Sunday, February 1, 2009


Wow. I was on a plane during last year's Super Bowl, so I hadn't seen one with the outcome really in doubt that close to the end the end since the Panthers-Patriots game four years ago (The Eagles-Patriots matchup was technically very close, but the Eagles needed a successful onside kick, and I seem to recall Reid engaging poor clock management).

But what a great finish. The shotgun-max protect-go route call was a brilliant call; there's nothing else worth doing on third-and-ten on your own one yard line. I think even the Cardinals were stunned at the hold-in-the-end-zone that called it back, since the first down would have ended the game. They didn't show enough of the All-22 to see why Fitzgerald got so open for his TD; the Steelers looked like they were in cover-2, but why did both safeties pinch out? Was it an error or was there some deception? Holmes's catch was one for the ages, and I'm always happy to see a non-QB, non-RB player earn the game MVP award (had the Cardinals won, it would have been a coin toss between Fitzgerald and Warner). And of course the general pass-wackiness of the ache will give Gregg Easterbrook heartburn, which is always an appealing thought.

Like Ezra, I'm pretty sure Warner's arm was moving forward on the endgame "fumble". In addition, the Steelers seemed to benefited from a couple of other questionable calls (not that I'm bitter or anything), particularly the roughing the passer shove (to avoid a penalty, I believe the Cardinals' player would have needed to hold his hands up and try to twist to the side, all in the span of one step, which borders on the absurd). But on balance nothing that hugely changed the outcome.

I hope next year the Competition Committee takes a look at lightening up on roughing the passer calls, while getting much more agressive about penalizing and fining open-field, leave-your-feet, lead-with-your-shoulder hits. Those are the ones putting people on stretchers (see McGahee, Willis) for no good reason; if you're in a position to make those kinds of hits, you should be wrapping the guy up anyway. Alternatively Sportscenter and the NFL Network could simply refuse to show those hits, which would probably have almost the same effect.
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