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UPDATE: The Seahawk Boys' SBXL "Manifesto," which included most of the stills shown here, has been moved. Feel free to email me with an active link to the new location.
A review of:  SUPER BOWL XL OFFICIATING – CALL BY CALL

Did the Refs Really Cost the Seahawks
the Super Bowl?

A rebuttal of the Seahawk Boys Analysis

Confirmed: Darrell Jackson did not score.
ref: Peter King – Sports Illustrated

 

Overview

The article in the Seahawk Boys site did a fine detailed rundown of Super Bowl XL, breaking down key plays and suggesting the game would have been markedly different if not for one key element:  A myriad of questionable calls that favored the Steelers at critical points of the game.

I for one would not have had a problem with this analysis - if not for the glaring errors in most of the points made, as well as the blurry quality of the still images presented as backing for the same.  I also felt their using the term "Stealers" to denote Pittsburgh's club was not the best way to come off as objective.  Nevertheless, I will revisit their points (and use their very photos) in what I feel is a rebuttal which makes their conclusions questionable at best.

If this page looks remarkably similar to the SHB (Seahawks Boys) page, its because I copied the entire content into this page.  This is not meant to plagiarize or "steal-er" their content.  Rather, it is to ensure I review their concerns as fully as practical/possible.  Note that I also elected to keep their Seahawk blue in place.  I will present their original rundown of each noted play, their analysis and conclusion, and then my rebuttal (if any).

The SHB also used three sets of scores as they went along:  The official score, the "actual" score and the possible score.  I'll use a similar process using the following:  The letter of the law (the official score), the spirit of the law (a more probable score), and the Have it Both Ways score (closely ties to SHB "actual score").
 

First Quarter

Seahawks First possession – The Seahawks got the ball their own 18 and quickly drove the ball to their own 47, gaining two first downs along the way. After a short run by Shaun Alexander and Hasselbeck’s first incompletion, the Seahawks stood at 3rd and 9 at their own 47. Hasselbeck dropped back to pass, and Pittsburgh LB Clark Haggins blitzed on an inside stunt. Seahawks tackle Shawn Locklear got his hands into Hagan at the correct location, and then Hagan got a shoulder under Locklear, who released his grip to avoid a holding penalty. Referee Bill Leavy threw a penalty flag anyway, and Hagan sacked Hasselbeck.


Figure 1 - Locklear releases his grip as Haggins goes by on a stunt

Analysis – If Locklear in fact held Hagan, why was Hagan able to escape his block and sack Hasselbeck? Clearly, even if Hagan hadn’t made the sack, the refs would have made sure the 3rd down was not made (keep this call in mind for later reference).

Conclusion – Drive would have been stopped by officials call even without the sack.

****Rebuttal - None regarding the play itself.  I agree that the call was inconsequential.  That said using this as SHB's basis for "later reference" is key, as we'll visit later.

Steelers First Possession – The Steelers were called for two false starts on this drive. The calls were obvious and correct.
 

****Rebuttal - None.

Seahawks Second possession – After the Steelers 3 and out, Seattle gets the ball back at their own 36 and drives quickly to the Steelers 41. On third and 6, Hasselbeck completed a pass to Darrell Jackson for 18 yards to the Steelers 23. The play was called back on a holding penalty on Seahawks OG Chris Gray.

Analysis – Replay shows that Gray executed a proper block. Even though he got a hand underneath the steeler James Farrior’s chin, this is a legal block according to the NFL rule book. While it looked bad, as long as Gray’s hands stayed “within the frame” of the defenders body and he didn’t “hook” him (i.e. grab, hold and spin him around), it was a legal block. Gray did appear to ride Farrior to the ground, but Farrior was so off-balance from trying to get under Gray’s block that he fell to the ground of his own accord, tripping as he tried to get away from Gray’s legal block.

 

Figure 2 - Gray gets a hand under Farrior's chin. This is a legal block as long as the initial grab is made in a legal position

 

Analysis - Without the penalty, Seattle was in position for a fairly easy 40 yard field goal, at worst. Given how easily Seattle had moved the ball to this point, a touchdown was a distinct possibility.

Conclusion – The official’s incorrect call probably cost Seattle a field goal at the least. Instead of 1st and 10 at the Steelers 23, they faced 3rd and 16 at the Steelers 49.

****Rebuttal - This was a key point I made to the SHB regarding the still images on this site:

In general:  Most of the stills on your page are grainy – the only real exception being the out of bounds still of Jackson (when he just stepped out of bounds).  While your breakdown of the related plays are detailed and convincing to a point, backing it up with a blurry photo makes one wonder if said distortion is by accident or design.

This was purely intended as an objectionable observation, as I would find it hard to believe that I am the ONLY one to bring it up.  The response to my concern, nevertheless, was for one Mike Bara to abandon all logic and resort to profanity, openly accusing ME of accusing HIM of "fabricating images," which I never did.  That said you cannot dispute that the quality of the stills makes it more difficult to confirm the SHB analysis.  I'll provide a link to another web site which features much clearer images for the most disputed plays near the bottom of this page.

For this particular play, the SHB themselves note that it looks bad - which almost always draws a flag.  The SHB further suggest that Gray going under the chin was legal since "the initial grab is made in a legal position." GRAB?!? I thought that "holding is never legal under any circumstances" (a self-contradicting SHB quote that we'll revisit later)! John Madden himself referred to it as a "choke hold," for crying out loud!  What Gray should have done was to let Farrior go since he was already beaten - relying on Hasselbeck to step up in the pocket to buy time.

Letter of the law: Seattle 0 Steelers 0
Spirit of the law: Seattle 0 Steelers 0
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 3 Steelers 0

Seahawks Third possession – After another Steelers 3 and out, Seattle got the ball back at their own 49. Seattle quickly moved the ball to the Steelers 16. On first and 10, Hasselbeck hit Darrel Jackson for a 16 yard touchdown. After Steelers DB Chris Hope, who was badly beaten on the play, complained, official Bob Waggoner, a Pittsburgh native, threw a late flag for offensive pass interference. Instead of a TD and a 7-0 (or 10-0) lead, Seattle eventually settled for a 47 yard field goal.

Analysis – The contact between Jackson and Hope was mutual and incidental to the TD. Hope was already beaten by Jackson’s inside move before the alleged “push-off,” and Jackson was simply trying to extricate himself from Hope’s illegal hold. Given that Hope twice made contact with Jackson on the play, the worst case scenario is offsetting penalties. Defensive holding, illegal use of hands by the defender, or pass interference on Hope would ALL have been more accurate calls than the one that was made.

Jackson himself is adamant about the play:

"I didn't even touch him," Jackson said. "But I guess that's how it is when you're on the road. And I guess that's how it is when you're going against the world. It just seems like all our big plays like that somehow, some way, got overturned."

Replays showed there was some contact by Jackson, but it was so minor that Jackson clearly doesn’t even remember it. NFL director of officiating Mike “Baghdad Bob” Pereira has tried to justify Hope’s contact by arguing that Hasselbeck had already rolled out of the pocket when contact was made, making the defensive contact legal, but holding is never legal under any circumstances (I told you we'd revisit this - ed. Note.). Further, the idea that Waggoner could simultaneously have watched Hasselbeck 20 yards down the field put one foot “out of the pocket” while still focusing on the players in front of him is laughable. The simple fact is that given a choice of defensive holding, illegal use of hands by the defender, pass interference on Hope, no penalty at all, or offensive pass interference, Waggoner chose the least defensible result of the play, which just happened to take 7 points off the board for the Seahawks.

Figure 3 - Three frame sequence of Jackson’s touchdown catch. Note Hope holding Jackson as he fakes a corner move (frame 1), and then grabbing Jackson’s right arm as he makes an inside spin move (2). Note also that Hope is back on his heels, his center of gravity down and away from Jackson. At this point, Hope is already beaten to the inside. (3) Jackson extends his arm to get away from Hope’s hold. Note in this frame that Hope’s right foot is still in the air, as he falls backwards of his own accord, still trying to adjust to Jackson’s inside move. Jackson's slight "push-off" did nothing to get him open. Hope was already beaten on the play.

Conclusion – Waggoner's incorrect call unfairly cost Seattle a touchdown.

****Rebuttal - This is the one play in which I am surprised there even IS a dispute.  Jackson causes Hope to leave his feet due to the push-off.  And the official who threw the flag immediately started reaching for it – but had trouble removing it from his uniform.  That is why it APPEARS that he only threw it after Hope complained.  As for the other contact, SHB state it was incidental on both sides, yet then try to explain that there should have been defensive holding and thus offsetting penalties.  Can’t have it both ways, my friends.

Some have suggested (like lisabob22 in the comments section) that Hope leaves his feet due to his "failed" attempt to grab or hold Jackson:

"I think the video (on youtube, 'Seahawks got screwed,' ed. Note) proves you wrong, if DJ 'push' was hard enough to move Hope's feet, you would have seen Hope's upper body shoved back... You can see Hope is moving his own feet by the fact that the motion comes from the knee down, not from where Dj hand touched Hope. It is obvious that Hope trying to grab Dj and missing is what causes his hop. Only somebody desperate to justify bad call can see DJ pushing Hope off his feet.Hope just missed his grab talk about big DUH!" - lisabob22

Interesting theory, but flawed.  Simple physics tells us that an object at rest, or moving along a certain path, tends to stay that way unless acted upon by an outside force.  Just before the pushoff, Hope's feet are "at rest."  Therefore, they should have stayed at rest unless he moved forward of his own accord, or moved back due to an outside force (the pushoff).  It makes no sense that he'd "hop" back from a failed grab - he'd at worst stutter-step.  And he certainly would not have moved back (away from making a play on the ball), let alone hop back, on his own.

Not only were Hope's feet set, but he was already leaning forward to stay close to Jackson (again, object moving along a certain path, and BEFORE the push). When the push occurs, you can see Hope attempt to resist but his torso moves slightly back nevertheless. Hope is then forced to hop back due to being altered by said outside force - lest he'd likely stagger back and certainly be out of the play. Of course in retrospect, maybe that's what he should have done (so folks like lisabob22 would not be able to weave such improbable theories in the first place).

So...we have one Seahawk fan saying that Jackson was simply trying to extricate himself from a hold...a claim that is contradicted by another Seahawk fan per the above. Further, the above (theory of a FAILED grab by Hope) is contradicted by the other's insistence that there WAS a hold. Which is it, people?? Because it sure as heck cannot be BOTH, right?!?

Hmmm. Maybe it's the same quality issue as with the stills on this page. Stank has a clip of this play which I'll include below to illustrate the following conclusion: There WAS no hold by Hope, thus NO reason Jackson had to extend his arm...EXCEPT to gain separation that would not have been there otherwise...

Finally, the case of Waggoner being from Pittsburgh proves absolutely nothing. I am a diehard Steeler fan and I have yet to STEP FOOT in Pittsburgh. The suggestion that we must make sure no official hails from a team's hometown for fear of bias is, to borrow the SHB own term, "laughable."

First Quarter Review – All three Seattle offensive possessions featured a major (10 yard) penalty. These penalties cost Seattle at least 7 points, possibly 14. Pittsburgh did not have a first down in the quarter.

Letter of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 0
Spirit of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 0
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 10 Steelers 0
 

Second Quarter

Seahawks Fourth Possession – The Steelers punted on the first play of the second quarter. Seahawk Peter Warrick took the ball at his own 20. The Seahawks set up the classic “picket fence” on the right sideline, and Warrick returned the ball 34 yards to the steeler 46. The play was called back on a holding penalty on Seahawk safety Etric Pruitt. Instead of starting first and 10 at the steeler 46 Seattle started at their own 25. This call cost the Seahawks 29 yards. Seattle proceeded to gain 28 yards on the next few plays before Jeremy Stevens had the ball popped loose on a pass at the Steelers 25.

Figure 4 - Seahawks safety Etric Pruitt executes a perfect block on Peter Warrick’s second
quarter punt return. The official is already reaching for his flag.

Analysis - Replays showed there was no holding on the return. ESPN’s Tom Jackson, who picked the Steelers to win, stated on Monday after the game “I’m still looking for the holding on Warrick’s punt return.”

Note: A number of Steelers fans have written that Stevens' drop should have been ruled a fumble, in an effort to “prove” that the Steelers got equally bad treatment from the refs. Replays show that Stevens caught the ball, got a foot down, then began to lose the ball as he turned and put a second foot down. He never had possession, got 2 feet down, and then made the notorious “football move” that is required for a reception in the NFL. This pass was incomplete, not a fumble, and the Steelers were not hurt by this rare correct call.

Figure 5 - Three frame sequence showing Seahawks TE Jerramy Stevens second quarter drop. Stevens is already bobbling the ball before Hope even hits him. Note the exposed seam on the ball in frame one. By frame 2, the ball is more than 3\4's out, and Hope has yet to make contact. In frame 3, Hope hits Stevens and the ball pops out before Stevens' second foot is down.
 

Conclusion – The call cost Seattle a chance at a field goal, at the very least. If the drive had started at the Steelers 46 where it should have, the Seahawks 28 yards gained would have put the ball on the steeler 18, within easy field goal range. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the Seahawks would have come away with 3 points from this possession in the absence of the official’s phantom holding call.

****Rebuttal - Figure four is a classic example of not only the blurry pictures that litter the SHB page, but the fact it is from a wide-angle view makes it impossible to tell whether a flag was warranted.  While reviewing the tape of the game I happened upon this play...and what should I find but a close-up of the hold.  Sure enough, Pruitt indeed had a handful of jersey.  No wonder the SHB used the wide angle!

As for the Steven's dropped pass:  The fact he let the ball hit the turf - this being only one of several times for Seattle - illustrates the fact that the Seahawks let opportunities slip by on their own - despite SHB insistence to the contrary.  Further, the SHB themselves refer to the notorious “football move” part of the rule.  Which, like other penalties, is more a judgment call (see the would-be Polamalu INT in the AFC Divisional Playoff).  I could argue, using the blurry pictures above, that Stevens DID have two feet down and IS starting a "football move" when the ball pops out.  

Even Al Michaels said it could have been a fumble (maybe this WAS a case of 'bad treatment' to Pittsburgh by the refs...hmmmm).  Using the spirit of the law, this should have been a fumble - and the resulting momentum could have yielded three - if not seven - points for Pittsburgh.

Letter of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 0
Spirit of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 3
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 13 Steelers 0

 

Seahawks Fifth Possession – After a Michael Boulware interception, Seattle took the ball at their own 17. On third down, Hasselbeck completed a pass to fullback Mack Strong for a clear first down. The sideline official took the ball and moved it back almost a yard so that it was inches short of the first down. Seattle was forced to punt.

Figure 6 - The Mack Strong first down sequence. (1) Strong is tackled and clearly has the first down. (2) Two officials rush in and move the ball almost a full yard back, placing it short of the first down. (3) Note Umpire Garth DeFelice patting Steelers defender on the head, as if to say “don’t worry, we’ve got the spot.”

Analysis – The spot was incorrect. Strong made the first down.

Conclusion – The improper spot gave the Steelers the ball in excellent field position, which helped their subsequent scoring drive.

Note - Please don't email me and tell me the yellow line isn't "official." I well aware of this. However, when the measurement was taken, the first down marker was exactly on the yellow line, and Strong was ruled short by exactly the amount the officials moved the ball back. In this case, the yellow line was dead on.

****Rebuttal - interesting how this particular sequence was never referenced anywhere else.  That said I'd have to re-watch the tape on this one....

And, as promised, I did.  Sure enough, the images shown above are AFTER the end of play...NOT the first moment that Strong was down.  While I risk being hypocritical at best for using a crappy image (even moreso than what the SHB have offered thus far), here is the moment when Strong was down:

IMGA0969.JPG (120757 bytes)

Quality notwithstanding, this shows reasonable doubt regarding the SHB claim that Strong had the first down.  If anything, it appears the officials gave Strong a little more than they should have.  In Strong's defense, his stretching out to try and sell "one more yard" to the refs on a play like this is more instinct than anything. Nevertheless, seeing the play in slo-mo, there's little doubt the refs got this call right.

Steelers Fifth Possession - After 3 straight three-and-outs followed by an interception, the Steelers finally got the ball moving on their fifth possession. The drive included an offensive pass interference call on Steelers tight end Heath Miller, probably for an illegal pick. However, there were no replays available of this play. From this point on, 4:47 to play in second quarter, the Steelers would not be penalized again.

After a fluke reception to the Seahawks 3 yard line, in which at least four obvious holding calls on the Steelers were ignored by the officials, Jerome Bettis was stuffed on two straight plays. On third and goal from the one, Roethlisberger rolled left and dove for the end zone. Steelers guard Alan Faneca “hooked” and pulled Seahawks LB Leroy Hill out of the way in a blatant hold that was not called. Roethlisberger appeared to be stopped short of the goal line, and the sideline official initially signaled fourth-down, only to change his call when Roethlisberger pushed the ball over the goal line after he was down short of it. This set up a standard of “indisputable visual evidence” to overturn the call.

Figure 7 - The first hold on Roethlisberger’s scramble play. Seahawks DE Bryce Fisher is held by Steelers RT Max Starks. Note how Starks has his hand outside of Fisher’s left shoulder, and is pulling his jersey inward.

Figure 8 - The second hold. Steelers LT Marvel Smith reaches out and grabs Seahawks DE Grant Wistrom. Note the similarity to Locklear's first quarter "hold" on Clark Haggins. Why was that one called and this one ignored?

Figure 9 - The third hold. As Fisher moves to the inside, Starks reaches out and grabs his arm.

Figure 10 -The fourth hold. Steelers C Jeff Hartings pulls on the jersey of Seahawks DT Marcus Tubbs


Analysis
– No replays showed that Roethlisberger had gotten the ball over the goal line. Roethlisberger later admitted on “The Late Show with David Letterman” that he in fact did not score on the play. Given that the replays were from virtually the same angle the sideline judge had, the question must be raised as to what he could have possibly seen to justify his touchdown call and setting up of the high standard of “indisputable visual evidence” to overturn the call. After review, Referee Bill Leavy ruled that the play stood as called, rather than citing insufficient visual evidence to overturn the call. This strongly implies that replays supported the side judge’s call. Leavy could be overheard telling Holmgren as the teams left the field for halftime that the ball had crossed the goal line. Again, this is impossible, since replays showed nothing of the kind.

Figure 11 - Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, not scoring a TD. Black object near the goal line is Roethlisberger’s glove, not the ball. The ball is tucked under and hidden behind Roethlisberger’s left arm, short of the goal line.

Additionally, the Steelers should never have been in this position in the first place. The four obvious holding calls on the Roethlisberger scramble play would have likely killed the drive before the Steelers got anywhere near the goal line. This is a prime example of two different standards being applied by Leavy for calling holding.

Beyond that, Roethlisberger’s way was cleared by an obvious hook and hold Steelers guard Alan Faneca. If the calls against Locklear and Gray were legitimate holds, then Faneca’s hold should be the textbook illustration.

Figure 12 - Initial hook by Faneca. Note the line judge with a clear view of the hold (green square).

Figure 13 - Faneca pulls Seahawks LB Leroy Hill aside to clear the way for Roethlisberger.

Figure 14 - Having already held, Faneca now adds to the text book hold by impeding Hill’s progress and hooking his left arm and shoulder.

Figure 15 - Another view of the holding.

Figure 16 - Faneca completes the trifecta (holding, hooking, tackling) by simply tackling Hill, again in full view of the line judge. How was the judge able to see Roethlisberger's non-touchdown, but mange to miss this blatant textbook hold?


Conclusion
– Roethlisberger did not score. The sideline official could not possibly have seen him score a touchdown. The sideline official’s call of a touchdown is indefensible. Leavy’s claim to Holmgren that the replay showed a touchdown is not plausible. Faneca held Leroy Hill, which should have put the Steelers 3rd and 10 at the Seattle 10.

That said, it is highly probable that the Steelers would have scored on the subsequent fourth and inches, since the Steelers now insist they would have gone for it. However, this is not guaranteed, since Cowher is notoriously conservative and may have chosen to kick a field goal. Further, at this point in the game, the Seattle defense was consistently winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. And if Faneca’s hold had been called as it should have, the most likely outcome would have been a field goal, not a touchdown.

****Rebutal - What set up this play in the first place was an offensive pass interference call against Health Miller (as noted above), even though the ball was never thrown to him.  SHB mention they have no replay or still of that (hmmmm).  That led to a sack of Roethlisberger creating the 3rd and 28 situation.  As alluded to before, the stills on the page are too blurry to see for certain whether their analysis is accurate regarding even one, let alone multiple, holds against the Steelers.  Figure 15 (during the Roethlisberger TD) is probably the most damning of the stills in this case, but if the initial hold by Seattle was a "legal block" by the SHB account (the one which is supposedly the basis for other references), then could it not be argued that Faneca's "hold" was also legal? Remember also the SHB talk earlier of "initial grabs" in the correct position being legal? Well, could the same not be argued for the Steelers here (or are we having it both ways again)?? 

The 3rd and 28 conversion - highlighted by Ben Roethlisberger's masterful scrambling (while making sure he didn't cross the line of scrimmage) and his "threading the needle" to Hines Ward was what most folks talked about on that play versus any "phantom holding."  But we'll get to "Phantom holds" later...

Roethlisberger TD:

I am amazed that I still seem (at the time of this posting) to be the only one to have noticed this (and I noted it after watching the tape of the game a week or so after my return from Detroit):  If you look closely, Roethlisberger actually LOSES CONTROL OF THE BALL before coming down (during his dive).  By the time he recovers the ball, and BEFORE he extends his arms further into the endzone, the ball has clearly broken the plane.  This would explain why the side judge hesitated before making his final signal.  But, assuming Figure 15 shows what it shows, we can call that back for holding - likely killing the drive and setting up another Steelers FG.  How this is 'avoiding the issue,' as lisabob22 suggests in the comments section, I'll never know.

Letter of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 7
Spirit of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 6
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 13 Steelers 3

 

Seahawks Sixth Possession - After Roethlisberger’s non-touchdown, the Steelers kicked off to the Seattle 21. Maurice Morris returned the ball to the Seahawks 37, fairly decent field position. Seahawk Kevin Bentley was called for holding on the play, forcing Seattle to start from its own 27 instead of the 37. Despite being put in a hole again by the officials, Seattle drove the ball to the Steelers 36, where Josh Brown missed a 54-yard field goal just before halftime. During the sequence, Hasselbeck completed a 40-yard pass to Darrell Jackson for an apparent touchdown. The pass was ruled incomplete by officials.


Figure 17 - Seahawk Kevin Bentley making a legal block on Morris’ kickoff return

Analysis – Replays showed Bentley making a clean block. The extra ten yards changed a makeable 44 yard field goal into a low-percentage 54 yarder. Much has been made of Seattle’s clock management during this sequence, but the incorrect 10 yard penalty hurt the Seahawks chances to score far more than the 1-2 plays that may have been lost.

Jackson’s reception is another matter. According to a 2002 rule change, Jackson’s second foot hitting the pylon constitutes a second foot down. Per Rule 3, section 20, article 1(b):  "A player or an official is out of bounds when he touches anything other than a player, an official, or a pylon on or outside a boundary line." The NFL has since attempted to claim that this does not mean that the pylon counts as a second foot in bounds. The NFL’s own web site states it this way: “A player no longer can be ruled out of bounds when he touches a pylon unless he already touched the boundary line.”

A 2002 article from ESPN.com, written by reporter John Clayton, states categorically that the pylon counts as a second foot in-bounds. Presumably, Clayton, who was at the winter meetings where the rule changes were voted on, consulted with NFL officials as to the interpretation of this rule before writing his article.

In the NFL, rules are always interpreted by the referees. The question is not what does the rule book say, but what was the intent of the rule change, and how did the officials decide to interpret them? These interpretations are regularly communicated to all NFL teams. What did these official communications from the NFL to the teams say concerning the pylon rule back in 2002? If the NFL will release its communications to the teams regarding this rule change and Clayton will retract his previous article, then the issue will be closed. At this point, trusting the word of "Baghdad Bob" Pereira is not an option.

Figure 18 - Is this a touchdown? Perhaps only John Clayton knows for sure.

 

Conclusion – Without the penalty, the Seahawks would likely have converted at least a field goal. Jackson’s reception could have been a touchdown.

****Rebuttal - Figure 17 makes it impossible to know for sure if a holding penalty was warranted.  As for the Jackson would-be TD, I think we see the biggest sign that the SHB logic is failing them.  After citing that 'this and that is legal/illegal per the rulebook,' they suddenly bring up the intent of the rule regarding the pylon versus what the rule says.  Back to the double-standard it seems.  That said usually the only time hitting the pylon has come into play is when the ball, not the foot, hits it.  There really is no question that he steps out of bounds. Like when a fumbled ball on a run to the endzone hits the pylon and then goes out of bounds without actually landing in the endzone. They'll call it a touchback as the pylon's part of the endzone, yes - but still OUT OF BOUNDS.  One knee may equal two feet in the NFL, but one foot does not equal a ball.

Don't take my word for it.  See the following quote taken from the Answer Man on the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's site (click here for the actual page) when asked about the apparent Jackson TD:

"And the hand-wringing over the Super Bowl officiating continues! Before I start, I should disclose that the Answer Man is in the apparently very small minority who thinks this issue has been overblown. I’m not going to dredge up all the other controversial calls and offer my opinions, because that’s not what you asked for. I’ll just say that the only one that seemed like a complete mistake to the Answer Man was the penalty on Matt Hasselbeck for his 'block,' which was really a tackle, after he threw an interception. Most of the rest of the issues were judgment calls, and the Answer Man wasn’t as insulted by the officials’ judgment as many of you appear to be.

"Fortunately, the issue to which you refer is not a judgment call but a strict interpretation-of-the-rules issue, and the referees got it right.

"I think the problem here is that this rule, and just about anything having to do with the pylons, is confusing and not well-understood by many. I would put it in the same category as the whole 'have-to-hold-onto-a-catch-when-you-fall-to-the-ground' issue we’ve been kicking around in Tampa for the last month and a half. I would guess most of us understand that rule a lot more clearly now than we did in December, even if we don’t all agree with it.

"The root of the perception problem on this issue, in the Answer Man’s opinion, is the number of times we’ve seen ballcarriers dive near the sideline and manage to touch the pylon as they fly out of bounds, after which they are awarded a touchdown. In this case, the touching of the pylon is an indication that the runner reached the end zone, not that he established possession in-bounds. The runner already had possession inbounds, which is the same reason a ball extended over the goal line and then slapped away is not a fumble, but a ball dropped as in Edell Shepherd’s case is an incompletion.

"The pylon, however, is not technically in-bounds, according to the league, so touching it with your second foot is not the same as getting that second foot down inbounds. Now, had Darrell Jackson got that second foot down in-bounds at, say, the two-inch line and then, as he fell diagonally forward and out of bounds, tapped the pylon with his foot, that contact would have given him a touchdown. The foot down would have made the catch valid (assuming he held on as he hit the ground) and the foot on the pylon would have put him in the end zone.

"If you don’t believe the Answer Man, pick up the February 20 issue of Sports Illustrated, in which the extremely well-informed Peter King says the same thing.

"Also, for evidence that the pylon is not inbounds, I refer you to the Buccaneers’ 25-0 win at Baltimore on September 15, 2002…the first win in the Bucs’ successful pursuit of the Super Bowl title that year. In that game, on the first play of the third quarter, quarterback Chris Redman and running back Jamal Lewis botched an attempted handoff at their own 22. The ball bounced backward with several Bucs, including safety John Lynch, in hot pursuit. Lynch eventually got the ball, but not until just a moment after it had hit the pylon and bounced off, staying in-bounds. The play was ruled a safety, which means the act of hitting the pylon both established that the ball was in the end zone and that it was out-of-bounds. If the pylon was in-bounds, then Lynch would have had a touchdown.

"So, the officials got that call right in Detroit. Let’s agree to disagree on the rest of the Super Bowl officiating and hopefully let the issue die."

I couldn't agree more....

Halftime:

Letter of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 7
Spirit of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 6
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 20 Steelers 3

 

Halftime Review – Seattle moved the ball at will against the Steelers defense. Even with stopping themselves with a dropped pass on one drive and poor clock management on another, the officials’ incorrect calls cost the Seahawks at least 73 yards and 13 points in the first half, possibly 17. It is entirely possible that the Steelers one scoring drive, which was aided by an incorrect spot on the previous Seattle possession, would have resulted in only 3 points instead of 7, or may not have happened at all.

Conclusion – Every Seattle offensive possession in the first half featured at least one incorrect call. The officials incorrect calls cost Seattle at least 13 points in the first half. There were no incorrect calls made against the Steelers. Numerous penalties on key plays that should have been called on the Steelers by the officials were ignored. Instead of a 16-3 or 16-7 lead, the Seahawks were behind 7-3.

****Rebuttal - So we see that SHB statement that "Every Seattle offensive possession in the first half featured at least one incorrect call" holds quite a bit less water than they'd like.  That said it is true that they kept the Steelers pinned down (despite their punter's inability to keep kicks out the endzone) for most of the first half.  That said the inept clock management prevented Seattle from possibly positioning themselves for a FG at the end of the half, which would have given them some momentum going into the half versus coming away with nothing.

Nevertheless, they are only down by four - with a whole half left to come back in this thing....

 

Third Quarter

Steelers Seventh Possession - The Steelers opened the second half with a 75 yard TD run by Willie Parker. Third-string safety Etric Pruitt, pressed into service because of an injury to Marquand Manuel, took the wrong angle on the play and was caught out of position.
 

****Rebuttal - Nothing more to say on this besides...GREAT RUN!!  I was at the game and we (me and my fellow Steeler fans) were jumping up and down like giddy grade-school kids as Parker ran toward our endzone seats.

Letter of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 14
Spirit of the law: Seattle 3 Steelers 13
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 20 Steelers 10

Seahawks Seventh Possession – After the Steelers touchdown, the Seahawks drove the ball to the Steelers 32. Jeremy Stevens then had his second drop of the afternoon, and Hasselbeck threw incomplete to Darrel Jackson on 3rd and 5. Josh Brown then missed another long field goal, this time from 50 yards. 

Analysis – This is the first drive so far in which Seattle actually “stopped themselves” without the intervention of the referees.

****Rebuttal - Did we forget the inept clock management at the end of the half already?!

Steelers Eighth Possession - The Steelers then took the ball at their own 40 and drove to the Seahawks 7 in their best sustained drive of the day. On third and 6 at the Seattle 7, Roethlisberger made an abysmal pass which was intercepted by the Seahawks Kelly Herndon and returned 76 yards to the Steelers 20. The Seahawks scored two plays later on a pass from Hasselbeck to Stevens.
 

****Rebuttal - the officials miss a key penalty against the Seahawks:  The illegal block in the back to Roethlisberger on the return.  Had the right call been made, that would have nullified what turned out to be a record-setting INT return and might have forced at least a field goal versus a TD. Besides, if the refs were bias towards the Steelers as the SHB suggest, wouldn't they have kept an eye on Pittsburgh's star QB and protect him at every opportunity? Hmmmm. That said agreed on the horrible pass - Ben should have aimed for the back of the endzone - where only Wilson could have caught it.

Letter of the law: Seattle 10 Steelers 14
Spirit of the law: Seattle 6 Steelers 13
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 27 Steelers 14
 

At this point in the game, the two teams exchanged punts. Alexander was called for a false start on the Seahawks possession, but he did jump and this was the correct call. After the Steelers punted again, Seattle took possession at their own 2-yard line, setting up the decisive sequence of events which would ultimately determine the outcome of the game.  

Seahawks Tenth Possession – It was at this point that the Seahawks superiority became most clear. Starting deep in their own territory, their offensive line proceeded to dominate the line of scrimmage. They ran left. They ran right. They passed short. They passed up field and they ran up the gut in a crushing, 11-play, 97-yard drive that should have resulted in a touchdown. In fact, had the officials stayed out of the equation, this probably would have been remembered as the greatest, most devastating offensive drive in Super Bowl history. Instead, the intervention of the officials put the Seahawks in a difficult position from which Hasselbeck made one of his few bad throws of the day.

On first and 10 from the Steelers 19, Hasselbeck faded back to pass. steeler defenders Clark Haggans and Casey Hampton both jumped the snap and were offside when the ball was snapped. Seahawk OT Sean Locklear got his hands into Haggans in the text book position “inside the frame” and proceeded to ride Haggans around the play as Hasselbeck threw a perfect strike to TE Jeremy Stevens at the one yard line. Stevens made a very tough catch in heavy traffic, with previously invisible steeler safety Troy Polumalu draped all over him. It looked like Seattle was headed inevitably to another score, which would have given the Seahawks the lead and erased an 11 point “official” steeler lead. Instead, referee Bill Leavy saw something no one else in the stadium or around the country seemed to see – holding on Locklear. Instead of a virtually certain touchdown, with first and goal at the one, Seattle found itself in first and 20 from the 29. The Steelers took advantage of the obvious passing situation and were able to sack Hasselbeck on the next play, aided by another missed offside.

Figure 19 - Frame grab showing both Hampton and Haggins were offside in the neutral zone at the snap of the ball.

Figure 20 - Seahawk RT Sean Locklear “holding” Clark Haggins. Why was this legal block called as holding and the dual offside penalty ignored?

 

Shaun Alexander then ran left for 7 yards, where he was pulled down in an obvious horse-collar tackle by Joey Porter. The penalty would have put Seattle back in business with first and 10 at the steeler 19. Instead, they faced an obvious passing situation with 3rd and 18 from the steeler 27. Hasselbeck was forced to try and make a play downfield in heavy coverage, and his pass was intercepted by steeler DB Ike Taylor. As if this wasn’t enough, Hasselbeck was called for and illegal block below the waist by Pittsburgh native Bob Waggoner when he tackled Taylor. This tacked on 15 yards to the steeler return and set them up in a down-distance-field position situation from which they executed a gadget play which led to a touchdown.

Figure 21 - Two views of Joey Porter’s illegal horsecollar tackle on Shaun Alexander

 

Analysis – These two horrendous calls against the Seahawks basically decided the game. Not only was a virtually certain Seahawk touchdown wiped out, but that and the ludicrous call on Hasselbeck set up the steeler interception and touchdown, neither of which would have happened without the intervention of the referees.

The holding call itself was laughable. Most observers are calling it the “phantom hold” and not even Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, one of the most ardent Steelers\Bettis fans around, could stomach it. “That call was marginal at best and should not have been called,” King said on Seattle talk radio. Locklear himself called it “garbage.” To my knowledge, no national sports reporter or observer has stated that the call was legitimate. Even John Madden, the NFL’s most reliable company man, stated “I don’t see any holding there.” Only the NFL's director of officiating Mike “Baghdad Bob” Pereira has tried to justify it as a legitimate hold. He has never commented on the obvious dual offside call that preceded the alleged "hold."

To make matters even worse, Haggins was again offside on the next play, a sack by Casey Hampton which also helped set up the subsequent interception.

Figure 22 - Haggins second offside of the series

The illegal block call against Hasselbeck is even more universally deplored. It is simply impossible for a defender making a tackle to commit an illegal block. The official in this case (Pittsburgh native Bob Waggoner) simply invented the call out of whole cloth. This is the only call that the NFL has admitted that its officials got wrong.

Conclusion – Seattle would have almost certainly scored a touchdown on this drive without the phantom holding call. In addition, the officials ignored two obvious offside calls on the Steelers and a horsecollar tackle penalty. Not only were the two penalties called against Seattle flatly wrong, the three uncalled Steelers penalties that were ignored by the officials kept Seattle from rebounding and led to the subsequent interception and ludicrous penalty against Hasselbeck, which led to the steeler touchdown. It is highly unlikely the Steelers would have scored on the gadget play without the incorrect penalty calls, since these types of plays are only called in specific down-distance-field position scenarios.

****Rebuttal - A lot to digest (or is it "stomach?") here:

The "Phantom offsides/horsecollar (as I like to call them)"

 

None of the images can conclusively show whether it was offsides - or simply the defenders having timed the snap correctly.  Al Michaels' exact words were "close to a horse collar (since Porter is grabbing the shoulder versus the 'nape of the neck')."  But "close" gets you CLOSE - not "there."

The “Phantom hold.” 

As you may or may not know, you do not have to HOLD to be called for HOLDING.  Locklear encircles Haggins with his arm (hooking) and impedes his progress.  The Seahawk's own color commentator Warren Moon said live that “they’ll call it everytime.”  And I know that Madden said 'I don’t see a hold,' but too many people took that as his saying 'There WAS no hold.'  That’s NOT what he said.

By the way - as I told my wife live over the phone after the INT:  "Ben's pick was bad...[Matt's] was worse!" 

The Hasselbeck illegal block.

 

This one I DO agree was incorrect.  It was clear that Hasselbeck was going for the ball carrier.  That should have put Pittsburgh 15 yards back from where they were.  Might have been a closer game for sure if not for that (maybe).  Maybe a FG for Pittsburgh, maybe not....we'll assume not for now and give as much benefit of the doubt as possible...

Letter of the law: Seattle 10 Steelers 21
Spirit of the law: Seattle 6 Steelers 13
Have it Both Ways: Seattle 34 Steelers 14

Seahawks Eleventh Possession – With 8:40 to play and the Steelers now in a comfortable 11 point “official lead,” Hasselbeck scrambled and slid down at his own 34. The ball popped out when he hit the ground. It was ruled a fumble on the field. Under review, the call was overturned because Hasselbeck was touched by a defender as he was going down.

Analysis – This was the correct call. Hasselbeck did not fumble.

****Rebuttal - Agreed.  No fumble.
 

steeler Twelfth Possession – The Steelers got the ball back on a punt with 6:15 to play. On third and 6 at their own 24, Roethlisberger allowed the play clock to expire. The officials let at least two more seconds elapse before Roethlisberger signaled a timeout. Instead of 3 and 11, the officials allowed the timeout and the Steelers got the first down on a seven yard screen pass to Randle El.

Figure 23 - The play clock has expired, and the ball has yet to be snapped. How did all the officials miss this?
 

Analysis – This was the final “insult to injury,” on the part of the officials, allowing the Steelers to get a first down that would have been much harder to obtain if they had simply called the obvious penalty. This let the Steelers run off a great deal more of the clock and seal the game.

****Rebuttal - Remember that a timeout can also be called from the sidelines - which could be the case here.  Nevertheless - AGAIN the Seahawks showed horrible clock management at the end of the game - being down two scores.  Even IF it had been a one-possession game, note that the Seahawks still failed to score (turned the ball over on downs on their final possession).

Final Letter of the law: Seattle 10 Steelers 21
Final Spirit of the law: Seattle 6 Steelers 13
Final Have it Both Ways: Seattle 34 Steelers 14

Conclusions – It is inescapable that the single biggest factor in the Steelers “victory” was the officiating. The other factors cited, dropped balls, poor punt coverage, etc., had very little impact on the game. Neither does the claim that the Seahawks “still had chances to make plays” hold any merit. Of the five holding penalties, four wiped out big gains for Seattle that set up likely scoring opportunities. In addition, the penalties set up Seattle in difficult down and distance situations, dramatically impacting their game planning options and forcing them into predictable passing situations. Had it not been for penalties and missed calls, Seattle would have amassed 91 additional yards (giving them 487 yards on the day) and as much as 24 additional points. He simple fact is, the Seahawks DID make plays, all day. They were just called back the officials.

This does not even factor in the advantage gained by the Steelers on the penalties that were not called on them. Even if you buy the old adage “you can call holding on every play,” the question remains; why was it called so frequently on big plays made by Seattle, and not at all on any plays by the Steelers?

Like it or not, the NFL now has a huge credibility problem. Many fans and members of the media find this result all-too convenient, and there is now open talk among fans in every NFL city who believe this game was fixed, not just that the officials were incompetent. It was very clear that the league, the TV network and at least portions of the print media preferred a Steelers victory. That is why the NFL was handing out “Terrible Towels” in the aisles of Ford Field while providing no corresponding Seahawks merchandise. That is why Sports Illustrated pre-printed the Steelers commemorative issue, but nothing for a possible Seahawks win. That is why ABC showed numerous images of the Steelers with the Lombardi trophy, but only a few of the Seahawks during the game. It strains credulity to think this does not constitute an agenda on the part of the league, especially after steeler Joey Porter openly alleged the officials had just such an agenda in the Steelers win over the Colts. If the league allows this notion to fester, by sweeping it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist, there are troubled times ahead. What will happen next year, with a clear sentiment for a black head coach to win a Super Bowl, and Chicago or Indy benefits in the playoffs from a call against a smaller market team? Does the NFL really think the fans in Seattle, Arizona, Carolina, and other small markets will keep going to games and buying merchandise for a league that has as much credibility as the WWF or NASCAR?

How the NFL regains its credibility remains to be seen. They could start by admitting the obvious; that there were many questionable calls in this game, that they disproportionately hurt the Seahawks, and that there were many other obvious calls that were not made. Finally, they could admit that this poor officiating adversely affected the outcome of the game. In 1998 when Vinnie Testaverde’s “phantom touchdown” wrongly gave the New York Jets a victory over the Seahawks, costing the Seahawks a playoff berth and coach Dennis Erickson his job, the NFL acted quickly to rectify the situation by re-instituting instant replay. What will they do this time?

****Rebuttal:

I want to illustrate a comment made to me by the SHB in an email - about the game being fixed “because the evidence is overwhelming to support the notion.”  I hope now you can see that at best said evidence is circumstantial, and likely incorrect (for the most part) – especially considering how easy it was for me to scrutinize, if not outright refute, the same.  For instance, they state as a matter of fact that "the NFL was handing out “Terrible Towels” in the aisles of Ford Field while providing no corresponding Seahawks merchandise."  Again, I was at the game and not only did I have to BUY my Terrible Towel, but there were Seahawk towels being offered to fans as well (look close and you might be able to spot a few in the crowd). In addition, the SHB act as if this were the ONLY time commenorative materials were produced BEFORE the actual game. Anyone here pre-order that Patriots' "19-0" book? Of COURSE stuff is pre-made - and moreso for a heavy favorite. That said Seahawk Championship gear was ALSO produced in case of a Seahawk victory, despite what the SHB might suggest.

So much for the SHB above-mentioned "fact" being "inescapable" (that the officiating was the biggest factor in the Steelers win).

In the more likely alternate scenario (the spirit of the law), it is a close game perhaps coming down to the final play.  But the Steelers still win it.  Another possibility might have been the first overtime in Super Bowl history.  That said would Seahawk fans have really wanted that ("we want the ball and we’re going to score!" - Matt Hasselbeck)? 

But I can give credit where its due:  The SHB do convince me that this could have, and perhaps should have, been a closer game than what it was.  It is indeed sad that SBXL will be forever tainted for some due to the above disputes - but not just regarding the Steelers, but also for the Seahawks - as no one really talks about the great 2005 year they had - the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON they had.

No, all that is talked about is the media buzz about "ticky tack" calls that started as early as halftime. It grew like wildfire as the Steelers pulled away and won by two scores. The media never wants a blowout, and if it happens, will try to rationalize the other team losing by suggesting "if not for this or that..." You might want to take note that the term "ticky tack" was coined by Michael Irvin -- who made a career out of pushing off defenders and not getting called for it.

Ludicrous as the suggestion that the game was fixed may be, people love controversy (beit real or imagined), so they'll all-too-easily buy into it. Kind of like the whole SpyGate thing with the Patriots. No one wanted to see NE go perfect so they clung to spygate to water down their accomplishment. I feel bad for them in a way, too.

The Steelers were penalized three times in the game versus seven for the Seahawks. That may sound like a very low number for Pittsburgh but did you know there are over ten teams in Super Bowl history with 2 or fewer for the whole game -- and some of them lost despite that low number? Conversely, there are four teams with more than what Seattle had -- and two of them won the game in spite of it.

No matter how much the SHB gloss over it, you cannot ignore, let alone blame the refs for, certain mistakes by Seattle that did indeed factor into the outcome: Dropped passes, missed FGs, an INT, allowing the longest TD run in SB history, horrible clock management AT THE END OF BOTH HALVES, etc. So while I may go as far as saying there were some close, if not questionable, calls in SBXL, you cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they rise to the level of there being intentional wrongdoing -- and you certainly cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Steelers won mainly, let alone ONLY, due to the refs. Finally, many have been blinded by the aforementioned media hype enough to forget that a QUESTIONABLE call does not automatically equate to an INCORRECT call.

In fact, only the most outlandish of alternate scenarios (the Have it Both Ways version) works out to a Seahawk win. For the sake of argument (and no, this doesn't mean I'm admiting anything or 'seeing the light'), it'd be nice if the NFL used the SHB "analysis" to re-write the history book and say that the Seahawks indeed won SBXL. Then everyone would be happy, right? All would then be right with the world, right? Wrong.

 

Fans (and not just Steeler fans) would start saying things like "wait a minute - didn't Jackson push off?" Or "how'd they miss the block in the back during the Roethlisberger INT return?" Add to this the case where the popular Jerome Bettis has been denied his 'storybook ending' and the debate we see now - even to this day - would pale in comparison to the "Steelers got screwed" debates.

 

And what would the SHB say in response? My guess would be something they've heard countless times: "Get over it, the better team won." Correct?

 

Of course, I fear the most likely scenario of all is that I have done little (if anything) to cause them to admit, even if only to themselves, that the Steelers simply made more of the chances they had than the Seahawks – and that the buzz generated by the so-called bad officiating was more for media hype than legitimate concern about the state of the NFL; even in the face of the most plausible explanations - like this rebuttal.  Of course you're free to check the following links if you don't like what I presented - Stank includes much clearer pictures than what you see here.

Stank's SBXL Review

Mr. NFL's SBXL blog

In all seriousness I should say something here:  After the game was over, and I had finished making my phone calls, taking my pictures and taking it all in, the very NEXT thing I did was to seek out a group of Seahawks fans...to shake their hand.  I found a couple still in the stadium and told them it was a great experience and that their Seahawks had a great year.  I really believe that and hope Seattle can find their way back to the big one someday (I'm actually ticked that (new Jet...Jet?!?) Farve and the Packers beat the 'Hawks in the '07 playoffs).  You see, I also follow the Vikings (losers of FOUR Super Bowls) and would imagine that their ongoing pain of not winning the big one will subside once they finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy.  I hope all this will also subside once Seattle does the same.

But, at least for now, it seems to boil down to this:  If you’re on one side of the argument, no explanation is necessary.  If you’re on the other side, no explanation will do….

MY SBXL TRIP

Comments? While I would love to think so, I know this will not be anymore the "final word" on this debate than the SHB analysis. Thus I am open to keeping this page an "evolving" one. Whenever new/additional data is found or presented, I'll be happy to make any necessary changes. You'll have to ask the SHB directly as to whether they'd be willing to do the same (see below for their email):
Contact me
Contact The Seahawk Boys

Comments:
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From:  lisabob22 (via youtube's "Seahawks got screwed" video (3/18/08):
your rebuttals are very weak and not convincing at all, many avoid the points, like the hold on Faneca on Ben's td. Trying to compare a legal hold, by definition. to one where 66 tackles the defender with his arms well outside "frame" of defender is desperate at best. On the offensive pass interference call against tight end, his illlegal contact provided the receiver to get open which is a penalty. The ball does not have to go to him for penalty to be called .It is usually called when ref thinks it affected play which it obviously did.

On Ben's 3rd & 28 pass to Ward there are 2 obvious holds outside frame of Defender, and a block in the back which gives Ben time to throw.
The Seahawks boys piece is biased, nobody knows what the game would have been like if the refs had not been so unfair.
The big issue is whether the refs did it on purpose, or they were caught up in all the Pittsburghype too.

Any clear thinking person who saw the game saw a game where the refs by being unfair ruined it. You can argue about all the questionable calls all day, but the facts are that the Steelers were never called for any holding penalties, DJ got a TD taken away maybe 2. Hope left his feet because he missed DJ and lost his balanced, DJ was trying to get away from illegal contact and this is always allowed. It is pathetic to say DJ pushed Hope hard enough to causer him to leave his feet. Anybody can see Hope trying to grab DJ and pull him towards him, because Hope misses and loses his balance which is easily seen at regular speed or in slow motion. Obvious!

By the way I have been a Steeler fan since about 1975, I always root for them, except when they play Seattle . I was very excited my 2 favorite teams were in SB 40. I wanted Seattle to win, but I would have been happy with a Steeler victory too, They need to rack up some more SB wins to get pass the Cowboys and put them where they belong. But the refs ruined the game, they played a huge factor in deciding the winner.

There is no way to know what would have happened had the refs been fair, but at least you have to admit they were unfair, I mean how many holding calls did the Steelers have? Why didn't the Dj possible TD before halftime warrant review by the booth?

According to the rules the pylon counts as in bounds so if 1 foot hits in bound and other hits pylon it should have been a td. As SHB say the league could answer this question simply by releasing "communications to the teams regarding this rule change and Clayton will retract his previous article, then the issue will be closed"

The NFL's own web site states it this way: "A player no longer can be ruled out of bounds when he touches a pylon unless he already touched the boundary line

Anyway I am happy Pittsburg won but I am very upset that the refs played a huge part in deciding outcome.

Seattle would have had over 500 yards of Offense against a very tough tough Steeler D, they still had almost 400 yards even with
Questionable calls, which is pretty damn good, especially with how good the Steeler D was playing at the time, so I don't think the Hawks played poorly, they did pretty good, but Stevens did drop some passes, but the hard hits by the Steeler had something to do with it. Alexzander almost had 100yds 97 I believe while Parker had 93 even with 76 yd td, which also tells us that Seattle D played pretty good also. Both teams deserved better.
It sucks that SB 40 will forever be tainted

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From:  Becky Selms (of Becky's Place .com via email (5/1/08):

Ed. Note:  After reviewing Becky Selm’s site regarding SBXL I noted a comments section which allowed fans to chime in on the site and the controversy surrounding the game.  I had formally submitted a comment of my own including a link to my Seahawk Boys rebuttal in order to save space on her site.

While concerned about certain issues with adding a link, Becky explicitly offered to add a text-only version of my rebuttal.  Nevertheless, and shortly after I had clearly shown that there would be no problem with including a link to my site, Becky inexplicitly and quickly closed down her SBXL site, adding that she would no longer accept new comments.

 

I reminded her that my request came before the shutdown, adding that she was the one who offered to add a text-only version of my material and stating that I would still like my text version to be added for the archives.  Repeated emails to her attempting to hold her to her promise have yielded no response.

It would seem to me that Becky finally saw the error of her ways.  While understandably disappointed at the outcome of SBXL, she has finally seen the light in my estimation and has moved on.  I applaud her willingness to concede and hope that her team one day makes it back to the big one.  Here is her final comments:

I’ve decided to close the Super Bowl section of my website to new comments.  Honestly, two years is long enough to go on and on about the Super Bowl.  I get a couple of letters a month from Steelers fans who are still upset but the bottom line is that you won!  Congrats! Enjoy it!  Go get another one!  Meanwhile the Seahawks have a lot left to prove.  We probably won’t be back to the big game for a long time since this is Holmgren’s last year and Mora takes over the following year.   Oh well.  I love them when they’re in the Super Bowl and I loved them when they’re 2-12.  They’ve been underdogs as long as they’ve existed, it’s not like its anything new to Seahawks fans!

http://www.beckys-place.com/superbowl/controversy.html

I appreciate your passion and persistence in defending the Steelers! 

Regards, Becky

Ed. Note:  Kind of different from Mike Bara's charge that Becky thinks I'm "an a##hole and a complete ####ing idiot."  Of course I think Mike's need to resort to profanity, not to mention fellow SHB David Bara's only response being to challenge the size of a certain part of my anatomy, speaks volumes.

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From:  savican (youtube, "Seahawks got screwed" - 8/13/08):

well thats your outlook but i have my own and you dont know if the steelers would have won it. what about the 2 other times they were near the goal and penalties took that away. those calls werent right. they got 3 out of one of them instead of 7 theres 11 points right there. 21-21 then the 2 missed field goals even if he had made one, ok 24-21 or 27-21 not to mention the scoring position at the end of the game another 3 perhaps. seahawks win a close one.

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Subject: XL
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2008 10:08:09 -0600
From: Jeremy.Miles@cbre.com
To: pacmantab@hotmail.com

Seahawks fan.  I appreciate your site and I am very very biased.  I don’t know if you are right, if Becky is right (by the way she took her link down for comments but I don’t think at all that she has changed her opinion of the game), or the Seahawks Boys are right, here’s what you’re not getting:

I was born in 1978.  I became a Seahawks fan in 1987, after a Fredd Young interception was overturned and Tony Zendejas kicked a field goal for Houston to knock the Seahawks out of the playoffs.  Since then the Seahawks have had bad luck in so many ways.  So by the 2005 season I was in my 18th year of being a fan.  We had flat out stunk most of those years.  I am in Phoenix but picked the Seahawks as my favorite team before the Cards were here.

Leading into the championship games, all Seahawks fans were rooting hard for Denver because we didn’t want to go into our first Super Bowl (if we beat the Panthers) against the most popular team in the league with the Bettis retirement looming.  So what happened during the game sucked, but more sucked because we were expecting it.  The national media is not Seahawks fans.  How do you explain all of the ESPN talking heads and national radio shows (JT THE Brick, Mike and the Mad Dog, etc etc) complaining about it?  Do you think Mike Holmgren has that type of power to keep it an issue.  It stunk.  It’s up there with the Lakers-Kings WCF in 2002, Don Denkinger, Jeffrey Meier.  It’s like our wife jilting us on our wedding day.  So who knows if it was a conspiracy?  I actually doubt that.  It was just a horrible bunch of calls strung together.  The 1972 Olympic basbetball game comes to mind.  I’m rambling.  So for you or anyone else to say it’s just sour grapes has to understand how bad we wanted to win the game and how disappointed we are that we don’t feel we got a fair shake.  Yes, we didn’t need the drops, punts into the end zone, or missed field goals, but a lot of us, me included, feel that we didn’t need to play the perfect game to win and that we played better than the Steelers that day.

As for the D-Jack push off, yes, he might have.  Two points to that though:

a)       This is hardly ever called

b)       You don’t mention all the contact that Hope was initiating before hand that could have been called PI or holding.

On the Pruitt hold, you didn’t post the picture that you mention shows holding, or I didn’t see it.  That was really one of the most awful calls of the game as the Seahawks ran a perfect punt return and P-Dub ran really fast into Steelers territory.

And we can agree to disagree on the holding play.  You are the first person I have heard actually argue that there was no off-sides.  Worse than that, on the next play where there was a sack there was off-sides again.

Anyway, had to vent.  I just want you to understand where we are coming from, albeit respectfully!

Sincerely,
Jeremy Miles

Seahawks fan

Ed. Note:  Thanks, Jeremy!  Nice to see fans venting in a constructive manner!!