Holmgren Finds XL a Super 'Disappointment'

By Mark Maske and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 6, 2006

DETROIT, Feb. 5 -- The evening began with Seattle Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren having a chance to make NFL history as the first coach to win Super Bowls with two franchises. Instead, he became a two-time Super Bowl loser as the Seahawks gave a performance marred by dropped passes and costly penalties and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-10.

"Any time you get this far and lose this game, it's a tremendous disappointment," said Holmgren, who went 1-1 in the Super Bowl while coaching the Green Bay Packers. "As happy as the other locker room is, that's how disappointed we are. I'm more disappointed in how we played in certain areas. I think we were careless with the football, and we had way too many penalties."

The Seahawks had several close calls by the officials go against them, and Holmgren remained unconvinced even after referee Bill Leavy's instant-replay review that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had gotten the ball to the goal line on his one-yard touchdown run on third down in the second quarter.

"The one I thought was a tough one was that I don't think [Roethlisberger] scored," Holmgren said.

Raiders Await Whisenhunt

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt likely will interview for the Oakland Raiders' vacant head coaching job in the coming days and could be hired if all goes well in his dealings with Raiders owner Al Davis.

Davis has not hired a replacement for Norv Turner, whom Davis fired after the regular season. The other nine NFL teams who fired coaches during or just after the regular season have hired head coaches and have been busy assembling staffs of assistants and readying for free agency and the draft.

But Davis always has moved at his own pace, and it became clear last week that he would wait for Whisenhunt to become available after the Super Bowl. Under NFL rules, Whisenhunt could not be hired by another team until the Steelers completed their season.

Whisenhunt said during the week he was honored to be a head coaching candidate but was focusing on preparations for Sunday's meeting with the Seattle Seahawks. The Steelers have a reputation as a team that wins with its defense and running game. But, in truth, Whisenhunt is a creative coach who knows how and when to unveil gadget plays, and he has been instrumental in the grooming of second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The Raiders interviewed San Diego Chargers wide receivers coach James Lofton and their own quarterbacks coach, John Shoop. They also interviewed former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who have all subsequently been hired elsewhere.

It's relatively rare for a team to wait for a Super Bowl assistant coach to become available as a head coaching candidate. But if the Raiders hire Whisenhunt, it would be the second straight year that it happened. The Cleveland Browns waited until after the Super Bowl last year to hire New England Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as their head coach.

Saints Back Home Sept. 24

The New Orleans Saints will play their first game at the Superdome next season on Sept. 24 against the Atlanta Falcons, the NFL announced Sunday. Officials originally had estimated that the building, damaged by Hurricane Katrina, wouldn't be ready to host games until November. The Saints were based in San Antonio this season after being displaced from New Orleans in August by Katrina, and split this season's home games between San Antonio and Baton Rouge, La. They have moved back into their training facility in Metairie, La., and plan to play home preseason games at other sites in Louisiana.

Carson Changes His Tune

Former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson said Sunday he is pleased with his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will participate in induction ceremonies in August in Canton, Ohio.

Carson was one of six elected Saturday by the 39 media members who serve as Hall of Fame selectors. His election came two years after Carson, fed up with the selection process, said he no longer wanted to be considered.

"I was never disenchanted with the Hall of Fame," Carson said in a conference call with reporters. "I was always disenchanted with the process. Obviously, I will show up. . . . You look at the support I had [and] for me not to show up would be disrespecting those people who really went to bat for me."

Carson said the death of longtime Giants owner Wellington Mara in October changed his thinking because he didn't want to tarnish Mara's legacy or embarrass the organization.

Carson was on a flight to Hawaii when he was elected Saturday and said he found out about his selection when someone congratulated him at the baggage carousel. . . .

Former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman, who was elected Saturday in his first year of eligibility, plans to have Turner, his former offensive coordinator with the Cowboys, introduce him at the induction ceremony in Canton.

Alexander Bogged Down

The Seattle Seahawks rode running back Shaun Alexander to get this far in the postseason, but he was unable to make much of an impact in this game. Alexander started slowly and began gaining chunks of yards in the third quarter. With his team playing from behind in the second half, he ended up with 20 carries for 95 yards and no touchdowns.

Alexander was the league's most valuable player in the regular season, leading the NFL in rushing and setting the record for touchdowns in a season (28), and the Steelers viewed him as the key to the game.

"We tried to shut down the run and make them one dimensional," Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior said. "And I think we did that."

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