Super Bowl Analysis

Listened to a little local sports radio on the way home from work this morning. And, like I’ve been reading in certain places, the consensus was that the Steelers didn’t win so much as the Seahawks lost. Well, okay, Seahawks fans. If you can put your whining on hold for a few minutes, let’s go over some aspects of the game a little bit.

First, officiating.

Darrell Jackson did push off. He didn’t move the Steeler defender away, but the point was to keep him in place, not to move him the other direction. Without that, the ball might have been knocked away. A good call.

Roethlisberger did get into the end zone. If you can, watch the replay again. When you do, note that he breaks the plane of the goal line in the air. He doesn’t land across the line, but he doesn’t need to. A touchdown and a good call. (Moreover, for you Seattle fans who are yelling at your screen, ask yourself this: If it was that close that I say he was definitely in and you say he was definitely out, is there enough video evidence to overturn the call on the field? No. If the replay is inconclusive, the call on the field stands. The standard of evidence for overturning a call is that it has to be conclusive that the wrong call was made.)

Since I have seen claims made that the refs were trying to let the Steelers win, why did they overturn their fumble call and give Hasselbeck his first down and the Seahawks the ball back in the fourth quarter? That too, was the right call. (A further note for Steve, I watched the same game you did, and I don’t recall the officials ignoring obvious calls against the Steelers, nor did the rabid Seahawk fans with whom I watched rant and rave about any missed calls. Could you be more specific?)

Next, did Seattle beat itself? A little, but not as much as you might think from first glance. 7 penalties for 70 yards. Of Seattle’s 7 penalties, one was a false start on Mr MVP, one was the pass interference noted above, one was a personal foul on Hasselbeck and the other four were holding calls. (Granted, the personal foul was probably a bad call, but it was after the interception and one 15 yard penalty does not make the difference in an 11 point game.) Seattle is sending two O-linemen to the Pro Bowl. Their quarterback is going to the Pro Bowl. Their running back led the league in yards and set a record for touchdowns and is going to the Pro Bowl. Their fullback (their blocking back) is going to the Pro Bowl. A good O-line and backfield it sounds like. Not one that would be inclined to hold or need to hold. Yet hold they clearly did. Why? Because they were getting beat by the Steelers defense and had to hold to prevent Hasselbeck from being sacked. The Steelers still got to him three times. If not for holding, it might have been five, six or even seven sacks. That’s a great defense.

Sean Alexander didn’t look like the MVP against the Steelers. Less than 100 yards and no TDs? He was supposed to be a TD machine. But I guess that’s what can happen for a guy playing a soft schedule in a soft conference.

Seattle’s best half was the first half. They forced the Steelers to go three and out on their first three possessions and picking off Roethlisberger on their fourth possession. The Steelers drove and scored on possession #5 (with Roethlisberger’s excellent scramble play), and then getting the ball back with two seconds and taking a knee.

But what about Seattle’s drives? The first was ended by a sack. The second featured a holding penalty on 3rd and 6. The third had Alexander rushing for 1 yard on 3 carries and the Jackson push-off. I think the fourth might have been a Jerramy Stevens drop on a 3rd and 2, but I don’t remember exactly. Let’s say it was. The fifth was a simple 3 and out. And number 6 was (again, I think) a Jerramy Stevens drop. Four of those six were the Steelers defense holding down the Seattle offense; the other two were Seattle mistakes. And while the Seahawks were pretty good in the red zone, they only managed to get there twice. And their only touchdown came on a trip to the redzone provided by their defense.

The Steelers offense, by contrast, may not have put the same yardage, but they came through when it counted. Longest TD run in Super Bowl history, the aforementioned brilliant scramble and cross-field throw by Roethlisberger on a 3rd and 28 after being chased out of the pocket, and Randle El’s TD pass on the trick play were all championship caliber plays that the Seahawks couldn’t make against the Steelers’ defense.

The Steelers did give up nearly 400 yards, but held when it counted. They only allowed 10 points, only let the Seahawks drive inside the 20 once, sacked Hasselbeck three times, forced Seattle into multiple holding penalties and kept Sean Alexander under 100 yards rushing and out of the endzone. Seahawks averaged almost 2 rushing TDs a game. They were held to none. They averaged more than 28 points per game. They were held to 10. Classic Steelers football. The better team won. In fact, I will go further. I don’t think Seattle would have beaten any of the AFC playoff teams.

You may now continue whining.

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