The Pulse: Unnecessary Officiating

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.

Story of the Day: Super Bore

Upon further review, SportsNation finds insufficient reason to get excited about the Pittsburgh Steelers winning Super Bowl XL in Detroit on Sunday.

By beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10, the Steelers gave Jerome Bettis the perfect parting gift as the burly running back heads into retirement. The Steelers also became just the third franchise to win a fifth Super Bowl, although SportsNation voters still rank them behind the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys for dominance during the Super Bowl era.

But while Pittsburgh fans can revel in the moment of Antwaan Randle El's strike to Hines Ward and savor the historical significance of Ben Roethlisberger's first title, most of SportsNation appears a little put out with Sunday's show (and not just the part involving the Rolling Stones). More than half of SportsNation voters didn't enjoy the game and nearly 62 percent think officiating mistakes affected the outcome.

Did you enjoy the Super Bowl this year? (18,231 votes)
52.1% No
47.8% Yes

Will fans in Seattle have to wait another generation for a second chance at the Super Bowl? The Seahawks rank behind only the Steelers, Colts and Patriots in the early voting for Super Bowl XLI, but 57% of voters don't think Matt Hasselbeck will play in another Super Bowl, and 61% don't think Mike Holmgren will get back there with the Seahawks.

  • Click here to vote

    Do you think officiating mistakes affected the outcome of Super Bowl XL? (103,167 votes)
    61.7% Yes
    38.2% No

    Which is the best franchise of the Super Bowl era? (53,176 votes)
    30.1% San Francisco 49ers
    23.4% Dallas Cowboys
    21.5% Pittsburgh Steelers
    15.5% New England Patriots
    9.2% Green Bay Packers

    What was the biggest play of the game? (54,243 votes)
    40.1% Antwaan Randle El's TD pass to Hines Ward
    30.4% Willie Parker's 75-yard TD run
    14.6% Ben Roethlisberger's disputed TD run
    12.0% Matt Hasselbeck's interception in fourth quarter
    2.3% Seahawks wasting time on final drive of first half
    0.6% Hasselbeck's fumble in the fourth quarter

  • Click here to vote on the game

    Inside the Story: 14 Points of Contention

    Mike Holmgren told a crowd in Seattle that the Seahawks had to battle the officials just as much as the Steelers, and as mentioned above, two out of three SportsNation voters think the guys in striped shirts affected the outcome of the game.

    So exactly what is the source of all this grumbling? Start with a pair of contested touchdowns.

    With the game awaiting its first score, Seattle receiver Darrell Jackson appeared to haul in a touchdown to top off his active first quarter. But the points came off the board when Jackson was flagged for pushing off on the defender as Matt Hasselbeck scrambled away from pressure. Offensive pass interference? Not according to 74 percent of SportsNation voters.

    Later in the first half, Ben Roethlisberger put the Steelers ahead to stay with a one-yard touchdown plunge. Or did he? The official who signaled for the score at first appeared to be spotting the ball short. And while 15 percent of voters admit they're still not sure if the ball ever broke the plane, 59 percent say the call, and the subsequent instant replay, got it wrong.

    Which played the biggest role in determining the outcome of the game? (118,130 votes)
    57.5% Officials missing calls
    28.3% Seahawks not making plays
    14.2% Steelers making plays

    Of the more than 100 million viewers who watch Super Bowl XL, a healthy majority probably had jobs to show up for on Monday. So did the officials (give or take a few days of seclusion). Unlike officials in the other major pro sports, NFL officials are part-time workers. Maybe that's why 89% of voters rank the officials in the NBA, NHL and MLB ahead of their NFL peers.

    As for the overall officiating product, 87% of voters think making the zebras full-time would improve a group who 45% rated as either "bad" or "abysmal" this season.

  • Click here to vote

    What grade would you give referee Bill Leavy's officiating crew for Super Bowl XL? (118,130 votes)
    50.6% F
    24.8% D
    13.9% C
    8.8% B
    1.9% A

    Do you think the official made the right call on Darrell Jackson's offensive pass interference in the endzone, negating a Seattle touchdown in the first quarter? (118,130 votes)
    73.8% No
    20.5% Yes
    5.7% I'm not sure

    Do you think the football broke the plane of the goal line on Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown run in the second quarter? (118,130 votes)
    59.3% No
    25.9% Yes
    14.8% I'm not sure

    Do you think the official made the right call on Sean Locklear's holding penalty in the fourth quarter, negating an 18-yard reception to the one-yard line by Jerramy Stevens? (118,130 votes)
    74.3% No
    15.3% Yes
    10.4% I'm not sure

  • Click here to vote on the officiating

    Voice of the Fan
    I'd have to say the perfect image from Super Bowl XL was the ref running in to spot the ball on Big Ben's sneak at the goal line, then inexplicably calling it a touchdown halfway there, after Ben had scooted the ball over the line. I didn't think NFL refs actually fell for that.
    JT (Cleveland)

    The Super Bowl is one part football and many parts spectacle. But even the fun stuff didn't get SportsNation excited this year. In fact, 46% of voters rated both the national anthem and the halftime show as worse than average, with one in five voters rating them as the worst ever.

    So how about the commercials? Anheuser-Busch was the clear winner with voters, earning four of the top five spots for best commercial, including the top-rated ''Magic Fridge'' spot.

  • Click here to see the commercials | Vote

    Let's rename the NFL the WW-NFL; that way we won't be surprised when the game is fixed. They REALLY need to do something about the officials; they've screwed up this whole year and topped it off with a Super (Let's Show Favorites) Bowl. I'm not a fan of either team, but I was hoping to see a good game, not one decided by the zebras. I was VERY disappointed.
    Art (Frederick, Md.)

    What kind of officiating was that? Absolutely terrible calls that killed Seattle's chances of winning. If those penalties were called against Pittsburgh, people would be screaming murder today.
    Chris (Charlotte)

    I am not a Steelers or Seahawks fan, but I have to say that this was one of the worst-officiated Super Bowls I've seen in a long time. It was sad to see the refs have an impact on what would have been a great game.
    Jason (Buffalo)

    The refs might have made some bad calls, but Seattle didn't exactly help their cause by dropping passes, missing field goals and awful two minute drills. They had their chances to win the game.
    KB (Baltimore)

    Wow, despite all the drinking at Super Bowl parties yesterday, there's apparently still plenty of whine left over!
    Mike (Washington, D.C.)

    Perception is reality. The calls the refs made were, by the rule book, not incorrect. But by all of them being called on Seattle, it is open to criticism and discussion.
    Hende (Ohio)

    Even if the Seahawks did not take advantage of their other opportunities, the officials should not be overly visible in a game. This is a problem that existed all year. The NFL has to do something about the bad officiating this season.
    Mike (Cohoes)

  • Click here for transcript of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie

    SportsNation's Show: During the Game

    The sum total of Sunday's officiating infuriated voters, but only 26% rate Roethlisberger's touchdown as the most controversial call of the past year, behind 33% for A.J. Pierzynski's strikeout in the ALCS and 31% for Troy Polamalu's pick against the Colts. Vote!

    Jeremy Green: This might be one of the worst-officiated games in Super Bowl history. Every call they want to make, they should just go the opposite direction.

    Gary Horton: From the replays I saw, I don't think [Roethlisberger] was in. I think he touched down before he crossed the plane. But the call that really confuses me is that they didn't review the potential Darrell Jackson TD catch. He was closer to being in than we thought.

  • Click here for the Super Bowl chat transcript

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