Monday, February 2, 2009

Steelers Win The Super Bowl

Wow. That's really the best that I can muster right now after that once in a lifetime game last night. It's hard to say exactly where that game last night ranks in the history of Super Bowls, but it's safe to say it has to go down as one of the top few ever. The first 55 minutes or so were good, but it was the incredible last 3 minutes that made it great. You just knew that Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston weren't going to go down without a fight, and that's what those last few minutes were.

After that highly questionable holding call (in a night filled with highly questionable penalties) in the end zone that caused a safety and cut the lead to 20-16, I think everyone in Pittsburgh stopped breathing for a few minutes. I mean, after the Cardinals O finally looked like they were getting their swagger back (either that or they were stealing Ike Taylor's much alluded to swagger) on the previous drive, the last thing in the world we needed to see was that Cardinal O get the back again with a shot to take a lead. And of course they didn't disappoint, doing their part to set the stage with a bullet pass to Larry Fitz that the former Pitt legend housed with speed that I don't think anyone knew he had.

For a brief instant Steeler fans everywhere were hanging their heads. Not in defeat, of course, just in frustration and worry. But hope was not far off. Almost immediately after the score the camera shot to our two-time Super Bowl winning QB and he gave a look like, "Alright these idiots scored too soon, we're going out there and there is no god damned way they are going to stop us." That look gave me and everyone else who witnessed it a renewed sense of hope and confidence.

The work by Ben on that final drive was the stuff of legend. The pass to Santonio was one that only the most elite players can make. And I really believe that no other QB in football could have run that two minute drill as well given this personnel. No one could have bought time like that with his struggling offensive line. No one could have had the balls to check down to their third and fourth options with defenders closing in on him. Simply an amazing job in an amazing game by an amazing player.

Some random thoughts:
-Breakout game for Santonio. I know he's had games like this before, of course, but after stepping up like he did last night with Hines Ward struggling to get anything going because of his injury, I think the torch has at least partially been passed from Ward to Holmes.

-As great as Santonio was, that MVP trophy belonged to Ben Roethlisberger. Santonio had one of the 3 or 4 greatest games for a receiver in Super Bowl history, but like I said, no other player in football could have performed like Large Benjamin last night. His amazing improvisation, his ability to easily fend off blitzers, his big arm and pinpoint accuracy, and his ability to lead the best two-minute drill in football. The guy is the most unique QB I've ever seen and might be the most unique player I've ever seen.

-As far as the reason for the MVP goes, I think the award going to Santonio is another example of Ben being underappreciated. If that had been Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Brett Favre (Peter King just genuflected at the mention of His name) we'd be subject to 4.3 million bland columns by geezer columnists the nation over about the legend of these guys. But Ben is such a different animal at QB that no one who doesn't watch the Steelers every week seems to understand Roethlisberger's importance. And even as people still sing the praises of Peyton "over-the-hill" Manning, Tom "the gimp" Brady, and Brett "I've been a terrible QB for 3 years now" Favre, Big Ben won't be able to hear them anyway because he has two Super Bowl rings plugging his ears.

-How about James Harrison? I mean are you kidding me? Santonio's catch figures to go down as the legendary moment of this game, but that only counted for 7 points. Harrison's counted for 14, because there's no way you can tell me that the Cardinals wouldn't have scored a TD from inside the 5 with the greatest red zone weapon in football at their disposal.

-Kurt Warner's a Hall of Famer. There, I said it. He's not gonna be a first ballot guy, but he deserve to go to Canton.

-I absolutely love this city. After the game we sat around and watched trophy presentation and what not and by the time we headed out to the streets of Oakland to celebrate the place was already absolutely insane. The streets were all closed off throughout Oakland, fires were everywhere, and thousands upon thousands of rowdy students were covering the streets. Just an amazing scene and it couldn't have been any more enjoyable. That's also the reason that there is no conceivable way I was going to make it my 9:30 class this morning as putting together this blog post starting at about 10:45 was the first thing I did all morning besides downing an energy drink to try and combat a hangover. College is the best.

-I absolutely love this franchise. Is there any question that the Rooneys are the best and most effective owners in all of sports? I can't see how that can be debated. The biggest test of owners like the Rooneys is there ability to develop a culture in their organization and to hire the right staff. No one's been better. Chuck Noll is one of the 3 best coaches in NFL history. Bill Cowher was the ultimate player's coach and is a definite Hall of Famer whenever he retires again from his next job. Mike Tomlin has cemented himself as the best young coach in the NFL, and is quickly making a case as the best game coach in all of football. He doesn't have the front office pull of a Belichick (yet) and he doesn't have the league-wide respect factor of a Dungy just yet (though he definitely will) but on game day I don't know that there is anyone better at pushing the right buttons and unleashing things at the right time, even if he may be too aggressive or rash at some times. Plus, the Rooneys are great because of that culture they have built. I don't think anyone these days can argue the Steelers are America's team. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys may have started the moniker for themselves, but as an organization they pale in comparison to the Steelers.-I don't think NBC had enough people covering this thing. Peter King, Jerome Bettis, Tiki Barber, Andrea Kramer, Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Costas, Matt Millen, (how are we supposed to take anything this guy says seriously?), Mike Holmgrem, Tony Dungy and the foxy newcomer Alex Flanagan. And then we had the two man booth of John Madden and Al Michaels. That's 14 people!!! And there's a definite chance that I forgot someone. Really, NBC, we don't need that many people. Give me more Costas, more Collinsworth, MORE Alex Flanagan, and more Peter King. Give me less Keith Olbermann, less Tiki Barber, and absolutely no Matt Millen and things would be a lot better. Although, if NBC takes Bill Simmons up on his suggestion of a Hollywood Squares style set, then I rescind my complaints.

-I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ben Roethlisberger is a better playcaller than Bruce Arians. Hey, I know the players (especially Ben) seem to love Arians and he may very well be a very good coach and teacher but I'd much rather see Big Ben out there calling plays in a no huddle offense than looking at the wrist band and taking sideline signals. I'm not saying the O should turn into an early 90's Jim Kelly Buffalo Bills style offense, but that no-huddle, hurry up is so damn effective I'd love to see it more.

-Hines Ward, despite not getting much attention in the passing game, was his usual gritty self. It was apparent to anyone who has watched over the years that he was badly hurt. He is normally so effective because of the superb cuts he can make in his routes but I don't think I saw him make one of those trademark cuts yesterday. Still, he was blocking downfield on several plays, was constantly talking and being chippy and getting under Zona's skin, and did have a big play on the first drive of the game that helped get us 3 points.

That's all I can muster for now folks. I think I'm headed back to bed. Until next time, let's all revel in our franchise's record 6th Super Bowl Championship.

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