Super Bowl XL: "What If?"

The past few days have been pretty busy around Seattle; Seafair weekend offered plenty of activities that kept everyone mostly entertained.

It was not a perfect weekend, however.

The weather wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. Overcast skies and occasional rain showers aren’t exactly ideal for outdoor activities in the summer.

Along with the weather, Seattle-area residents were reminded of Super Bowl XL. Rain in August suddenly didn’t seem so bad.

Nearly five years ago, the Seattle Seahawks played the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. It was the first Super Bowl appearance ever for Seattle and an optimistic fan base had never been more excited about professional football. According to the Pacific Northwest and before XL, the Seattle Seahawks were the best team in the National Football League that season.

Seattle scored 452 points during the 2005 regular season, more than any other offense. Matt Hasselbeck completed 65.5% of his passes and Shaun Alexander scored a then-NFL record 28 touchdowns. The offense was fueled by four Pro Bowl blockers, including Mack Strong, Robbie Tobeck, Steve Hutchinson, and Walter Jones.

After defeating the Carolina Panthers 34-14 at Qwest Field, there was no reason not to feel confident. The Seahawks, featuring an explosive offense and an opportunistic defense, were the team to beat.

And then the worst possible scenario occurred: not only did the Seattle Seahawks lose Super Bowl XL, they lost a game marred by several questionable calls. That devastating loss brought the city of Seattle from the highest high to the lowest low.

Seahawks fans aren’t whiners. They aren’t unsportsmanlike or sore losers. Seattle is a championship-deprived city that felt robbed following Super Bowl XL.

I think everyone understands that good teams will play through bad penalties. Unfortunately, the Seattle Seahawks were not a good team on February 5, 2006. Bad calls may have left a bad taste in the mouths of Seahawks fans, but there is no guarantee the Steelers wouldn’t have won even with better officiating.

But the pain still lingers. Super Bowl XL is like an open wound that never really heals. The questionable calls will forever leave Seattle fans asking, “What if?”

What if Darrell Jackson wasn’t flagged for pass interference? What if Ben Roethlisberger was called down short of the goal line? What if Sean Locklear wasn’t called for holding?

Unfortunately, there’s an endless amount of questions that could be asked.

When Bill Leavy admitted fault last week, it didn’t heal any wounds. As a fan, I did not feel vindicated or any better about the loss.

I didn’t need Bill Leavy to tell me he screwed up. It may justify any lingering bitterness, but it also opens wounds suffered over four years ago.

I try to forget. But I can’t stop asking, “What if?”

At least now we aren’t only whining; Bill Leavy admitted he screwed up:

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.

The only true vindication will come when the Seahawks bring a Lombardi trophy back to Seattle. Until then, it will be hard to forget or forgive what happened in Super Bowl XL.

Shaun Dolence: dolencesm@gmail.com
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Tags: Bill Leavy Championship Lombardi Trophy Mack Strong Matt Hasselbeck National Football League Officiating Pittsburgh Steelers Qwest Field Referees Robbie Tobeck Seattle Seattle Seahawks Shaun Alexander Steve Hutchinson Super Bowl Super Bowl XL Walter Jones

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