Monday, February 02, 2009

Better than expected

That was not the game I was expecting.

It was much better.

A couple of reactions -

The James Harrison interception was the difference in the game. I'm not convinced he got into the end zone on his run back. Actually, I'm pretty sure that his head and his lead forearm were down before the ball crossed the line, but I have to admit that there wasn't enough on replay to overturn the play.

I'm not sure it would have mattered, though, because one of the Cardinals, after the change of possession, committed a facemask penalty and the half can't end on a defensive penalty. As such, the Steelers would have had a final play on offense just before the half from the half-yard line to punch ball in.

The Cardinals played a fairly undisciplined game, committing eleven penalties for 106 yards, and still nearly pulled out the win.

I didn't expect the Cards to run the ball well, but I was a little surprised that the Steelers rushed for only 58 yards (2.2 yards per carry). While the Cards didn't run it often - and only for 33 yards, they averaged 2.8 yards per carry.

I thought there were times that the Pittsburgh defense came across as desperate bullies - once on a punch thrown by a defensive back while out of bounds, and the other time when James Harrison blatantly committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a punt.

I believe that had the Cardinals won Larry Fitzgerald would have been named the MVP - or at the very least that he should have.

Ben Roethlisberger looked fairly pedestrian for most of the game.

The Cardinals defense was better than advertised this post season - much better - but they came up one series short.

As much as I'd like to see them build off of this season, I can't help but think that the Cardinals are going to suffer the post-Super Bowl hangover. As good a season as Kurt Warner had, I think Lisa over at A Red Sox State of Maine has hit on something with Warner - he has not handled losing well. His 16 starts following the 2001 Super Bowl loss - 5-11. From 2001 until this 9-7 season he is 13 - 29 as a starter.

Over and above that, for you pundits that think he's a Hall of Famer (which I have heard too much recently), this is a man that has started 16 games only three times in his 11 year NFL career. To use one of Don Banks arguments against Drew Bledsoe, which was that no Hall of Fame QB has ever lost his starting job three times - Warner has lost his job five times total to the likes of Marc Bulger, Eli Manning, Josh McCown, and Matt Leinart (twice).

I'll write more about this issue later, and cover other off-season goodies in both baseball and football soon.


Dave said...

I think that if Holmes hadn't scored that TD (say Parker ran it in instead) then Fitzgerald deserved the MVP even in a loss. He was the one true game-changer on that field. Unless you include Warner for his two key miscues.

And Lisa was dead right; Warner is the sorest loser in the game. And soft as a marshmallow to boot.

I would love to see someone argue for Warner instead of Bledsoe with going to the HoF. Bledsoe is ahead of him in every career stat there is that matters.

Kevin Smith said...

Actually the three big things where Warner has been better is completion percentage, winning percentage and his TD/INT ratio. Otherwise - Bledsoe has put up more yards, more TD's and has done it with less help - no Marshall Faulk, no Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, no Isaac Bruce or Torry Holt.

The worst supporting cast he had was in NY where he was still throwing to Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey, and Ike Hilliard and had Tiki Barber in the backfield. I would call that roughly the equivalent of the best supporting cast Bledsoe had in his entire career. And Bledsoe didn't break down the way Warner has.

Suldog said...

I think the Cardinals were screwed, really. The refs missed the unsportsmanlike on Harrison, they didn't call one on Holmes when he used the ball as a prop after his TD, and they didn't even look at that final fumble/pass. They should have at least reviewed it. Meanwhile, that roughing call during the drive wherein Pittsburgh got ALL of their first downs via penalty was weak.

Kevin Smith said...

I'm not sure I would go as far as to say the refs screwed them - although I agree that the roughing call was weak, at best and that the final play should have been reviewed. I don't know that it could have or would have been overturned, but it should have been looked at.

They did call the James Harrison unsportsman, but they called it post-possession and the Steelers were on their one anyway, so it's not like there was a big impact there. They did miss the Holmes thing, though.

Chris Stone said...

on harrison's run... i thought fitzgerald who was in on the stop stepped out of bounds. might be just the camera angle... but i'm not sure he was legal.

warner is not a hall of famer. he did alright. But i think the cardinals were a well functioning offense... more than evidence of a great QB. (i actually think Cassel by the end of the season was more flexible in going through options.)

Roethlisberger always looks pedestrian.