8am on Saturday morning the power went out due to a wind storm that hit western Washington. This is so common on Vashon Island, and in all of Seattle, that it’s one of those inconveniences of living in Seattle. But by 3pm when Puget Sound Energy still had no idea when service would be restored, I started getting concerned that the power could be out for several days, forcing us to cancel our Super Bowl party on Sunday afternoon. Puget Sound Energy sounded a lot like they did two years ago when we had a 72-hour outage.
Seattle is an old city with an inept government so basic infrastructure is often a problem. The viaduct that is falling apart, the two floating bridges that are in danger of sinking, a two-decade-long traffic congestion problem that still has no solution in sight, an eight-year battle over a train system that is billions of dollars in debt before it even gets started, the list goes on and on.
We’ve had six power-outages this winter alone. I grew up on the east coast and I doubt I can remember six outages in 20 years. Never did we have an outage that lasted more than six hours. A six-hour outage in Seattle is a short one. Puget Sound Energy is simply unprepared for common occurrences because they don’t need to be — electric companies are government-mandated monopolies. No monopoly serves its customers well. Not once did I hear an apology from anyone at PSE about the outage, they just kept patting themselves on the back for working on the problem and calling in crews from neighboring states — they were proud of themselves for being incapable of solving their problems and needing help from others. Like all monopolies, they run their business like a tyrant, extracting more and more money from their customers while providing worse service. PSE does nothing to prevent future outages other than trim trees around power lines — we haven’t had anyone trimming around power lines around our home since 2001.
At noon on Saturday, Gay witnessed a branch knocking the power line down on the road adjacent to our property. She called PSE to report a downed line, which is what they request you do. No one ever came to look at it.
By Sunday morning at 7am, PSE claimed they solved our outage. I talked to a customer service rep and explained that we didn’t have power. They claimed to make a record of that. An hour later I called to check on the status and again, they claimed our power had been restored. I said that we hadn’t been restored and they claimed to make a record of that. An hour after that I called again and there was still no record that we were still without power! I called every hour on the hour until 3pm and I think I only got one person to believe me that there was no power at our house.
Friends that were planning to come to our house for the game invited us over to their house, but after my frustration with PSE, I was not in the mood to be the lone Steelers fan in in a room full of Seahawks fans. I was optimistic that power would be restored just in time for the game. I was wrong. But we did see the entire game! Sunday morning I fired up our gas generator and switched the house power over to it. The generator isn’t terribly useful, it only powers the kitchen, which keeps the refrigerator cold, and a couple (random?) outlets on one side of the house. I ran extension cords from one kitchen outlet to the television and cable box and could finally watch the pregame show. It was freezing cold, but I was happy to know that I could watch the game in the discomfort of my own house. I also took pride that PSE was not beating me, that I could have electricity with no help at all from PSE.
We had no idea how long the gas in the generator would last, but I filled it up and went to the gas station to have another 5 gallons in reserve. The Steeler gods were looking down on me because that tank of gas ran out during halftime, saving me from having to watch the Rolling Stones — the Steeler gods are thoughtful too! I filled up the generator with gas again and knew we’d have enough to get through the rest of the game. With less than 5 minutes to play in the game, the power was restored and we could switch from the little television to the big projector screen and watch the rest of the game and hours of postgame shows in HD.
This Super Bowl will be memorable for me because the Steelers won for the first time since I was 10 years old and because of the difficulties in watching the game. It just goes to show that no matter how much you plan your life, things never work out according to your plans. John Lennon was correct when he said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” You have to be able to work around life’s difficulties. Working around those difficulties makes life interesting and winning makes life that much more rewarding and you a stronger person. Just like the Steelers! They had a rough season and no one thought they could win, but they never gave up, adjusted their plans and are stronger for it.
Seattle fans could learn this lesson themselves. The Seattle fans are whining about bad calls from the referees, but that’s just a case of blaming someone else for your problems. The Seahawks fans sound like Puget Sound Energy customer service employees! The Steelers got several bad calls from the refs in the Colts game, and the Steelers still won. What’s the difference?
The difference is that the Steelers are simply a better team all-around. Just like many analysts said, Seattle would have to play a perfect game to beat the Steelers. Seattle didn’t play a perfect game. They missed two field goals, Jeramy Stevens dropped several catches he should have made (fitting that he promised the Seahawks would win), Hasselback got very sloppy when he needed to be accurate (one pass resulted in an interception that essentially ended the game), they made serious mistakes at the end of the first half with clock management, their penalties were the result of failing in the fundamentals of the game, Holmgren had some very bad play-calling, etc.
The Steelers didn’t play well either on offense. Roethlisberger threw two interceptions and was generally off the mark the entire game. But the Steelers’ defense did what it did all year: bend but not break. You don’t win games by gaining yardage, you win games by scoring points. The Steelers kept Seattle out of the end zone all night and kept their field goal kicker far away from the goal posts to miss two kicks. Seattle targetted Polamalu and Porter and did a great job of keeping them out of the game, but the Steelers aren’t just two players, they concentrated so much on those two players that they were unable to keep the rest of the Steelers defense from making plays. Seattle has only two good players: Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselback. Two players can’t beat 11 players no matter how good they are.
Besides, the Seahawks only beat one good team all year, so their statistics are misleading. And they lost to some lousy teams they should have beaten easily. The Steelers had a tough schedule and an even tougher time in the playoffs. The Steelers deserved to win the Super Bowl, it’s as simple as that.
A couple other random notes:
* I love that Hines Ward got the MVP award. Hines is the unsung hero of the Steelers. He’s been reliable his entire career but never got the attention and he never complained about it. He just kept playing and he had a great game.
* Roethlisberger didn’t have a good game, which is good… just like his poor performance in last year’s AFC Championship game, he’ll examine his performance and be even better next year. He’s going to be one of the greats of the game.
* The obvious one: Jerome Bettis got to retire after winning a Super Bowl. He can now get into the Hall of Fame where he deserves.
* More than Bettis, I’m glad for Bill Cowher and the Rooney family. They stuck with Cowher for 14 years and one Super Bowl loss and that kind of patience and support deserves a Super Bowl. Bill Cowher deserved a Super Bowl and it’s a great story that he won one as the coach of his hometown team.
* The song the Seahawks entered the stadium to was the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. What’s the symbolism of that?! I can understand they think they’re like a symphony (cough, cough), but what’s bittersweet about their season or the Super Bowl? And why the Verve? They couldn’t play a Seattle band’s music, like maybe Nirvana?! Geez, at least play a Jimi Hendrix song, Paul Allen’s “hero”. BTW, does anyone believe that a nerd like Paul Allen was a Hendrix fan? Hey Paul, it doesn’t make you cool to claim you like Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix sux.
* It’s poetic justice that Jeramy Stevens, who mouthed-off essentially promising a Seahawks win, played terribly, dropping very catchable passes. As one commentator put it, “Don’t write a check with your mouth that you can’t cash” (I believe the correct phrase ends “…that your ass can’t cash”, but it’s TV). Has anyone besides Joe Namath ever promised a Super Bowl victory? And Jeramy Stevens, of all the Seattle players, is not one to make predictions. As Joey Porter correctly noted, he’s been a huge disappointment for Seattle being a first-round draft pick four years ago and now being a second-string player.
* The Roethlisberger touchdown was a touchdown. If you watch the replay enough times (like I did!), the ball clearly broke the plane when Ben was higher in the air. He landed short of the end zone, but according to the rules, he did score. Good call by the refs and on review. I’ve always thought a touchdown should be obvious, but I don’t make the rules. I’m sure the Seahawks benefitted from this rule more than once themselves, so stop whining.
* The offensive pass interference against Seattle in the first quarter was another good call. You can’t push the defensive player away just so you can make the catch. I doubt it affected the play, actually, but it’s still a penalty.
* The only bad call by the refs was the one against Hasselback when he tackled Ike Taylor after the reception. It would have been a penalty had he not hit the guy with the ball, I’m not sure why the refs thought he hit someone else.
* A marginally-bad call by the refs was when a Seahawk receiver caught the ball, took two steps, got hit and the ball when flying. That was a fumble but ruled an incomplete pass. But the Steelers benefitted from that because the Seahawks had to punt on the next play and the Steelers got better field position than had they recovered the fumble.
* The Seahawks punter blows — almost every punt he made was a touchback. He needs to learn that a good punter doesn’t kick the ball a long way, a good punter places the ball at the right place the way Gardocki, the Steelers great punter, does.
* The mark of a bad team (and their fans) and bad sportsmanship is when they blame the refs for the loss. These calls were not bad calls that would have changed a 1- or 2-point game. No matter how you cut it, if all the calls wen the Seahawks’ way, they still would have lost the game 17-14, by my count. The Seahawks won’t learn from this experience and will have a lousy season next year. And Alexander will leave Seattle. You heard it here first.
* I predicted the score would be 42-10. I was right about the Seahawks score, but only half-right about the Steelers score. But my logic was spot on: the Steelers defense would keep Seattle out of the end zone and the Steelers would have big plays that put them in the end zone.