The Rams have made available the flip card for their game against Seattle on Sunday. From that we see Ed Hochuli's crew has been assigned to work the game. The Seahawks have won five of their last six games when Hochuli officiated, all under coach Mike Holmgren -- including a 2003 victory in which officiating played a larger-than-usual role. That game, played in Seattle, was notable on a couple of fronts.
One, the Seahawks' offensive linemen had complained to Hochuli about being held by the Rams' defensive linemen. Holding calls usually go the other way, but in this case, Hochuli's crew called a pivotal holding penalty. Here is what I wrote after that game:
"Seattle Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson might have a future as a lobbyist. The sell job he unleashed Sunday on NFL referee Ed Hochuli precipitated one of the rarest calls around: holding against a defensive lineman. The call delivered the pivotal first down during Seattle's 24-23 comeback victory over St. Louis at Seahawks Stadium. 'Steve Hutchinson went off on the refs so bad, they had to make the call,' left tackle Walter Jones surmised.
"A holding call against teammate Chris Gray set off Hutchinson's tirade. The Seahawks thought the Rams were guilty of holding on the crucial third-down play midway through the fourth quarter. Instead, Seattle settled for a field-goal try and missed. The Rams walked away with their 23-17 lead intact, but Hutchinson got in the last word. He pleaded with the officials, echoing complaints lodged during the offseason and again last week.
"According to the Seahawks, the Rams instruct their defensive tackles to hold opposing offensive tackles. The alleged ploy allows the defensive end to rush around the corner untouched. 'We've been practicing all week just to try to get away from it and so when he came off the ball that time and just grabbed my inside shoulder pad, he was just holding me,' Jones said.
"The penalty against Rams defensive tackle Brian Young turned a Seattle incompletion on third-and-8 from the 13 into a first-and-goal from the 8. Three plays later, Seahawks receiver Koren Robinson beat Rams cornerback Jerametrius Butler for the decisive touchdown. 'You try to do what you can do, see what you can get away with,' Young said, 'but the holding call? Hell, they hold us all the time. So, it's a little payback, I guess.'
"According to Seattle, Young would line up on Jones' right shoulder and grab onto the Pro Bowl left tackle as soon as center Robbie Tobeck snapped the ball. That would allow defensive end Grant Wistrom to come around the corner untouched. 'That is like a d-end's dream,' Jones said.
"And an offensive lineman's nightmare.
'It just gives them a head start on the stunts,' Hutchinson said. 'It happened a time or two before that and finally, the ref saw it. … That technically is an illegal move and he happened to do it when the ref saw it.'
"Jones shared his thoughts with Wistrom after the game.
'I told him after the game, `Man, you have to get somebody to try to hold me to get around me?' ' Jones relayed. 'He just looked at me and didn't say much. … That's the way they run their defense to get an edge.' "
On another front, the Rams lost a replay challenge in that game. This is what I wrote in my play-by-play notes at the time: "Hasselbeck deep left goes for Robinson inside the 10 and apparent pick by Jerametrius Butler with Robinson on his back, ruled incomplete but should have been pick or at least interference by Robinson, Mike Martz challenges this one, ruling on field stands and Rams lose a timeout."
I might have been wrong, but that is what I wrote down at the time. Just thought I'd pass that along. It's fun to go back and revisit that stuff.