Hasselbeck: Ref who admitted Super Bowl errors is stand-up guy

Bill Leavy's admission that he "kicked two calls" late in the Seahawks' Super Bowl XL loss received mixed reviews in Seattle. Count Matt Hasselbeck among those who applauded the referee's candor, even if it came four years after the fact.

The Seahawks quarterback told The Seattle Times on Saturday that while he isn't completely over the 21-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has no hard feelings toward Leavy.

"I think all of the officials we have in the NFL are stand-up guys, and Leavy is no different," said Hasselbeck, one of nine current Seahawks who played in that February 2006 game. "... I played some games that I remember because I felt like I did a good job and I played some games where I had some regrets. That goes for any sport, any player. I'm sure coaching is no different, and in that same way, I'm sure officiating is the same thing."

Leavy made his comments Friday, during a rules interpretation session with the Seattle media, and brought up the sore subject without being asked. He didn't specify which plays he "kicked" that day in Detroit, but Seahawks fans still discuss two.

Early in the fourth quarter, offensive tackle Sean Locklear was called for holding on a pass completion that would have put the Seahawks at the Steelers' 1-yard line, poised for the potential tying touchdown. After the penalty, Hasselbeck threw an interception, then was called for a mysterious low block on a play that ended with him tackling Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor on the defensive back's return.

The penalty moved the Steelers from their 29 to the 44. Pittsburgh used its better field position to score the clinching touchdown four plays later.

The next day, then-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren told frustrated fans at a civic gathering at Qwest Field, "I knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts, as well."

Holmgren, now the Cleveland Browns' president, has since said that he has gotten over that game. However, Leavy didn't officiate a Seahawks game again until last season, after Holmgren had retired as coach of the team.

Leavy also spoke to Seahawks players at a team meeting Friday and delivered a similar, contrite message.

"I had a word with him and told him I really appreciated it," said defensive tackle Craig Terrill, a backup on that Super Bowl team. "I certainly don't have any hard feelings against him. There were plenty of things we did in that game that kept us from winning. He can't take responsibility for the mistakes we made, but I appreciated it."

Pittsburgh players weren't as impressed with Leavy's admission.

"He should go ahead and retire if he feels so bad about it," Steelers left tackle Max Starks told the McKeesports Daily News. "Just do us all a favor and not referee anymore."

Said Steelers linebacker James Farrior: "I guess they need better refs. I don't know what to tell them. That was (the) 2005 (season). That's old stuff."

Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant said it's time for the team -- and all of Seattle, for that matter -- to put the game behind them.

"It's tough," Trufant said. "Anytime you're in the Super Bowl, that's the highest of the high. When things go bad, they always tell you not to worry about the refs and stuff like that. Things do happen. Nobody's perfect. It's just one of those things.

"Everybody I think has moved on. I've tried to move on. That's in the past. We're going to keep playing and we're trying to get back. That's the goal."

Hasselbeck said he "had to get to the point where I could kind of get past everything." So, does that mean he has recovered from the sting of that Super Bowl defeat?

"I'm still a little upset about losing my high school state championship game," Hasselbeck said. "There are just some games you're never going to forget. Put it on the list."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith celebrates breaking the all-time career rushing record in a game against the Seattle Seahawks in Irving, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 27. 2002. Smith broke the NFL's career rushing record with an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter. The run gave the 33-year-old Smith 16,728 career yards, passing Walter Payton's mark of 16,726 yards. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

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