Sunday, February 1, 2009

Steelers Win Truly SUPER Game!

Has there ever been a more exciting Super Bowl game? Well, I've seen a lot of them in my lifetime and I think this definitely was the best one ever, even if the team I was pulling for didn't come out on top.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers were not too surprising a representative for the AFC, most of us were pretty shocked that the Arizona Cardinals made it amongst all of the NFC teams. I for one wasn't all that surprised by the Cards run - they were sleeper team to make the playoffs before the 2007 season started. It only took them an extra year to deliver on my hype.

Super Bowl XLIII had a little bit of everything. Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to a quick 10-0 lead early, but Kurt Warner quickly pulled the Cardinals back to within 10-7. As the first half ended, the Cardinals were poised to take the lead, but James Harrison intercepted a Warner pass intended for Anquan Boldin and returned it a record-breaking 100 yards to give the Steelers a 17-7 lead going into halftime.

The Steelers momentum carried into the third quarter as they took a 20-7 lead on Jeff Reed's second short field goal of the game.

In the final period, Warner and the Cardinals showed why they were in this thing in the first place. Perseverance - the story of Warner's football career and his team's in 2008. A drive culminated with a Larry Fitzgerald touchdown catch from one yard out drew the Cards to within six points at 20-14. The teams exchanged kicks the next two possessions, but the Cards managed to back the Steelers up against their own goal line. On third down, the Steelers were called for holding in the end zone for a safety. Suddenly, we had a 20-16 game with just under three minutes to play. After the ensuing free kick, Warner struck quickly, finding Fitzgerald down the middle for a 64 yard touchdown. The seven point underdog Cardinals were suddenly up 23-20 with 2:37 to play.

The Steelers would take off seconds on the ensuing kickoff return to leave "Big Ben" and his teammates two minutes and thirty seconds to either tie or win the game. play. For most NFL quarterbacks, 2:30 is not a lot of time. Indeed, when it's pressure time very few are able to rise to the challenge and not crumble. I mentioned recently that the two quarterbacks I most fear in the NFL with two minutes to play and the ball are the Colts' Peyton Manning and "#7" on the Steelers. With Roethlisberger at the helm, I almost knew what was going to happen because I've seen him do so many times in his five years as a pro. There's a reason "Big Ben" won a record 51 regular season games in his first five seasons. The guy has a HUGE heart! Sure enough, he did what we all know him to do. "Big Ben" meticulously drove the Steelers 78 yards in nine plays, culminating with six yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with just 35 seconds to play. Holmes did an absolutely AMAZING job getting his toes down while making the acrobatic catch which would ultimately end the Cardinals Cinderella story and result in he being named the game's MVP.

Warner and his offense had one last gasp, but with five seconds to play he was stripped of the ball as he tried to pull one more miracle play off. It wasn't meant to be. The Steelers got their record sixth Super Bowl ring in an absolutely amazing 27-23 game. The stars truly shined. It's a shame someone had to lose this game as I think it will go down in history as the best game EVER played!


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