Super Bowl Aftermath (Or, I had it right the entire way)

Like I said earlier today, it was an easy Pittsburgh victory, right?

Well, maybe not quite so easy.  All credit in the world needs to go to Arizona, who were just a big defensive stop away from completing the biggest Super Bowl comeback in history.  Even more amazing is the fact that they nearly pulled it off against a team that has blown only two games they’d led by 11 or more points in the last 21 years of play — nearly 150 games total.

Still, Pittsburgh can consider themselves fortunate to walk away the champions, as they really didn’t play all that well.  In fact, it would be reasonable to say that the Cardinals outplayed the Steelers for most of the game — surprisingly, on both sides of the ball.  Other than the game’s first drive and their last scoring drive, the Steelers didn’t move the ball with a whole lot of effectiveness, and their defense was knocked around a good bit by the Cardinals’ passing game, especially in the 4th quarter when the game was on the line.

Larry Fitzgerald made his case that, like I said earlier today, he’s the best receiver in the NFL — if the Cardinals had won, he certainly could have been the MVP.  And much like last year’s thriller, this year’s game came down to the last drive — with Santonio Holmes and Ben Rothlesberger cementing their legacies in Pittsburgh football history.

But while the Cardianls were oh-so-close to pulling off the upset tonight (they must have read my earlier prediction!), they weren’t able to do so. And as it turns out, the reason was pretty simple.  Sometimes, all it takes is one play to make the difference in any game — and this year’s Super Bowl was proof that if you’d seen only one play tonight, that might have been enough.

I was watching the game with my dad as Arizona drove towards a potential tying or leading score at the end of the 2nd half.  They clearly had the momentum at that point, and any score would have gone a long way towards finally bringing a title to Chicago St. Louis Arizona.  But one huge interception and a 100-yard scamper later, the Steelers now led by 10 and my dad and I were complete agreement:  Game Over.

You absolutely have to get points there if you’re Arizona — to have the 10-point swing was, as it turned out, the difference in the game.  The goal-line gaffe by Arizona not only cost them on the scoreboard immediately, but it probably continued to hurt them even after the Boss had finished his mid-game entertainment;  the Cardinals played most of the 3rd quarter in a daze, like they’d been mentally replaying James Harrison’s run-back in their heads.

They weren’t the only ones struggling in the 2nd half, however;  for a while, the most dominating force throughout the 2nd half of the game wasn’t anyone wearing Steeler white or Cardinal red — it was the middle-aged guys in the black and white stripes.  No one turns on the season’s biggest game to watch yellow hankerchiefs come flying out of referee’s pockets, but that was exactly what we seemed to see more of than anything during the third and fourth quarters.  Granted, a number of the penalties were the correct calls, but some were absolutely ticky-tacky (the personal foul penalty against the Cardinals with the phantom late hit on Rothlesberger was the worst).

Thankfully, the game wasn’t decided by an official’s call (or worse, an official’s blown call).  The credibility of the NFL’s officials took a beating this year — and a game like this certainly had the potential to make things worse.  But in the end, the better team won — or at least, the better team during the game’s most crucial play did.

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