Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
There were a number of fascinating things that happened during the great football game that was Super Bowl 43 (time to forget about the Roman Numerals, no?). Here’s a list and a brief discussion:
1 – THE HARRISON TOUCHDOWN RETURN – One of the greatest (maybe the greatest) plays in the history of football, Steeler James Harrison picked off a pass headed into the end zone and trudged down the sideline about 100 yards to just get in for a game-changing play. But did anyone notice Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals running (out of bounds) down the sideline for about 25 yards? The excellent NFL VP of Officiating, Mike Pereira, reviewed the play for the NFL Network and stated that the Steelers would have had one more play even if Harrison was tackled on the one because the Cardinals were charged with a face mask penalty.
But here’s the fascinating part: As Fitzgerald was sprinting down the sidelines out of bounds, he literally ran into his own man (#21, Antrel Rolle) who was not in the game. So it’s pretty clear that Fitzgerald would have gotten to Harrison earlier and (maybe) tackled him before he scored the game-changing touchdown. While, according to Pereira, the Steelers would have had one more play before the half, there’s certainly no guarantee that they would have scored a touchdown or even whether they would have settled for a field goal. In theory, at least, one could argue that Larry Fitzgerald running into his own man might have cost the Cardinals the Super Bowl. Fascinating, no?
2 – THE LATE SAFETY – There’s been a lot of talk about this, but this writer thinks that the Steelers should have played it extra safe with a lead late in the game. Up six, the Steelers could have played FOR a safety. That is, if they ran three running plays up the gut (or even three QB-type sneaks), they would have either forced Arizona to use all of their time outs OR they could have run significant time off the clock (or some combination thereof).
On television, John Madden realized when the Steelers lined up for third down that they might actually take a safety (he said they could do it literally as the ball was being snapped). Of course, since there was a hold in the end zone on the pass completed on that play, the safety was automatic. Al Michaels never understood the taking a safety potential, stating that the Steelers had to get a few yards for the punter to have an easier punt out of the end zone, as if the Steelers would have punted on fourth down. If the Steelers had wound up punting from their own end zone (if it had played out that way) up six, it would have been one of the dumbest plays in Super Bowl history. Interesting, no?
3 – THE LARRY FITZGERALD TOUCHDOWN LATE IN THE GAME – The Steelers were roundly criticized for playing their safeties too deep and allowing Larry Fitzgerald to run a little slant and go right up the middle for a touchdown to give the Cardinals the lead late in the game. And there is certainly some truth in that criticism. But that’s not why Fitzgerald scored.
On that play, Fitzgerald was lined up in the slot. Both wide receivers ran out patterns. Inexplicably, BOTH safeties went to double the outside receivers on their respective side. Since All-World Troy Polamalu was lined up on Fitzgerald’s side, it’s hard to believe he would leave Fitzgerald to double anyone else on the planet. But that’s exactly what happened and that blown coverage, even more than the prevent defense that the Steelers were playing, was the key to the Fitzgerald touchdown.
4 – THE SUPER BOWL-WINNING TOUCHDOWN AND CELEBRATION – Everybody saw the stunning catch in the end zone by Santonio Holmes to, essentially, win the Super Bowl. Tens of millions of people saw Holmes, after the touchdown, definitely use the football as a prop to do a Lebron James-like celebration. But no penalty was called. Why not?
Well, according to Mike Pereira, VP of Officiating, it WAS a penalty. But since it wasn’t immediately after the touchdown (Holmes was congratulated by numerous teammates first), no official actually saw it. According to Pereira, if seen it would have been called. While, again, we’ll never know what would have happened, at a minimum, the Steelers would have kicked off from the 15, not the 30. Stunning stuff for the biggest game of the year.
5 – THE FINAL KURT WARNER FUMBLE PLAY – Still with a chance, Kurt Warner went back to pass and was hit while his arm was not yet going forward. A close play to be sure, but it was properly ruled a fumble, essentially ending the Super Bowl. Immediately the critics went nuts. Why wasn’t it reviewed?
Well, it was reviewed. But it was reviewed upstairs quickly and not announced in the normal way. Apparently, it was quickly concluded (correctly) that it was a fumble. But, in the biggest game of the year with tens of millions of viewers watching, it should have been given, for lack of a better phrase, the “full review” treatment. That would have saved a lot of questions and criticism for the NFL.
All in all, a great Super Bowl: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.