Wilbon: Referees bungled
And when Seattle wasn't bungling, the referees were.
Seattle should have been ahead by a couple of touchdowns, yet found themselves down 7-3 at halftime because the referees blew a call. Roethlisberger's third-down dive into the end zone simply was not a touchdown, though it was called that on the field. Because less than two minutes remained, the call was reviewed in the booth. It was clearly and conclusively not a touchdown. Big Ben didn't get the ball across the goal line. Yet, the call stood.
Another penalty assessed on the Seahawks early in the fourth quarter, which negated a gain that took the Seahawks to the 1, also never happened. A penalty against Hasselbeck for blocking below the waist when, in fact, he was trying to tackle the interceptor, was erroneous. It would be irresponsible to say the officials were intentionally cheating Seattle. But the bad calls hurt Seattle's chances, no doubt.
Still, one gets the feeling the Steelers would have won a seven-game series, oh, 4-3. Ken Whisenhunt, the Steelers' offensive coordinator, is wonderfully creative, particularly with Roethlisberger, Randle El and Ward. And the defense is too hard-hitting. Hasselbeck played his rear end off, but his receivers are unreliable (isn't that a familiar theme?) and Shaun Alexander didn't have the kind of MVP performance his team needed to win the game. And in the end, the team that should have won did win. The Steelers beat the teams with the first, second and third seedings in the AFC and the top seed in the NFC. There's absolutely nothing more a team could do than that in the postseason -- nothing.
Well, I hope this gets a nice segment on PTI tomorrow, in between all the bjs Bettis will be getting.
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