Heard a lot of talk today about yesterday’s game being the best Super Bowl ever.  I’m not sure how one quantifies this sort of thing as those kinds of judgments tend to be very subjective.  It also seems that we often overvalue recent events at the expense of those in the distant past.  But given the uneven history of Super Bowls, XLIII at least deserves to be in the conversation.

At the time it happened, I believed that Pittsburgh linebacker Jerome Harrison’s dynamic interception return for a touchdown just prior to halftime could be the death blow for the Cardinals.  The fact that Arizona recovered to eventually take the lead in the 4th quarter is a testament to their character.

Speaking of Harrison, his boneheaded unsportsmanlike conduct penalty overshadowed an otherwise magnificent performance and may have cost him a trip to Disneyworld.  Of course, I’m not sure Harrison even cares about such things.

I was mildly surprised that Mike Holmgren and Tony Dungy agreed to be part of NBC’s Super Bowl coverage.  I had expected both of them to keep a low profile for awhile.  I fully expect Holmgren to be back in the NFL in some capacity (less so with Dungy), but it was my understanding that he had promised his wife to take some time off.  Maybe Kathy was out of town and he needed something to fill the time.

I can’t say that I really had a rooting interest in the game, so I’m glad that it turned out to be a close contest.  I don’t mind that Pittsburgh won another championship as they appear to wear it better than say, New England or Dallas.  I also get the sense that many Packer fans view the Steelers and their fans as kindred souls; their tradition and passion mirroring those of Green Bay.

If I were a Steeler fan, I would get very frustrated at times watching Ben Roethlisberger play quarterback.  He often holds onto the ball way too long and takes some ridiculous chances.  Of course, as Packer fans that’s a feeling with which we’re familiar.  I heard that Holmgren even compared Roethlisberger to a certain QB that he once coached around these parts.  To his credit, Roethlisberger uses his size to keep plays alive but I think the physical abuse he endures will eventually take a toll on his health (it has to a point already) and I would be surprised to see his career last as long as Favre’s.  Of course, he already has more titles than Favre in only his 5th year.

The winning TD pass from Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes was the kind of play that champions make.  Some commentators actually took the Cards secondary to task, noting that the play beat 3 Arizona defenders.  But the pass was expertly thrown where only Holmes could make a play on the ball and Holmes did fine job securing the ball while keeping his feet inbounds.  Holmes was the most consistent performer in this game for the Steelers and that catch solidified his bid for the MVP.

The Cardinals may regret their missed opportunity even more in time as they figure to be a much different team next season.  They have fifteen unrestricted free agents going into the offseason, including quarterback Kurt Warner.  That many players on a ‘salary drive’ undoubtedly contributed to a sense of urgency that served them well in the playoffs.  And that number doesn’t include disgruntled wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who’s made no secret of his unhappiness with his contract and will likely be playing elsewhere next year.  If Warner retires and they have to rely on Matt Leinart in 2009, I doubt they’ll even make the playoffs much less get near another Super Bowl.

 

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