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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Here we go again

From the Associated Press:

Saying "I'll go to my grave" with regret, NFL referee Bill Leavy reopened a Seahawks' wound that won't heal by acknowledging he made mistakes in Seattle's disputed, 2006 Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The veteran official began an annual training-camp rules interpretation session with the Seattle media after practice on Friday by bringing up the sore subject without being asked.

"It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that," said the veteran of 15 NFL seasons and two Super Bowls.

"It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly," Leavy said of the game in February 2006. "I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better."

Though Seattle played one of its poorest games of an otherwise wondrous season that day, several key calls went against the Seahawks in their 21-10 loss to the Steelers. It remains Seattle's only Super Bowl appearance.

This week is the first time since that game Leavy has been in Seattle with the Seahawks. He and a mini-crew arrived Thursday to help with the team's practices and give it a rules presentation.

Leavy didn't specify which plays he "kicked" that big day in Detroit.

But there are two late ones that people still talk about in Seattle — with disdain they usually reserve for cold, weak coffee.

Early in the fourth quarter, tackle Sean Locklear was called for holding on a pass completion that would have put the Seahawks at the Pittsburgh 1, poised for the go-ahead touchdown. After the penalty, Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception, and then was called for a mysterious low block on a play that ended with him tackling Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor on the defensive back's return.

The penalty moved the Steelers from their 29 to the 44. Pittsburgh used its better field position to score the clinching touchdown four plays later.

The next day, then-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren stoked Seattle's angry fire when he addressed fans upon the team landing back home. Holmgren told frustrated fans at a civic gathering at Qwest Field, "I knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts, as well."

Holmgren, now a top executive with the Cleveland Browns, has since said he's gotten over that game.

But Leavy hasn't.

"I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough," said the retired police officer and firefighter in San Jose, Calif., who became an NFL referee in 2001. "When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult."

When high-profile referee Ed Hochuli visited the Seahawks' training camp in the months after that Super Bowl, he and his crew took good-natured ribbing from players.

"The Super Bowl was one of those games where it seemed the big calls went against Seattle," Hochuli said in August 2006. "And that was just fortuitous — bad fortuitous for Seattle.

"The league felt, actually, that the Super Bowl was well officiated. Now, that doesn't mean there were no mistakes. There are always mistakes, but it was a well-officiated game."

Now, I know this is going to ignite the furor in Seattle once again, but I would have to disagree that the call against Locklear wasn't the correct one. Watch that play again - and I've seen that Super Bowl over and over again at Sharky's here in Latrobe. That, as it was explained to me last year in a meeting with officials, was a hold.

I'll agree that the illegal block call against Hasselbeck wasn't a good one, but the officials didn't cost Seattle that game. Mike Holmgren's poor clock management is just as much to blame.

The pass interference penalty in the end zone. That was offensive pass interference one Darrell Jackson. He clearly extended his arm.

And Ben Roethlisberger was in the end zone on his TD run. The ball only has to touch the goal line, not cross it.

Seattle needs to get over this one.


Anonymous said...

I agree completely Dale. There are several calls during every game that could or could not be called. I can find as much fault with Holmgrem's time management as I can with the referees. "If" he had done a better job they might have won. And "if" my sister had balls she'd be my brother. It's over, time to move on.

Anonymous said...

It's always fun to watch Willie Parker's 75 yard TD run ... the longest in Super Bowl history.

It's always fun to watch the gimmick play were Randle El, a WR mind you, threw a perfect "in stride" TD pass over the shoulder of Hines Ward.

It's always fun to watch Ben Roethlisberger, with so much time, literally toe the line of scrimmage outside the left hash mark to toss a bomb to ever-so-tall Hines Ward, who outmuscled his defender to grab what was otherwise a jump ball down inside the 5 yard line.

Our team had more points when the clock expired. And a few bogus calls went against the Pittsburgh Steelers all post-season long ... especially at Indianapolis in the Divisional Playoffs.

Dale, love the way you cover the Steelers! I was there at the bar at Sharky's opening day of camp during your lunchtime broadcast ... nicely done!

Anonymous said...

The low block/ tackle penalty on Hasslebeck was called on Jeff Hartings of the Steelers earlier in the regular season against the Browns after an interception. I am not sure if the NFL still calls that a penalty but it was that season.

Mather, PA

Anonymous said...

Most of the complainers bring up a scenario where every bad call against Seattle gets overturned, but somehow the bad calls against Pittsburgh stay the same.

rocket9 said...

I love it. Just like John Madden grumbling about the Immaculate Reception...first it's annoying..then it's ridiculous..and finally it's high comedy. Whining YEARS after the should be an SNL sketch.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it Steelers fans, the Seahawks outplayed your team that day but it came down to botched calls by an incomptent official that determined the outcome. That Super Bowl should have gone to Seattle, period.

Slab said...

Way to set the record straight. i wouldn't normally accept it, but since you said it anonymously.... You obviously are someone that knows.

Ben said...

One thing that always gets me about the complaints of the low block on the kick off return. Like it would've stopped the Steelers scoring with that fake reverse anyway. If the Steelers had been 15 yards further back would a Seahawk have caught Ward? Nah.

I think the only reason people question the holding call is because the officials ignored so many more blatant ones by the Seahawks that day. Something that seems to plague the Steelers every year.

Tim said...

check this out:

Pereira (Levy's boss at the time of XL) has come out to say it WAS holding and Levy shouldn't have apologized for that call.