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03 February 2009

We Are Pittsburgh, Super Bowl Champs!

I know it is Tuesday and we won on Sunday, but I needed a couple days to gether my thoughts and see what the press was saying before I wrote. I do have to say that I am so very proud of our Steelers and their unique comeback ability late in games. I think the way we played all season made this last drive a little easier than it should have been. It was more of a we have been there before type attitude and knew it can be accomplished again, even if it is the biggest stage there is.

I do have a small complaint to get out of the way though. It is dedicated to all the Seattle Seahawks fans and now it looks like the Arizona Cardinals are going to be lumped into this category too. Stop complaining. It isn't going to change anything. The calls were made at the right times and were legit. If you were to win these games or able to win these games, you would have. You didn't hear Steelers fans blaming the officials for their futilism in 1996 when we lost Superbowl XXX. We blamed Neil O'Donnell. He threw three picks and couldn't get it done. We don't hold a grudge against the Cowboys at all. I won't lie, we all still hate them from all the great games and great competition from prior Superbowls and that, but we don't blame anyone but our own team there. There, I have said it, now I am done. I consider this a closed case.

I do have to say, this was one of the best Superbowls I have ever been blessed enough to watch. I am even more excited that it was not only my favorite team playing, but winning as well. I believe that game was everything and more than what any commentator or football expert expected. Yeah, the safe call was that it would be a close game, but the week leading up to the big game it didn't seem like anyone was on the Steelers side, but still expected them to win. This was based on pure experience. I never doubted.

At the beginning of the game, the Steelers jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead and it looked like the Cardinals were going to get blown out, but Kurt Warner led them back within three with a quick, 83 yard drive ending in a pass to his tight end Patrick for his first touchdown of the year. It was a great drive, but not a great one for our defense. It looked like we were having a difficult time moving the ball after this touchdown. Maybe our energy was drained, but the Cardinals weren't. They drove again a few series later for 64 yards before the James Harrison show started. Right before halftime, an NFL record was set by non other than our own defensive player of the year, James Harrison. It looked as if the Cardinals were going to go up 14-10, but Harrison dropped back into coverage and intercepted Kurt Warner's pass at the goal line. He rumbled, completely out of wind, for 100 yards for the touchdown. This proved to be the longest play in NFL history as time ticked to zero on the game clock. Harrison and his entourage knew time was up and it wouldn't matter unless he got into the endzone. Harrison crashed through Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston to break the plane and score. It was a heck of a play.

After the half, Arizona was forced to punt, we drove down to kick a field goal and it was 20-7. After a few more punts, the Cardinals put together another touchdown drive finishing it off with Fitzgerald catching the pass in the corner. Another couple series and we were backed up deep in our own territory when Ben completed a pass from the endzone to the 20 yard line which seemed incredible till the holding call on Jeff Hartwig in the endzone. The rule is if there is a holding call in the endzone, it is an automatic safety. 20-16 was the score. The very next drive was seemingly a backbreaker, it was Fitzgerald from Warner, 65 yard catch and run to the endzone, putting the Cardinals ahead for the first time, 23-20.

I hope that every one of those analysts throughout the season that pegged Ben Roethlisberger as not one of the best quarterbacks in the league was able to watch him in action Sunday. He was unbelievable. His only blemish came on a great individual effort by nose tackle Bryan Robinson, where he tipped Roethlisberger's pass into the air and intercepted by Karlos Dansby. Other than this, Ben played superb. They had two chances to get into the endzone during the game, but the decision to kick the field goal by head coach Mike Tomlin was not argueable. I thought it was smart considering the history of this season. We have been having trouble getting across the goal line when inside the five yard line. It is weird because three years ago, when Jerome Bettis was on the team, this was a gimme touchdown. That was a different time and a different team. Roethlisberger threw for 256 yards, 1 TD and that pick. I consider this great, but the main reason this was so great was how he earned the last seven points. He drove the Steelers and believe it or not, bailed out our #1 ranked defense in the closing minutes of the game. Ben went five for seven for 84 yards in that drive, completing 4 of them to Santonio Holmes, the games' MVP. The Steelers only had 2:36 left on the clock when the recieved the ball around the 22 yard line. It turned worse when Kris Kemoeatu was called for holding in the first series. I couldn't believe it. Ben didn't let that stop him, he knew this was it, their final shot to make history. Ben threw a 14 yard strike to Holmes. Then an incompletion meant for Nate Washington. Another sharp pass to Holmes for 13 yards on third down and 6. That turned out to be a first and 10 at Pittsburgh's 39 yard line. Ben then went back to Washington for an 11 yard first down throw. Ben was then flushed out of the pocked for a 4 yard scramble. The Steelers just crossed midfield when Ben passed it to Holmes again, but this time the cornerback slipped and it was off to the races. Holmes finally got dragged down at the 6 yard line. I was screaming my head off as were most of the fans at Raymond James. Ben went to the back left corner to Holmes, but the ball went straight through his hands. He finished the drive with an incredible, perfect throw to the back right corner to Holmes who, this time, held on and drug both toes in bounds for the game-winning touchdown. Nothing can get more exciting than that.

Way to go Steelers, you earned this win. Now it is defintely time to start looking out for 2010 Superbowl. Although Tomlin won't call it a repeat, I would love to see another title here in Pittsburgh. You can say what you will about this team and these fans, but all I have to say is that every professional sports team wishes they had a following like the Steelers do. We have exactly one year to figure out what we are going to call the Seventh title. We can't call it one for the thumb, one for the other thumb, or the sixpack. By the way, only true Pittsburghers would name a NFL Championship after beer.


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