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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 6, 2006

Penalties, quarterback play thwart Seahawks' chances

Advertiser News Services

DETROIT Mike Holmgren has made his mark in the NFL with his handling and development of quarterbacks. But when it mattered most in Super Bowl XL, he couldn't overcome quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and Hasselbeck couldn't overcome Holmgren.

Ultimately, the Seahawks lost to themselves, with 70 yards assessed in penalties, not including the 52 yards gained then called back on three plays one a 16-yard touchdown pass. The Seahawks, tied for second-fewest penalties in the NFL, destroyed themselves with undisciplined play that cost them touchdowns.

"The thing that bothers me as much as anything else was the penalties," Holmgren said. "You can't overcome those things."

As much as any single factor, however, quarterbacking doomed the Seahawks.

Hasselbeck put the team on his back for the playoff victory against Washington when Shaun Alexander was injured. But yesterday he fell flat on his back.

"I'm not sure they were mental mistakes as much as just mistakes," Hasselbeck said.

"I guess it wasn't our day that way. You can't make the mistakes we made and expect to win the game against a good team like this."

Never mind Hasselbeck's 273 passing yards, 155 of them in the second half, and 26 completions. Or even the 67.8 passer rating that was superficially better than Ben Roethlisberger's 22.6 for Pittsburgh.

Those numbers lie.

Roethlisberger averaged nearly a full yard more per pass play, one reliable indicator of NFL success.

Holmgren started the game with his preferred script of passes calculated to help his quarterback settle in.

But late in the second quarter, Holmgren wasted a critical scoring chance by having Hasselbeck throw low-percentage deep sideline passes that were incomplete and left Seattle with an unsuccessful 54-yard field-goal attempt.

Trailing 14-10 early in the fourth quarter, Hasselbeck threw an interception directly to Pittsburgh then added 15 penalty yards.

Instead of a go-ahead TD or at least a field goal, the play set up Pittsburgh's final score and put Seattle in a hole from which it never escaped.

HAWAI'I CONNECTION

Pittsburgh starting defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen, a Moloka'i High and Boise State alum, finished with two initial tackles.

Three other players with Hawai'i connections were inactive because of injuries: Seattle tackle Wayne Hunter, a Radford High and University of Hawai'i alum and tight end Itula Mili, a Kahuku and Brigham Young alum, and Pittsburgh guard Chris Kemoeatu, a Kahuku and Utah alum.

NEXT STOP, OAKLAND?

The Oakland Raiders plan to interview Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt in the coming days for their coaching vacancy.

If Whisenhunt hits it off with Raiders owner Al Davis and senior personnel executive Michael Lombardi, things could progress quickly this week for the team to hire Norv Turner's successor.

Oakland has been without a head coach for more than a month since Turner was fired Jan. 3, and the new coach will need time to set his staff and be involved in planning the offseason workout program.

Whisenhunt, whose team played Seattle in the Super Bowl yesterday, would follow Al Saunders, James Lofton and Rod Marinelli to formally interview with the Raiders.

Oakland also held an informal talk with former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz, although nothing came of that meeting. Martz, however, wasn't someone Davis considered a candidate for the top job but perhaps for offensive coordinator.

SUPER MVPS ON PARADE

Once Franco Harris walked onto the field waving his Terrible Towel, the pro-Steelers crowd went bonkers.

The Pittsburgh fans and they packed every corner of Ford Field waved their towels back and hollered for a favorite son.

Harris was one of 31 former Super Bowl MVPs honored before the Seahawks and Steelers kicked off. He wasn't the only former Steeler who drew a loud cheer. Receiver Lynn Swann raised his arms and the crowd went wild. Even Joe Namath, who was raised near Pittsburgh and guaranteed a Jets' win in the 1969 Super Bowl, got a big ovation.

The one Steeler missing was Terry Bradshaw, who won back-to-back MVPs in 1979 and 1980. He was invited to participate, but didn't attend.

No matter. Ford Field had the feel of Heinz Field back in Pittsburgh.

SUPERDOME RETURN SET

The New Orleans Saints, driven from their home by Hurricane Katrina last August, will return to the Superdome on Sept. 24 to play the Atlanta Falcons.

A mural with the news was completed on the outside of the Superdome just before the start of yesterday's Super Bowl in Detroit between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. The building, which served as a shelter immediately after the storm, was severely damaged by the hurricane.

The mural contains the date of the game, helmet logos of both teams and a "Go Saints" slogan.

The game will be the third of the season for the Saints, who played their "home" opener last season at the home of their opponent, the New York Giants. The rest of the team's home schedule was played in San Antonio and Baton Rouge, La.

The Associated Press and Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.