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Super Bowl blues

Steelers-Seahawks among worst big games ever

Posted: Tuesday February 7, 2006 11:57AM; Updated: Tuesday February 7, 2006 7:07PM
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Matt Hasselbeck completed 26 of 49 passes for 273 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the loss to the Steelers.
Matt Hasselbeck completed 26 of 49 passes for 273 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the loss to the Steelers.
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Steelers 21, Seahawks 10
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The people who called this Super Bowl the worst ever have short memories. Super Bowl V, for instance (Colts 16, Cowboys 13) featured six interceptions and six fumbles. It seemed that every score, including Jim O'Brien's winning field goal, was set up by a turnover.

Super Bowl XII was very special to me. It marked the unveiling of Denver's famous Orange Crush defense, and I had just signed a contract to do a book with Lyle Alzado, a paperback original that was to be completed in eight days, or no payment. I was hanging with the Broncos defense all week and I just KNEW they would tear the Cowboys apart. I was so certain of it, also so punchy from lack of sleep, that I led my advance for the New York Post with advice to bettors: "Want to get rich? Take the Broncos and 4 1/2."

Of course the weakness of my argument was that I forgot that Craig Morton and the boys also had to take the field, and Morton went 4 for 15 with four picks. A story broke that he owed the IRS serious money, and there are old Broncos who believe to this day that their quarterback had tanked the contest. Oh yes, Dallas won, 27-10.

Buffalo, of course, was my choice to beat Dallas in Super Bowl XXVII, and I was in it for almost a full quarter, right up until the Cowboys' Jimmie Jones ran the first of eight Buffalo fumbles in for a TD. The final score read 52-17, Dallas.

So I'm not saying this Seattle-Pittsburgh thing was the worst of all time. Among the worst five, maybe, but after covering, live, all but the first Super Bowl, I can honestly say this was the one I disliked the most.

A personnel specialist who grades all players by color codes, blue being the best, orange being the worst, once told me, "In big games, the blues play bluer and the oranges play oranger."

Not this time. Neither quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Hasselbeck, was much good. Oh, they made plays every now and then, but there was no consistency to their game. Neither one of them could get the ball to go where they wanted it to go. You were just as likely to see an interception in a big moment as a turnover.

Jerome Bettis was just a guy. Ditto for Shaun Alexander. There wasn't one play that either of them made that would cause anyone to say, "Gee, did you see that?"

Troy Polamalu, the most highly-touted defensive superstar, was beaten for a touchdown by Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens, who made up for it by dropping three balls. Hines Ward, the MVP, dropped two, including one in the end zone. The Steelers' Fast Willie Parker was in the running for MVP on the strength of one play, his 75-yard rush on the second play of half No. 2.

I didn't see him make a cut on the play. It came on second-and-10, the Steelers were in three-wides, the Hawks were in a nickel. The right side of the Pittsburgh line, tight end Heath Miller, tackle Max Starks and guard Kendall Simmons blocked down, Alan Faneca, the off-guard, pulled around and pinned LB LeRoy Hill to the inside. It was perfectly blocked, but I can't remember a blocker ever winning the player of the game award.

Parker was like a choo choo train on a track, and the rest of his evening consisted of nine carries for 18 yards.

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