Thursday, February 09, 2006

Super Bowl Met Low Expectations

Many people (okay one person) have asked for my thoughts on the Super Bowl, so here is my post-Super Bowl Super Post (by the way, Jon, that is not a palindrome; you would think a guy with English degrees from Cornell and Stanford would know that, but thanks, I used it anyway). I thought it was an okay game, and the team I hoped (maybe too strong a word) would win, did, but Seattle has to be disapponted with their effort, especially on offense.

The Seahawks' defense played fine, but gave up three big plays: the 75-yard scoring run by Willie Parker, the gimmick touchdown pass from Antwaan Randle-El to Hines Ward and the 3rd and 28 pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Ward that led to the contested TD. My favorite was the Parker run, only because it broke the record Marcus Allen set against my Redskins back in 1984.

I don't think Roethlisberger actually broke the plane on his TD run, but there was no camera angle that really had a clear shot of the play, which is actually the most surprising thing. You would think that with all the money and energy spent on the Super Bowl, they would have cameras inside of cameras from every conceivable angle, especially around the goal line. Considering what replays were available, the call on the field, whichever way it went, had to stand.

Seattle's offense, meanwhile, put up a measly 10 points on nearly 400 total yards, and made no big plays. Jerramy Stevens caught the only Seahawks touchdown of the day, but he was otherwise ineffectual despite talking such a big game earlier in the week. NFL MVP Shaun Alexander rushed for nearly five yards per carry but had only one play that gained more than 10. The Seahawks were robbed on the pass interference call that took away a touchdown, but the offense never did anything to scare the Steelers. Seattle's biggest play, in yardage and impact, was Kelly Herndon's interception return that led to the touchdown.

The pathetic output by the offense and complete clock mismanagement at the end of the game will certainly tarnish Mike Holmgren's reputation as an offensive genius, but I think he just finally succumbed to the intense pressure that has shattered many other good teams much earlier in this game. I would cite actual examples, but there are so many blowouts and I'd hate to leave out someone's favorite.

This was a true team victory for the Steelers. No one player stands out, as evidenced by the MVP trophy going to Ward, who had five catches for 123 yards and one touchdown. No offense to Ward, but Ricky Sanders had more yards and touchdowns in one quarter against the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. Normally in this situation, they just give the trophy to the quarterback, but Roethlisberger had unimpressive numbers, let the the Seahawks get back in the game on Herndon's interception and did not throw his team's only touchdown pass.

All the pregame hype pointed to the Steelers as the emotional favorite. They had Jerome Bettis, the Rooneys, Bill Cowher, the history, and colorful players like Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu. Maybe that is part of why they won. In a game of two evenly matched teams, maybe you have to have character and characters, people who can give you an emotional edge and make the big plays.

As far as the commercials, the halftime, the national anthem, I couldn't tell you. Like I said in my preview, I really just like to watch the game.

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