After playing the toughest schedule in the NFL and finishing 12-4 (the Cardinals had one of the easiest schedules and finished 9-7), the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23, and became the first team to win 6 Super Bowls (Note: they were also the first team to win 3 and 4 Super Bowls). I can’t believe it took 25 years to win their 5th and only 3 more years to win their 6th.
Going into the game, I didn’t think much of the Cardinals. In fact, I was rooting for them in the NFC Championship against Philadelphia because I thought they’d be easy to beat in the Super Bowl. I figured the Steelers #1 defense would easily crush the Cardinals 2-player offense. Pundits theorized that ex-Steelers Offensive coaches Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm, who now coach the Cardinals, were a threat to the Steelers. But I didn’t think so because neither were very good for the Steelers – their offensive game and their offensive line sucked. I often wished the Steelers would fire Whisenhunt. Besides, the future Hall-of-Famer defensive coach Dick LeBeau knows as much about Whisenhunt’s offense as Whisenhunt knows about LeBeau’s defense. I thought the Steelers had the advantage on both sides of the ball and Cardinals would score a max of 10 points while the Steelers ran away with it. I was less worried about this Super Bowl than I was in the 2005 Super Bowl against the hapless Seahawks. That’s how confident I was!
But the Cardinals played well. I don’t understand why Pittsburgh couldn’t stop the same two plays over and over. The Cardinals offense amounts to either a quick slant pass or screen pass to Fitzgerald or Boldin. But they could complete those plays almost every time, one ended up being a 64-yard TD to put the Cardinals ahead late in the game. And, as they did all year, the Steelers offense had a poor running game and Roethlisberger was under pressure on almost every play (which tends to work out well for him, ironically).
While the Steelers won with a last-minute drive and a last-second TD pass, the Steelers proved that defenses win Championships. The goal-line interception and 100-yard run by James Harrison was the most important play in the game.
Congratulations to the Steelers, to Santonio Holmes for the MVP, to James Harrison for one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history and to Mike Tomlin for being the youngest coach, at 36, to win a Super Bowl and only the second to win a Super Bowl within their first two years as coach.