By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — One old friend will stop by when the Seattle Seahawks face the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field, as NFL referee Bill Leavy will be among the officials working the game.
The significance is that he also was the referee when the Steelers beat the Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Leavy later admitted that he made several incorrect calls. Steelers fans say “who cares,” because their team won big anyway, while Seattle followers believe it cost them the game.
“It was a tough thing for me,” Leavy said. “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.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger discussed that situation Wednesday.
“He’s entitled to his opinion,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s the country that we live in, and he can say anything he wants. But I will tell him when I see him that I feel like he’s taken on too much on himself, and he didn’t need to do that.
“We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. And if he felt like he made a mistake, then that’s the way he feels and he’s entitled to feel that way.”
There were two fourth-quarter penalties that were questioned. There was a holding call against Sean Locklear, nullifying a Jerramy Stevens reception that would have given Seattle a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Then, after an interception, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was penalized for an illegal block below the waist on the play in which he made a tackle.
Two first-half plays also were considered controversial. A Seattle touchdown was nullified by a pass-interference penalty against Darrell Jackson, and Roethlisberger was awarded a touchdown on a one-yard plunge. The Seahawks believed he was stopped short.
“Oh, I was in,” Roethlisberger said. “I was in. I never had a doubt about anything. I thought Bill made a great call.”
Steelers wideout Hines Ward also weighed in on the situation.
“I feel bad for the guy,” Ward said. “He’s still taking heat for something from six years ago. It was six years ago, guys. Get over that. There’s a penalty on every play. At that time, that was what he saw. The push-off (Jackson’s touchdown), it was a push-off. The hold (Locklear) was a hold.
“(But) he just opened a whooooole can of worms by apologizing. We’re not going to worry about who’s whining. Let’s play. (And) why would they do that (give him this game) to that guy? Maybe that’s why they did that. He shouldn’t have said that. That’s his punishment,” Ward added with a smile.
Hampton on Ravens Illegal Chop Blocks
The Baltimore Ravens actually established two trends when they ran left with Ray Rice on their opening offensive play against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday afternoon.
First, the Ravens set the tone with a physical play right away, and things steadily got worse for the Steelers after that. Secondly, they established that their offensive line would do anything necessary to run the ball on the Steelers.
That meant using illegal chop blocks. On that opening play, Ravens tight end Ed Dickson handled Troy Polamalu, guard Ben Grubbs drilled Brett Keisel, fullback Vontae Leach controlled James Harrison and guard Marshal Yanda cut Casey Hampton while he was engaged with center Matt Birk. That is illegal.
“The Ravens usually don’t do things like that, but it’s a copy-cat league,” Hampton said Wednesday. “If they see something that works, they’re going to jump on it and do the same thing.”
Hampton added several times that he didn’t want to seem like he was whining about it, but since the media asked he responded.
“There’s really nothing you can do about it when you’re fighting with a guy, and another guy comes back and chops out your legs,” Hampton said. “There really isn’t anything that you can do about it. You’re cut.
“But if there’s two guys on me, I guess one of our linebackers should be free. I’ll just have to eat up two blockers like that if I can and hope that my knees don’t get blown out, and hopefully my linebackers can make some plays.”
Hampton added that he didn’t say anything to the officials about it, either.
“Man, I don’t cry about (crap),” Hampton said. “I just go out and play. I didn’t say one word. I’ll just go out and play. If they’re not going to call it, I’m not going to cry about it. If I do that, then I’m a crybaby, right? You just have to go out there and play, and if the ref sees that it’s illegal then maybe he’ll call it.
“But they didn’t see it as illegal, I guess, because they didn’t call it one time. So, there’s nothing you can do, but if it keeps on happening then something else has to happen. I’m not going to keep on getting chopped up like that in a game. They got me a couple times, but it’s no big deal. That’s just how it is.”
Hampton, an 11-year NFL veteran, has had one knee surgery during his career.