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SB XLIII: sloppy but fun

Before the Super Bowl got under way I came up with what I thought might be the typical perspective on the game coming from an Eagles fan:

  • Arizona wins: "I can't believe the Steelers lost! What a bunch of chokers!"
  • Pittsburgh wins a close one: "Dammit, the Eagles could've beaten Pittsburgh -- if only they had beaten Arizona!"
  • Pittsburgh wins in a rout: "Dammit, Arizona sucks! I can't believe the Eagles lost to those clowns!"

The Steelers nearly did choke it away, blowing a 20-7 lead as the Cardinals took a 23-20 lead on Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard TD catch. But Ben Roethlisberger capped off a 78-yard drive in the last 2 1/2 minutes by throwing 6 yards to Santonio Holmes for the game-winning score with 35 seconds left. The 27-23 win gives Pittsburgh its sixth Super Bowl victory, more than any other team.

I was stunned that Pittsburgh's defense gave up that 20-7 lead late. They made one huge play that helped them to that lead, though, when James Harrison intercepted Kurt Warner at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a score on the final play of the second quarter. Instead of the Cardinals' taking it in from the 1 for a 14-10 lead at the half, it was the Steelers heading to the locker room with a 17-7 lead.

Arizona's comeback made it exciting, but it wasn't a particularly well-played game. There were 18 penalties called, 11 on Arizona. The 18 penalties were third-most in a Super Bowl. And it was not a well-officiated game, at least on the field. Two calls that went against Arizona were overturned on replay, and there was a roughing-the-passer penalty on the Cards that kept a Pittsburgh drive alive that was questionable. And I can't figure out how the final Arizona play, ruled a Warner fumble instead of an incomplete pass, apparently wasn't reviewed at all (unless officials upstairs looked at it extremely quickly). It may not have been overturned but surely it should've been looked at. It was a pretty subpar year for NFL officials, so tonight's game was just more of the same.

I watched the game at the Bike Stop, the gay bar here that has a 2nd-floor sports bar, and the crowd was decidedly pro-Pittsburgh. I'm not surprised. It's not because Philadelphians would be predisposed, absent of the chance to root for the Eagles, to support the other Pennsylvania team. I don't think many people really think that way. Pittsburgh is way across on the other side of the state. It's thought of more like a Midwestern city.

It had to be pro-Pittsburgh for other reasons. I know there was at least one Pittsburgh native in the crowd. Besides, Arizona has very few real fans. By my very unscientific but nonetheless pretty accurate estimate, they have 146 real fans. They'll have plenty of room on their bandwagon now, however.

Through the night I was texting a friend who was rooting for Kurt Warner. The exchange included a few jokes about Warner's penchant for mentioning Jesus. So at the end of the game I had one final message: "Hey Warner, where's your messiah now?"

Regarding the other stuff: I didn't see a lot of the commercials because of the aforementioned texting, and even if I did see them, I didn't hear them well because of the bar noise. I didn't see the halftime show at all because my friend and I went and had dessert at a place around the corner. Jennifer Hudson did a fine job with the national anthem, though. And did anyone sit through NBC's five-hour pregame show? Did they give their 21 broadcasters (including Al Michaels and John Madden) enough to do during those five hours?