A year ago tonight, I watched Plaxico Burress outleap Ellis Hobbs for the ball in the corner of the end zone and screamed, "NOOOOOOOO!" like a girl about to be filleted by some psychopath in a bad horror movie.
Such are the perils of becoming emotionally involved in a Super Bowl, particularly when watching it at home with the spouse around. She was awake for that...and lived, as she did seven years ago when a Super Bowl ended with me dropping to my knees in the living room and screaming at the top of my lungs, "YESSSSSSSSSSS!"
Given that the Lady of Agganis Manor was trying to catch up on sleep tonight after a night of work and day of writing a paper for a class, it was perhaps a good thing the Patriots didn't play in this Super Bowl. If I had a rooting interest in the contest I just witnessed, I'd be virtually silenced by laryngitis, my house would be torn to shreds, and I'd be served with divorce papers tomorrow.
It made me realize what a huge burden your team's 18-0 record can be. This one, I could sit back and just enjoy (even with the two fatties among my three cats crowded around me).
This was classic, all right. A top-fiver with a little bit of everything. Comebacks, heroics, crazy plays, questionable coaching and dubious officiating. This game had a delightfully scattershot quality about it; just when it seemed ready to settle into routine, up came something random and bizarre.
A few impressions:
* When was the tuck rule rescinded? I'm still puzzled that the final play did not get a full review. Kurt Warner sure looked like he was in the throwing motion to me. If you think the Cardinals are angry about the lack of review, however...how do you think the 2001 Oakland Raiders feel?
* We could've had a great hero-to-goat transition in record time. James Harrison made this year's David Tyree play at the end of the first half (uh, Ken Whisenhunt, where was the alley-oop in the corner to Larry Fitzgerald?), but then almost cost Pittsburgh the game with the gangsta beatdown on the punt in the final minutes - luckily for him, the ball was in the air, and had officially changed possession. I'm guessing Roger Goodell garnishes most of his Super Bowl winner's check.
* And Mike Tomlin didn't coach much better than Whisenhunt. Kicking a field goal on fourth and one foot from a touchdown on the game's first possession? Wussy. And besides, if the defense held, I wouldn't mind sending the Steeler D out for its first action of the game with Warner stuck at his own 1.
* Escapability. Neither cornerback is known as a great scrambler, but they had it in spades tonight. Warner knows how to duck a heavy rush, and Ben Roethlisberger adjusted to the Arizona rush and dodged blitzes throughout the final drive. The Pittsburgh offensive line broke down like week-old antiperspirant in the second half, and Darnell Dockett wasn't getting blocked at all.
* If the third-down holding penalty in the end zone hadn't given the Cardinals the safety that cut the Pittsburgh lead to 20-16, I'd have taken the intentional safety on fourth down from inside the 1. The six-point lead is the one number which makes that play feasible - you're trading two points for field position, and the opponent still needs a touchdown to win. Would've worked, if not for the secondary collapse moments later.
* I would've had no problem with Larry Fitzgerald's father suspending his journalistic objectivity in the fourth quarter and cheering a bit (wonder if a Minneapolis paper would've sent anybody to the Super Bowl otherwise, given what's happening in my business?). It reminded me of Dale Jarrett's two Daytona 500 wins in the '90s, with his dad Ned in the CBS broadcast booth. When the white flag came out for the final lap in those two close races, play-by-play man Ken Squier handed over the mic and said, "Ned, take your son home." Hey, Ned played it straight for the previous 199 laps.
* Bruce Springsteen put on every bit as good a halftime show as I hoped (although I'd have enjoyed seeing Silvio Dante deal with the ref trying to call delay of game). Still, I rank it below U2 at Super Bowl 36 - you can't top an emotional, Holy ....! moment like seeing that curtain descend from the Superdome rafters (even if I didn't locate the name of one of my CYO basketball teammates on that projection).
* The decision to take points off the board proved to be a wash for Pittsburgh, but the second stop was the turning point of the game. The way the Steelers were eating clock on that drive, a touchdown would've closed the show.
* CareerBuilder.com wins the ad wars (but then again, I use the product, since I will be a free agent within a month myself). Teleflora comes in a close second (you just know "No one wants to see you naked" will become a new national catchphrase). I will never be able to watch Conan O'Brien again without shouting "Vroom vroom firestarter!" at my TV. After seeing Matt Light sashaying through the Sobe ad, I wonder if Tom Brady or Matt Cassel can trust him to watch their backs again. And Pepsi's Macgruber ad was stupid enough to actually get a laugh.
* On second thought, I take it back about being neutral. Win or lose, Pittsburgh never phoned one in this year. It's scary to think a team that got killed at New York, New England and Philadelphia came within 35 seconds of a world championship.