Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Disappointment

Every sports fan has those games--THOSE GAMES--which go beyond merely losing a friendly athletic contest.

The 1979 Sugar Bowl
Minnesota 1999
Iowa 6 - PSU 4
THEM 2005

For Penguin fans, there is the OT loss in game 7 to the NY Islanders in 1993

For Red Sox fans, there's the Bill Buckner game.

Heart breaking losses ingames that where the win just slipped away.

You get the picture.

This Super Bowl is among those infamous losses, at least for Steeler fans.

Of course, by all rights, it is simply surprising that they made it to the big game at all.  Their starting QB was suspended for the first four games.  The offensive line had only, I believe, two starters from the beginning of the season still able to play.  They had to get by the Ravens and the Jets.  Yet, despite all the odds, here they were. . . .in the Super Bowl.

But just as Christina Aguilera botched the national anthem (why can't they just sing our country's anthem without trying to turn it into some kind of Broadway operatic diva solo?  But that is a topic for another day!) the Steelers fumbled and bumbled away the opportunity to add trophy #7 to their already crowded showcase.

Three turnovers led to 21 points, and the Steelers fell 31-25.  Let's face it, Ben had a bad day and looked reminiscent of Matt McGloin in the Outhouse Bowl.  He wasn't on the same page as his receivers on several plays and the pick six was a dagger in the hearts of the Black & Gold faithful.

Yet, despite 3 TOs and a 21 point swing in favor of the G-men, Pittsburgh still had a chance with about two minutes to go in the game to win it with a touchdown.  But a stupid unsportsmanlike personal foul pinned them deep and poor play calling and execution doomed any chance for a winning drive.

I knew it was going to be a close game and I really thought that the losing team would be within a score and have a chance to win it in the final minutes, but I truly thought it would have been the Steeler defense closing the victory and allowing Dan Rooney to hoist another trophy amid the confetti.

Armchair QBs will argue things ad nauseum, but I think this loss falls heavily on the defense.  What happened to them?  Yes, it's tough to win games when your offense turns the ball over three times.  Teams are 35-4 in the Super Bowl when the opponent has 3+ turnovers.  Yet, the Steelers still were in this thing despite those mistakes.

And let's be honest, the fumble in the fourth quarter could have happened to anyone.  Those things happen.  Helmet meets ball.  Ball loses.  Other team recovers.  Bad break.

But a championship team should have stepped up and tried to get the ball back, or at least for crying out loud and for all that is holy, stop the other team from scoring.

It's not the defense's fault on the pick six.

But the other two turnovers still left the cheeseheads with a ways to go to score, and both times they did so with relative ease.  If we had just held them to field goals on those two turnovers, Pittsburgh would have won the game on the scoreboard, if not the stat sheet.  The Steelers outgained GB in total yardage and first downs.

Ghey looked lost in coverage.  Polamalu was a non-factor.  Seriously, where was he at?  One of the announcers made the comment on a play that he was out of position that that happens sometimes when you play on instincts.  Were his instincts wrong the whole game?  A single play I can live with someone being out of position.  But to be brutally honest, our best defense of the night was the Green Bay defenders that dropped passes.  This game could have been really ugly if not for those drops.

Defense wins championships.  That's why the Steelers don't have another Lombardi Trophy in their trophy case.  And with the age of this team, it might be a long time before they have another chance to climb the stairway to seven.

And apparently, Steeler fans aren't the only ones in pain.  According to Penn State Clips, Vegas took a pretty good hit on the outcome as well.  Serves them right for picking the Packers.

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