 starters on D just killed them. Etric Pruitt, an average special teamer, was victimized twice on two TD’s after Manuel went down. He had a horrible angle on the Parker TD run, and on the WR pass, as soon as Randle – El got the ball, he sprinted towards the line of scrimmage and Ward ran free. Now all week long, we kept hearing that the Steelers would be doing some tricks with a couple of former NCAA QB’S, Ward and Randle-El, always on the field on passing downs. You KNOW that for 10 of the 11 players on the field, they knew a trick play had to be coming. Trufant tried to get over and was disciplined enough to know something was up, but Pruitt had no clue. He’s not a goat or anything, but if Manuel doesn’t get hurt? As steady as he had played this year? I am certain that at least 1 of those 2 plays don’t happen if he is on the field.

Also, Bernard has really been playing well down the stretch and came of age before our eyes. His loss after that 3rd quarter pick was big in how it affected the run defense. Rhodes has substituted liberally with Tubbs, Darby, Bernard and Terrill, but down one of their best, most explosive d-tackles hurt them at the end and their ability to stop the run.

Another non-judgment call? On the Big Ben 3rd-and-28 pass? There were TWO offensive linemen 10 yards down the field! They thought it was a QB sneak so they started to block! Hello, you CANNOT DO THAT. I heard about it on the radio today and then watched it on the tape, and sure enough, you can see two lineman running down the field when he throws the ball.

Another non-call? The WR pass. Did anyone happen to notice that Ben dove at Fisher’s knees after he handed off? Why is it a penalty on Hass when trying to tackle a DB vs. Ben taking out the knees of a d-linemen? You cannot engage a player at the knees 5 yards within the line of scrimmage. Make that a 15-yard penalty to “make up” for the kcuf-up call on Hass, and Pittsburgh is back on their own 30 in 2nd-and-forever, and you knew the Hawks would make the stop and get the ball back still down 14-10.

The other big penalty, and of course the biggest play in the game, was the Locklear phantom hold. I’ve watched that play 10 times, and not only was Haggans offside on the play, but the hold was absolutely, positively NOTHING. Yes, he grabbed him, but this just in – o-lineman grab d-lineman every single frickin’ play, period, end of story. As Hugh Millen railed about today, there was no advantage gained by Locklear, and 99 times out of 100, that is never called. And to think, even after ALL THE HORRIBLE CALLS and ALL THE DROPPED PASSES, if they get just that ONE FUCKING CALL (I swore, oops) IT’S FIRST-AND-GOAL ON THE 1 WITH THE BEST REDZONE OFFENSE IN THE NFL. The Seahawks would have had 4 cracks from the 1, and I’d bet any amount of money in the world that they would have scored a TD and led that game with 9 minutes left! With Ben playing so lousy, and suddenly behind, who the hell knows what would have happened. As the sideline reporter said, their sideline was just dead quiet and borderline-depressed as the Hawks were marching down the field, and god only knows if that play cost the Hawks the Super Bowl. I truly believe it did, because the Hawks would have held the next possession, got the ball back with 6 minutes left, rushed for a few first downs, making them burn TO’s, and then punted the ball back to them with 2 minutes left and a long way to go.

Finally, have you ever seen a team not get a SINGLE judgment call in the NFL? The Steelers had 3 penalties, two of which was false-starts, and one was an offensive P-I that was a clear pick play, and Michaels was yelling about it immediately. I’ve never seen these judgment calls all go against one team.

Who the hell knows. This team, with all the lousy breaks and penalties, still outgained them by 60 yards, they had fewer turnovers, they held Ben to 22.1, they got 95 yards out of Shaun, Porter and Polamalu were non-factors.

As Michael said last night, the world wanted Pittsburgh. The crowd wanted Pittsburgh, the league wanted Pittsburgh, 99% of America wanted the feel-good story. And they got what they wanted. It’s bad business for the NFL to have Seattle win the Super Bowl. Part of me lately has really hated the NBA based on the superstar calls, and that 1992 Western finals when the Suns sh0t 60 free throws in game 7. As much as I loved MJ, he benefitted from the star system like nobody else. The NBA turns me off because of the officiating. I never used to feel that way about the NFL, but after this whole playoffs? I’ve changed. This league is horribly called by guys who sell insurance and work in the hardware store during the week. The NFL needs to bite the bullet and hire full-time refs, period, let them hone their craft full-time, because it is garbage. There is too much on the line. Is there a conspiracy? I doubt it. But these clowns are also human beings, who read the press and hype all week and they know what’s going on. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see these guys subconsciously give the Steelers the edge, all caught up in the atmosphere, emotion, etc. And MAYBE Tags left a little subtle message “hey, if it’s borderline? Call it on Seattle. We gotta give the league what it wants!”

This is going to be a long offseason. I enjoyed the run, at least until the Super Bowl. Vegas today has the Hawks as the odds-on fav for the NFC, but that’s always common for the SB loser. We know in reality it’s going to be a long, hard, brutal climb back to the top.