by Robert Ferringo - 01/23/2006
If you’re a Carolina or Denver fan, Sunday must’ve been somewhere between having your girlfriend throw up on you during sex and driving your car into a herd of cattle trying to cross the street.
Super Bowl XL will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5 at Ford Field in Detroit. Despite the fact that the consensus “favorites” to win on Sunday – the Panthers and Broncos – were flogged in their respective title games, I think it’s obvious that the Super Bowl will feature the top teams from each conference.
The way the Steelers have played in this postseason would put a smile on the face of Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss. Like the late hitman, Pittsburgh has knocked off the top three seeds in the AFC to become the alpha male in the varsity conference.
The Seahawks have been equally cold-blooded, and have displayed the tools and the talent to become a championship contender. Even though the NFC has been the jayvee league this season, the conference is still sending the best it has to offer to the big stage.
As for Denver and Carolina, well, thanks for coming out.
Here are some of my other random thoughts about an ugly Championship Weekend:
-- This postseason, host teams had about as much of a home-field advantage as the Native Americans. The visiting clubs were 6-4 straight up in the conference playoffs.
-- The two Jakes – Plummer and Delhomme - are the NFL equivalent of smack addicts. They can clean themselves up, get a good job, start a family, and become productive members of the society. But just wave that rock in front of their face – e.g. give them a chance to choke in a big game – and you’ll see them tear their skin off, shoot up into their eyeballs, and then go on a vicious crime spree.
-- It was odd watching Shaun Alexander hoist the George Halas Trophy. First off, he looked like he was holding a soiled baby diaper. Secondly, that “celebratory lap” - ordered by Terry Bradshaw – was as genuine as a Bush town hall meeting.
Did you see the faces of Alexander’s teammates? They were glad that they won, but no one was really rallying around a guy who hasn’t exactly been Mr. Seahawk over the past 12 months.
First, there was the tantrum about the 2004 rushing title. Next came his calling Seattle’s $6.32 million tender offer “out of the question”. Finally, Alexander won the MVP, but “suffered a concussion” last week and spent the rest of the game jumping around on the sidelines while his team played better without him. I mean, has there ever been a less valuable Most Valuable Player?
When Pittsburgh lost in the AFC Championship game last year, Hines Ward was in tears because Jerome Bettis wasn’t going to the Super Bowl. I don’t get the impression that any Seahawks would’ve been shedding tears for Alexander if they had lost.
-- Why I think TV reporters are bloodsuckers: Bradshaw was interviewing Alexander in the post-game presentation of the Halas Trophy. Then, out of nowhere, he asks Alexander if he’ll be back in Seattle next year. Cue look of terror. Cue uncomfortable silence. Cue the sucking of all warm-and-fuzzy feelings out of the building. I mean, talk about pissing in the punch bowl.
-- Another Bradshaw gem: in the pre-game show he said, “If he were alive back then, Jake Delhomme would have been either Lewis or Clark.” Huh?
Oh, I get it. You mean he would’ve looked lost. Sort of like he did while hurling no-look passes into the chests of Seattle defenders on Sunday.
-- “What fates impose, that men must needs abide; it boots not to resist both wind and tide.”
I’ve been a Pittsburgh advocate all season, so I’m not shocked by their ascent. However, Fate is currently shrouded in Black and Gold. Consider the run of fortune that has swept the Steelers into this spot:
1) Carson Palmer blowing out his knee on the second play against Cincinnati.
2) Nick Harper’s ill-fated cutback and Mike Vanderjagt’s awful shank against Indianapolis.
3) The Champ Bailey-Hines Ward play and the Willie Parker fumble getting overturned in the first quarter against Denver.
All I’m saying is that on top of superior talent, there appears to be karmic forces on the side of Pittsburgh.
-- Excellent snap analysis by Phil Simms regarding Jake Plummer’s crippling second interception. Jake could have checked down to a wide-open Tatum Bell in the flat. Instead, he locked into Rod Smith and tried to force a ball into coverage. That’s Jake simply being Jake. And no, he’ll never change.
-- After the 2005 draft, all of the pundits labeled Seattle’s pick of Lofa Tatupu in the second round as a “reach”. According to the bobbleheads, he was a fourth-round talent.
This kid is no joke. He has been the linchpin for an underrated defense all season, posting 104 tackles, four sacks, and three interceptions. He also finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
But like the combine, numbers don’t do him justice. We learned everything we needed to about Tatupu after his violent collision with Nick Goings in the first quarter. Goings spent the rest of the day thinking he was a Shetland pony, while Tatupu dusted off a mild concussion and kept laying wood.
-- My friend Rich flew out to Denver for the game last weekend. He told me that a woman came up to him and said about Steelers fans, “I’ve been coming to Bronco games for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. Where did you all come from?”
Expect a similar theme in Detroit over these next two weeks.
-- Here are some slogans that were used by Detroit to help lure the NFL into giving the city Super Bowl 40:
“Detroit - Like Mosul, With Snow!”
“Come For The Motown, Stay For The Murder Rates”
“Unemployment Means More Time With Your Family!”
-- Cedrick Wilson is no Plexico Burress. And by that I mean Wilson actually showed up in a big game. Wilson came through with five catches for 92 yards, and abused Champ Bailey for Pittsburgh’s initial touchdown.
-- Heath Miller has been a revelation for Pittsburgh. Not only has he given the Steelers their first pass-catching option from the tight end slot since Eric Green, Miller has been able to stay on the field by becoming a savage run blocker.
-- Seattle’s system for defending Steve Smith was slightly different from the one Chicago employed. Instead of leaving third-string cornerbacks on an island across from Smith, with no help over the top, Carolina decided to mask coverage, have linebackers slide underneath and give rotating safety help on the deep routes.
I don’t think it is surprising which scheme worked.
-- According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Seattle is the most intelligent city in the country, while Pittsburgh is 18 th.
The survey states that 51.3 percent of Seattleites have a bachelor’s degree or higher (median income at $46,650). Pittsburgh boasts 33.6 percent with a bachelor’s or more, and a median income of $31,910.
-- Man, Matt Hasselbeck throws a beautiful ball. Also, an underrated aspect of his game is his mobility. There are probably only five or six starting quarterbacks in the league that move better than he does.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at email@example.com.
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