A Super Bowl wrap up with a nice ring to it   

Updated: February 2, 2009

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Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers on winning Super Bowl XLIII.

In honor of the Steelers' becoming the first team to win six Super Bowl titles, let's break Sunday's Super Bowl festivities down into six parts.

Roethlisberger_Ben

Matthew Emmons/US Presswire

Big Ben scrambled with the grace of a gazelle -- a gazelle running through quicksand, but a gazelle nonetheless.

Ring 1: Pregame

After two weeks of hype, it's hard to learn anything new in the pregame show.

You get fed tidbits of useless information, like how football teams that have stayed at the Cardinals' hotel have won eight in a row at Raymond James Stadium. (I credit the high thread-count sheets!) Or you get to watch the not-made-for-TV Bill Belichick break down film on both teams. (The film he used was not high-definition. It looked like it was shot with a camcorder. Just saying.)

But this year's pregame show had some great moments.

There was a story on last year's Eli Manning-to-David Tyree play. Giants center Shaun O'Hara had this to say about Manning's somehow slipping out of Richard Seymour's grasp before throwing the ball downfield: "It was such an impressive play from our standpoint because we've seen [Eli] fall on the ground numerous times before in practice for no reason at all."

By the time you had almost stopped laughing at that, Matt Millen came out with: "One thing we all know in this league, it's not who you play, it's when you play them." Which caused everyone else on set with him to simultaneously think, "Right, unless you're playing the Detroit Lions and it's any week on the calendar."

And then, by the time you were almost done laughing at that, President Obama was being interviewed by Matt Lauer. Asked how he felt to be cropped out of a family picture on the cover of US Weekly by a shot of Jessica Simpson, Obama interjected: "Who is in a weight battle apparently." (Bwaaah-ha-ha-ha, I laughed as I finished off my first bowl of guacamole dip.)

PAGE II ON SUPER BOWL XLIII


• DJ Gallo: Chat transcript
• Sportoon: Super Bowl highlights
• Super Bowl poll: Cast your vote!
• Jemele Hill: Super Bowl party report

And if you needed any levity you could flip over to the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, which was basically just dogs fighting as narrated by Harry Kalas.

By that time it was the coin flip. Somehow honorary captain John Elway was able to upstage Steelers kicker Jeff Reed for the most desperate attempt to look cool, and looked even more ridiculous standing next to general David Petraeus. It was basically this, 250 years later.

Ring 2: First Half

The Steelers went up and down the field at will on the Cardinals in the first quarter. Apparently it's nice to play against a defense other than Baltimore's once in a while, or at least against a defense run by a guy named Clancy Pendergast who looks like a guy named Clancy Pendergast.

Their first drive (effectively) ended on a touchdown run by Ben Roethlisberger on third-and-short. But Ken Whisenhunt challenged it. Or at least we were told that he did. I never saw him throw the flag. I am convinced Mike Holmgren ran off the NBC set, ripped the red flag out of Whisenhunt's pocket and hurled it off of referee Terry McAulay's face. Either way, the touchdown was overturned, and Mike Tomlin settled for a field goal, becoming the youngest coach to settle for a field goal in Super Bowl history.

Arizona's first drive quickly sputtered out and the Steelers went on a long, sustained drive right back down the field, highlighted by a wild scramble around and around in the pocket by Roethlisberger before he found Heath Miller up the left sideline. At halftime, Holmgren said the play had reminded him of something a young Brett Favre would do. No doubt, in the broadcast booth, John Madden wept silently into an empty hot dog wrapper.

Super Bowl XLIII wasn't off to a good start if you were hoping for a competitive Super Bowl. It was looking like Buffalo Bills versus Anyone. And Pittsburgh's clock-eating ended the first quarter at 7:01 p.m. With so few commercials aired, how would NBC be able to pay for more reality shows?! A nation held its breath. How would we know what to buy with our lack of money?!

But the second quarter picked up the pace … of the commercials. Which meant the game slowed down. And the Bills Cardinals were starting to move the ball, trailing 10-0. Kurt Warner hit backup tight end Ben Patrick for one-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. And with 59 seconds to go in the half, Larry Fitzgerald got his first catch of the game, meaning his father's next column would no longer be harder to write than flossing a shark.

Larry Fitzgerald

Scott A. Miller/US Presswire

"Hey! There I am on the Jumbotron!"

And then Warner threw the ball to James Harrison. Harrison had complained all week that he was being forced to drop back into coverage in practice to prepare for the Cardinals. He wanted to blitz, he said. His pick, which he got only because he'd dropped into coverage, proved defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau right. Let that be an example, kids -- listen to your coaches. Especially if you are a freakishly muscled 6-feet, 242 pounds and can outrun an entire NFL team's offense over 100 yards.

Ring 3: Halftime

Bruce Springsteen brought some energy to the halftime show that had been lacking in recent years, which I guess is what you get when you book someone who isn't yet 60. The much-talked about set list was "10th Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born to Run," "Working on a Dream," and "Glory Days." Which means I lost 30 grand on my bet that it would be "Streets of Philadelphia" and a seven-minute version of "Secret Garden."

But, yeah, all in all it was better than Paul McCartney, the Stones or Tom Petty. I'll admit that I was disturbed a bit by Springsteen's sliding across the stage until his crotch slammed into a camera. I'll take a shot of a 38-year-old woman's partially covered breast over getting rammed by a 59-year-old man's crotch any day. But then I'm not in charge of the FCC.

Ring 4: Commercials

Really? 3-D? That's the fancy, new technology that's supposed to wow us all? This is the best you can come up with? I suppose this is what happens in a deep recession  stuff that has been around forever is sold as exciting and new. I can't wait to watch next year's Super Bowl ads in amazing Technicolor! And, if we're lucky, maybe they'll even be in stereo, too! On our ham radios!

None of the commercials really blew me away. There were all the requisite crotch and head shots and people falling down. Call it sophomoric if you want to. But maybe it was an artistic, symbolic take on the current state of our nation, how it's tough for the average man to get ahead right now and how ... no, yeah ... it was just people getting hit in the crotch.

Some ads went over my head. I think Danica Patrick was in a shower to show that she wants to wash away all the credibility she built up. One snack company informed us all that their snack is most enjoyed by flying rats. Castrol supplied us with the obligatory Super Bowl commercial monkey sighting. And I can no longer send flowers to my mom because she might think I want to see her naked.

I do know that I'm going to get me some time on one of those personal jets by Marquis Jets though. Worst economic climate ever for an ad for a personal jet company? Who knows. The climate is much nicer at 35,000 feet.

Ring 5: Second Half

This Super Bowl is being called the most exciting ever, but it was no thanks to the third quarter. All the Cardinals and Steelers did in this quarter was show they are also the NFL's two best football teams at holding and committing personal fouls. (A team must be well-rounded to go all the way!)

Santonio Holmes

Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

The Cardinals secondary knows it's not two-hand touch, right?

Another Steelers drive stalled in the red zone and a Jeff Reed field goal put Pittsburgh up 20-7 at the end of three.

Then Warner happened upon the novel idea of throwing the ball to Fitzgerald. He scored on a 1-yard jump ball that was perfectly defended by Ike Taylor halfway through the fourth quarter to pull the Cardinals to within six. Then a safety and a shocking 64-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald right through the middle of the Steelers' defense put the Cardinals up 23-20 in the Super Bowl (the Arizona Cardinals!) with only 2:37 left in the game.

The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder was about to become the nation's highest circulation paper.

Ring 6: The Final Minutes and Aftermath

Then Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes happened. Facing first-and-20 at their own 12-yard line, they went right down the field and won the game.

The result is that the Steelers can now be considered the greatest franchise in NFL history.

The Cardinals can now be considered an NFL franchise, no longer deserving to be ignored.

Warner lost, but only burnished his reputation. He is going to take some time to decide whether he wants to return for another season. If you're worried this is going to turn into a Brett Favre situation, don't. Kurt Warner is not Brett Favre. Warner will likely pray to God and then make a decision. (I guess the problem is that Favre will have to spend all of his time now hearing Warner's prayers before he can make a decision of his own. So we're probably looking at a mid-summer announcement again from Favre.)

Santonio Holmes made all the plays he had to, with the Cardinals learning the painful lesson that it probably would have been more effective to put two guys on him than Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- one guy with two names. Now Holmes can celebrate. (But not too much, Santonio!)

And Roethlisberger silenced his critics. Anyone who now says he isn't an elite quarterback must be so out of touch they're considering the purchase of a private jet.

DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He also is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is on sale now.


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