I knew well before their game against San Diego began this past Sunday that it would be a tough game for the Steelers from an officiating standpoint . The reason was pretty simple. In Week 2, San Diego was robbed of a win over Denver because of a horrendous call by Ed HGH-ochuli. Despite all the ruckus and the apologies that ensued, the fact remained that the refs had cost SD a potentially crucial division win. Then, last week when SD played Kansas City, with time running out and KC driving, SD was victimized by a horrible pass interference call that gave KC the ball at virtually the SD goal line. Of course KC scored the TD and (eerily reminiscent of the Denver game) went for a two-point conversion. Had KC made it, SD would have lost the game---KC didn’t and SD dodged a bullet, and the bad interference call didn’t get too much play in the subsequent media analysis. However, I’d bet anything that someone from SD was chewing off the ears of the NFL officials all week, demanding to know why SD is being victimized by not just bad calls, but “critical fail” bad calls that clearly cost them one division win and nearly cost them another! Unless you’re completely naïve, you’d have to figure that the refereeing in upcoming SD games, certainly in the immediate future, would tend to give SD a bit more of the benefit of the doubt. Not out of any grand conspiracy or hush-hush NFL edict, but simply as a result of human nature. The next zebra to make a really bad call against SD would face some serious heat all around; naturally all the refs would be gun-shy when calling something on SD. So it comes as no surprise to me that Pittsburgh was penalized thirteen times while SD was penalized only twice. This kinda shit just happens every now and then.
Speaking of San Diego, I fail to understand how Norv Turner can take that much talent and manage to lose so many games. I thought this guy would be the anti-Schottenheimer, as in he’d kinda suck in the regular season and have SD limp into the playoffs but then he’d end up winning a championship just because all those studs on the team would find a way to get fired up and make plays despite Norv’s leadership during the playoffs. But it looks like SD may not even make the playoffs! And spare me the whine about injuries etc---you give Jeff Fisher the SD team as it is today and they’d never lose. Heck, Fisher’s got a rag, tag and bobtail outfit by comparison in Nashville and they still don’t fucking lose.
By way of clarification, I should add that I think Schottenheimer kicked ass as a coach and that if he‘d been kept on with SD they’d be a dynasty now. Marty almost always got his players to over-achieve and got teams into the playoffs that most others wouldn’t. Of course, lack of talent eventually catches up with you; Marty got beaten in the playoffs more often on talent than on coaching. In his last year in SD, when he had all the talent and had them firing on all cylinders, they lost to a pretty good Pats team because his receivers could not hold on to the damn ball when it mattered. Quick, name one franchise QB, RB or WR that Marty had in KC (and aging Montanas or Marcus Allens don’t really count. In any case he did take KC to the AFC championship game with Montana and lost to Buffalo--but which AFC team in those days didn‘t lose to Buffalo?). How many players left Marty’s KC to go on to great careers with other teams?
I’m not saying he’s the greatest coach who ever lived. Just saying that his playoff record rap is a bit unfair and that the end of his tenure at SD was ludicrous.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008