Steelers fans, get ready to hear more Seahawks’ griping. Appearing in Seattle to hold a rules clinic for the Seahawks, Super Bowl XL referee Bill Leavy apologized to the team and the city, saying that he blew a pair of fourth quarter calls during the Steelers’ Super Bowl win.
“It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn’t good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It’s something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it’s difficult.”
Since he’s describing two calls in the fourth quarter, you have to assume that the two are the holding call on Sean Locklear that wiped away a long pass that would have put the Seahawks deep in Steelers territory and the illegal block called on Matt Hasselback when he tried to tackle Ike Taylor after a fourth-quarter interception.
There’s no doubt at all that the officials blew the call on Hasselback’s low block–even the most diehard Steelers fan will agree to that (especially since the same kind of bogus call was flagged against the Steelers a couple of years before). The Locklear hold seemed more borderline to me–you can argue that it was the kind of hold that isn’t always called, but it did seem to be a hold to me (admittedly, I had a rooting interest in the game).
If those two calls were wrong, could they have changed the game? Absolutely. But they also in no way guarantee that the Seahawks would have turned around what ended up being a 21-10 Steelers win. For one, the Antwaan Randle-El to Hines Ward trick play touchdown wouldn’t have looked a whole lot different if Hasselback’s penalty hadn’t been called. or another, as a reminder–Pittsburgh won by 11 points.
Could it have made a difference? Sure. But the bad news from this is that it will give Seahawks fans more reasons to gripe about a game that ended up not being all that close at the end.