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.
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 terrible...like 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 Cash4Gold.com 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 Cash4Gold.com 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.