The matchup for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa is now set. How many of you had the Cardinals and Steelers when we were all making predictions during the first week of September? That’s right, none of us. Heck, I thought it was going to be Jacksonville and Dallas!
But, Steelers-Cards it is. We’ve got two weeks – TWO WEEKS – to break it all down. In the meantime, some thoughts on what we all watched yesterday.
Cards Clinch NFC 32-25 over Eagles: Forget about the fact that Arizona was threatening to run the Eagles out of Glendale in the first half. Forget about the comeback the Eagles made to take a 25-24 lead. Forget about the fact that Cards QB Kurt Warner probably just clinched a spot in Canton. Why?
Because the Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl. You aren’t drunk. You haven’t taken any mind altering drugs. The words that you’re seeing on this website are one hundred percent true. The Cardinals are indeed Super Bowl bound.
We’re talking about the Arizona Cardinals here. A team that has had eight head coaches since they moved from St. Louis to Phoenix in 1988. If you want the list, here it goes. Gene Stallings, Hank Kuhlmann, Joe Bugel, Buddy Ryan, Vince Tobin, Dave McGinnis, Dennis Green, and Ken Whisenhunt. A franchise that had exactly one winning season (1998, 9-7) before winning nine games this season. A franchise that once had punter Tom Tupa lead the team in passing yards (1991).
Make no mistake, the Cardinals making the Super Bowl is nothing short of incomprehensible. It might even be a sign that The Apocalypse is coming. First the Rays make the World Series, and now the Cardinals make the Super Bowl.
If you’re a Cubs fan, you might want to make a trip to Vegas right now, because if the pattern holds up, then the Cubs have a pretty good shot in 2009. If the Rays could win. Heck, if the Cardinals could make it to the Super Bowl, then anything is possible.
The Cards making it this far gives hope to every franchise that hasn’t won anything in a long time. It doesn’t matter what sport. The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967. They now have hope (of course I’m being a little sarcastic here). The Chicago Blackhawks haven’t won the Cup since 1961. If the Cardinals can get this far, who knows? Maybe the Blackhawks can skate with Lord Stanley’s Goblet this spring.
Here’s the bottom line. The Cardinals going to the Super Bowl is something that no one thought would happen this year. Sure some picked them to get into the playoffs – the NFC West is that bad. But, to get this far, no one, and I include the 53 players on the Cardinals roster plus coaches, executives and owners, no one really thought it was possible.
But welcome to pro sports, where even the improbable and impossible can actually happen.
Steelers Hold Off Upstart Ravens: It might not have been the outcome Ravens fans wanted, but even Ravens fans will admit that this game was one of the toughest, most physically played games they have seen in a while. It was an entertaining, defensive battle.
Joe Flacco almost did it again. Admit it, when the Ravens got to within 16-14 you thought the same thing I did. The Ravens can do it. But, Flacco’s luck ran out. There was no more left in his tank, and the bottom line is that the better team won the ballgame.
That’s not meant as a rip on the Ravens. It’s just meant to honor the Steelers, who did win something called the Lombardi Trophy just a few years ago. What the Ravens did this year was honestly something that no one saw coming.
No one saw John Harbaugh getting this job when it was open one year ago. And, when he did get the job, there were a lot of people scratching their heads in amazement. But, no one is thinking that way anymore. Harbaugh has proven himself in his one year as coach, and he’s the reason his brother Jim, coaching at Stanford, got a couple of interviews for NFL coaching jobs.
Joe Flacco wasn’t supposed to become the QB he became in his first year in the league. Most thought he would have to sit, leran, and wait his turn. But he beat out Troy Smith during the summer, and even though his numbers weren’t always eye popping, he proved himself capable of leading a veteran team.
The Ravens time looks to me like it’s coming. It’s obviously not going to be this year. But, with a tweak here and a tweak there, plus another year of experience for the QB, the Ravens are going to be one of the teams you’d have to consider as a Super Bowl Contender for next season.
In this league, for the most part, you have to crawl before you walk. You have to walk before you run. The Ravens are in the walking stage right now.
But that still doesn’t explain this.. The Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl!