Archive for Thursday, February 5, 2009

The wild card

February 5, 2009

After last year’s thrilling Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and New York Giants, I didn’t think there would be another Super Bowl that could come close to that game.

But last Sunday night, the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers played in one of the best Super Bowls that I have ever seen. The Cardinals were seven-point underdogs and didn’t look good early.

The Cardinals couldn’t run or throw, and it looked like it had the makings of a 30-10 snoozer. But Arizona finally got on track. Having three wide receivers who gained more than 1,000 yards during the regular season made Pittsburgh play its safeties back deep. This allowed holes underneath the coverage, and Cardinals’ QB Kurt Warner got the team back in the game.

Already down 10-0, Warner orchestrated a nine-play 83-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard TD pass to Ben Patrick to cut the Steelers’ lead to three with just more than five minutes remaining in the half.

The Cardinals’ defense stiffened and later picked off a Ben Roethlisberger pass, which set the Cardinals up inside Pittsburgh territory. Warner then drove Arizona to the Pittsburgh goal line. And on the final play of the first half, the Cardinals were in position to take a 14-10 lead at halftime. But linebacker James Harrison intercepted a pass across the middle and rumbled 100 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest play in Super Bowl history. The Steelers led 17-7 at the break and took momentum with them into the locker room.

The halftime show was also enjoyable (for me, at least). There was no wardrobe malfunction and Bruce Springsteen put on a pretty good show. The third quarter was a steady diet of Pittsburgh Steelers’ football, as Roethlisberger and running back Willie Parker drove the Steelers to the Arizona 3-yard line. The Cardinals defense stopped them, and held the Steelers to a field goal to make the score 20-3 Pittsburgh. But Arizona came back with a flurry. Warner picked the Steelers apart through the air and finally got Larry Fitzgerald the ball. His 1-yard TD catch cut the lead to six, and the Cardinals quickly got a safety and the ball. They took the lead on a 64-yard catch and run by Fitzgerald with a little more than two minutes to go. But the Steelers had one last drive in them, and won the game on a 6-yard strike with 35 seconds to play.

The final flurry was unlike any I had seen in pro football. The emotion of the final three minutes was very intense. The Steelers won the game, and sports fans got to enjoy one of the best Super Bowls ever.

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