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LAist's Super Bowl XLIII Preview
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin holds up the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the AFL Championship Game. AP File Photo.
Let’s be frank about the Super Bowl. Despite all the hype that surrounds the game it usually is a dud of a game.
There was Super Bowl V, the first one played after the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, between the Baltimore Colts and Dallas Cowboys. Both teams combined for 11 turnovers in the game with the Colts accounting for seven of them, the most by a winning team in a Super Bowl. Dallas committed 10 penalties for 133 yards. Despite the Colts winning 13-10, the MVP was awarded to the Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley. It was the first time a player other the quarterback was given the award.
How about Super Bowl XXIV between the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos after the 1989 season? The final score says everything that anyone needs to know about the game: 55-10, the most lopsided Super Bowl score.
And let’s not forget last year’s game. Aside from David Tyree’s helmet catch and the final scoring drive by the New York Giants, that game was a huge dud. After the Patriots scored a touchdown to kick off the second quarter, the score remained 7-3 until the beginning of the fourth quarter.
I guess I’m bringing up all of this just to get myself mentally prepared for what could be one of the worst Super Bowls ever.
Everyone knows that the Pittsburgh Steelers are a very defensive oriented team. The defense is what has carried the Steelers through games despite a very lackluster offense. Hell it’s also what helped them (along with some very questionable calls by the referees) win Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season. But those sort of games are mind-numbingly boring.
Did anyone watch the AFC Championship game between the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens? If you watched it the entire way through you must either be a fan of the Steelers or Ravens or a complete masochist who has an overwhelming desire to be tied, whipped, ball gagged and pissed on. Actually that sounds like a much better option than having to watch that game.
On the other end of the spectrum the Arizona Cardinals are defined by their offense. They can score in a blink of an eye. In their wild card round game against the Atlanta Falcons, I got up to the kitchen to get a drink of water. I come back and there was the entire stadium cheering in the aftermath of a flea-flicker touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. While they can play defense as noted in their divisional round shellacking of the Carolina Panthers, it’s not their defining feature.
While the adage, "Defense wins championships," is true, you still need to be able to put up points on the board. With the offense that the Steelers run, the Cardinals defense should be able to neutralize them. The biggest question is how the Arizona offense will handle the Steelers defense.
This one is a head scratcher. Kurt Warner and company face a pretty good defense in the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game, but that pales in comparison to the Steelers. The Steelers rely more on their speed rather than an all-out blitz the Eagles use that the Cardinals exploited all day. And the Steelers are more physical and can interrupt the running routes of the Cardinals receivers which is a crucial part of the Cardinals timing offense - an offense where the quarterback throws to a spot the receiver should be at a given time rather than throwing directly to a receiver.
Since the NFL, and all sports leagues for that matter, is a copy-cat league, for the sake of the sport I really hope the Cardinals upset the Steelers. I don’t think I can stomach Sunday after Sunday of low scoring games where each defense holds the other team to three-and-outs. If the Steelers win their second Super Bowl in four years, every other team will look at them as a model of winning championships.
While some people love defense, I only need to remind sports fans of the 2005 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons. That Finals set the NBA back a decade and featured only one game where a team scored over 100 points (Detroit in Game Four). Watching that mess left me in such an existential crisis I seriously thought I was in a Dostoevsky novel.
LAist Staff Picks
Molly Bergen - 27-24 Steelers, though she’s rooting for the Cardinals.
Farley Elliott - Steelers.
Josh Tate - 34-21 Steelers.
Heath - More than 46 points scored; Kurt Warner to throw over 255 ½ yards; Ben Roethlisberger to throw over 238 ½ yards; a safety scored; overtime; a field goal scored in the first quarter; Arizona to score in every quarter; a score in the first 4 ½ minutes; the coin toss to land on tails.
The Sports Fag Pick
I love the underdog as much as anyone else. A lot of people are pointing to the New England Patriots in 2002 and last year’s New York Giants as evidence that the underdog has a good chance as any to win.
But those teams had a suffocating defense that kept them in the game. I don’t think the Cardinals have the sort of defense to keep the Steelers ineffective the entire game. This is going to be a horrible game to watch, and you will hear the cries of the Americans everywhere in pain after gouging their eyes.
Steelers defeat Cardinals 3-2.
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