Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Super Bowl XlIII: Ben’s Party

It had the elements of a ho-hum Super Bowl. Two very disparate teams, two different cultures, not a lot of buzz about the game. All of that was true, and people were talking about whether they would have a job the next day instead of who might win.

Then they played the game.

Even though the Steelers dominated the first quarter, Arizona didn’t lose heart. They couldn’t get any traction, didn’t have the ball and trailed by 10 at halftime.

Of course there were a couple of defining plays but none bigger than James Harrison’s 100-yard interception runback for a TD. It’s the longest play in Super Bowl history and even though it looked like it would be the play that defined the game, it actually was the one play that kept the Steelers in it.

The second half allowed the Cardinals to show why they won the NFC. Big plays by their big stars put Arizona in the driver’s seat. I agree with Tony Dungy’s assessment that it took the Cards too long to get Larry Fitzgerald involved. Even though the Steelers were trying to take him away, he’s a “playmaker” in the truest sense so you have to give him a shot. Nonetheless, Arizona played the kind of game they wanted in the second half, throwing the ball around and wearing out the Steelers defense.

Fitzgerald’s 67-yard TD gave the Cardinals lead and looked like the defining play in the game. Until Pittsburgh got the ball back.

Coming out of college, there were a lot of questions regarding Ben Roethlisberger and his ability to translate his size and strength to the pro game. Those questions seemed valid when he played poorly in Super Bowl XL, even though the Steelers still won the game. (This week Roethlisberger said he was so nervous in Detroit he couldn’t play!)

Against Arizona, with the game on the line, Big Ben couldn’t have been better suited for the task. He marched Pittsburgh right down the field and threw the winning TD pass to Santonio Holmes.

Roethlisberger is prototypical when it comes to building a quarterback. Tall, strong, just enough speed and a good leader. With two Super Bowl wins on his resume and leading a comeback on the biggest stage certainly elevates his stature. His ability to extend plays, to step out of the first tackler and his arm strength that allows him to throw it with guys hanging all over him make him a very formidable opponent. (Just ask the Jaguars).

I’d still take Brady and Manning but Roethlisberger is at least now in the discussion.

None of the Super Bowl commercials stuck out in my mind. NBC made $208 million selling the :30 spots for $3 million each.

Some complaints about the officiating but I didn’t think they effected the outcome of the game.

Steelers fans outnumbered the Cardinals fans 4-1.

Arizona and the over covered.