Yeah, well, it’s not like the Steelers really won the thing…

This was a very hard Super Bowl to watch. It was one of those games that leave fans sitting impotently on their couch, screaming about the injustice of the system and crying about missed opportunities. As a Seattle sports fan, this game represented all that is frustrating about watching our teams constantly fall short in their ultimate goals. The losses are due in part to the teams’ bizarre ineptitude, but just as often they are due to some bizarre external force that kills the team.
 
In the case of Super Bowl XL, I’m left with thoughts about both aspects of the game.
 
First of all, the Hawks should have put this game away early. Just as they did against Carolina in the NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks offense started hot, with nice little drives that seemed to lead to positive results. But it seemed that as soon as those drives got going, they stalled. The team would gain a first down or two, pick up some yardage, only to end up stalling. It seemed they were always close to breaking through but never did.
 
Also like in the Carolina game, the defense was smothering in the first quarter. If you remember the Panthers game, their offense was completely inept early, leading to a series of three-and-outs for the Panthers. The same thing was happening early to the Steelers – each drive would be smothered by the powerful Seahawks defense. The first quarter was perhaps the most dominating 3-0 game in history.
 
But by not extending their lead, the Seahawks left the door open for the Steelers’ offense to get into gear, and for the officials to make a difference in the game. The game simply shouldn’t have become as controversial as it became; if only the Seahawks had been able convert some of their early drives, the game would have been very different.
 
But once the door was left open, fate, in the persona of the officials, changed the game. Bad penalty followed bad penalty. A touchdown was called back on a ticky-tack foul. A big gain was called back on a phantom hold. And suddenly, before the eyes of 93 million people, the game began to shift. The Steelers started moving, the Seahawks started losing their momentum. And finally the Seahawks began losing their cool. You could see it in their inept clock management in the second quarter, and you could see it in the huge run that Willie Parker broke off in the third quarter. The game simply got away from the Seahawks. They had the early momentum, but by the time that the Steelers executed one of their patented gadget plays, the thing was over.
 
Congratulations Steelers fans. Your team does have the Lombardi Trophy. But I’ll still believe that with better officiating and better execution, the Seahawks would have won big.

 

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