It couldn’t have been any better . After years of dull, boring games or rank mismatches, we’ve had two great SuperBowls in two years. For a Giant fan like myself, last year’s upset of the Patriots was wonderful but, I’ve got to admit, from the spectators point of view this year’s contest was even better . “My” team, the Arizona Cardinals, lost but so exciting was the game that I didn’t mind much.
Early on, the Steelers looked like they were going to run away with the game. They scored first and it looked like the Cards were done. Conventional wisdom was that they had a chance only if they could get the early lead and hang on to it. Down 10-0, they not only came back but were poised to take the lead just before the half. Then Warner’s pass was picked off by Harrison in the end zone and returned for a 100 yd TD with no time left on the clock. How Harrison managed to keep on his feet after being tackled by at least 5 Cardinal defenders , how he managed to stay inbounds ,I’ll never know. People are already saying that it is the greatest single play in SuperBowl history. I don’t know how one judges these things but it definitely is up there.
At my house, the general consensus was that after such a play, with the Cardinals down 17-7 instead 0f bieng up 14-7, it was all over for them. How could they hand the Steelers a 10 point lead and have a chance ? No way, we all said. But come back the Cards did and they actually took a 3 point lead with less than 3 minutes remaining. NOW, it was all over, I thought. My pregame prediction ( Arizona 20-17 over Pittsburgh ) seemed to be on the money. With 2-1/2 minutes to go and the Steelers 75 yards away going up against a ferocious Cardinal defense that had held them in check in the 2nd half…. nah, no chance! As the Steelers got in field goal range, I thought to myself that at worst it would be a tie and the Cardinals would still have a shot at winning in OT. And then, Santonio Holmes made that amazing catch and , finally, it was really over .
Stray thoughts: Though I was rooting for Arizona , I was happy for the Steelers because theirs is a class organization , beginning with the owner Dan Rooney and the coach Mike Tomlin. I also like the players though I was upset at Joey Harrison’s rough tactics.
Giant fans were no doubt rueing the loss to the Eagles that knocked the G-Men out of the playoffs.If only they had beaten the Eagles , they would have had a home game against Arizona with a good chance of making it to Tampa. In a way however, it was better for spectators that the Cardinals made it to the SuperBowl rather than the Giants. A Giants- Steelers matchup would have been a defensive struggle like the one played by the Steelers and Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Yes, defense wins games but it is not pretty to watch.
Amani Toomer made some harsh comments about the Giant coaches and the front office in the week leading to the SuperBowl. Toomer is a long time Giant having played there for 14 seasons and he is a class act. Much of what he said made sense. He said that Coughlin had lost the sense of urgency that he had shown last season, that he was not really interested in player input,that the offensive playcalling was unimaginative and predictable and that too much burden was played on the O-line.I think he was spot on particularly about the playcalling. But, was the Giants stodginess due to the lack of a game breaking receiving threat that could keep defenses honest ? The value of a deep threat was underscored in the Super Bowl by Larry Fitzgerald and Santonio Holmes and Anquan Boldin. With Toomer, Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon unable to break free of their defenders , Kevin Gilbride’s options were severly limited. One rumor has Boldin coming to the Giants for a running back. We’ll see..
I can’t help thinking of the success enjoyed by young coaches this season. In addition to Mike Tomlin and Ken Whisenhut and John Harbaugh there was Mike Smith at Atlanta. Did they all succeed only because they had good teams or because their youth made them more daring and aggressive in their approach to the game ? I hope it’s the former because the Giants are stuck with Tom Coughlin for another couple of years and he’s no spring chicken .