Monday, February 2, 2009
The Steelers Get Six
After spending two weeks talking about how the Cardinals would end up beating the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII, Pittsburgh ended up surprising me a little bit and won the biggest game of the year 27-23 against the Cardinals. Here are a few observations from this, the most exciting Super Bowl in the history of the NFL.
1. Arizona’s Slow Start-The Cardinals got started off a little slow in this game after having been fast starters in all of their previous playoff games. Some of the indications of this are staggering. The hottest receiver in the playoffs, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, only had one catch for 12 yards on the first half leaving many to wonder why the Cardinals didn’t look his way early and often. It seemed like the Cardinals offense was pretty tentative to start out the game, not wanting to take a “risk” by going down the field a lot. Instead, they started out with the run and with the short passing game and this didn’t serve them right at all. They should have got thing going a lot sooner than they did because had they picked things up earlier, they might have won this game.
2. Penalties-In the second half, the Cardinals committed three key penalties that cost them the game. The first penalty came when cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie committed a facemask penalty when running Santonio Holmes out of bounds after a catch. The next one came just a few plays afterwards when Karlos Dansby was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer penalty. The third and final penalty came when safety Adrian Wilson bowled over holder Matt Berger giving the Steelers new life. However, the Steelers still only managed a field goal despite all of the freebies being given to them by the Cardinals. Had the Cardinals not given them so many chances the outcome of this game might have been different.
3. Ben Roethlisberger-The Steelers offense came out throwing the ball very well to start out the game and later on in the game the Cardinals could not bring Roethlisberger down and he continued to make plays including the touchdown pass to Holmes to seal the game. There were times when the Cardinals did generate a strong pass rush but still couldn’t bring Roethlisberger down as fans watched him escape the rush and get himself and the Steelers. Not getting more pressure on Roethlisberger really helped contribute to the Steelers winning this game.
4. Arizona’s Play Calling-Going along with number one, the Cardinals play calling was absolutely confusing in the first half of the game leaving a lot of people scratching their heads wondering why the Cardinals did what they did especially in the first half. The Cardinals didn’t call as aggressive a game as they had called against all three teams that they have played in the playoffs most likely thinking that staying conservative would help them win the game. They were wrong and should have played their usual “aggressive” style of passing game early because had they done that, they may just be world champions right now.
5. Fans-Yes, fans do help make a difference and it was clearly obvious that the Steelers had many more fans there in Tampa than the Cardinals did and with that kind of backing, the Steelers surely felt comfortable playing there. They also had a lot more inspiration and played with a lot more zeal than perhaps the Cardinals did.
6. Flat Tire-The Cardinals running game seemed to be hot at times and cold at times but starting out the game running the ball so much was yet another problem that the Cardinals had in this game. Had they come out throwing the ball a lot in the first half, they probably would have won the game.
My congratulations go out to the Steelers who deserved to win this game and came in much more prepared and ready to play than the Cardinals were. Granted, many of the Steelers players had a lot of experience which really helped but Pittsburgh’s coaching staff seemed to be on the ball and really well prepared for the game. Arizona started out the game confused and didn’t look like they were quite into the game early. That most likely cost the Cardinals the game this Sunday.
By Bryan Dietzler