Sunday, February 1, 2009

Vague thoughts on Super Bowl XLIII

- I predicted a Steelers win that wasn't close, so give credit to the Cards for playing reasonably well and making a game of it. They actually made some big stops and sustained several drives. And the Steelers certainly didn't give them too many openings: that defense popped people in the mouth as advertised all night, and the Cards had to make big plays to get 23 points. Also, Big Ben looked MUCH better than he did in that Seahawks debacle, and probably had one of his best games of the season, without much rushing help from Willie Parker, no less.

- We've been spoiled over the last few years by some good, competitive Super Bowls that have gone down to the wire. Ten years ago, we would have taken any game that was at all close in light of blowout after boring blowout. Now we've reached a point where this 27-23 nail biter the Steelers took from the Cards almost pales in comparison to some past games: the Patriots' buzzer beaters over the Rams and Panthers... the Giants win last year that came down to David Tyree catching a 4th and long Eli Manning prayer with his helmet... the Rams-Titans Super Bowl that literally came down to Kevin Dyson and Mike Jones fighting for the last yard. This Super Bowl has to be, in terms of excitement and drama, in the top five, but ten years ago it would've been the best ever without question.

- We are fortunate to get a spate of exciting Super Bowls where (save for the Seahawks Super Bowl) there's not any real deux es machina from the officials, as they call the game clean and let the players decide. In fact, this year's Super Bowl has to be one of the best officiated Super Bowls I can recall, because the refs weren't any more flag happy than was needed, the flags that got thrown were right on, they made all the right calls on close plays, and let the players decide the ballgame.

- Yes, I'm including the final Cards play, where Warner's arm was moving forward as the ball came out and the refs called a fumble. Chris Chase thinks there's controversy, but replays showed the ball clearly squirmed from Warner's possession before his arm moved forward, and therefore was a fumble. The refs made the right call.

- Lost in the Cards loss is that Kurt Warner (31 completions, 377 yards passing, 3 TD) and Larry Fitzgerald (7 catches, 127 yards, 2 TDs, including the huge breakaway go-ahead TD with under 3 minutes left) had two of the best performances in Super Bowl history. Once again, Warner had no running game to speak of (33 total rushing yards) and had to try to win the game all by himself against the #1 defense in football. Yeah, James Harrison right-place right-timed him and took it 100 yards to the house at the end of the 1st half, and Warner's final play of the game ended with a Warner trademark (a fumble), but Warner made some great, quick throws, used his eyes to throw off the secondary, and took advantage of every opening that airtight Steelers defense gave him.

- Speaking of Harrison's difference maker to end the 1st half, his INT touchdown gives the Steelers the distinction of scoring both the longest TD (his 100 yard INT return) in Super Bowl history, as well as the shortest (Roethlisberger's 0 yard "TD" against the Seahawks in SB XL).

- If David Tyree's catch on 4th and long in the Giants' miracle win over the Patriots is the greatest catch in Super Bowl history, then Santonio Holmes' tip-toe catch that won the game has to be 2nd. What an incredible, perfect catch by the young Steelers wideout, and it came no less just one play after he let a potential game-winning TD slip right through his outstretched hands.

Holmes was a college star at Ohio State, but figured to be just another NFL journeyman when he got drafted and lost in the WR shuffle with Pittsburgh. But he emerged in this game with 9 catches for 131 yards, including the game winning TD. Four catches, including the winner, came in the game-winning drive.

Holmes brashly declared in an interview, on the presentation podium, "Great players step up in big-time games to make plays." Santonio, like any young player who has flown under the radar in his early career, still needs to show over the next few years that he is a consistent difference maker. But I agree: Holmes made the plays of a great player in the biggest game of his life tonight.


  1. Fucked by the refs again, but at least it wasn't Seattle this time. Props to both Warner and Roth, though. Both are tough guys deserving of Superbowl presence. Both play with intensity and resolve. It's not Ben's fault the refs are big fans of his team. No matter what, the past few Super Bowls have proven that the NFL has it "right" when playing a championship game.

    Funny though - as much as I loathe the NBA, I was delighted to hear that in their next All-Star Game, they are instituting a three-man game of H.O.R.S.E. This intrigues and tickles me. Level the playing field with a matchup of a tall post-man, short point guard, and power forward. Can't jam? Suck it - try bouncing a shot in from half court, tall guy...!

  2. I want to see some serious Globetrotter action in that H.O.R.S.E. event.

    Maybe somebody can pay homage to Scotty Nguyen and re-enact the 2008 World Series of Poker H.O.R.S.E. tournament by getting sloppy drunk, playing awful and winning anyway while swearing at everyone and everything all the way.