Officiating in Super Bowl Not so Super

While watching Super Bowl XL against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the media and the abundance of Steelers Fans attending the game weren’t the only people that wanted to see another Lombardi trophy go home to Pittsburgh. The game officials put forth one of the best efforts that I remember in trying to spoil the Seattle Seahawks first appearance in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Seattle, the referees succeeded. Whether or not the officials wanted to see Jerome Bettis win the last game of his career in his home town is a mystery that we may never discover. It could be that the officials had just as many jitters as the players and lost focus on certain plays. Those plays ended up being key plays and a determining factor of the game.

For two straight weeks, we all broke down the key match-ups of game, player breakdowns and coaching tendacies. For two straight weeks we all forgot to emphasize the importance in fair and accurate officiating. Super Bowl XL head official Bill Levy and his staff did a bad job in officiating that ultimately cost the Seattle Seahawks the game. There were definitely times throughout the game that Seattle made costly mistakes that did not include the decision making from the referees. It is also hard to blame Pittsburgh for some of the gifts that were handed to them by Seattle as well as the officials. The name of the game is to take what you can get, and Pittsburgh did just that.

It all began in the first quarter when Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselback threw an accurate strike to an apparent wide open Darrell Jackson in the end zone for a touchdown. The play was immediately called back for offensive pass interference instead. Head official Bill Leavy announce to the crowd that Jackson pushed off on the offender in order to catch the pass. The replay showed that Jackson merely touched the defender in an attempt to get in position for the TD catch. The penalty forced Seattle to kick a field goal instead. The penalty was not so painful because it was still early in the game and the Seahawks clearly showed that they could move the ball against the Pittsburgh defense. Later in the half, a QB scramble by Ben Roethlisberger at the goaline was signaled a touchdown. After the play was reviewed, there was clear evidence that he never got in the end zone after an attempted dive. There were numerous phantom holding calls against Seattle throughout the game that were even a mystery to commentators Al Michaels and John Madden.

Out of the ten plays that were flagged during the game, seven of those calls were against the Seahawk. Although the amount of penalties called against both teams were quite low for a NFL football game, the severity and consequences of the penalties against Seattle, drastically decreased their chances of winning. The Pittsburgh Steelers deserve all the credit in the world for taking advantage of the referee miscues (they were victims of a referee botch three weeks ago against the Indianapolis Colts that almost cost them the game). When they needed to make a play on the critical downs, they made it. Seattle also deserves their share of the blame as well for not making more opportunities to win. However, in a game so big and so important like the Super Bowl, the final outcome should be determined by the two top teams in the league and not the third team wearing the zebra stripes.

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