Calmly Reach for Helmet
Random Ramblings by PalmerSucks
February 9, 2009
My candidate to step things up: Santonio Holmes, who�s been a bust considering the high expectations for his third year. Playoff games often are won by unlikely heroes, and right now Holmes seems as unlikely as it gets. It�s a new season � a chance to start over...
--PalmerSucks, "The I in Team" Jan. 9, 2009
How'd my nomination of Holmes to be the step-up player of the game turn out? Next time watch out for him to do it at receiver.
--PalmerSucks, "World War III" January 16, 2009
I'm going to stay with my guy Holmes as the man who pops the big play -- so far he's two for two. He's lost in all the talk of the Arizona WRs.
--PalmerSucks, "Billy Bowl I" January 29, 2009
Congrats to the Pittsburgh Stillers for beating the Cincinnati Beng-- er uh the Arizona Cardinals to take their record sixth "Sticky." Hoist that thing with pride!
In case you didn't make it to Tampa -- let me say you missed quite a show! Starting with the tailgate, which stretched a good five house lots outside the stadium, as Heinz Field South opened Sunday morning about 8 o'clock. (The stadium lot was closed to tailgaters, leaving the locals to rent out their yards.)
Next thing I know, I�m surrounded by a thousand of my best friends, one of them being Mayor Luke Stillerstahl in the next yard. It�s the one day you don�t mind the government being around.
A special shout to ChiTrader Rob for having organized this thing, and to Lisa D. and Chris for the pre-game Imp and Irons, respectively. Kielbasa and pierogies in gator country -- oh what a feeling!
Anyway, on to the game. I have no problem with Holmes getting the convertible -- but being a QB guy myself, I'd have given it to Roethlisberger. I'm sorry, but none of those catches by Holmes or any of the other receivers happen without Ben's ongoing Houdini act. Holmes is my playoff MVP, but as for the Bowl itself, it was all about the Benji-man. (The clutch 14-yard scramble-and-throw that wiped out the holding call was every bit as important to the winning march as the TD catch itself.) Call it the "6-Pack," fine, I like to refer to it as "7 4 6."
As someone said after the game: "if Tom Brady had made that drive, he'd have walked away with the MVP." (Tom Brady leading a winning TD drive in a Super Bowl -- now there's a novel thought.) But that's just part of the continuing under-respect Benji's received throughout his career -- more on this theme as we go along.
Honorable MVP mention: Hines Ward, just for staying on the field and keeping Limas Sweed on the sidelines.
Allow me now to focus on a little conversation via the NFL Network's post-game highlight show, last drive:
Marshall Faulk: "And now the game comes down to Pittsburgh's offense and Arizona's defense."
Rich Eisen: "Who would've ever thought?"
Warren Sapp: "Who said that?"
Oh, I don't know -- maybe this guy?
"Why am I so focused on the Stiller offense ? Simply, the Stillers must prepare for the possibility AZ will score 4 TDs on them. The battle of the game isn�t the Stillers D vs. the Cards O, but the Stiller O vs. the Cards D... Over and over you'll hear this game comes down to the Cardinals offense vs. the Stillers defense. It does not."
--PalmerSucks, "Billy Bowl I" January 29, 2009
Yep, that was yours truly from the "Billy Bowl I" pre-game ramble. How did I know? Well, to me the Stiller defense and the Arizona offense was a push going into the game; I felt they'd cancel each other out. That left the other two units, which to me favored the Stillers, for reasons I gave about the Cards' pure porousness in the commentary. I believed going in that the Stillers' offensive stars were superior to the best players on Arizona's defense. In the end, that proved true.
It all came down to turnovers -- and unlike the Cards' NFC opponents, the Stillers didn't donate picks and fumbles like coins to a Salvation-Army pot. The one interception that could've hurt blew up in the Cards' faces, as the defense turned it into a 14-point Stillers point swing. Like I said before the game, no turnover win for Arizona, no win for Arizona.
By now you�ve read all the game recaps you can stomach, so let me just get on with the ramblings:
--So you're the Arizona Cardinals, owners of the baddest offense in the whole playoffs. Winning the coin toss, you scream to receive right? Uh no. You elect to kick? Why on earth would you do a thing like that?
One word: disrespect. If you're Ken Whisenhunt, you remember your former QB's first Bowl and the bad case of nerves he contracted. So you figure, let's see if he comes out gagging a bit this time too. Nice thought, unless of course your ex-QB comes out of the gate firing 38, 21 and 25-yard bullets. Wonder what was going through Kenny Jis's mind while watching Benji torch his defense in the opening minutes?
--Speaking of disrespect, anybody else happen to catch Tampa radio about 3:30 Monday afternoon? Seems the two jokers on the local-yokel ESPN affiliate weren't too happy with the outcome of the game. First, they cried about the calls; boo-hoo'ed that James Harrison should be led off in cuffs (no exaggeration) for roughing up Francisco; whined that Holmes's last catch wasn't a catch; bitched that Warner's last fumble wasn't a fumble; moaned that the game wasn't quite the classic it was being made out to be; then started on -- yep -- Benji.
Apparently, Ben's still not an "elite" QB, according to these two rocket scientists. Why, he's not even top ten -- so then who's better? Well, all-time legend Matt Ryan for one, and Tony Choke-o, to name another. To top it off, they included Tony Choke-o's uncle, Chokeson Palmer, on the "Better than Ben" list. Just when you think someone couldn't be dumb enough to diss the guy who's just led the greatest winning drive in Super Bowl history -- someone surprises you!
�Killer Bs� or something they�re called �- anybody familiar with these two jagoffs?
--Speaking of catches that weren't catches -- I'm not so sure Larry Fitzgerald's first touchdown grab was legit. From where I was sitting, it looked to me like the ball was moving the whole way down -- and that part of it may have scraped the turf as he landed. Anyone out there with pics or still skills? Let�s have a look.
--I've heard complaints that NBC didn't feature the Stillers-fan-dominated crowd enough in its telecast. I wonder if they caught how quiet the stadium became after Fitzgerald sprinted for the go-ahead score. At that point I turned to my (visibly uneasy) bud in the seat next to me and said "no problem, their defense sucks." (Which went over well with the Cards' fans sitting on my other side.) A couple football minutes later, they proved me right. Nice job by the way, Ben, pump-faking the safety and clearing things out for Holmes on the long gainer.
--The haters can squeal about the calls, but for my money, nothing could top Kurt Warner getting away with not only taking off his helmet, but screaming bareheaded right in the refs' face. It's like, "hey ref look at me and my un-helmeted head! Look at me! Look at me with my helmet off, all bare-headed and shit, screaming right in your face! Can you see? Wait -- I'll scream more so you can look at me with my helmet off! Do you see me? Where's my helmet, ref? Where's my helmet? I'm still yelling even though you should've thrown down an hour ago! Go ahead, I dare you!"
It�s one thing for a ref to miss a clip or a hold � but a player violating the rules right in his face? Bring up that one next time you hear some whiner cry about what the Stillers "got away with."
--Speaking of haters, was it me or did the locals seem a little less than fans of the Stillers? Besides the radio announcers, I heard some locals call in complaining about the B&G. One dude had a message to "all you people ready to hand Pittsburgh the trophy" and talked about the beer he had chilling to celebrate the Cardinals' win. (Don't let that brew get too warm, chum.)
--Surprised at how the game turned out? You shouldn't be. The fact is, the Steelers were following a predictable pattern established earlier this year: dominate on defense early, crumble late and make things close. As someone on this site has already noted: "Since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach, the defense has allowed opposing offenses to win the game late in the fourth quarter six times in twenty seven regular season games." (Full text at http://www.stillers.com/articles/2320.aspx).
That's part of why Roethlisberger's become a fourth-quarter savior: he's had to be. Think about the playoffs: the Stillers blow out San Diego, only to give up some big late-game passing yardage and set up an unnecessarily dramatic onside-kick; the Stillers stymie Flacco all game until the end, when he hits some passes and the Ravens crawl back to within 2.
Remember this next time somebody tries to sell Roethlisberger short by harping on what a �great defense he has behind him.� Great yes � for most of the game. And really, was it much different with Cowher and Blitzburgh? Think back to such memorable defensive collapses as San Diego '95 and Denver '98. The difference is, back then they didn't have the QB who could overcome these late-game defensive lapses.
"Think of this QB matchup as the NCAA championship game. Warner is Bradford, who looks great in the pocket but needs playmakers. Ben is Tebow, running around all sandlot-y and un-pretty, but who makes plays himself. Remind me which team won the game."
--PalmerSucks, "Billy Bowl I"
--In case you�re wondering about the �Calmly Reach for Helmet� title, grab a cold one and cue up your trusty game tape. Go to the part right after Fitzgerald scores his last TD, where they cut to Ben Roeth on the sideline grabbing his helmet. Notice the look on his face � or actually, the lack of expression altogether. It�s as if he�s getting ready to come out for the opening drive of a pre-season game. If there�s one moment that most captures Super Bowl XLIII, this is it.
--Allow me to return once more to what happened in Arizona a couple weeks ago, from the Billy Bowl thing: "Arizona's post-game Championship celebration featured fireworks and a confetti shower -- just like you�d see in the Super Bowl. The Stillers' trophy presentation, on the other hand, was a little less hysterical. Keep this in mind going into the game."
That image, more than any other, stuck in my mind leading up to the game. Were the Cardinals really ready to win the Super Bowl? I'm not so sure -- maybe they'd shot all their confetti. I do know the Stillers were. And that, sports fans, is what most makes a champion.
Anyway, six rings and on top of the world � see ya later, Dallas and San Francisco!
Until we meet again, this has been PalmerSucks. And this has been what I've said.
(The views of PalmerSucks are not necessarily those of Stillers.com -- but should be.)