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On the Big Stage, This One Is Nothing to Sing About

Hines Ward takes time to dance in the end zone while scoring a touchdown on a pass from fellow wide receiver Antwaan Randle El following a reverse.
Hines Ward takes time to dance in the end zone while scoring a touchdown on a pass from fellow wide receiver Antwaan Randle El following a reverse. (By Harry How -- Getty Images)

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The great Smokey Robinson performed across the street from Ford Field on Friday night, so chances are he was available. And if Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder can do pregame and the national anthem, then why not reward them with the honor of doing the big show? Seeing Aretha perform in Detroit is, for some of us, the equivalent of seeing Frank Sinatra perform in New York or Michael Jordan perform in Chicago.

It makes me wonder if some artists, particularly in the R&B tradition, are being forced to pay for Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction from a couple of years ago.

Yes, this is what the Super Bowl has become, especially when the game is pretty much a snoozer. This is how big it is. Who's in the pregame? Who's singing the anthem? Who's at halftime? Who has commercial time? How did the Steelers fans get all those tickets?

At times, it didn't look or sound like there was a single Seahawks fan in the building. To say the crowd was 90 percent in support of the Steelers is an understatement. No one should ever call Super Bowl XL a neutral-site game. Not that anybody was at fault, but no Super Bowl in history has ever provided such a home-field advantage.

The Seahawks had a chance to keep the place quiet but made one bonehead play after another, from holding calls to dropping passes that would have extended drives and perhaps led to scores. Jerramy Stevens (three dropped passes) was even softer than Joey Porter suggested. And I've seen better clock management from high school teams than the Seahawks exhibited.

And when Seattle wasn't bungling, the referees were.

Seattle should have been ahead by a couple of touchdowns, yet found themselves down 7-3 at halftime because the referees blew a call. Roethlisberger's third-down dive into the end zone simply was not a touchdown, though it was called that on the field. Because less than two minutes remained, the call was reviewed in the booth. It was clearly and conclusively not a touchdown. Big Ben didn't get the ball across the goal line. Yet, the call stood.

Another penalty assessed on the Seahawks early in the fourth quarter, which negated a gain that took the Seahawks to the 1, also never happened. A penalty against Hasselbeck for blocking below the waist when, in fact, he was trying to tackle the interceptor, was erroneous. It would be irresponsible to say the officials were intentionally cheating Seattle. But the bad calls hurt Seattle's chances, no doubt.

Still, one gets the feeling the Steelers would have won a seven-game series, oh, 4-3. Ken Whisenhunt, the Steelers' offensive coordinator, is wonderfully creative, particularly with Roethlisberger, Randle El and Ward. And the defense is too hard-hitting. Hasselbeck played his rear end off, but his receivers are unreliable (isn't that a familiar theme?) and Shaun Alexander didn't have the kind of MVP performance his team needed to win the game. And in the end, the team that should have won did win. The Steelers beat the teams with the first, second and third seedings in the AFC and the top seed in the NFC. There's absolutely nothing more a team could do than that in the postseason -- nothing.


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