Take heart, Seahawks fans, what hurts the 49ers helps you

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comFebruary 5, 2013 

It won’t show up in the records, but Super Bowl XLVII was a win for the Seattle Seahawks.

Unofficially, of course. And mostly just for the fans.

After all, they got to spend an afternoon enjoying the sight of bitter rival San Francisco falling in painful, agonizing defeat.

Not only did the Niners lose, they were denied their final chance by a botched no-call on an obvious penalty that should have set them up for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Germans have a term for taking such extravagant delight in a rival’s pain – Harbaughfreude, I believe.

Seattle fans can chew on this other bit of statistical candy: Since 2000, only five of the 13 Super Bowl losers won their division the following season, and seven of the 13 didn’t even make the playoffs.

While the Niners contributed to their demise in many ways, they deserve at least grudging kudos from rival fans for the belated-but-brilliant second-half scoring outburst that put them on the threshold of victory.

But their last-gasp pass into the end zone fell incomplete when receiver Michael Crabtree was clearly held by Baltimore’s Jimmy Smith.

Analysts have argued that the refs won’t make that call in a game-deciding situation, or that the contact was mutual and that sort of thing had been tolerated throughout.

But when a defender is going Greco-Roman on a receiver, and has such a grasp that the jersey is being pulled, it should be a penalty at any point in the game.

And while there will at some point be a statute-of-limitations that expires on this gripe, it remains fair to point out that the defensive-holding infraction that was not called on Smith was far more flagrant than the offensive pass interference that was called on Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson in Super Bowl XL that nullified a touchdown.

The official’s blatant oversight gave the nation a chance get a good view of the kind of Jim Harbaugh hissy that brings Seahawks fans such delight. He had absolutely every right to be upset.

Yet he nonetheless did so in a manner that likely caused 1 billion viewers around the world to ask: What’s his deal?

In keeping with the theme of the evening, the CBS announcers were totally unenlightening regarding that play. Phil Simms offered: “The more angles I see, the more confused I get.” Thanks for clearing it up for us, Phil.

This is the same analyst who had to have play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz ask him about the wisdom of the Ravens taking a safety rather than trying to punt from their own end zone with :08 on the clock. Hadn’t crossed Simms’ mind.

Simms likewise contended that the Ravens’ failure to get a first down on a fake field goal in the first half didn’t cost them because San Francisco didn’t eventually score on the exchange.

No, but the Ravens sacrificed what was a certain three points, and at the end of the game those three points would have left Baltimore with a 37-29 lead with four minutes remaining.

The Niners would not only have had to punch in a touchdown on the final drive, but also convert a two-point conversion just to get a tie and go into overtime.

Like the Seahawks, the Niners have taken to extreme the philosophy that you can win any game in the fourth quarter, and it’s not important to get off to a good start.

So, they found themselves down 28-6.

And for a team that is successful and well-coached in so many regards to have two weeks to prepare for the biggest game in their lives, and have a 20-yard gain on the very first play nullified by an illegal-formation penalty is just flat-out embarrassing.

And while the Niners had the No. 2-rated defense in the league during the regular season, they were solved for nearly 400 yards and 30 points a game during the postseason, and that’s after having 42 rung up against them by the Seahawks late in December.

Seahawks fans may also take heart in the fact that all four NFC West teams have now lost a Super Bowl since 2002. And each of those franchises slipped from division contention in the years afterward.

So, although the Niners look strong and talented, and were only a slender yellow hanky from a championship, history is now working against them.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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