Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Superbowl 40 Fixed?

The 2006 Seattle/Pittsburg Superbowl had all the appearances of a fixed game. Until there is an investigation, there is no way to know for sure what happened. Whether the NFL needed Pittsburg to win or the refs were somehow on the take, we don’t yet know. One thing is for sure, it is really hard to chalk up the horrendous one-sided officiating to incompetence.

Seattle lost because the referees shifted the momentum to the Steelers at multiple key moments in the game. This is what the game came down to. It is the job of the officials to keep the game fair not the opposite.

The early Offensive Pass Interference (OPI) call that went against the Seahawks was obviously incorrect. To wit: the DB interfered with the WR twice before the touchdown pass (once right in front of the ref just prior to the WR “pushing off"). Either it should have been called as defensive pass interference or ignored altogether. If you’re going to call OPI you better be DANG SURE that the defender didn’t interfere first (which in this case he did).

The call giving the dubious touchdown to Pittsburg was also wrong as a matter of simple geometry and physics. The on-axis camera angle may have been inconclusive given that the QB’s hand was blocking the view of the football when he hit the turf but it clearly showed the position of his forearm which is all we need to know as far as the position of the ball is concerned.

The corner endzone camera showed that the ball was not in the QB’s hands but rather by his forearm (and going even further toward his chest as he fell) when he hit the ground. This shot may not have shown the the location of the ball at the end of the fall but we do see it just before. All the replay reviewer had to do would have been to note where the ball was relative to the QB’s hands (moving back towards the QB’s chest in the area of his forearm) and then look at the on axis goal line camera and note where the forearm was when he hit the ground. The ball was about 4-6_ back from the goal line.

In both of these cases, the refs changed the course of the game in a way that was unfair to the Seahawks. This momentum change, coupled with other dubious calls, dramatically and obviously affected the mood of the underdog Seahawks. They never really played the same after this 14 point swing in the favor of the Steelers.

This is not to excuse them for not pulling it together and trying to overcome the officiating but they just could not get a break from the officials. When that happened, the impression was solidified that the fix was in. Seahawk morale deteriorated while the Steelers, seeing that they could do no wrong in the eyes of the refs, had their confidence buoyed.

The Seahawks should have ignored the momentum altering calls but because they didn’t, they lost.

Numerous press stories here, and
here, and
here, and
here seem to support the contention that something went horribly wrong with Sunday’s officiating.

Seattle did have problems with clock management and dropped balls but they still would have beaten the lackluster Steelers had they not had the cards stacked against them.

I've already outlined two questionable calls that, had they gone the other direction, Pittsburg would have lost. This does not count the other half dozen or so highly questionable calls that either cost Seattle huge amounts of yardage or set Pittsburg up for a couple of TDs. Nor does it include the fact that Pittsburg was only penalized ONCE in the game on the ref's own volition.

Here is a rundown of the moments wherein the officials mistakenly altered the basic momentum of the game:

-SECOND drive of the game. On 3rd down, Hasselback connects with Jackson for a first down on Pittsburgh 20 BUT:

Highly dubious holding penalty is called on the Seahawks -- Seattle is forced to punt - scoring opportunity for the Seahawks taken away.

-THIRD Drive - Hasselback connects with Darrel Jackson -- Seattle touchdown BUT:

OPI penalty is called that should have been called as a DPI or ignored because of mutual contact. Seattle settles for a field goal.

-FOURTH Drive - punt returned by Seattle 39 yards for a first down on the Pittsburgh 40 BUT:

ANOTHER SUSPECT PENALTY (a trend?) Every big play so far a penalty is called against Seattle. Seahawks must instead start on their 22 instead of Pittsburgh 40 - The Seahawks probably would have added at least another 3 points on this drive.

-Right before the half -- Pittsburgh comes up short on a QB rush to the goal line. BUT:

Despite not making it to the goal line, seven points are awarded to Pittsburg instead. Yes, they may have gotten a TD the next down but we'll never know. In any case, this call was a further indication of the bias of the officiating and a huge blow to Seattle morale.

SECOND HALF - Seahawks starts drive from their own 2 with score 14 - 10 - Hasselback connects to Stevens for first down on the Pittsburgh 1 BUT:

ANOTHER BIG PLAY PENALTY called on the Seahawks - What would have been a certain touchdown and 17-14 lead for Seattle instead turned into third and long and forced Hasselback to throw a desperation pass that was intercepted.

-On the Pittsburg run-back, Hasselback makes an amazing tackle after the interception BUT:

ANOTHER PENALTY giving the Steelers a gift first down at the Seahawks 45 and setting them up for their trick pass touchdown.

Here are some additional facts to mull over:

1. Every penalty called on the Seahawks happened on a game changing play. -- Not a single penalty was called on a short yardage gain or on an incomplete pass. Now that is just odd, don't you think?

2. Pittsburgh, arguably the most physical team in the NFL had only THREE penalties called against them in the entire game! 2 were for false starts (and note that the Seahawks' defensive lineman had to point out the penalty by initiating contact with the Pittsburgh player after they moved to get the official to call the penalty). That left only ONE Penalty called on Pittsburgh the ENTIRE GAME!

3. Going into this game the Seahawks were the second least penalized team in the NFL.

4. Pittsburgh on Sunday, was the FIRST team to ever win the Superbowl while having more turnovers than their opponents.

5. Ben Rothslisberger (with his terrible 22.9 QB rating) has the lowest rating in the history of the Superbowl for a team that WON the Superbowl.

6. Seattle outplayed Pittsburg in every stat category and is the first team to ever lose a Superbowl under that circumstance.


I won't go into all the suspicious penalties beyond those I have listed above given that the links to writers above go into that detail for me.

Suffice to say, had just two of the obviously wrong calls made by the refs gone the other way, we would be talking today about how Pittsburg deserved to lose given their terrible offense and inability to overcome the huge rushing and pass advantages of the Seahawks. Instead, the terrible officiating is the discussion.

4 Comments:

Blogger Icarus said...

Hiya Beeblebrox a.k.a. Dan!

Sorry to see you leaving Polipundit. But I can't blame you and you definitely ain't the first.

I posted there for years as 'Professor Blather,' until Drummond's ill-informed arrogance finally pushed me away. I returned for a bit during the Harriet Miers mess and I could not believe the way he treated the readers; I still can't believe the blog owners let him get away with it.

And it looks like he's doing it again over the SuperBowl. I'm convinced that if someone told Drummond the sky was pink, he'd quickly write 50,000 words declaring that it was indeed pink, and then attack any reader who looked up and noticed that the sky was blue.

Mr. NYC, another very good commenter, just left, too. All cuz of Drummond. Actually, I can think of at least a dozen people he's pushed to other blogs.

So you aren't alone. He is truly an embarrassing pompous windbag; I thought the Miers thing was cringe-worthy, but the Superbowl thing is worse. He's so brainwashed even his own eyes won't convince him of what everybody saw.

Well, there is some positive to Drummond. For me, his stupidity was critical in really opening my eyes to the fact that there are blind followers on both sides of the political spectrum. As a former liberal, I had become a pretty hard-core conservative. Thanks to Drummond, I now listen a little more carefully to both sides before supporting a person or a position. I think that's a healthier way to be, so I have to thank him for that.

Second, he's shown me how not to be a conservative. He is a caricature of what liberals think of us: unthinking, reflexive following of authority. I never understood how liberals see us. Now I do. They think we're all like Drummond.

So now, when I discuss an issue with a liberal, I make very sure to be un-Drummond like. I listen respectfully, never attack the person rather than his opinion, and keep a smile on my face.

By the way, there's a lesson there for you, too. If you have blogging ambitions, remember to do the exact opposite of what Drummond does.

If someone disagrees with ... try actually listening to them. Have respect for them if not for their opinion.

Do that and you'll succeed where Drummond fails. He never convinced anyone of anything because of his petulant immaturity - and that's unfortunate, since he has the power to win converts to conservatism.

Immaturity is the key to his character. Obviously you don't lack maturity, so its no surprise you got fed up over there. Just don't make his mistakes (want a laugh? Go read his thoughts on Islam - and the reader comments).

2/8/06, 8:08 AM  
Blogger Icarus said...

Want another laugh? Follow this link.

They provide a short list of a few of the many commentators condemning the Superbowl officiating (and provide a link to a petition you might want to sign).

They also link to the ONE numbskull they could find who was goofy enough to actually PRAISE the officials.

Guess who? Yup. It's Drummond :)

Funny, no?

http://blog.sportscolumn.com/story/2006/2/7/63631/35082/nfl/Everyone_agrees_the_officiating_stunk-part_3

http://blog.sportscolumn.com/section/NFL

2/8/06, 8:11 AM  
Blogger Icarus said...

Last thought re: your post:

Obviously there were serious officiating problems (and I was rooting for the Steelers!).

Was it enough to change the outcome of the game? I don't know. Hard to speculate about what-could-have-been. It clearly would have been closer; it clearly would have been a different final score.

But the Seahawks did indeed suck (they played *almost* as badly as the Steelers! 9 for 21 Rothlisberger? Huh?) I think its likely they would have lost no matter what.

But maybe not. The very fact that its a fair question to ask is troubling.

What's more troubling is that all - ALL - of the calls went the Steeler's way. The Steelers racked up a grand total of 3 penalties. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are called for non-holding holds, non-existent Offensive Pass Interference (which is a rare penalty most of the time anyway), for an illegal block that never happened? A touchdown called back in the Superbowl for this crap?

Troubling. Very troubling. Ruined the game for me - and like I said, I was happy with the outcome.

But you ask if it was fixed?

My initial response? No way. That's tinfoil hat conspiracy stuff. That's Drummond thinking (in reverse in this case).

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut ......

Well, I am still very skeptical that it was intentional. I think the refs were either simply incompentent in the biggest game of their lives, were unduly swayed by the crowd, or just had subconscious preferences about who won.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut .....

But with that said -- I did a little research into the 1919 White Sox World Series scandal. At the time, a lot of people were suspicious of how the games were played. It smelled funny to many. But most sounded like I just did ... troubled, but sure the game couldn't have actually been fixed ....

.... until it turned out that it WAS fixed!

Just a thought. I'll stick with my not-fixed opinion until its proven otherwise .... but I'll admit that it sure LOOKED that way.

And somebody needs to investigate. Badly. Say it ain't so, refs!

2/8/06, 8:21 AM  
Blogger Dan Snodgrass said...

Thanks for the comments Icarus,

Your thoughts regarding "reflexiveness" are words to the wise. I think we can be confident in our beliefs and be forceful in our arguments but we should also listen and learn.

More than once (actually many times) I have altered my opinion after someone presented a counter argument in a thread on Polipundit or here on my blog.

DJ likes to take a position, sometimes built on sand (but not always) and then beat people over the head with insults when he is presented with an opposing point of view. The worst insult I can come up with for people is "children" if they are, for example, trolls.

But you are right, conservatism is a valuable and generally correct ideology but it needs to be presented with tact and wisdom. Something that some on our side lack at times.

Take care.

-Dan

2/8/06, 8:21 AM  

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