Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Super Bowl XLIII: Final Thoughts
The much anticipated Super Bowl has come and gone and many writers and experts, including this writer, feel that this Super Bowl was one of the best, if not “the best” of my generation. So many people had predicted that the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to win this game but as the two week break before the Super Bowl wore on you could see popular opinion sway towards the Cardinals being a favorite to win the game.
But that was not meant be. The Cardinals clearly broke down in this game and ended up losing a close one 27-23. There were several factors in the game that contributed to the Cardinals collapse as well as the Steeler’s rise to prominence as one of the best teams in NFL history.
The first argument one could create on this would be that the Cardinals started out pretty slow. Arizona had a lot of success starting out quick in their last three games and needed to do so because of the way that their defense plays. Getting the quick lead most certainly led to them winning their playoff games and they had to get an early lead in this game in order to win. However, contrary to the way that they had started out before, the Cardinals began the game sluggish, making an attempt to run the ball as opposed to throwing it which, as we saw, didn’t work. Had Arizona come out throwing the ball and got wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald more involved in the offense, the Cardinals might be singing a different tune right now.
Penalties also didn’t help the Cardinals out in this game but they weren’t as detrimental as they could have been because, despite the fact they committed some serious penalties. Granted, the penalties that they did commit (personal fouls for the most part on the one drive) helped to keep the drive alive for the Steelers, it could have been much worse. But the Cardinals shouldn’t have put themselves in that position to begin with. There were also a few key penalties at other points in the game but overall, had the Cardinals curbed the penalties the outcome might have been different.
If you want to find the “backbreaker” so to speak in this game, you would have to look at the last play of the first half when Kurt Warner threw the pass that was intercepted by James Harrison and run back 100 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals were set up in prime position to take the lead as well as all the momentum going into halftime but that interception, which basically amounted to a 14 point swing in the game, may have been the nail in the coffin for the Cardinals.
This writer didn’t expect Steeler’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to have such a big game and it was because Big Ben was able throw the ball down the field and stay upright, that the Steelers were able to win this one. They had some early success running the football but when that was taken away, they went to the air and that worked out well for them.
You have to give some credit to the Cardinal’s defense, a defense which was much maligned for a majority of the 2008 campaign. Even though they started out this game a little bit slow, they still managed to keep Pittsburgh’s running game in check and get pass pressure at some critical times during the game. They didn’t, however, get Roethlisberger on the ground as much as they should have. They really needed to sack him more often.
So I give a ton of credit to the Steelers for not only playing a good game but also being one of the best franchises (if not the best) in the NFL and in NFL history. You have to marvel at what Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin was able to do in just a couple seasons with the Steelers and it’s not out of the question to think that the Steelers won’t be able to do this again next season. Give them a few tweaks and they could be going to another Super Bowl next season.
By Bryan Dietzler