Super Bowl notebook
Posted Feb. 02 at 02:49 AM
Ben Roethlisberger reminds me of John Elway of the late ‘80s. At that stage of his career, Elway at times would scramble around seemingly forever, keeping a play alive before making a big throw. Roethlisberger (who wears No. 7 out of respect for Elway) has become the best at making those kind of plays. He had one of them on the decisive touchdown against Baltimore (the 65-yarder to Santonio Holmes), and he made at least two more against the Cardinals. I thought Roethlisberger, not Holmes, was the MVP of the game. That makes this game kind of the reverse of 1980, when Terry Bradshaw was named the MVP but it should have gone to John Stallworth. If Stallworth had gotten that award, Pittsburgh would have more Super Bowl MVP wide receivers (Lynn Swann, Hines Ward, Holmes) than the rest of the league combined. Another player drafted in the first round by Pittsburgh (Plaxico Burress) scored the winning touchdown in last year’s game.
Speaking of MVPs, the other guy I was thinking about was James Harrison. He scored the phenomenal 100-yard touchdown, of course, but he also drew a lot of holding calls – which are kind of like sacks. Mike Gandy had three holds, and I think two of them were on Harrison.
Shocking, I thought, that Mike Tomlin settled for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the one-inch line in the first quarter. Granted, the Steelers haven’t been a good short-yardage team, but they can’t get an inch against the Arizona defense? And what’s the downside there? The Cardinals would have then been trapped at their own goal line.
I was surprised to see Ben Patrick catch a 1-yard touchdown. It wasn’t an easy catch (he was well covered) and he had to make a difficult catch. And throwing to tight ends on play action isn’t something the Cardinals do a lot of. In their first 19 games of the season, Kurt Warner threw 38 TD passes – none to tight ends.
Willie Parker had the one huge 75-yard touchdown run against Seattle in Super Bowl XL. But otherwise, he hasn’t been very effective in Super Bowls. He went for 53 yards on 19 carries yesterday, and his other nine carries against the Seahawks went for 18 yards. Parker ran for only 47 yards on 24 carries in the AFC Championship against Baltimore.
I was shocked that Arizona didn’t attempt a pass to Larry Fitzgerald until the final minute of the first half.
Kurt Warner, I think, is a Hall of Famer right now. He’s had some great seasons – throwing over 40 touchdowns twice. He’s been very good in the postseason. He’s now got the three best (yardage wise) games in Super Bowl history. He’s one of only two guys to quarterback different teams to Super Bowls. And he’s averaged over 300 yards in playoff games, the most of anyone. Dan Fouts, Warren Moon and Jim Kelly are all Hall of Famers, and I think Warner’s body of work is more impressive than any of those guys.
As reader Miguel Tames pointed out yesterday, Santonio Holmes should have been flagged 15 yards for using the ball as a prop after the game-winning touchdown. In a tribute to LeBron James, apparently, Holmes pretended the ball was filled with chalk. He “opened” the ball, sprinkled chalk onto his hands, then mimmicked throwing that chalk into the air. It’s a ticky-tacky call, but the league has been very firm on those ball-as-prop calls all year. It would have moved the kickoff back to the 15 and made the end of the game far more interesting.
The game was over-officiated. Too many penalties were called.
I don’t like the lengthy Super Bowl halftime shows, whether it’s Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Prince or whoever. Is this a football game or a rock concert? All year, they go with the 12-minute halftimes. For this game, there was a 33-minute break. Competitively, I don’t think that’s good for the teams or players.
The final half of the fourth quarter was phenomenal, but I don’t think you can consider that game to be better than the Giants beating the Patriots. The first three quarters of last year’s game was far better, and the matchup was far more appealing – it featured the underdog Giants somehow managing to upset what might have been the best team of all time.
Are there too many bells and whistles with today’s game? Looking at the back of Ben Roethlisberger’s helmet yesterday, I saw seven different stickers. An NFL shield, a U.S. flag, a safety warning, the Gene Upshaw tribute sticker, a Super Bowl XLIII logo, his player number and a green ball indicating there’s a radio inside his helmet. It’s got kind of NASCAR feel back there. Some players at Ohio State make it through the season without collecting that many Buckeye stickers.
I was surprised, during the trophy presentation, that one of the first things Dan Rooney did was thank President Obama. I like Obama as much as the next guy, but I’m not sure what he’s getting thanked for.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Feb. 02 at 03:55 AM
Agree that touchdowns to tight ends are unusual for Arizona. Even the one yesterday, I'm pretty sure, was only because Warner tripped as he took the snap and wasn't able to hand the ball off to Hightower. The throw to Patrick was a pretty impressive bit of improv by Warner; no way was Patrick where the ball was supposed to go.
Posted by ADAM HOLTZ | Feb. 02 at 08:11 AM
This might be why Rooney thanked Obama: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs2008/news/story?id=3878539
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