Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Bowl Recap

That was a great game, wasn't it? Well, I guess that's what they're saying. It was entertaining, exciting to the very last second. But one of the best? I'm not so sure. We are so quick to pass judgement, and we want everything that witness to be the greatest ever. To me, of the Super Bowls that I have followed and seen firsthand for the last ten years, nothing can come close to the Super Bowl between the Tennessee Titans and the St Louis Rams. Now THAT was a game! Literally, one yard stopped the Titans from tying the game and going into OT.

Anyway, the game started out with both teams being a bit tentative, then the Steelers put together a nice drive that looked like it ended with a TD run by Roethlisberger. But, after a challenge and review, the call was overturned because the runner's knee hit the ground before the ball crossed the goal line. The funniest part was when Al Michaels said: and Mike Holmgren is saying NOW??!! I thought that was hilarious. It hurt, but it was hilarious.

So instead the Steelers kicked a field goal. 3-0 Steelers.

Then the Steelers did really score a rushing TD. Although it was kinda funny because when the runner, Gary Russell, made it into the end zone, an Arizona defender ran him out right away, so from one camera angle I wasn't sure what was happening until the referees signaled touchdown! 10-0 Steelers.

Then it was the Cardinals' turn to answer, and they did. Warner connected with Tight End Ben Patrick for a 1 yard TD. Good catch, good hands, good throw, even though Warner tripped on his Center's foot! Talk about composure. That's what experience gets you. 10-7 Steelers.

Then what happened was amazing. The Cardinals were driving to a go-ahead TD, and it looked as though they would be able to do just that, when it happened! Knocking on the end zone doors, Warner threw a pass into the end zone, only to have James Harrison intercept the pass at the goal line and run it all the way the other way for a 100-yard interception return TD, the longest in SB history. So what did happen? The Steelers ran an all-out blitz, except that Harrison showed blitz but then dropped back and got into the passing lanes, where he was in position to make the play. Warner has always been lauded for his quick release, but that is exactly what may have led to the interception. 17-7 Steelers at the half.

The teams exchanged possessions and eventually at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Steelers kicked another field goal. The only interesting thing about this drive is that the Cardinals were tagged with 3 personal foul penalties, the third converting a made field goal on 4th down into a new set of downs after Wilson ran into the place holder. Dumb mistake. I thought that the Cardinals were beginning to unravel at that point. But the rallied and made a great comeback, below. 20-7 Steelers.

Midway through the 4th quarter, the Cardinals again were right at the doors of the end zone when Warner lobbed a pass at Larry Fitzgerald. That's what I would 10 times out of times! I don't care who is on Fitzgerald, how many defenders are on Fitzgerald, I would just call for a lob at his direction, and just sit back and watch him go up and make the catch. He is just the best at that. Madden made the point that I was contemplating myself: there is nobody better than Larry Fitzgerald at timing his jump and getting to the ball at the highest point. He has the best hands to ensure that he makes the catch and comes down with the ball. 20-14 Steelers.

After a Steelers punt, the Cardinals punted away too, but the coverage team was able to pin the ball at the Steelers 1 yard line. After it looked like the Cardinals stonewalled the Steelers in their own end zone (replays showed they didn't), it looked as if they were going to get out of that crummy field position when Holmes made a great catch for a new 1st down, but wait a minute, holding, offense, in the end zone, Safety! Two more points for the Cardinals AND they get the ball back! 20-16 Steelers.

My wife was, for whatever reason, rooting for the Cardinals. She asked me if they still had a chance, and I said: Just one pass to Fitzgerald, he breaks loose, and the Cardinals are in control. As soon as I finished this sentence, Warner hit Fitzgerald in stride up the middle for a 64-yard TD. Made me think two things. 1. It made look prophetic in front of my wife. 2. If I knew that, why didn't the Steelers defense know that too? What happened?

Well, the call was magnificent. It was exactly the most perfect call for the defense that the Steelers were showing on the field. The safeties were playing a deep Cover 2. The Conrnerbacks were playing man-to-man, and the Linebackers, and this is the most important part of the formation, were crowding the line of scrimmage, playing close to line, which meant that the middle of the field was essentially empty. Here's how the play progressed. At the snap, all receivers, except Fitzgerald, ran an out route, they ran a few yards up the field and turned towards the sidelines. The Cornerbacks playing them man-to-man turned out with them. the Safeties bit and each one took an angle towards the sidelines as well. Except Fitzgerald. He ran towards the middle, went by his defender, and Warner hit him in stride dropping the ball behind the Cornerback. All Fitzgerald had to do was make the catch and run up the empty middle towards the end zone before the Cornerback and Safeties, who had by then realized the colossal mistake they had made and turned to try and catch him. Done and done! Great, great call! 23-20 Cardinals, their first lead, with 2:37 left.

However, in Football terms, that's a helluva lot of time for an offense! And, as it turned out, truer words were never spoken! The Steelers started at their own 22, and a holding penalty moved them back to their own 12. But, a series of short passes and short runs were punctuated by a 40-yard reception by Santonio Holmes, a total busted coverage on the Cardinals' behalf. That set up the Steelers at the Arizona 6 yard line, one shoe to the left of the end zone didn't work, so run the same play, same personnel, same receiver, tot the other side. Perfect throw, great catch, two feet down, Touchdown Pittsburgh! 27-23 Steelers. 35 seconds remaining.

Warner then made a couple of nice plays to move the Cardinals up the field, but the very last play for Arizona was a fumble. And yes, they could've reviewed it, and maybe they should've reviewed it, but I don't think it mattered. It looked to me like it was a fumble, and the Steelers recovered the loose ball. Victory formation, kneel down, ball game! Steelers the 6th Super Bowl in franchise history, a record.

So, all in all, a pretty entertaining game, through and through, and Santonio Holmes was named the MVP. But one of the best ever? Drop the hype already.


Julie K said...

What an article! ... long, but good :)
I really wanted the Cardinals to win, i don't know why :) Yalla, next time! ;) ohh no, not next time .. next time GO SEAHAWKS!!

Matt Hasselbeck said...

Why must Superbowl Refs love Pittsburg? Seriously. Next to the World Cup, this is the premier sporting event. And for the two Superbowls containing Pittsburg Steelers of late, the refs were handing them the game. Whisenhunt called them out on it twice and was right!! This is the superbowl. No mistakes. Rediculous.