Monday, February 06, 2006

The Super Bowl has come and gone. The Steelers won, 21-10. Sometimes the Seahawks looked every bit as good as their opponents, then they'd shoot themselves in the foot with penalties, look a little out-of-synch in managing the clock, or just basically do things you shouldn't do in the biggest game of the year, like drop passes or throw an interception. The Seahawks' 7-3 halftime deficit looked surmountable because they were moving the ball better than the Steelers between the 20-yard lines. Then, when the Steelers' Willie Parker ran 75 yards to paydirt from scrimmage in the third quarter, and the lead had moved to 14-3, the Seahawks looked finished psychically even with plenty of game left. Then surprise—with oblivion imminent, they intercepted Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger, made a nice return of it, and scored soon after. When it was 14-10, and it looked like momentum had switched sides, it seemed that it was anybody's game. But the Seahawks never flexed their muscles again. And when the Steelers offense executed a brilliant quarterback-to-halfback-to-wide-receiver reverse, and Antwan Randle El—instead of running—pulled up and tossed a TD pass downfield to Hines Ward, it was time to stick a fork in the Seattle bunch.

The 'Hawks got robbed on an early TD throw, which was called back because the ref thought that WR Darrell Jackson had pushed-off on the Steeler defender. Ridiculous call. The two guys were scrumming in the end zone before Matt Hasselbeck even turned the ball loose, and when he did, Jackson appeared to be doing whatever he needed to do to go get the ball. A dumb, dumb call. The Super Bowl, of all games, shouldn't be decided on questionable calls. They oughta let 'em play with more abandon. Anyway...

The Seahawks couldn't make the big plays. They never got star running back Shaun Alexander untracked either. He had a few decent runs, but no ground momentum was established, and, since they were behind most of the game, they kept going to their passing attack, with mixed results. The Steelers looked good enough, I guess, but the Seahawks might've matched up better or displayed more moxie. They kinda wimped-out, which has been the knock on them for years, and further fueled the notion that a team from a city renowned for its coffee shops and back-packers and computer software businesses and constant drizzle and generally liberal-minded character won't ever win the big one.

Meanwhile, Bill Cowher got the monkey off his back, and in his 14th year as a head coach—all with the Steelers—he enters the rarefied air of Super Bowl champ. Also a nice story is Jerome Bettis, the tanklike running back who got his first Super Bowl ring after 13 years in the league, then announced his retirement after the game. Other notable sidebars concern Roethlisberger, who emerged as the youngest man ever to quarterback a Super Bowl winner, and Parker, whose 75-yard run from scrimmage was a SB record.

This one sorta felt like a highly touted movie. It had a strong story line, good directing talent, and gifted stars, and you entered into the theater with the highest of hopes. It wasn't exactly a thumbs-down, Roger Ebert style, but it would be tough to give it more than two stars (out of four-star rating system). The refs didn't help, either.

The NFL season goes out on a demi-whimper. Now it's on to March Madness.

No comments: