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NFL says Super Bowl 'properly officiated'

2/8/2006 - NFL

The NFL defended the officiating in the Super Bowl on Tuesday, two days after the Steelers beat the Seahawks 21-10 in the NFL
title game. The league said Tuesday that no mistakes were made by
the game officials, although Seattle coach Mike Holmgren might
disagree.

"The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL
games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls
made by the officials," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a
statement.

The officiating has been a the major topic of
discussion since Sunday night. Right after the game, Holmgren
suggested that the first-quarter offensive interference call on the
Seahawks' Darrell Jackson, negating what would have been the game's
first touchdown, probably should have been "a no call."

Holmgren, a former chairman of the NFL's rule-making competition
committee, fueled the debate Monday during a rally for the Seahawks
at Qwest Field when he said, "We knew it was going to be tough
going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were
going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."

The questionable calls:

• Replays on the offensive interference call showed that
Jackson's arms made contact with Pittsburgh's Chris Hope and that
they separated afterward. Under the rules, pass interference took
place but sometimes the call isn't made.

• The first TD of the game scored on a third-down rollout by
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger late in the first half.
Roethlisberger appeared to come down short of the goal line, but it
was unclear on replay whether he had gotten the ball to the line
before going down. Referee Bill Leavy upheld the call because there
was not enough incontrovertible evidence to overturn it.

• Holding call on Sean Locklear in the fourth: Locklear's penalty
erased an 18-yard completion from Matt Hasselbeck to Jerramy
Stevens to the Pittsburgh 1 that would have put the Seahawks in
position to go ahead 17-14 with around 12 minutes left. It was a
close call that was difficult to see on replay.

• One call that clearly appeared erroneous came after that
penalty, when Hasselbeck threw an interception to Pittsburgh's Ike
Taylor, then made the tackle but was called for a block below the
waist, giving the Steelers an extra 15 yards. They scored soon
afterward on a pass from Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward. Replays
showed Hasselbeck never made contact with the player he was
supposed to have hit illegally, instead going straight to Taylor to
make the tackle.

The Super Bowl crew headed by Leavy was comprised of officials
who were graded best at each position during the regular season.