Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cardinals Lose Super Bowl To Steelers, Referees

After another Super Bowl to remember, it will be hard to forget how terrible the officiating was. I try to never blame officials for outcomes of games because they can only be expected to be so perfect. However, at a championship game, they should be a little more perfect than normal, and this crew was far below par. It would be hard to prove that there was actually favoritism taking place, but four plays clearly stick out in my mind as instances where the Steelers benefited from clearly blown calls or no-calls.

1: There was clearly a clip at about the 32-yard line on James Harrison's touchdown return at the end of the first half. This no-call directly cost the Cardinals seven points. (Mute this video so you don't have to hear the song and look for the clip at :23, again at :40.)

2: Harrison was called for a personal foul on a Cardinals punt for punching Aaron Francisco. The ruling was that the penalty occurred after the change in possession, so the result of the play (punt, Steelers ball) stood and then 15 yards got tacked on. Before punching Francisco and knocking him down with utterly no provocation and receiving a penalty for it, he also punched him in the back while Francisco down down. This was before the ball was downed and before the possession officially changed. See it in this video starting at about the 1:08 mark. The Cardinals lost a first down and a continued possession, and Harrison obviously should have been ejected.

3: After catching what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown, Santonio Holmes performed a pretty funny little touchdown celebration in which he copied LeBron James' now-trademarked pregame chalk-toss up. See it in this video. The problem with this is that it is also clearly the type of celebration that the NFL deems illegal but it wasn't called. This cost the Cardinals 15-yards on the ensuing kickoff and would have made their final drive much more handle-able.

4: The NFL contends that the ruled fumble by Kurt Warner on the Cardinals' last drive was reviewed in the booth and the ruling on the field was upheld. However, it was never announced on the broadcast that the play was under review, and the next play was run nearly immediately. This play could not have been a quick review because of the importance of it and the average review in the NFL takes over two minutes. So how did this one, on the most important play of the season take 20-30 seconds? His arm was clearly moving forward as you can see in this video and the play was clearly not really reviewed. This cost the Cardinals a chance at a final play.

There is no way of knowing what would have happened if any one of these calls went the proper way, but all four were obvious mistakes and all four seem to have been crucial to the outcome of the game. You have to allow for a mistake here and there, but these were four huge, obvious mistakes and all going the same way. Perhaps the refs were not biased, but if they were not, they were totally incompetent.

Side note: The Best Interview Quote of Super Bowl XLIII goes to MVP Holmes for this gem after the game. He was asked if he believed that the Steelers still had a chance after the Cardinals scored with 2:37 to go in the fourth quarter. Holmes responded, "No, we knew we were gonna win. We knew our defense was gonna get us the ball back and we had time to go down and get a score."

Yep, they got you the ball back. They made the other team kickoff after scoring a really easy touchdown.

1 comment:

Leonard said...

1. FYI 'change of possession' occurs when the punters foot first touches the ball. BTW there was nothing illegal about Harrison's block(s) since he used an open hand and Francisco made an effort to get up...Aaron should have stayed down on the ground if he didn't want to be blocked. The penalty was based on 'excessive force'.

2.Holmes celebration was a rule violation and would have been a penalty if the officials saw it (watch the NFL network...all field officials turned around)

3.Fumble--listen to Al Michaels...they had plenty of time to review in the booth because of the penalty on the play. It was so clear in high definition slow-motion..the ball very clearly moves in Kurt Warner's hand (almost to 90 degrees) before his arm could have moved forward. The best angle was facing Woodley and looking at Kurt Warner's back..his arm was pinned, the ball moved in Warner's hand, Woodley's arm came away from the ball, Warner's arm recoiled, ball propelled forward. Fumble.