Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Shut up Seattle

Come on. Are we really going to lament bad officiating when the real reason Seattle lost is lousy coaching?

I expected Mike Holmgren to take a shot at the officials and he has a point, the officials made some bad calls. Two were ticky tack, one was nothing short of a crime. But unlike some clowns in the media like Michael Smith who seems to think that the officials handed Pittsburgh the game, I can't let Seattle off the hook.

Dropped balls, missed kicks, and receivers stepping out of bounds robbed Seattle of the points they should have scored. On the defensive side it was three big plays that gave Pittsburgh their three touchdowns. I'll admit that Roethlisberger looked like he might have been stopped short of the goal line on that run, but at the same time I think that the ball did break the plane before he came down.

It doesn't matter. Pittsburgh would have gone for and gotten the touchdown on fourth and inches anyway. They've done it all season long. Besides, why was Pittsburgh on the goal line in the first place? Bad defensive play. Roethlisberger scrambled out of the pocket and hit a wide open Hines Ward to put the ball inside the five. They were facing a third and 28 and Seattle simply gave up on the play.

The Steelers started the second half with a 75 yard run for a touchdown. I didn't see the officials have a hand in that play. Willie Parker ran over and then past the vaunted Seattle defense. Where did the safeties go?

Pittsburgh's final score came on a trick play that everybody knew was coming. For two weeks people talked about Cowher's penchant for trickeration and they talked about the great arm of Antwaan Randle El. Sure enough, Randle El took the ball on a reverse and heaved a perfect spiral into the awaiting arms of Hines Ward for a 43 yard score. It was the best pass thrown all night. Why was Ward open? Because the entire defense got sucked in on the run. That's not the officials, that's poor preparation.

I won't argue that the officiating was bad, it's been lousy all year and the NFL needs to do some work, but please spare me the argument that Seattle was robbed by the men in stripes. Seattle lost because they failed to capitalize on their opportunities and they didn't take the big play away from the Steelers. Blame the loss on Holmgren.

The bottom line is simply this: if you allow the game to be decided by the officials you probably deserve to lose. The Steelers overcame bad officiating against the Colts and the Seahawks certainly had their share of unfettered chances to take ownership of the game. Sorry guys, no free pass on this one. You choked.

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