Tuesday, February 3, 2009
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
Monday, February 2, 2009
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