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Published: Monday, 2/6/2006

Seattle, Holmgren squander shot at title

DETROIT The Pittsburgh Steelers were indeed super in winning their first Super Bowl in 26 years.

In retrospect, the scared-straight Seattle Seahawks were stuck in a 60-minute stupor last night in their 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field.

Seattle, in turn, blew its chance to silence the skeptics who refused to give the upstart Seahawks the benefit of the doubt, despite the commanding sideline presence of coach Mike Holmgren.

Holmgren deserves the credit he ll receive for his Seahawks looking like a Super Bowl pretender.

I think we were careless with the football and we had way too many penalties, Holmgren said. I think that was pretty much the story of the game.

Holmgren s terrific accomplishments throughout his career won t save him from Seattle s terrible performance.

It s a shame, because Holm-gren is a terrific football coach. But not in Super Bowl XL.

Holmgren was off his game, and his players followed his lead.

He just told us that he was proud of the effort that we put in this year and just because we lost this game that the season wasn t a waste and that we have to play better on the big stage, Seattle defensive end Bryce Fisher said of Holmgren.

The bottom line is that their team didn t make the mistakes that we made.

The Seahawks played like a team that was just happy to be in the Super Bowl.

Holmgren won a Super Bowl with Green Bay, but none of Seattle s players seemed to know what it took to win a game of this magnitude.

We did some uncharacteristic things, said Seattle cornerback and former University of Toledo standout Kelly Herndon.

Translation: The Seahawks weren t ready for prime time.

In fact, the Seahawks were so not ready for prime time that the phantom pass interference call against wide receiver Darrell Jackson in the first quarter that negated a Seattle touchdown, and the official s ruling that permitted Ben Roethlisberger s questionable second-quarter touchdown run to stand probably wouldn t have saved the Seahawks from themselves.

Seattle s best and biggest play wasn t even in the playbook. Herndon intercepted a Rothlisberger pass near the goal line and ran it back 76 yards, a Super Bowl record.

Herndon s exciting third-quarter play set up Seattle s lone touchdown, a 16-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck to tight end Jerramy Stevens.

Stevens, who made verbal sparring partner and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter look like a prophet with his overall shaky performance, had numerous drops and nearly dropped the scoring toss.

But Stevens wasn t alone. The Seahawks weren t Super Bowl worthy.

They squandered opportunities, committed critical physical and mental errors, and played back on their heels.

We missed some great plays that could have made us champions, Seattle running back Shaun Alexander said.

Trailing 7-3 with 1:46 left in the second quarter, Holmgren put his offense in a hurry-up mode but wasted too much time on third-and-six at the Pittsburgh 36.

Pittsburgh bailed out the Seahawks by calling timeout and stopping the clock at the 13-second mark.

After consulting with Holm-gren, Hasselbeck, instead of throwing for first-down yardage into better field-goal range, lofted a bomb that Jackson caught out of bounds.

That left Seattle s Josh Brown with a difficult 54-yard field goal attempt that had the distance but missed wide right. Pittsburgh took a four-point lead into the locker room and with it the momentum that once seemed to be the sole property of the Seahawks.

You can t make the mistakes that we made and expect to win against a good team like this, Hasselbeck said.

I m not so sure it was the Steelers play or our mistakes. We just made too many.

Upon receiving the second-half kickoff, Pittsburgh marched downfield and scored the insurance touchdown. Willie Parker bolted for a Super Bowl-record 75-yard run to put Seattle in a 14-3 hole.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antwaan Randle El tacked on an in-your-face touchdown in the fourth quarter when he floated a perfect 43-yard pass to Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward.

Seattle s defenders were spectators on both plays. The Seahawks had the best seats in Ford Field all game long.



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