Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl 43 recap: not a Whiz on Super Sunday

By Rick Morris

OK, for those of you who noticed the bitter live-Tweeting during the Super Bowl, let's get this out of the way before the objective analysis follows: the officiating was horrid and one-sided and low-class folks like this dweeb perfectly represent Steeler fans everywhere.

And now on to the game itself ... lost in the discussion everywhere is the fact that Ken Whisenhunt cost his team a chance to win yesterday's big game. I'm one of the biggest Whisenhunt shills anywhere, but the decision-making in the Super Bowl was exceedingly poor. Much to my surprise, few columnists picked up on what I found to be rather obvious, but it's no surprise to me that the perceptive John Czarnecki was one of them.

With the Steelers chewing up clock early in the game, into the second quarter, the Cardinals fell into a trap. "Why, we've got to establish the run, don'cha know! Chew up some clock ourselves! Give our defense a chance to rest."

Two problems with that: the Arizona running game flat-out sucks (last in the league statistically). Sure, Edgerrin James has a big name, but so does Red Grange and I wouldn't want him out there playing a significant role in the year 2009. The other problem? Hardly anybody can run the ball on Pittsburgh.

Whisenhunt and his braintrust also blew it on the final call of the first half. Talk about overthinking! "We can't throw a fade to Fitzgerald, everyone will be expecting it!" Yeah, but expecting Fitzgerald to get the ball and doing anything about it are two separate things, as was proven when the Cards FINALLY, belatedly, got him the ball. Think about this: if the Cards come away with no points at the end of the first half, but don't allow a freaking 100-Yard Pick Six, they probably win the game. Sickening, huh?

The Arizona offense is predicated completely on rhythm. All offenses are, of course, to some degree, and the great ones tend to be even more so. When a great defense is clicking, with a crafty gunslinger at the helm, even a great defense like Pittsburgh's is back on its heels. Every time the Cardinals went into sustained "attack mode" yesterday, they were successful and in so doing, they almost became the first team in Super Bowl history to come back from more than 10 points down to win a game.

In the end, ultimately, they waited too long -- and yet still gave the Steelers the ball back with too much time on the clock, but that points out the Arizona deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball. I think I could have done a better job of covering receivers across the middle than the Cards did on the first and last drives of the game. Ken Whisenhunt has been a big winner in a short period of time in Arizona, turning around that organization as I predicted he would. Here's hoping that his next time on the big stage is more representative of his overall talent.

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