It was late in the first half of last night's Steelers/Saints game. The Steelers were ahead 3-0 and had the ball in Saints'territory after Ike Taylor surprised us all with a nice homecoming interception.
It was 1st and 10 from the Saints' 23 yard line when Ben Roethlisberger went back to pass. He attempted to hit Hines Ward down the middle for a touchdown, but the pass was broken up and Hines was nailed by the two defenders who were covering him. Right as the play ended, a flag was thrown as Hines stayed on the ground for an extra few seconds in obvious pain.
The first thing I thought of when I saw the flag was a personal foul on the Saints for a head-to-head hit on Hines. At the very least, I thought the defense would be called for holding, illegal contact, or hopefully, pass interference and Pittsburgh would get the ball 1st and goal with a chance to take a 10-0 into the locker room.
Just before the referee announced the penalty, I heard the crowd roar and that's when he said that the Steelers were penalized for offensive pass interference. The guilty party was Hines Ward. Cris Collinsworth, the NBC color analyst, said it was the right call. I couldn't wait to see the replay of this foul. They showed it from two or three angles, and there was barely contact by Ward, but he did use his hand to sort of push off the defender.
Why I bring this up is because one of the most controversial plays from Super bowl XL, and the poster play for whining Seahawks fans, was the offensive pass interference call on Darrell Jackson that overturned a Seahawks touchdown in the first quarter that would have given Seattle a 7-0 lead. Jackson was jockeying for position in the back of the end zone with former Steelers safety Chris Hope when he pushed off of Hope and caught the touchdown pass.
It wasn't a big pushoff, but it was just enough to gain an advantage over Hope.
I'm not saying Hines didn't try to use his hand to gain an advantage. He did, but his push off was just a small tap on the shoulder of the defender, as if he was saying, "excuse me, but the ball is coming. May I have it please?" Jackson's push off was way more obvious and it was right in front of the official. Jackson might as well have said, "Mr. official, I'm pushing off of Mr. Hope. Please throw the flag."
If the call on Hines was a good one as Collinsworth suggested, then Seahawks fans can never bring up that call on Jackson ever again. You have forever lost that right. You can bring up the holding call early in the 4th quarter if you want (also pretty iffy.) You can whine about Ben's touchdown if that helps you (another weak case,) but the Jackson call is no longer admissible in the court of Steeler Nation.