Still Mad

Saturday, January 12th, 2008, 2:20 pm

I have little interest in this weekend’s NFL games, though I’ll probably watch just because. I’m still mad about last week’s Steeler loss–mad about the kick coverage (or lack thereof), mad about Big Ben’s horrible first half, mad about Tomlin’s decision to go for two from the frickin’ TWELVE YARD LINE, and mad about running a QB sweep on 3rd and 6 instead of throwing the ball to clinch the game. Good teams don’t make those kinds of mistakes; the Steelers made those mistakes and lost the game.

Yet it’s possible that they still WOULD have won the game had it not been for two horrible calls that went against them. The one that killed the Steelers were the holding infractions that weren’t called on Garrard’s QB sneak. And if you think I’m just a sour-graper blaming the zebras, I direct you to ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who said this about that:

The Don Denkinger Award for "Worst Blown Call"
On Garrard’s season-saving fourth-and-2 QB draw, did you notice the hole opened up because Jaguars left tackle Khalif Barnes was holding his defender with both hands, even though the defender was turned away from him and trying to plug the hole, and at the last second, as Garrard was cruising through, the left tackle threw his hands up as if to say, "I never touched him?" Thank God this didn’t happen to the Patriots — you’d still be reading my 115,000-word column about it.

Simmons doesn’t even mention the fact that nose tackle Casey Hampton was tackled by a Jags’ lineman. But Peter King of CNN did–he gave his Monday Morning Quarterback column the non-ironic subhead "Garrard’s Draw Play Showed Why Jags Are Real Threat". King describes the play thusly:

Center Brad Meester neutralized linebacker James Farrior. Right guard Maurice Williams leveraged noseman Casey Hampton into the ground. It’s hard to tell from the replay, but it looks like left tackle Khalif Barnes was the one who kept the Steelers’ top rush man, outside ‘backer James Harrison, from the middle of the line. Left guard Vince Manuwai blocked defensive end Brett Keisel toward the right, away from the gap. And through the hole burst Garrard.

Williams "leveraged" Hampton. By grabbing him by the shoulders and twisting him to the ground. Exactly how Barnes kept Harrison from the middle of the line King doesn’t say, but a Steeler fan (from Cleveland, of all places) wrote to King the following day and asked, basically, did you SEE the play? You didn’t see Hampton being tackled? King said in response:

Officiating czar Mike Pereira has stressed to officials that they’ve got to visually see holding, not just what appears to be holding, in order to make the call. Did you see Hampton being held and wrestled to the ground? Or did you see Hampton falling to the ground and you assumed it was a hold? I have watched the replay several times, not from coach’s tape but from TV replays, and I don’t see a hold. I’m not saying there wasn’t a hold, but I didn’t see it.

Some wishy-washy stuff. "Did you see Hampton being held and wrestled to the ground? Or did you see Hampton falling to the ground and assumed it was a hold". Well, when I see a 320-pound man roll violently to the right and end up on his back, and another large man is holding him by the shoulders and is straining and ends up on top of him…I think that’s holding. The holding on Barnes was even more definitive–Harrison is trying to PULL AWAY from him and Barnes hangs on for dear life. It’s a bit problematic that CNN/SI’s lead NFL reporter doesn’t know what holding is.

But let’s get back to something else King said–that officials have got to "visually see holding, not just what appears to be holding". First of all, no one should ever want the title "czar" attached to his name other than Mike Fratello. Second, a man who says that officals have to "visually see" something should NOT be in a position of authority in an organization like the NFL. "Visually see"? How the hell else are they gonna see? Will NFL officals have antenna implated into their brains for next season?

I pound this point into the ground because, when the Steelers made their first two-point conversation attempt, the umpire called holding on Sean Mahan and there was NO WAY he could see if Mahan was holding, visually or otherwise. Both because he was on the Jags side of the ball and couldn’t see Mahan through the crush of bodies, and because Mahan didn’t hold on the play. I’m no Mahan-defender, he was awful all year, but on that play Ben took the snap, stepped back, and threw a quick fade to Hines Ward. Mahan got up from his stance, leaned into the defender, and rolled his shoulder to push the lineman aside. He NEVER EVEN USED HIS HANDS. What does Mike Pereira say about that? And, how the hell does this guy keep his job?

The quality of NFL officiating is not good. I can’t imagine how hard it is trying to keep track of 22 gigantic bodies slamming into each other, and I also can’t imagine why the NFL thinks they can have top-flight officiating with part-time refs. It’s no fun having to argue after the game about whether the refs influenced the outcome, and I’ve been on both sides of that particular coin, thanks to Super Bowl XL. Though I think the Steelers justly deserved to win that game, just as they deserved to lose last Saturday. Either way it’s frustrating.

Maybe I’ll go to the pub, have a beer or two, watch some of the early game. The Pats are going to annihilate the Jags, and while I would’ve like to see the Steelers have another chance at New England, most likely they would’ve annihilated us too. The draft can’t come soon enough. I look for the Steelers to beef up both lines in April. April. So very far away.

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3 Responses to “Still Mad”

  1. AlCantHang Says:

    Wow, you sound an awful lot like a Seattle Seahawks fan from a few years ago.

    But memories are short, bad officiating is part of the game then and it is now.

  2. Buffalo66 Says:

    Maybe we weren’t watching the same game. Although my memories of the game are a little fuzzy.

    I DO remember Hines Ward grabbing the Jags DB face mask and putting him to the ground on his 4th and goal catch. No call on that play. I agree the officiating was bad.

    I do recall saying amongst friends that the Steelers were going for two too early, and that did seem to bite them in the ass. OT would’ve been all Steelers.

    I personally blame Steely McBeam.

  3. Gene Says:

    The 4th down play should’ve been offsetting penalties. Ward and the DB got locked up, it was holding on the DB and a face mask on Ward.

    Steely McBeam. Steely McBeam to blame for everything. In the world.

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