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Monday January 19, 2009 3:34 pm

Cardinals Hang On and Steelers Use Big Plays On Their Road to the Super Bowl


The Arizona Cardinals jumped out to a big lead over the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Eagles came all the way back to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter. On the next series Kurt Warner led a fourth quarter drive, ending in a TD, and the Cardinals move on with a 32-25 victory.

It was a heck of a lot of defense as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 23-14. The Ravens were never ahead, but kept it close by taking advantage of good field position for their two scores. Pittsburgh used big TD plays by WR Santonio Holmes and an interception that was run back for a score by safety Troy Polamalu to knock down the Ravens.


Super Bowl XLIII will have a distinct Pittsburgh connection throughout. Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt is the former Steelers offensive coordinator. He was with the team in their Super Bowl win three years ago. When Bill Cowher retired, Whisenhunt was thought to be the logical choice for new head coach. Instead, the Steelers went with an outside choice, current head coach Mike Tomlin, then the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.

How’s this for extra motivation! Whisenhunt can top the team that, in essence, let him go. Tomlin needs to show he was the right choice.

How well does Whisenhunt remember his old team’s strengths and weaknesses? This isn’t exactly the same, but it almost smacks of Tampa Bay’s Jon Gruden trouncing his former club in Super Bowl XXXVII as the Bucs ripped the Oakland Raiders.

Pittsburgh’s defense is better than Arizona’s defense.

Will Kurt Warner add another remarkable chapter to his incredible career?

Which almost forgotten running back, Arizona’s Edgerrin James or Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker, can remain rejuvenated and pick up big gains?

Don’t forget that Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger is more mobile than Warner and has a knack for eluding tackles, elongating plays and finding open receivers. He is on a mini-rebirth of his own following his Super Bowl win. He had that nasty motorcycle accident and an appendectomy operation that knocked him off his game for a couple of seasons.

Can Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald continue to pull off spectacular play after spectacular play?  Can Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward come back at 100% following Sunday’s injury to his knee?

Pittsburgh should look at what the Eagles were able to do against the Cards in their back-to-back-to-back scoring drives in the second half.

If Arizona can only use Fitzgerald as a decoy, can WR Anquan Boldin pull off a big play or two?

So, it’s a team a lot of people expected to be there (Steelers) and a team no one believed would be there (Cardinals). My only advice is not to goof around. Do not get cutesy in dealing with the press or your enemy.

Remember how Tennessee Titan RB Lendale White was caught stomping on a Pittsburgh Terrible Towel? His team lost in the playoffs and he made crucial fumbles in their loss.

How about all the fun we had replaying Donovan McNabb “taking a phone call” on the New York Giants sideline in that playoff game? On Sunday, McNabb couldn’t connect on a fourth down pass that could have kept a last minute, game-winning drive alive.

So, no funny stuff. The Steelers are the favorites. And if you want to throw in another reason—go back to a December 23rd Steelers press conference following a loss to the Titans. A local sports announcer came dressed as Santa Claus and took over the gathering. As he made a series of dumb jokes, Tomlin toughed it out; he did his best to grin and bear it. Santa was not thrown out. Santa was not embarrassed. Santa was not tripped on the way out.

Will this earn Tomlin and the Steelers a Super Bowl gift?



So Frank-O,  who’s it gonna be?  You need to make a pick.  I’m going with the AZ Cards, but it will be a nail biter!  Here’s hoping for a good game and some good eats!!!


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