Wow! What a finish to another amazing NFL season. In case you missed it (somehow), the PittsburghSteelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in thrilling fashion last Sunday night. The two weeks before the big game, there were many sub-plots. Was Hines Ward going to play? Can the Cardinals win their first Super Bowl? Kurt Warner in general generated an enormous amount of attention. However, the first three quarters of the Super Bowl was really boring. It was sloppy. It was uneventful.
But first, let’s talk about EVERYTHING else.
Officiating was terrible during this Super Bowl. Midway through the third quarter, the Cardinals already had used both of their challenges and won both. Weak calls were being called on both teams, including a ridiculous roughing the passer penalty that gave the Steelers a fresh set of downs in the red zone.
Worse than the officiating was the commercials. 3-D? Seriously? Few were funny. Most of them attempted to be humorous through the use of crotch shots (those haven’t been funny for a while, folks.) Go Daddy took home the “Trashiest Ad” award once again for their ad involving Danica Patrick in the shower. The best ad of the night could have been the Bob Dylan/Will.i.am “Forever Young” mash-up, but I don’t even know what they were selling. So, the best ad award goes to CareerBuilder.com just because they punched a koala that was wearing glasses.
Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen jolted the crowd at half-time with a much needed energetic performence. I thought he was awesome, even though I question him not playing “Born in the U.S.A.” Up until that point, the most exciting part of the game was the half-time show. Speaking of which… what about the game?
The first three quarters was dominated by the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. They shutdown that high flying offense of the Cardinals and took Larry Fitzgerald out of the game. They rattled QB Kurt Warner, forcing him to throw an interception at the goal line to James Harrison, who took it back for a 100-yard pick six. The game was quickly turning into a defense domination, similar to Super Bowl XXXVI when the Buccaneers manhandled the Raiders.
The 4th quarter came out of no where. The Cards looked like they were down and out. I thought they were just about to roll over, but something happened. They started to play like they were playing for a championship. Imagine that?! After a long drive that started at the 13-yard line, Cardinal QB threw a one-yard lob pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald to finally get the crowd and Fitzgerald in the game. Prior to that drive, the Cardinals only had 139 yards of total offense. In the 4th quarter alone, the Cardinals had 229 yards of offense, including two touchdowns.
After the 1-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald, the Cardinals forced a safety on the Steelers, cutting the Steelers lead to 20-16. Just like that, the Cardinals were back in the game. The Cardinals got the ball back after the safety and with good field position. Then it happened, again. Warner to Fitzgerald. Two plays. 64 yards. Touchdown. Cardinals up 23-20 with 2:37 left in the game.
The Steelers answered with their own dynamic duo, Ben Roethisberger to Santonio Holmes. On the final drive, Roethisberger found Holmes four times, twice for a first down. The fourth catch was something spectacular, however. From the 6-yard line, Roethisberger found Holmes in the corner of the endzone. Holmes executed perfectly, laying out and dragging his toes in bounds to score. 35 seconds was all that was left on the clock. The game ended when Warner fumbled with 5 seconds left on the clock.
To use a cliche, the best was saved for last. This was easily the biggest game of the year and it didn’t disappoint at the end. While I don’t think it was the “Greatest Game of All Time” (that goes to Super Bowl XXXIV, Rams vs. Titans), it certainly made me get up and shout at the TV. I’ll end my article with a couple of awards. Thanks for a great season NFL! See you at the draft!
Player of the Game: Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh
The arguement could be made for Steelers LB James Harrison or Cardinals QB Kurt Warner and his 377 yards, but this award goes to Santonio Holmes. The Super Bowl MVP put the Steelers on his back on the final drive and made a catch that will go down in the history books.
Play of the Game: James Harrison’s 100-yard INT Return for a TD
No, it is not Holmes’ catch. At this point in the game, the Cardinals were threatening to score and go up 14-7. If it weren’t for Harrison and his touchdown, I don’t think the Steelers would have won this game.
Disappointment of the Game: The Steelers run game
So much for that “power” run game that the Steelers had. The Cardinals defense held the Steelers to 58 yards rushing and a 2.2 yards per rush average. Pathetic.
Deserves A Ring Anyway Award: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona
He was quiet the first three quarters, but he gave the Cardinal faithful something to cheer about by the end of the game. Fitz finished with 127 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the 4th. After this post-season, Fitzgerald proved why he is the best receiver in football and why he deserves to be on your fantasy team next year.