Monday, October 20, 2008

What Could Have Been?

by: Michael Steffes

I have resisted doing this post, because I hate this excuse. I hate even thinking this way, but my feeling is that the officiating has been suspect this year in the NFL. It seems worse than I can ever remember it. San Diego fans feel that they had a game stolen from them by bad officiating. New Orleans fans saw their game versus Minnesota turn on a facemask so blatant it caused a fumble. It wasn't called. The officiating in the league this year has simply left a lot to be desired.

Like I said, I hate even thinking this way, but the Seahawks seem to have had questionable calls negatively affect them on numerous occasions. As fans, we should be used to it. These calls don't rank up there with having a Super Bowl ripped from your grips or missing the playoffs on a QB sneak that came up two yards short, but still. Here are the plays this year that could have had a dramatic effect on the Seahawks season:

San Francisco Game-

2nd and 14 on the Seattle 14. Deon Grant intercepts JT O'Sullivan in the endzone. After about a 5 minute discussion, the officials concur that there was pass interference on the part of Kelly Jennings. If the interception stands, Seattle kneels down three times at worst and go to the half 17-6. Instead, SF scores on the next play, putting them up 17-13. This call was bad because firstly Bruce ran himself out of bounds with little help from Jennings who at most had incidental contact with Bruce while looking for the ball, and secondly the pass never would have gotten to Bruce because Grant stepped five yards in front of the play and made the pick. This essentially makes the pass uncatchable.

2nd and 6 at the SF 17. Julius Jones runs right and is stopped just short of the endzone at the two yard line. Floyd Womack is called for holding on what was a clear pancake block. He outmatched his defender and the official most likely reacted to the defender being on the ground. Regardless, it becomes 2nd and 14 at the 25 and the Hawks choose to throw. The ball is tipped to Patrick Willis, who goes all the way to the house.

If this game goes to the Hawks, they head to their bye 2-1 feeling good and getting healthy. Instead, at 0-2, the season seems to be an uphill battle.

Green Bay Game-

2nd and 7 on the Seattle 25. Tie game early in the third. Julius Jones takes off for 51 yards to the GB 24, but Mike Wahle is flagged for holding. His hands were inside the shoulders of his defender. This is something that goes uncalled 9 out of 10 times. In fact, the Hawks sent tape of the play to the league, and neither Wahle nor Holmgren believe it was a hold. If the Hawks score, they take a lead in the third in what has been a tight game. A touchdown probably ensures that they have a chance to win the game in the fourth. Instead, the Packers pull away on the next drive.

If Seattle wins this game, optimism soars as the third-string QB gets it done. That one play would have totally changed the attitude and momentum of the team.

Tampa Game-

2nd and 7 at the Seattle 8. Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu sandwich Ike Hilliard, who clearly goes unconscious and drops the ball. Josh Wilson breaks into the open field with the fumble in what would be a clear TD. The whistle blows the play dead on the assumption that Hilliard is down by contact. This is a terrible call because a) it was clear the ball was out when Hillard went limp, and b) after all the problems in the league with this, officials should always let the play go if it is in question and let replay change it if they are wrong, not the other way around. This play would have made it a tie game, and a big play maybe rattles the Bucs and builds confidence for the Hawks.

No way to say if the Hawks could have won the game, but now we will never know.

Any ones I have forgot? One of these years you would think we could get a call or two in our favor, but it just never seems to be in the cards. Who knows, maybe the Hawks would be 4-2 right now, maybe not. Either way, seeing this poor officiating week after week makes watching this season feel even worse. ~END~