Monday, February 02, 2009

Your Super Bowl kind-of recap

(Or, you could just view the short and excellent version from Kurt Snibbe...)

The Hive SB Hoedown is always great fun. Friends, endless food products, and the non-drinking Drinking Card Game, handing out points based on the events of the game. (The cards are copyrighted and everything; my Ladybug knows a bunch of very inventive folks.) This year we have some wildcards - new location, the Official Puppy, and the Arizona Cardinals.

Opening question - why coldn't Pittsburgh have worn their black uniforms anyway? The Scarlet and the Black on the same field... it would have been an interesting look. I think more of these games should be color vs. color when possible.

Real pre-game conversation: Bob Costas yields to Mike Holmgren, who yields to Tony Dungy. "Is this the studio crew of people who should be coaching NFL teams?" a buddy asks. Then they cut to Matt Millen. "Never mind."

(edit - forgot Matt Lauer with President Obama. Yeesh. Do you think Lauer's the one who brought those roses on the table? "Signed, a Secret Admirer.")

In whatever uniform, Pttisburgh looks really good to start out. And they should have gone for it on fourth down from the one-foot line. Even if they don't get in, what are the Cards going to do? They're not running against that front seven.

Cards give it back, the Steelers shove their way into the endzone, 10-0. It could get ugly, but the Cards shake off the rust and get within 10-7.

First Steelers punt of the day... and soon, a big turnover. This is ridiculous. The Steelers could be winning this by a LOT more, but they may wind up down at the half. (Incidentally, one of my SB boxes is Steelers 0, Cards 4, so if they do score here, at least I'm winning a little something something.) As a long-term plan, the Cardinals' strategy - play listlessly, dodge bullet after bullet, ignore their best player, win - is kind of terrible.



There isn't a font large enough to describe how loudly everyone is yelling. The Official Puppy, who has handled everything very well so far, is trying to hide under the coffee table. Harrison's INT return may be the greatest Super Bowl play I've ever seen - right up there with last year's Helmet Catch, Don Beebe stripping Leon Lett, and Jeff Hostetler somehow not fumbling when Bruce Smith tackled him by his right wrist in his own end zone. (Huge underrated play, btw - that should have been a fumble and TD, and a 17-3 lead instead of just 12-3.)

Incredible runback, incredible blocking the whole way.

They're reviewing the play. I think it should stand. "After further review, that was completely awesome - touchdown!" Well, he doesn't say it that way, but that should absolutely be in the rule book. The score counts. Twelve people are handing in "defensive TD" and other high-scoring, rare cards for the NDDCG. And amazingly, I also have the Steelers 7 - Cards 7 box, so I win a little something something anyway. So, yeah - best Super Bowl play I've ever seen.

Now it's Broooooce - but first, some weird 3-d promos. None of us have the glasses. I'm grateful that they've improved the process so the picture looks reasonably normal without the glasses, though we can all tell which shots are specifically to make the audience duck when things fly off the screen at them. The Pixar movie "Up" looks like a lot of fun.

OK, now it's Broooooce. Maybe I'm an idiot, but he really doesn't sound all that good. He's stopping to take a breath in the middle of every line he sings. I understand that this song is from the 70's and he's almost old enough to pitch for the Mets, but really.

Yikes. He just slid across the stage and crotch-first into a camera. Thank GOD they're not broadcasting in 3-d right now.

OK, so snippets of 10th Avenue Freeze Out, Born to Run, the new whatever Dream thing, and Glory Days. No surprises at all. He's also sounding a bit better as the show goes on, maybe he's warming up. It must be fun to be able to take a breath by letting your audience sing the choruses for you.

The fake ref thing was incredibly dumb. I'm actually disappointed it isn't really that English guy who streaks at big sporting events. (I suppose he's already used up his ref's disguise from the Oakland/Tampa SB.) But no sliding into the camera, sir, wherever you are. Thank you.

Quick talk with the Spider, who is five miles from the host stadium as we speak. I tell him about the Holmgren/Dungy/Millen thing. Spider's reply - "Well, Matt's probably thinking 'I should have hired Dungy when I had the chance.'" Maybe neither of them would have been sitting there.

Second half, and James Harrison is apparently still tired from his INT/TD return - Arizona starts to run effectively. No points, however, and it's 20-7 into the fourth. That's when the Cardinals finally wake up: and not surprisingly, it coincides with finally working the ball to their absolute best player, Larry Fitzgerald. Touchdown, 20-14. (Gee, those four extra points from the first drive would look good right about now, huh?)

Terrible idea to punt, I think. Even on fourth and twenty - it's the Super Bowl, you're on the 36 yard line! Even a FG try with Rackers is some sort of idea, to cut the lead to three... a punt will probably wind up in the end zone, and if Pittsburgh adds points the Cards are sunk.

Or, you could down the punt at the one, get a call in the end zone when otherwise it would have been a huge first down for Pittsburgh, and get two points and a free kick. 20-16. Just to update, the Cards strategy NOW is:

play listlessly
dodge bullet after bullet
ignore their best player
commit endless penalties
dodge more bullets
win two big replay challenges
finally start playing offense with ten minutes left
make an odd decision that miraculously pays off

And it may work! These guys are really the luckiest team in football right now - a good team, no doubt, and their defense is bringing it after getting smooshed in the first half - but how are they even in position to win this thing? If Pittsburgh gives it up they've got nobody to blame but themselves. Have they even tried to get Parker and the running game going? Or am I just bitter that they didn't hold onto the 0-4 score and I now have no shot at the final, double-sized payoff in the box pool?

Oh, and the Official Puppy just dropped a deuce on the rug in front of a dozen people, so yeah, we're really having a good time. The Steelers are doing the same thing in front of a fully-packed Raymond James Stadium and a billion TV viewers, so it fits.

Fitzgerald takes it to the house... 23-20 Cards. Great play call and great design.

The Steelers have about 2:20 to work with. They start feeding Santonio Holmes, who had come up with the big catch on the safety play. A defender falls down and he takes it to the seven yard line with 50 seconds left. Timeout. They've got the field goal option in their back pocket if they need it... you know, just in case they can't get into the end zone yet again.

Nope. Holmes pulls a toe drag worthy of Najinsky himself, and it's 27-23 Steelers. Incredible catch. In the AFC championship Holmes had a play where the ball popped loose after a long catch, and the Ravens successfully argued that it was an incomplete pass instead of first and goal on the one - this time he snagged the ball and tucked it away as he came down, and held on for dear life. (Although during his celebration he tossed it away - huh??!?!? I would have slept, showered, dressed, and driven my car with that thing tucked under my arm. There's no way I put that football down.)

And yes, they review it. This makes four reviewed calls - three of them on Pittsburgh scores, one on a "fumble" that became an incomplete pass. (It was a good overturned call. Warner hadn't a prayer of completing it but he was clearly tossing it, however feebly.) This comes up when it happens again on the last-gasp power drive, when Warner gets smacked at the very last second and it's called a fumble - and NOT reviewed. Maybe they had to give back the gear after using it so often before? It should have been looked at. It looked like an either/or call to me. The defender hit Warner's hand and the ball, rather than wrapping up his ribs, so his arm wasn't free to move forward in the same fashion. It looked like the ball was on its way out when his arm went forward, so even though the ball popped out in that direction, it could be called a fumble.

I know that Arizonans will be annoyed that it wasn't looked at, and they will feel robbed. Eh.

Verdict - excellent Super Bowl, excellent party. See all y'all next year.

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