Wednesday, February 08, 2006MNF Crew Announced...
Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser will be part of a three-man booth calling the games on Monday nights next season and Suzy Kolber and Michelle Tafoya will be sideline reporters. Kolber and Tafoya both reported from the sidelines for ABC during Super Bowl XL.
Get rid of Theismann and Kolber and you might have a winner there. [ESPN]
Super Bowl XL: The Fallout
Blame Game: Holmgren calls out the officials because taking the blame himself would be way too obvious. I guess Holmgren handed the playbook over to the line judge at the end of both halves. Now he could be fined (good!) and in the end HE still lost the game because HE wasn't a good gameday coach. I hope everyone in Seattle feels better now.
However: The NFL publicly defends a bad group of officials. I wouldn't do that either. As a matter of fact they should be privately reviewed and probably chastised. [Wire]
Ratings: Were extremely high. [Bloomberg]
Monday, February 06, 2006Super Bowl XL: Redux
Let's go to the videotape
Officials Officials: One of the worst officiated games ever. As bad as the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl when the Patriots raped, pillaged and sodomized the Rams' receivers without any sort of punishment. Sad thing is this wasn't even the worst officiated game in the playoffs, that dishonor goes to the Colts-Steelers game.
Nonetheless the officials were terrible and inconsistent. The offensive pass interference call was definitely shaky and god knows I've seen worst that wasn't called. Roethlisberger's touchdown I have less of a problem with because they looked at it on replay and that was inconclusive. Roethlisberger duped the line official but sneaking the ball in and it worked, but they reviewed it. And hey Seahawk fans, Jerramy Stevens FUMBLED and it wasn't called either so it's not all just one direction here.
Part of the problem (the interference/holding calls) appeared to stem from that Colts-Steelers game and the refs were really overcompensating. The bottom line is the NFL needs full-time officials and a lot of training. This problem will get a lot worse if it isn't solved quickly. The officials stunk, but they weren't the reason the outcome was what it was.
Ok Smartie, What Was the Reason: Big plays. The Steelers made them and the Seahawks didn't. Seattle gained 396 yards and drove into Pittsburgh territory seven times and got ten points out of it. Seattle's drives at the end of the half and end of the game were terrible. Where was Darrell Jackson after the first quarter? Last year Philadelphia left 21 points on the board in the first half because of turnovers and poor management, this year the Seahawks left 14 points on the board.
Roethlisberger was terrible except on one play on 3rd and 26 that led to a touchdown (albeit disputed). The best quarterback in the game was Antwaan Randle-El.
The 12th Man: Going back to Seattle's terrible clock management would they have that problem in Seattle? I doubt it. The massive Steeler crowd had a major mental effect on that team, Joey Porter had a major mental effect on Jerramy Stevens. The Seahawks players and coaches were not mentally prepared for this Super Bowl.
Speaking of Stevens: This could be a career breaker for the young guy. Joey Porter created this rivalry, it didn't exist, Porter just needed a target and Stevens was it. Good choice. Stevens backed down from a war of words and backed down in the game, a game that could've been huge for him. By my count, he left six balls and 89 yards on the field, that's an MVP performance right there and he didn't take advantage of it. The Steelers also laid the lumber on him and he didn't like it.
Speaking of Porter: Not much to say because Walter Jones, the BEST tackle in football, beat him like an egg and Porter didn't say much after the game because he knew he got embarassed and didn't want to take away from the moment that Bettis and Ward deserved.
Bye Bye Shaun: Yeah, he's not going to get what he's asking for from Seattle and frankly he shouldn't. He's a good running back running behind a super offensive line, there are a lot of good running backs in the league and potentially good running backs in the draft they can get for much cheaper. Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones are the leaders on the offensive. Make a trade for Thomas Jones and he'll run for 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns behind Jones and Hutchinson.
Seahawks Future: It's bright because the defense will only get better and the rest of the NFC West is so bad that they can use the regular season to prepare for the playoffs. I think Hasselbeck is close to the elite quarterbacks, the defense is young but tough and they will get better when Hamlin returns. The money they save on Alexander will pay dividends when those young defensive studs look for extensions. They need to get Stevens right though, that kid can put up Antonio Gates type numbers.
Steelers Future: They have a great chance at repeating because the team is so stable. Roethlisberger is 27-4 (!!) as a starter and two of the losses were against the Patriots. Hines Ward is the model for a team leader, I think Randle-El will walk, but they will continue to draft well. Willie Parker is young and getting better. Pittsburgh's secondary has improve tenfold in the last two months. Joey Porter is going to be back, Casey Hampton is just getting into his prime right now. Bill Cowher can return to Miami and win in his 15th year as coach and walk away with all the glory.
Sunday, February 05, 2006Super Bowl XL: Halftime Thoughts
-- This is the worst halftime show EVER.
-- The Seahawks left roughly 13 points on the board.
-- Seattle's defense is ever bit as good as Pittsburgh's
-- Big Ben got hot before the half ended and look for the Steelers to come out in the second half and open things up.
-- Matt Hasselbeck will throw for over 300 yards, but Shaun Alexander needs to break a run soon.
-- Hines Ward is primed for a big second half.
-- There's a cute girl in the third row of the crowd.
Super Bowl XL: Breakdown and Pick
Quarterback: Almost too close to call. Matt Hasselbeck has been the best quarterback in the NFC, Ben Roethlisberger has been the best quarterback in the playoffs. Both have playoff experience so neither should have the nerves for too long. Roethlisberger has the experience of winning in the hostile environments, but Ford Field should be a friendly place. Hasselbeck's rating is lower on the road as is his production. Slight Edge: Pittsburgh
Running Back: Shaun Alexander is the league's MVP although he probably isn't the team MVP. Nonetheless he broke the touchdown record and when the Seattle offense is on the field, he is the best player on the Seahawks' offense. Pittsburgh has Willie Parker and will feature Jerome Bettis, a formidable pair but they cohesively don't have the ability to do the damage that Alexander can do separately. Edge: Seattle
Wide Receivers: Seattle is getting healthy again and should have its full compliment of guys (Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram and Joe Jurevicius) and Jerramy Stevens should be a threat at tight end as long as he isn't looking for #55. Pittsburgh has the better known group with Hines Ward, Cedric Wilson and the guy who I believe will be the X-Factor tonight -- Antwaan Randle-El. Rookie tight end Heath Miller is money at the goal line and on third down. Edge: Pittsburgh
Offensive Line: Bill Simmons said anyone with two arms, two legs and a head can rush for 1,500 yards behind Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. It's a little disrespectful of Shaun Alexander but the point remains, it's a good brick wall of talent. Pittsburgh has the best guard in football, Alan Faneca, and a strong supporting cast, but they don't have Jones, the best tackle in football. Edge: Seattle
Defensive Line: The Steelers have had one of the best defenses in the league over the last four years so they will score big here. Seattle's group is underrated and look out for tackle Rocky Bernard, a bull in the middle. Pittsburgh employs a 3-4 and needs a lot of pursuit from Kimo von Oelhoffen and tackle Casey Hampton. Hampton takes up a lot of space and is extremely difficult to run on. Slight Edge: Pittsburgh
Linebackers: Seattle is young and quick led by rookie tackling machine Lofa Tatupu and Jamie Sharper provides a strong veteran presence. Safety Michael Boulware played LB in college and has the ability to blitz. Pittsburgh has sack specialist and emotional leader Joey Porter, who is so important to their blitzing scheme. James Farrior covers a lot of ground and doesn't let anything slide past him. Larry Foote adds to a deep group. Edge: Pittsburgh
Secondary: Seattle has much of their group back and they did a solid job on Steve Smith two weeks ago. Michael Boulware is a great safety, a pro bowler now I believe and Andre Dyson is effective now that he's at full health. Pittsburgh has a youthful, improving group with Bryant McFadden among others, but the 'X' factor is safety Troy Polamalu, or is it linebacker Troy Polamalu? or is it the blitzing Troy Polamalu? The Steelers go as far as his ankle. Edge: Pittsburgh.
Special Teams: Seattle has the better kickers. End of story. Edge: Seattle
Intangibles: Not a coaching matchup for the weak at heart. Bill Cowher is notably uptight and chokeworthy in big games that he's a favorite in. Mike Holmgren has one ring as a head coach and a few others as an assistant, but he's also the guy that said "Let Terrell Davis score" in Super Bowl XXXII. Seattle is boosted by its famed 12th man home-field advantage...this isn't Seattle though as Pittsburgh will have the 12th man, 13th man, 14th man, 12th boy, 12th girl, 12th guy, the R&B group Guy, the three guys down the street. You get the point. So Coaching Edge is Seattle and Home-Field goes to Pittsburgh.
Pick: No B.S. -- Steelers 34, Seahawks 28, my loyalties lie to the Jets :)