Referee Mike Carey: The Real MVP Of Super Bowl XLII

David ArreolaSenior Analyst IFebruary 4, 2009

The day is Tuesday just two days after Super Bowl XLIII.  What has been the talk of the Super Bowl?

It's not Santonio Holmes' game winning touchdown.  It isn't Larry Fitzgerald out-running the Steelers secondary.  It isn't Ben Roethlisberger leading one of the greatest drives in NFL history.

Instead, we are talking about terrible officiating.

The head referee for Super Bowl XLIII was Terry McAulay. He isn't an awful official, but he isn't highly respected among the NFL coaches.

The past two Super Bowls have featured two of the greatest finishes in Super Bowl history.

The difference is one of the games is not surrounded by controversy.

Last year Mike Carey was chosen to officiate the big game. On a side note, Carey would be the first black referee to officiate the Super Bowl.

As Tom Brady's fourth down pass innocently hit the turf the Giants had officially beaten the undefeated New England Patriots.

Eli Manning was given the MVP of the game, but I knew the real hero of Super Bowl XLII.

Mike Cary gave us the perfectly officiated game. There were very few disputed calls as he had zero "no-calls" and seldom penalized players for small infractions.

What has been dubbed "the greatest play in Super Bowl history" almost never happened.

The National Football League rule on sacks, meant to protect the quarterback from injury, states that NFL officials are required to stop the play once the quarterback is "in grasp and control" of the defense.

Eli Manning was in grasp, and appeared to be controlled by the Patriots defense.

Carey did not blow the whistle, and you all know the rest.

Carey said this about the call:

"I anticipated a sack. I didn't assume that was going to happen, but rarely do you see a quarterback escape when he's got that much weight on his back and being dragged by two or three guys who had a hold of him. I could see [Manning's] head was just straight ahead. He was trying to break free with desperation. Then all of a sudden he spun out and then he started to come right back at me."

On top of that amazing no-call, Carey let the players play and did not make unnecessary penalties or miss big ones.

Terry McAulay missed too many penalites, namely James Harrison's slug fest, and decided to make very controversial calls.

While I do not think the Cardinals would have won if the officiating had been better, you cannot deny that the calls affected the game.

Two Super Bowls. Two amazing fourth quarters. Two different referees.

McAulay's failure to cleanly officiate the game makes me appreciate Mike Carey's performance even more.

After all, it could be the only perfect performance we ever see in the Super Bowl.