Now that it's two days after the Super Bowl, I think I've recovered enough to put down some thoughts on the game and the ultimate emotional roller coaster that I think took ten years off my life.
Never, in a million years, did I think this Steelers team could make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. And the reason is simple: the offensive line. While the defense was incredible, I simply did not believe a team, no matter how much I wished otherwise, could win a championship with such a marginal offensive line. Nor did I think Roethlisberger could survive playing a season behind that group who mostly get an A for effort and a gentleman's C- for performance on a good day. While they've improved significantly from the early season (flashback to the Eagles game where I'm not sure a single green-clad rusher was blocked over sixty minutes of football), nobody was going to mistake this group for the great Super Bowl offensive lines of the past. And their problems were not confined to pass blocking. There is a reason the running backs looked like they were stuck in quicksand most of the season and 1st in Goal from the 1 was always an adventure.
But there I was losing my voice by halftime and watching this Steelers team do what I thought was impossible this year in the closing moments of the game, winning the Super Bowl.
That is why I think Ben Roethlisberger deserved the MVP for the game and why he is far better than even many of his fans realize. Not to take anything away from Holmes' stellar peformance but to do what he did playing behind that line was magical. And, I think he is the only quarterback in the league who could have done it. Not Tom Brady. Certainly not Peyton Manning. Those guys are great but they have flourished behind excellent lines. There are times where I've watched the Patriots where I swear Brady had time to make tea sitting in the pocket behind his offensive line before hitting his receivers, at least before last year's surprising collapse of that same line in the big game. Ditto for Manning. They same that games are won and lost in the trenches. Well...not in Pittsburgh this year, at least on the offensive side of the ball.
But, Roethlisberger is scrambling for his life from the time Jeff Hartwig hands him the ball. Heck, he thrives on it. I think he compliments his line so frequently because they constantly force him to do what he loves the most...running for his life while looking downfield.
A lot of football purists criticize Roethlisberger for moving around so much in the pocket or for holding the ball too long. But they miss the fact that he rarely has a choice. He doesn't even finish dropping back before two guys are bearing down on him on a normal play, and that's against a four-man rush. All game long, he played the role of Houdini, dodging defenders while running for his life and finding receivers open downfield. The game before, he did the same thing against the Ravens. The Chargers game was a rare exception, but that says much more about the Chargers pass rush than the Steelers offensive line. Good quarterbacks have a clock in their head and know to get the ball out fast. I can't even imagine what Roethlisberger's clock was set on this year.
The last drive was incredible, one that Steelers fans will never forget, but it is a drive that Roethlisberger has made repeatedly this year.
This is also why I'm optimistic that the Steelers will win a couple more Super Bowls over the next five years. They have the toughest quarterback in football, a once in a lifetime nearl lock Hall of Fame talent. I wouldn't trade him for any other quarterback in the league. And after watching Santonio Holmes over the last few games, he has a weapon that will give defenses fits, the heir apparent to Steelers legend, Hines Ward, who no matter how much we might wish otherwise, can't play forever. If (and this is a huge if) Limas Sweed develops into a good receiver or they find another good number two receiver (assuming Ward can't play forever), this offense may really be scaring people in the near future.
So, I'm going to enjoy this one even while I look forward to a couple more. These guys are great and they are led by a legend in the making.