You’d think it was the football equivalent of Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal, or perhaps something on par with the mysterious ending to the 1976 Olympics Gold Medal Basketball game.
It is not, however.
Not even close.
You know the drill. Mere hours after Super Bowl XL, a tearful head coach Mike Holmgren shirked responsibility by hiding behind the following exuse, “I didn’t know we were going to have to play guys in the striped shirts as well.”
Sports Illustrated heavyweight Peter King lent aid and comfort to Holmgren’s cause, and that diarrhea mouthing (sorry, no other description is apt) continued for years, until finally fading away.
Bill Leavy has now stepped forward and offered a mea culpa. Speaking to reporters at Seattle’s training camp, he spontaneously offered this:
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….It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better.
Thanks Bill. We really needed that.
Step forward and say you made mistakes, but no, not by any means, do you specify which calls they were because that just might end speculation. Or it might provide enough context to show how nonsensical all it of really is.
4th Quarter Calls in Question
At issue in the fourth quarter were a holding call that negated a pass that brought Seattle within one yard of a go ahead touchdown, and then a low block call on Ike Taylor’s interception return.
Holding calls are, “interesting.” Offensive lineman regularly hold James Harrison, often blatantly, but those rarely are called. But let’s leave that aside.
Sean Locklear gets called for holding, negating a Seahawks play that goes to the one.
Guess what – Seattle lives to fight another day.
Situations like this need not be the be all and end all of the game, because if the offenses steps up, it does not matter. (How many times did we see the Steelers defense blow third and long, fourth and long last year?)
How did Seattle respond?
Matt Hasselbeck threw one right to Ike Taylor. Maybe Bill Leavy will step forward and admit he telepathically forced Hasselbeck to throw to the guy in the white jersey.
The low block call was controversial, and probably should not have been called.
But again, how did Seattle respond?
The got suckered on a gadget play they should have known was coming, and Randel El connected with Hines Ward for the game-sealing TD.
Does Bill Leavy want to accept blame for that too?
Why stop there?
Why not take responsibility for Seattle’s two missed field goals or letting Will Parker run 75 yards untouched?
Deal With It
The most egregious call in the 2005-2006 playoffs was the decision to negate a clear Troy Polamalu interception against the Colts in the playoffs. The NFL even admitted that the interception should have never been overruled by instant replay.
During the review, Bill Cowher gathered his team and told them that regardless of the call, they needed to execute on the next series.
Then a funny thing happened.
The Steelers defense sacked Peyton Manning, forced and incompletion, and then sacked him again for a ten yard loss on fourth down.
Officiating errors happen. Sometimes the Steelers have benefited, sometimes they’ve been screwed.
Whether a call goes for you or against you, you still need to line up ready to play.
It is a shame that no one ever explained that to Mike Holmgren or Ed Leavy.