A Super Bowl Hangover
By Scott Allen
I just wasn’t sure what I was going to say this morning. I certainly couldn’t put it into words last night. The game last night tugged on emotions, had me from up and cheering to down with my hand on my chin. Of course how the game ended in Pittsburgh’s victory over the Cardinals 27-23, in what a lot of people are calling one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.
That all depends on your point of view. I’m not just talking about the fact that we lost, which of course can sour anyone’s viewpoint in a real hurry; however the game really was one-sided in the first quarter in the Steelers favor. Clearly Pittsburgh was in their happy zone, being able to maintain ball control, which was one of the things I had been preaching about all week long as something that could do the Cards in.
The second quarter the Cardinals did seem to pick up the pace a little and in fact, Pittsburgh seemed to digress a little. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethisberger and the Pittsburgh offense got an early second quarter touchdown but did not score again until the James Harrison interception of Kurt Warner to end the half.
Speaking of said interception, that had to be one of the most debilitating plays in recetn memory. Sure the Cardinals have had a lot of plays that could be up for bonehead play of the year, however I can not remember a play that so changed the complextion of a game and going from the highest emotion possible as the Cardinals were two yards from taking a halftime lead to all of a sudden going into the locker room with a 10 point deficit.
The third quarter Pittsburgh didn’t play lights out, but the Cardinals didn’t really either. Towards the end of the quarter, it looked like Pittsburgh was about to turn the lights out on any chance of the Cardinals mounting a comeback. The Arizona defense came through though. They held Pittsburgh to a field goal and kept it at a two score game 20-7.
The fourth quarter was a completely different story. Arizona mounted a ferocious comeback, taking the lead 23-20 with just 3 minutes left, but that was too much time and as we all know, it was the Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl MVP show en route to Steeler victory.
The ending of that game I’m sure is the reason why people are saying it was one of the best Super Bowl’s ever. I say not really. Neither the Cardinals nor the Steelers put together a four quarter consistent effort worthy of greatness. Many people, like myself, believe there were way too many penalties called. Everytime you turned your head, another flag was being thrown. Most of the flags were thrown in the Cardinals direction. It was somewhat disappointing to see. I even thought a couple of the calls that went against Pittsburgh were suspect. It makes me wonder why they weren’t letting these guys play?
Make no mistake about it though, the Cardinals did not lose this game because of a mountain of penalties. The Cardinals were able to overcome that third qurater drive in which they were flagged for three, count em, three, personal foul penalties. They were able to overcome Mike Gandy’s constant holding. Still after all that, they were able to mount a comeback and take the lead late in the game.
The Cardinals lost this game because the defense, which really had been living on the edge of blowout in the first quarter and the edge of blowout again late in the third quarter, could not stop the Steelers when it mattered most, in crunch time during the two-minute drive to end the game.
The Cardinals lost because they could not stop Pittsburgh’s ball control in the first quarter. The Cards offense could not get on the field. The mustered only 13 yards of offense in the first quarter.
You could argue that Warner’s turnover at the end of the first half was a difference maker. Sure, you take that play away, things might have turned out differently. However it could have also changed the complexity of the second half and how each team approached their game plan on the offensive side of the ball. Plus, even after that play, the Cardinals still were able to stay in the game.
Don’t blame the referees. Don’t blame the turnovers. Don’t blame the pro Pittsburgh crowd. In fact, don’t even blame replay booth at the end of the game in which it was ruled Warner fumbled on the final play of the game. That play was too close to overturn and the referees, no matter how one-sided the calls may have been, made the right call there.
Sure I also just placed some blame on the defense. Let’s give credit where credit is due though. Pittsburgh is a great team. They were able to overcome the comeback. They never lost composure, which the Cardinals may have a little in the third quarter.
Congrats to Pittsburgh for the Super Bowl win. They deserve it. Now for the Cardinals, a look ahead to next season, which I will get into a bit this week. Questions will abound for this team. Thanks to everyone who got me on the phone this week to discuss this game. I truly enjoyed the experience and I also congratulate the Cardinals for giving us a great post season run and let’s hope we can all get together to it again soon.