Super Bowl XLIII a roller-coaster affair
Sunday night’s big Super Bowl extravaganza seemed like it could have been three different games all rolled up into one four-quarter contest.
The victorious Pittsburgh Steelers looked anything but a history-setting Super Bowl winner in the fourth period when the Arizona Cardinals scored 16 unanswered points and pulled ahead 23-20 in the game with less than three minutes remaining.
But thanks to cool-headed Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who brought his touchdown-favored team from the brink of being upset with 2:30 left in the game to an astounding 27-23 victory, Pittsburgh is the World’s Champion for an unprecedented sixth time.
Big Ben was outstanding throughout the entire hard-fought, penalty-infested game as he extended play after play with his agile movements in the pocket until he found an open receiver, especially during the final game-winning drive.
His favorite target was wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the game’s Most Valuable Player, who hauled in nine passes for 131 yards including the game-winning six-yard touchdown aerial with only 35 seconds left in the game.
Ironically, last year’s game-winning touchdown catch by Plaxico Burress also came with 35 seconds left, giving the New York Giants a thrilling 17-14 win over the favored New England Patriots.
Roethlisberger at age 26 became the second youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls and the 10th quarterback to win multiple Super Bowls.
The Steelers’ game-winning touchdown nullified Arizona’s chance of staging the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history as they roared back in the fourth quarter from a 13-point 20-7 deficit and went ahead 23-20 on a 64-yard touchdown grab and run by the Cardinals’ amazing wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with 2:37 left in the Super Bowl.
Fitzgerald, who was limited to only a single catch in the first half by the Steelers’ sticky pass defense, came to life when it really counted, capping an 87-yard fourth-quarter drive with a leaping one-yard catch of quarterback Kurt Warner’s pass. Fitzgerald caught four passes in the drive as Warner completed all eight of the passes he attempted.
On the ensuing series, a holding penalty by Pittsburgh in the end zone gave Arizona a safety. The Cards took the free kick at their own 36 and Warner found Fitzgerald with single coverage and hit him on the run. The All-Pro wide receiver outdistanced the three Steelers in pursuit and Arizona had its first lead of the game.
But Warner and Fitzgerald could only watch in awe as Roethlisberger bought the extra time he needed to dissect the Arizona pass defense, by connecting with Holmes four times on that 78-yard final drive.
After letting a catchable pass slip through his hands in the left side of the end zone, Holmes redeemed himself on the very next play as Big Ben threw the football to the right side of the end zone over three Cardinal defenders and into the hands of Holmes, who managed to drag all ten toes in bounds, before tumbling out of bounds.
In this Korner’s opinion, Holmes’ reception should be remembered as “The Catch” instead of the one by San Francisco’s Dwight Clark against our Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game at the end of the 1981 season that was won by the 49ers 28-27. San Francisco then nipped Cincinnati 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI.
KWICKIES…Today (Wednesday) is the National Signing Day when high school senior football players are hoping to attain the next plateau of continuing their football playing at the collegiate level. Several Orange County athletes usually sign on the dotted line on this day and hopefully that will continue, even if it is on the junior college level.
It appears Port Neches-Groves has found a new head football coach in 31-year old Brandon Faircloth, former offensive coordinator at Odessa Permian, the site of the movie and TV show “Friday Night Lights.” Faircloth’s multi-formation offense was instrumental in Permian going undefeated in the 10- game regular-season schedule last fall and averaging 42.6 points per game. We’d be surprised if the Indians don’t return as one of this area’s powerhouse football teams before too long.
Another head football coaching job opened when former West Orange-Stark assistant coach Thomas Brooks resigned from his position at Jasper to become director of Jasper ISD’s alternative education center last week. Jasper is added to Port Arthur Memorial and Beaumont Central who are all looking for new head football coaches. Monday night, Little Cypress-Mauriceville named Randy Crouch as the new Battlin’ Bears head coach. Crouch is currently the defensive coordinator for West Orange-Stark.
U.S. Olympic gold medal swimming star Michael Phelps had his All-American golden boy role model image tarnished somewhat after a photo in a British newspaper Sunday showed him inhaling from a marijuana pipe. The U.S. Olympic Committee said it was “disappointed in the behavior exhibited by Michael Phelps.” Don’t be surprised if some of his many endorsements fall by the wayside too.
The albatross must have landed on the Lamar Cardinal men’s basketball team as they lost their second straight game at home Saturday night when one of their best free throw shooters, Ashton Hall, missed his only charity shot of the game with the Cards leading 66-65 with 11.5 seconds left. UT-San Antonio came down the court and missed its shot, rebounded and missed again, but Travis Gabbidon tipped in the rebound right before the buzzer sounded, handing the Redbirds a 67-66 loss. Lamar’s record in Southland Conference action dropped top 2-5 in the West Division and 11-9 for the season. The Cards swing back into action Wednesday when they travel to Conway, Ark. to play Central Arkansas.
JUST BETWEEN US…The suggestion by trustee Harry Barclay at a recent West Orange-Cove CISD school board meeting that those WO-C students failing to pass the state’s TAKS test would be ruled ineligible to participate in extra-curricular activities appeared to receive quite a bit of opposition from within the school district. But Barclay’s idea, which has not been adopted by any other school district in the state of Texas, has plenty of support from the football players and fans from the Hardin-Jefferson, Silsbee, Hamshire-Fannett, Orangefield and Bridge City school districts who would see it as a means of leveling the football playing field for those teams who have NEVER beaten the Mustangs in a District 21-3A game over the past five years. Statewide statistics revealed that 63 per cent of freshmen and sophomore students fail to pass the TAKS tests in math and science. This statistic alone could possibly shrink the team size considerably from the usual 24-30 players on the Mustang varsity football team and give these other teams much better odds in future district football games if Mr. Barclay’s idea ever becomes a reality.