Oh what, they played a game? Are you sure? Really?
A few weeks back, my dad called the room and had Chad Tivo a couple of the old ESPN Classic Super Bowl Highlights shows of the Steelers Super Bowl wins back in the 70’s, so “I could see how football was supposed to be played”. My question for you is: Do you think that any father will be calling, or telepathically connecting with, his son in 2035 to tell him that Super Bowl XL was how football was supposed to be played? Or any games from the 2005 playoffs, for that matter?
The theme of the playoffs wasn’t “gritty play”, but “spotty officiating and choke jobs”. It started off in wildcard weekend, with the Buccaneers dropping a potentially game-tying touchdown catch late in the 4th and continued with the Giants and Redskins offenses refusing to show up and Carson Palmer going down to the freak injury. The Patriots/Broncos game was remembered more for the Pats’ gimme turnovers, but they wouldn’t have been as important if one blatant call (the pass interference at the end of the half) and one spotty one (the touchback/no touchback on Bailey’s fumble) hadn’t been made against them, all of which seem even bigger now that it’s came out that Tom Brady was playing with a hernia most of the season.
Steeler fans, need I remind you how terrible the NFL officiating can be towards one team? Before you knocked off the Colts, they were the Chosen, with a no-call on some blatant pass interference and a Polamalu interception that involved him doing everything but “the football move” almost ended your season in Indianapolis. The Bears defense didn’t show up, but they apparently took enough out of Jake Delhomme that he couldn’t complete a pass against Seattle, just like Jake Plummer couldn’t put on a decent drive against the Steelers.
And then we had the Super Bowl, which continued the theme of blown plays and blown calls that have made these NFL playoffs remarkably believable. The never-ending series of borderline calls going against the Seahawks (the flag picked up on the hit on Ward was the lone exception), including the phantom holding they never showed a replay of that moved Seattle from First and Goal to First and Twenty. On Big Ben’s touchdown, the line judge initially was running up with his hand marking the ball short of the goalline, but then he put his other arm up ten steps in and way after Ben’s forward progress had stopped. The offensive pass interference was iffy, and the play that made my mom stop watching, when they called a penalty on Hasselbeck for tackling the guy with the ball.
(Just so you think it’s not just the Seahawks fans and I who are crazy, Slate already has an article up on the iffy officiating. Peruse it at your pleasure. Hell, there's actually a petition for the NFL to stop fixing it's games. Seriously.)
But you have to play through adversity and make plays, and the Seahawks did neither while the Steelers made three big plays that got them the points they needed. They survived a game when their stud quarterback was terrible and their running game couldn’t get anything consistent going and are now the champions, the repercussions with I now have to deal with. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the ignorant Steeler fan base got their championship to validate the fact they feel they’re the only actual team in the NFL, and for the next 364 days, the feelings they’ve been taught to have their entire life are legitimate: they’re the center of the football universe. Did the NFL maybe choose them to be in the big game, leaning on the Bettis story to validate a rather ho-hum season and postseason? Perhaps, but they won the game, so champions they shall be.
But please, Steeler Nation, don’t come to me with your tales of “The Hardest Super Bowl Road Ever”. The seeds may say that, but the last two coaches you beat hadn’t won a playoff game in this millennium and were both having their jobs questioned the last few seasons. The last two quarterbacks you beat had combined to win one playoff game coming into this postseason. And most importantly – oh, so most importantly – you avoided the champions on your way to Detroit, and while not your fault as you must only beat who you play, it leaves a sour taste in the neutral football fan’s mind when the crown wasn’t pulled from the icy, cold hands of Bill Belichick.
But this season is over, and outside of the Steel City, it will soon be forgotten, much like the Ravens/Giants and Bucs/Raiders games of yesteryear. Considering I spend most of my time in South Bend, I don’t have to deal with the obnoxious fumes of black and gold, so that’s a pleasant gift, but I’m not looking forward to the first time everyone is together and I have to hear the war stories of Steeler greatness.
But for now, I tip my hat to the Steelers, who made some sensationally big plays in the biggest of games. We’ll breakdown the rest of the Super Bowl at a later time – what exactly Seattle’s offense was doing, and of course, the commercials – but for now, we’ll just let it soak in across the nation that the Pittsburgh Steelers, after a 25-year wait, are again the champions of the NFL. And more importantly, for the rest of the NFL fanbase whose glad this snoozer of a season is over….
By the way, The Onion nailed it with this:
Steelers, Seahawks To Take Part In Rehearsal Super Bowl This Sunday
DETROIT—Players and coaches on the Seahawks and Steelers have been notified that they must be present and in full uniform at Ford Field this Sunday, Jan. 29 for a full-length Super Bowl game rehearsal, which will be closed off to the media and general public. "We want to do a complete run-through this weekend to get the guys adjusted to running the show in this stadium, account for any unforeseen problems with, say, the Ford Field lighting or the timing of certain complicated plays, and just generally make sure that everything goes smoothly and according to plan on the big day," said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "We're going to do a dry run of the whole four-hour script to identify problems early, run each play at least once, and prepare some alternate scenarios to have ready in case the audience begins to lose interest." All players have also been asked to bring five ideas for a group brainstorm to help punch up the storyline for their matchup.