Quarter-by-quarter streaming updates and instant analysis (from the entire staff) will begin tomorrow at 6pm. See you then!!!
It worked so well last year…it’s back!!!
It’s not about who’s the BIGGEST.
It’s not about who’s the STRONGEST.
It’s about something MORE.
It’s about WHO WANTS IT MORE!
In a tradition that has gone as far back as…last year…we here at PHSports are ready to do away with computer and metric-based simulations and instead focus on something random, yet incredible entertaining.
Super Bowl XLIII…one day early.
How does it happen? The power of technology!
Enter an XBOX360, the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Arizona Cardinals, a 26-inch flat-screen television and Microsoft’s willingness to update rosters on a seemingly weekly basis.
The difficulty was boosted to All-Madden, attributes were reset to system levels, ditto for rules/preferences/options. We tried to silence Cris Collinsworth as much as we could, but we had no hope.
Even an MVP was named.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports
Let’s check the highlights…
Pittsburgh called the toss (heads) and lost. Cardinals receive and the game is underway. Arizona opened running the ball unsuccessfully with Edgerrin James (2 carries for -3 yards) and a short hitch to Edge from Warner that resulted in only 5 yards and a 3 and out. After an average punt and good field position – on their own 44 – Pittsburgh followed with a 3 and out as Santonio Holmes dropped a first down in Arizona territory. The game’s first 1st down came on a 3rd and 3 in which Warner saw the blitz coming and hit Fitzgerald on a 13-yard hitch route. 3 runs from Edge ensued after a key 3rd down to Fitz again and the Cardinals were inside the Steeler 20. Roughing the passer on James Harrison led to a 3 yard TD plunge by Edgerrin James and a 7-0 Arizona lead with 4:43 to play in the 1st quarter. Edge looks very good thus far.
Pittsburgh again 3 and out. Great pressure from Dockett up the middle on 3rd and 6. Hines Ward has not been a factor, being targeted 0 times. After a quick 1st down, a steady diet of Edge leads to 3rd and 15 and a big sack by LaMarr Woodley for a 9-yard loss. Cardinals punt from their own 42. Big Ben fumbles the snap on 2nd and 10 (0-2 with a 39.2 QB rating and the aforementioned fumble) and its recovered on the Pittsburgh 25 by Karlos Dansby. Cardinals in business. Shocking news from the sideline. Kurt Warner’s shoulder is bruised and he is probable (2 quarters) to return. Enter Matt Leinart and on 1st down a second sack for Woodley on an all-out blitz. 35-yard FG by Rackers is GOOD; fortunately, Leinart found Fitz on second down for a much-needed 10 yard completion. 2:49 left in the first.
Steelers go three and out again. Roethlisberger’s first completion to Miller for only 5 yards on 1st down. Pittsburgh’s offense is strug-a-ling. Leinart sacked by Aaron Smith on 3rd and long – too much JJ Arrington this drive – on his own 11. Leinart without a first down in two drives. Steelers have a costly false start penalty and – you guessed it – go 3 and out. Ben has plenty of time, but his receivers aren’t open. His checkdowns aren’t looking well. Ball is punted down inside the 10 yard-line. No Edge or Hightower again, surprising to see so much Arrington. Cardinals 3 and out, punt from their own 11 yard line. Holmes makes the fair catch at mid field. Steelers get their first 1st down on a 12 yard completion on 3rd and 2 from Big Ben to TE Heath Miller. Francisco on a safety blitz gets Big Ben down, no attempt for a 50-yard FG by Jeff Reed. Cardinals begin the 2nd quarter at their own 6 yard line. 10-0 Arizona after 1.
4 rushes in 6 plays for Edge for a total of 21 yards. Fitzgerald already has 6 catches for 75 yards. Bad drop by Fitz though inside the Steeler 20 on 3rd and 6 from the 32. No attempted 49-yard FG for Rackers. Punt is a touchback, barely. Great play by Holmes to let it bounce. And just like that, we have a game. 80-yard TD from Roethlisberger to Santonio “Playoffs 2009” Holmes. Rod Hood was beat on a double-move without a safety over the top. Rolle blitzed and Parker picked him up beautifully. 10-7 Arizona leads.
Keisel and Hampton team up for a big sack on 2nd down. Let it be known Edgerrin James has 18 rushes for 66 yards and a TD already. Leinart is 6 of 8 but has been sacked in critical spots. Big Ben with a key 3rd down conversion on a 6-yard rush, shaking of DRC on another Cardinal blitz. Holmes drops a touchdown – after beating Hood again – that forces another Steeler punt in Arizona territory. Cardinals dodge a big bullet with 4:27 left in the 1st half. Leinart sacked again, Woodley’s 3rd on the day, on 3rd down. He isn’t reading blitzes on the outside well at all. Casey Hampton is giving the Arizona interior line fits. Hines Ward with his first two catches – for a total of 28 yards – Big Ben goes 5 for 5 on the drive, including an 11-yard TD toss to Heath Miller on 3rd and 9 on the Arizona 11. Miller beats Dansby to the corner on a beautiful tight end waggle. Pittsburgh leads 14-10. Will Kurt Warner be ready after halftime to return?
Leinart hits his tight ends (Pope for 16 yards on 3rd down & Patrick for 13 yards on 3rd and 7) for big completions downfield. The blitz is being picked up much better with Edge in the backfield on 3rd down. Hightower without a carry thus far. Another Blitzburgh sack, this time Keisel by himself, on 3rd down. Cardinals punt as the 2-minute warning approaches. Pittsburgh doesn’t call a timeout to save 12 seconds. Steelers start on their own 3, but punt by the time they reach their 21. Leinart sacked AGAIN – that’s 7 first-half sacks. 0 for James Harrison though. Odd fake punt call by the Cardinals from the Pittsburgh 41 on 4th down. Ryan Clark with an INT at the 30. Steeler ball. Big Ben is on fire. 4 for 4 on the drive for 59 yards. Holmes is wide open 2 out of every 3 plays. Hines Ward catches his 2nd Super Bowl TD of his career (1st of the night) with 6 seconds left on a 3 yard WR screen from Big Ben. 3 2nd quarter TDs for the Steelers. 21-10 Pittsburgh leads. Halftime.
Steelers fair catch a great kickoff. After a quick first-down by “Fast” Willie, Big Ben is sacked on consecutive downs by Bertrand Berry. Steelers punt. Kurt Warner returns, yet the Cardinals stall out near midfield as Warner is sacked by Polamalu on 3rd down. Anquan Boldin is not starting the second half due to leg cramps. 1 catch all game. Steeler football returns as the rush game comes alive. A methodical drive ensues with manageable 2nd and 3rd downs. Parker plunges over the top for 1 yard for a fourth-consecutive Steelers TD. 28-10. Warner and Wisenhunt look rattled on the sideline. Leinart doesn’t. Wouldn’t you know it, but another Arizona 3 and out. This game is rapidly ending already. This game appears over with another dominant Pittsburgh drive. Willie Parker has been unstoppable this 3rd quarter. He may only have 88 rushing yards, but 79 of them are in this quarter alone. Funny enough, Mewelde Moore tacks on a short TD dive from the goalline to give the Steelers yet another 3rd quarter touchdown. Pittsburgh is now winning 35-10.
Warner’s first throw of the next drive is intercepted by James Farrior down to the Arizona 11. Next play: Roethlisberger’s 4th TD toss and second to Hines Ward. Pittsburgh is beating down the Cardinals in a 3rd quarter that is in the record books now. The quarter ends and the Cardinals have nothing left to play for but pride. 42-10.
Kurt Warner hits Fitzgerald for a nice 21-yard pass play downfield. However, next pass ends up in Polamalu’s hands at the goalline. After a bad pass interference call on Adrian Wilson, Willie Parker goes 59-yards for his second touchdown. The guy loves dynamic Super Bowl rushes over 50 yards, right? 49-10 Steelers. Is the scoring record of 55 in danger? YES.
Arizona gains 2 meaningless first downs and Warner is picked AGAIN, this time by Ike Taylor. A lazy drive ensues, with Fast Willie still burning it up, before it stalls inside the 5. Jeff Reed, who must be dog tired, kicked a 19-yard FG. 52 unanswered points has it 52-10. No Boldin still. Each team trades 3 and outs. An Arizona QB is sacked for the 10th time. Wow. Jeff Reed ties the Super Bowl record of 55 points with a 48-yard FG. The Steelers might as well give Tomlin the Gatorrade bath now with 4:27 remaining.
Byron Leftwich enters after Warner is unsuccessful on 4th and 2 from the Pittsburgh 41. Fitzgerald is visibly frustrated (obviously!). New scoring mark set at 58. Pittsburgh plays for blood as it keeps Willie Parker in – alongside Doug E Fresh (Leftwich) after sacking Warner on his own 32. Reed’s 28 yarder with 1:22 left is the last score of the game (I pray). Edge pads his stats with 5 useless rushes for 33 yards. Tick tock. Bryant McFadden intercepts Warner who may lose the Hall of Fame bid after this second half. Remember it was once 10-0 Arizona. Leftwich downs it and Super Bowl XLIII is O-V-A. 58-10. Yes, you read that right. Thankfully, this abomination is over for me too.
Tomlin gets the bath as Pittsburgh annihilates Arizona. Sorry Cinderella, go home. Pittsburgh with 714 yards of total offense and 0 turnovers (compared to Arizona’s 5). Pittsburgh was 7 for 7 in the redzone with 5 TDs and 2 FGs. Great day for Jeff Reed, too.
Seriously, other people besides myself and SVP see it, right?
Here are some more specifics…
Final Score: Pittsburgh wins 58-10
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger [30-39, 409 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs]
Cardinals: Edgerrin James 3 yard rush for TOUCHDOWN.
[14 plays, 79 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- 15-yard personal foul on James Harrison setting up Arizona 1st and goal on the 6.
Arizona leads 7-0.
Cardinals: Neil Rackers 35-yard FIELD GOAL.
[3 plays, 4 yards]
Key Play -- Ben Roethlisberger fumbles the snap on his own 25, recovered by Dansby.
Arizona leads 10-0.
Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger 80-yard pass to Santonio Holmes for TOUCHDOWN.
[1 play, 80 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- Holmes not fait catching a punt at the 8, allowing it to bounce for a touchback.]
Arizona leads 10-7.
Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger 11-yard pass to Heath Miller for TOUCHDOWN.
[8 plays, 60 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- Hines Ward’s first two catches softened up sideline routes later in the drive.
Pittsburgh leads 14-10.
Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger 3-yard pass to Hines Ward for TOUCHDOWN.
[7 plays, 70 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- Big Ben avoids a mega-blitz and goes 9 yards to Holmes on the sideline on a key 3rd and long.
Pittsburgh leads 21-10.
Pittsburgh: Willie Parker 1-yard rush for TOUCHDOWN.
[13 plays, 89 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- Arizona commits a stupid 5-yard offsides penalty on a 3rd and 3.
Pittsburgh leads 28-10.
Pittsburgh: Mewelde Moore 3-yard rush for TOUCHDOWN.
[11 plays, 75 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- Anytime Willie Parker touched the ball, he gained at least 7 yards.
Pittsburgh leads 35-10.
Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger 11-yard pass to Hines Ward for TOUCHDOWN.
[1 play, 11 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- Farrior’s interception of Warner followed by a stiff arm to Warner on the return.
Pittsburgh leads 42-10.
Pittsburgh: Willie Parker rush for 59-yard TOUCHDOWN.
[2 plays, 80 yards, XP Good]
Key Play -- Willie Parker shook off Dockett for a potential 5-yard loss and then was untouched.
Pittsburgh leads 49-10.
Pittsburgh: Jeff Reed 19-yard FIELD GOAL is good.
Pittsburgh leads 52-10.
Pittsburgh: Jeff Reed 48-yard FIELD GOAL is good.
[5 plays, 39 yards]
Pittsburgh leads 55-10.
Pittsburgh: Jeff Reed 28-yard FIELD GOAL is good.
[6 plays, 32 yards]
Pittsburgh leads 58-10.
Kurt Warner: 17-33, 148 yards, o TDs, 4 INTs
Matt Leinart: 11-16, 120 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Edgerrin James: 34 rushes, 140 yds, 1 TD
Tim Hightower: 0 rushes, 0 receptions
Jeremy Urban: 7 catches, 84 yards
Larry Fitzgerald: 9 catches, 81 yards, 2 drops
Anquan Boldin: 1 catch, 18 yards
Gerald Hayes: 19 tackles, 1 sack
Karlos Dansby: 9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
Bertrand Berry: 4 tackles, 3 sacks
Adrian Wilson: 2 tackles, 1 sack, 3 penalties
Rod Hood: 1 tackle (gave up 3 TD passes in coverage)
Ben Roethlisberger: 30-39, 409 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
Willie Parker: 31 rushes, 198 yards, 2 TDs
Mewelde Moore: 15 attempts, 79 yards, 1 TD
Santonio Holmes: 9 receptions, 183 yards, TD
Hines Ward: 7 catches, 96 yards, 2 TDs
Heath Miller: 4 catches, 37 yards, 1 TD
Casey Hampton: 11 tackles, 3 sacks
LaMarr Woodley: 5 tackles, 3 sacks
Brett Keisel: 7 tackles, 2 sacks
Ryan Clark: 6 tackles, 1 INT
Troy Polamalu: 5 tackles, 1 INT
Ike Taylor: 3 tackles, 1 INT
PHSports Play of the Game: Santonio Holmes' 80-yard touchdown pass was the moment in which the game officially slipped away from Arizona. Up 10 with the Steelers on their own 20, Holmes burned Hood down the sideline and ran with open field for 65 yards. It might've been 10-7, but Pittsburgh clearly had seized control.
Art Monk Award: Casey Hampton, DT [Pittsburgh]
-Despite not as much barking as Foote and Farrior, Hampton led the Steeler D with 11 tackles and 3 sacks. He was unstoppable from start to finish. Unreal performance from the DT.
Defining Moment: Kurt Warner’s injury with the Cardinals leading 10-0 allowed the Steeler D time to relax (with Leinart in) and their offense enough time to start the motors running. Remember that it was 10-0 after the 1st quarter in Arizona’s favor, 58-0 the final 3 for Pittsburgh.
I hope you enjoyed it, it was horrific to watch. But kinda fine to write.
Until next Super Bowl…