Sunday, February 01, 2009


By Michael J.W. Stickings


Enjoy the game everyone. Personally, I'm a nervous wreck right now.

Go Steelers!

I'll be back later, maybe with some comments at halftime. (Fair warning: If Pittsburgh is losing, I'll be in a really, really bad mood. And if they lose the game, well...)

-- Michael


Well... wow. That was sort of a tale of two entirely different quarters, with the Steelers dominating the first and the Cardinals the second.

Once again -- and this has been the story all season -- the Steelers' special teams are a huge problem. Terrible punting and, on Breaston's long punt return, bad coverage.

Big Ben's interception pass was something a fluke, tipped at the line, but it was the incredible TD interception return by NFL defensive player of the year James Harrison, obviously one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, that, as of right now, is the difference.

What worries me is that with the Steelers D focusing so heavily on Fitzgerald, who had just one catch in the first half, the Cards are actually moving the ball really well -- yes, I just agreed with Matt Millen, who just made that point -- with Warner finding James in the flats and a number of different receivers open, including Boldin, who's a fine receiver in his own right, on passing plays. And one thing about Warner is that he's a really smart QB. He may not be all that mobile, but he can pick up coverage and blitz packages and get rid of the ball quickly, as he did in the second quarter, when the Cards were able to move the ball at will against the league's top D. If he can continue to do that in the second half, and if the Steelers don't get more pressure on him -- they got some, but not nearly enough -- the Cards could very well pull this out.

On the other side of the ball, give the Cards' D credit. They may not have been the Steelers or the Ravens or the Eagles during the regular season, but they're having an outstanding postseason. In the second quarter, they pretty much shut down Parker and the Steelers' running game and, from what I could tell -- because you can't see the downfield coverage on TV -- they didn't give Roethlisberger a lot to throw to. I wonder about Ward's health. He caught a big pass on the opening drive, but he's been quiet otherwise. To me, the Steelers need to try to spread the field with Holmes and Washington while sending Ward and Miller on shorter routes.

The point it, the D may not be able to win this one for the Steelers, Harrison's TD aside. The Cards look like they'll be able to put up a lot of points in the second half. To beat them, the Steelers are going to need to do the same.


Great, great performance by The Boss. (So much better than Tom Petty last year.) I'm not a huge fan, but he's pretty awesome tonight. Most energy at a Super Bowl halftime show ever.


Well... wow again. What a game. What a game. What a game. It really looked like the Cards had it, that on this day their offence, mainly Warner to Fitzgerald, was simply better than the Steelers' defence. And perhaps it was. But then Big Ben and Santonio Holmes led the Steelers down the field on one of the most exciting game-winning drives I've ever seen, capped off by Holmes's incredible TD catch. (Holmes for MVP? Yes. And so deserving.)

Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Arizona Cardinals 23

What a whirlwind of emotions, so many ups and downs throughout the game. But it was like the Steelers' entire season -- so many close games, so much tension, so much anxiety, so many last-minute, or last-second, game-winners.

And, honestly, I just can't believe it. Still. I can't. Not after Fitzgerald put the Cards up with just over a minute to go. I thought that was it, and I was beginning the process of coming to terms with it.

You know, it's hard to be a sports fan, it's hard to love a team. I know a lot of you know what I mean. You put a lot into it, as crazy as it may seem, and you connect emotionally with it in a deep and profound way, in a way that really matters to you, that is meaningful to you. When your team loses, you take it hard, and it's like a kick in the gut. But when it wins... when it wins... when it's like today... when it's the Super Bowl... and when, for me, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers... it's awesome.


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