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Controversy following Steelers

February 5, 2009
The Altoona Mirror

It's no surprise that many in the national media are talking about the officiating in Sunday's Super Bowl XLIII, as if it hindered the Arizona Cardinals' chances of winning.

The Steelers always seem to have a bit of controversy in their big playoff victories. Here are a few of the more memorable ones:

n Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception in the 1972 playoffs was disputed because the ball may have ricocheted off his teammate, Frenchy Fuqua.

n In Super Bowl IX, the Steelers led the Vikings, 9-6, when the Steelers' Larry Brown had the ball jarred loose from him as he hit the ground. The officials huddled and ruled he was down before fumbling.

n In Super Bowl XIII, the Cowboys' Benny Barnes was called for interference on Lynn Swann when the two's feet got tangled.

n In the 1979 AFC Championship Game, the Oilers' Mike Renfro juggled a pass in the end zone, and the play was determined to be an incomplete pass.

n In Super Bowl XL, Ben Roethlisberger's diving attempt at the goal line was ruled a TD, and Seattle's Darrell Jackson was called for offensive pass interference in the end zone.

But before anyone starts thinking the Steelers always have the officiating on their side, consider:

n The Steelers' Dwayne Washington was called for running into the kicker on a missed field goal in Tennessee in the 2002 playoffs, allowing the Titans to get a second chance in overtime.

n Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu intercepted a pass and nearly clinched victory in Indianapolis during the 2005 Super Bowl run, and the officials overturned it, saying he never had possession. The NFL later said they blew the call.

n The NFL also admitted later that the Jaguars were holding on David Garrard's key fourth-down run in last year's playoffs.

Mostly every time two teams play a tightly contested game in the playoffs, controversy is going to exist. The officials weren't at their best on Sunday, but they didn't determine the outcome.

When the game was on the line, the Steelers made more clutch plays, and that's why they're Super Bowl champs.

Super Bowl notes

n If a team is not awarded points when an opponent is called for interference in the end zone, why does the NFL award points for holding in the end zone?

n The NFL eliminated the push-out on receptions this year. The Cardinals had three defenders around Santonio Holmes on the game-winning touchdown, and none of them was able to take advantage of the new rule.

n Amid the Steelers' postgame locker room celebration was a gratified Mitch Berger. The veteran punter kept saying how it took him 15 years and 10 teams to earn a Super Bowl ring. He admitted he was ''horrible'' at times this year but that he didn't screw up any holds for Jeff Reed and also knows ''a few tricks,'' such as when he earned a penalty against the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson.

Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or

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