Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday 02/02 A.M. Quickie:
Super Bowl Analysis, Ads, Bruce, More

First this: That was a great game, an all-time great game.

If the regions involved were "New York" and "Boston" rather than "Pittsburgh" and "Arizona," we'd be calling it even better than last year's game, which had hype, an upset and a Best Play Ever.

This game had little hype, a back-and-forth near-upset (almost as amazing as a real upset) and not quite the Best Play Ever, but at least three memorable plays (Harrison Pick-6, Fitz's 2nd TD, Holmes' Catch) that are likely to be in the top tier of "most memorable" Super Bowl plays.

And controversy:

Don't think for a second -- a second -- that if it was Big Ben (or Tom Brady) "throwing" that ball, it wouldn't have been reversed by review as a fumble and turned into an incomplete.

I do think the Cards got jobbed -- I think Warner's arm was going forward. At the very least, it merited a full earnest review; it felt like the refs let the Steelers hike the ball too quickly to end the game. Gamesmanship by Pittsburgh, but shoddy work by the refs.

Because -- and this is key -- you could totally see the Cardinals scoring on a last-second play. Larry Fitzgerald, of any player in the league, could have willed that to happen. And I think he had earned the chance to try.

The refs blew the play twice: First, by ruling it a fumble, not an incomplete pass; finally, by not allowing a proper review, robbing the Cards -- and fans -- of one last play of an amazing game.

You can check out my Twitter feed from last night for the running commentary. My favorite ads were different than the USA Today AdMeter or other reviewers. I liked the Potato Heads. I liked Alec Baldwin in Hulu. I was oddly grabbed by "Land of the Lost."

I'm not one for animal ads, and I think that the slapstick humor is so overdone as to be cliche:

Doritos "Crystal Ball" ad won the USA Today AdMeter comp; doesn't anyone remember that Sprint did this last year with the "thrown-phone" ad? Of course, you can never discount the power of the Groin Shot.

My new litmus test was whether you liked "Pepsuber" -- it was a bad SNL sketch, which I think it was actually trying to parody. I like Kristin Wiig, too, but...cripes, awful.

On the other hand, you have to understand the genius of doing a Super Bowl ad -- not for the cheesy McMahon/MC Hammer cameos, but as a sign of the times we are living in that is a Super Bowl sponsor at all.

I thought Bruce Springsteen was excellent -- all you want is high energy and some songs you know and enjoy, and he delivered on that. I also took it incredibly personally when he looked at me through the TV and told me to drop the chicken finger -- I was literally holding a chicken finger in my hand when he said it, so it was both amazing and totally unnerving.

(Seriously: Why "chicken fingers?" Are they really that popular of a Super Bowl snack food? I didn't think so -- within the chicken family, I have to believe that wings rank far higher on the popularity list. It's as if Springsteen was hanging out in my living room with me. Freaky.)

A few other notes:

James Harrison's 100-yard Pick-6: Despite the fact that the Cards played their way back into the game (no: the lead!), I think this will go up there among the top few most consequential plays in NFL history. The swing was simply too wide; it changed everything. If he hadn't have scored, another story -- but he did, and it was 100 yards, just as Arizona was knocking on its own TD.

Larry Fitzgerald: Even in defeat, he added to his legend -- his ongoing legend, I should say. That 2nd TD was absolutely amazing.

Santonio Holmes's "Catch": I'm willing to concede the TD, obviously, but I honestly don't think he got his right toe on the turf; I think it was trapped behind his left shoe and never actually touched the ground. Too close to call, but on a play that big -- with HD cameras to prove it -- it would be nice to have a conclusive shot that the right toe touched.

What next for Kurt Warner: I hope he comes back. First, he is back at the top of his game, with an amazing array of receivers to go to, including the best WR of the generation. Why leave after that? There is this idea of going out on top -- there is no way the Cards repeat as NFC champs or acquitting themselves in a Super Bowl as they did here. But if he can perform, why leave now, just when he has re-built the Warner Bandwagon?

How can you not love the Cardinals? I wrote this in the SN column, but it's worth restating:
The Cardinals deserved to win more than any other Super Bowl runner-up in history. At a minimum, the Cardinals have wiped out the franchise's legacy of being the NFL's biggest losers. They earned something almost as good as a Super Bowl title tonight; they earned the respect of fans everywhere.
I haven't seen a Super Bowl loser ever earn this much cred. For a franchise this bedraggled, it was as close as it gets to a moral victory. At the very least I think they came much closer to winning their Super Bowl than the Pats did against the Giants a year ago.

More in the column: HOF, Bynum, Wake, Clemente, Nadal and -- of course -- Phelps.

Leave your own SB analysis -- about the game, the quasi-controversy, the stars, the ads, the pomp, etc. -- in the Comments. I'll update as fast as I can get to them.

-- D.S.


Geo B said...

OK as a Steeler fan, I have to be excited about the come from behind victory.

But, I have to agree with you on why the no-review of the fumble. I thought for sure we'd have a five minute review.

Notice unlike the other overturned "incomplete pass", Warner was not whining to the refs about the game-ender - could that be the difference?

Stop whining about the Holmes catch, none of the Cardinals are, the ref was right there, and Holmes said his feet never left the ground. The interesting admission to me was Big Ben on ESPN after the game admitting he thought it was picked when he through it.

Unknown said...

Is it just me, or did it seem like there was a lot of personal foul/15 yard penalties in the game last night?

Gregory said...

The officiating was egads awful. Every vaguely marginal call went to the Steelers, up to the end of the game. I've never seen such a high stakes game called by a crew from straight out of The Longest Yard.

Jared said...

See, this is why I hate steeler fans... the QB "through" the ball?

popcultist said...

Here's something a little more conclusive.

Also, I don't know what you were watching, but Warner's pass was clearly a fumble. When the defender gets his hand on the football and THEN the quarterback's arm starts moving forward, that's a fumble. The right side replay clearly showed that, and even Warner knew he'd had the ball stripped prior to forward arm motion.

And yes, it seemed like there were an awful lot of penalties called, mostly favoring the Steelers in the first half, but certainly swinging the other way in the fourth quarter.

In any case, it was one of the best SB games I've ever seen.

Unknown said...

@Gregory: Absolute nonsense. The Cardinals repeatedly held Steeler linebackers throughout the game and got flagged for it. I understand their reasons -- it's hard to contain those linebackers -- but the calls were correct. I'll concede debatable calls on the 3rd Quarter FG drive (running into the placeholder -- seriously?) but Harrison and Taylor both got flagged for stupid personal fouls, Roethlisberger's rush TD was correctly overturned and Warner's first fumble was correctly ruled an incomplete pass. The zebras did a good job -- and complaining about Holmes' TD is just silly, Shanoff.

The Green Carbon Trader said...

Person most whose stock has risen the most after this game other than Big Ben, Harrison, and Holmes...... Tim Tebow.

Dan how can you leave this little tidbit out.

Joe H said...

Wow Dan, you really bought into the Cardinals... I'd expect this type of talk for when Florida loses, not the Arizona Cardinals!

Anyway, I agreed with the call on the field that the Warner fumble was a fumble. But what really surprised me was that the call didn't get reviewed. I initially thought it was an incomplete pass, but the replays looked to me that he lost control of the ball before his arm started going forward. But yeah, I swore Fitzgerald was going to pull down a mystical touchdown.

The Holmes catch, I totally disagree with you on. They showed a replay, only once though, from what appeared to be the middle of the field, and I could have swore that his toes were on the ground. He had control clear through, and felt fine with the call.

I didn't have a major problem with the officiating crew... remember, they did call that huge holding penalty in the end zone for the safety, when Pittsburgh picked up the first down from the 1 yard line. That enabled Arizona to march down the field for the touchdown to take the lead.

Dodger Dogg said...

The NFL, and the countless announcers, always talk about "getting the call right". If so, why isn't Warner's "fumble" reviewed. It is unfair that coaches can't challenge in the last 2 minutes. They're at the mercy of those in the booth. College football claims that every play is reviewed, only buzzing when needing more time. The NFL can't?

More ref issues...the facemask by Rogers-Cromartie did not yank and turn the receiver. It should have been ignored, looked like a 5-yard variety from previous years. And, finally, roughing the holder? Please, Berger is a punter. He knows how to act.

Michael W said...

News Flash: the Steelers have the refs on their side. As obvious as it was on Sunday, those with longer memories should recall the Seahawks getting jobbed even worse by the refs when they took on the Steelers, too.

Giants/Pats was good. Why do the refs always fall apart in favor of Pittsburgh?

Unknown said...

best superbowl ever?! i've heard some people say that, but i don't get it at all. until the 4th quarter, i thought the game was garbage except for harrison's INT-TD. the officiating was bad (the two roughing calls against arizona), the playing was bad even by the winning team (did anyone notice holmes let the winning TD go right through his hands on the play just before he caught it?), and the running games were bad.

the fourth quarter was fantastic. maybe we can call it the best quarter of a superbowl ever. but it was far from the best superbowl. most of the game was ugly.