Whether it was Ken Whisenhunt’s mistake of deferring after winning the coin toss, Kurt Warner’s disastrous pick six, the bogus call of roughing the passer on Karlos Dansby, the billion holding penalties on Mike Gandy, the defenses inability to bring down Ben Roethlisberger when they clearly had him sacked or Warner regaining his chronic fumblitis at the end (if that was even a fumble?), Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley did all he possibly could. He did enough for his team to win the Super Bowl. I think he did enough to prove that he should be the next head coach of the Chiefs.
Larry Fitzgerald also showed what an all-world talent at receiver can do, as did Santonio Holmes. Let’s not forget that he also was also a first-round pick. The Steelers designed their entire game plan to stop Fitzgerald, and if it hadn’t of been for a few costly mistakes, he would have done just that. All credit due to the Steelers, as they won the game. But the Cardinals lost it every bit as much if they won it. It’s also funny to me that with all of this talk about defense winning championships it was Holmes, an offensive player, who ultimately delivered the championship. Roethlisberger, as much as I can’t stand him, came through, too.
To me, the game was nearly ruined by some of the most overzealous officiating I have ever seen in a big game. You can call a penalty on every freakin’ play — put away the flags, zebras. It almost evened out in the end, but the refs essentially gave the Steelers a gift field goal there when they called the three big penalties in the third quarter. It would have been a touchdown if it hadn’t of been for some inspired defense. That put the Cards in a pretty big hole. That phantom roughing-the-passer call on Dansby hurt a ton. It should have been a punt. Given the predicament, that string of calls kinda crippled the Cards.
I will give these refs credit, though. They had brass balls and weren’t scared to make any call at any time. Now, whether those were the right calls or not is a different story.
I think Whiz deferring might have cost him the game. Ultimately, it allowed the Steelers to dominate the time of possession and wear down the Cards’ D. That’s why they couldn’t hold at the end there. They were exhausted.
Additionally, Warner is a rhythm player. We all saw what happened when he got hot in the fourth. Deferring took him out of the game. If this game goes another quarter, the Cardinals win it. I know that much. I’ve been hard on Kurt, but he did a lot of great things. That pick six was just the ultimate disaster in Super Bowl history. That’s all anybody will remember about his performance in this game.
I definitely don’t think this game can be considered a win for defense over offense. I truly don’t.
Without that pick six, I don’t see any possible way the Steelers win. Additionally, it was their offense that bailed out their vaunted D. They were unraveling late, unable to stop Fitzgerald and Warner. They also were getting tired and frustrated, as evidenced by the couple of times Steelers players took cheap shots, and got flagged for doing so. I think this game proved that either a great defense or great offense can get to the Big Game and win it, as the last four or so Super Bowls have.
James Harrison made a great play to run that pick back, but Warner should have never thrown that. I think Harrison runs that back only because none of the other 11 Cardinals thought that would ever happen. I suspect Haley wanted Anquan Boldin to slant there so Warner could throw the fade to an isolated Fitz. I guess Warner read blitz and telegraphed his pass. Also, Harrison really would be flipping burgers if he didn’t stick in the league. What a disgusting play by him when he threw that punch and shoved back down a Cardinals player late. Not only was there no need for that, but it almost cost his team dearly. I’m glad he didn’t win MVP.
Haley showed me he has what it takes to be our next coach, delivering time and time again late in the game. 30 more seconds and I believe they get it down. Fitz — and Holmes, to a lesser degree — made an excellent case for drafting Michael Crabtree. His only mistake might have been not to kneel down on the one on that long TD catch, but he’s not a tarot card reader. He had no clue what was going to happen. You have to take the six plus one there. Have to.
Basically, what I wanted to see I saw. I haven’t changed my mind at all. I believe in picking Haley to be our coach and drafting Crabtree more than ever before. Now, the combine and all the pre-draft stuff could potentially change my mind on Crabtree, but I doubt it. Potential trades could as well. Nothing is going to make me waver on Haley. He is our guy. In the broadcast they were talking about the next Mike Tomlin. Well, he might not dress as sharp as Mr. T. but Haley is that guy.
Congrats to the Steelers and their — and you know I hate this part, because I despise Steeler Nation — fans. What’s a sixth ‘ship to the res of us when they already have five?
Congrats to the Cardinals and their fans on a fantastic run. I imagine the gut punch you just took hurts pretty bad right about now. On the other hand, Bill Bidwell deserves it.
Overall, it was a great game. Flagfest 2009 and all.
Let’s get to work on getting us into the big game!