The vomitous filth that is Super Bowl coverage has commenced. Last year I avoided all coverage from twwl and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the torturous two weeks that preceed the final relevant football game until August. Catfish and I broke down yesterday's games on this week's podcast, so today a quick list of thoughts on the teams and the game to come.
Some things you will hear too many times over the next two weeks:
Ken Whisenhunt used to be the offensive coordinator for the Steelers when they alst won the Super Bowl.
The Cardinals last won a championship in 1947.
Troy Polamalu is good.
Larry Fitzgerald is good.
Mike Tomlin is not white.
Steeler fans travel really well.
Kurt Warner has been in the Super Bowl before.
Arizona was bad for a really long time.
The Cardinals are playing the "nobody believed in us"/disrespect card.
Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.
The Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl, do you believe in unlikelihoods?
I'm sure fellow Miami Hurricane Calais Campbell pictured above appreciates how special the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl is, but being just a rookie he is fortunate enough not to have played on some of the Cardinal teams of futility. With the added inauguration of this president into office, I guess Kevin Garnett really knew what he was talking about last June. Players like Adrian Wilson had what this victory meant to the team all over his face as he could not hold back the tears. The emotion that followed the 32-25 Arizona win over the Eagles on Sunday in the NFC Championship game was just as potent for the team during the game. Ordinarily I would say that it is unwise to allow emotion to drive a team so much but the Cardinals used it to their benefit. Anquan Boldin had a literal shouting match with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Fitzgerald who is normally low key was pumping up the crowd, and every play made by Arizona was followed with some sort of display. You have to play the game with emotion, but it is just a question of how much you let it guide your actions and decision-making and let it show on the surface that can determine your performance. The Cardinals let their emotions show, but also made the plays on the field. Also worth noting was Larry Fitzgerald breaking Jerry Rice's post-season receiving yard total in the first half Sunday. I think the secret is officially out on the best receiver in football.
Eagles' fans perhaps seeing yellow today.
With all the excitement surrounding the Arizona win, the lack of a flag on Philadelphia's 4th and 10 play will certainly be discussed in the city of brotherly love today. Kevin Curtis had an opportunity with both hands to catch the ball and it went through his hands, but at the same time he was falling to the ground because the defender (which was Hood I believe) had slipped and tripped up Curtis. If Hood had not stuck out his hand, it would have been a touchdown. At worst it should have been flagged. Not many people outside of Eagles' fans care too much. It was a bitter loss for the Eagles who had regained the lead with 10 minutes to go but their defense-of all things- let them down. Offensively they got what they wanted but missed on many of their chances. This could be the end of the McNabb/Reid era and if it is, I do not know where Philly should go from here.
Steelers simply more mature than the Ravens.
Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger are no longer young pups in the NFL, at least they were not on Sunday. Going up against a rookie coach and QB on the other sideline, Pittsburgh got the best of the Ravens for the third time this year 24-13 in the AFC Championship game. Big Ben did what he had to in the collapsing pocket and made the throws while Flacco did not. Tomlin had his team in control the entire game while Harbaugh had a few stumples. I thought the Ravens would bring something more effective on offense considering this was the third meeting but their strategy fell flat. The Hines Ward injury will be interesting to watch but I suspect he will play if he came back into the game after going out initially unless Pittsburgh felt comfortable with putting a player back in the game with structural knee damage. The Steelers are favored to win in two weeks and their defense is the reason. So many times we have seen a great offense clash with a great defense and usually it is the defense that wins. Early prediction has me thinking the Steelers are going to win by more than one possession.
One more thing on Baltimore.
It is a shame that the heroic effort turned in by a banged up Ravens defense that went 18 weeks without a bye was all for naught. With injuries in the secondary and their best pass rusher nursing a bad shoulder, they held the Steelers in check and gave their offense a chacne to win if they could muster two scoring drives outside of the one they produced. It is folly to second guess coaching decisions on Monday morning but I do not get the Ravens' fourth and 1 call. They tried on 3rd and 1 to go no-huddle and catch the Steelers by surprise and QB sneak it. The Steelers defense was ready and Flacco called a timeout. They then tried to rush it up the middle which went for no gain and then on fourth down went back to the QB sneak which was snuffed out. Coming up empty on that possession was huge and if the Ravens had figured out a way to go away from the Steelers strength up fron on that play, the result may have been different.