The Loose Ends
by Rick Rockwell
Much like the janitors sweeping up all that confetti at the end of the Super Bowl, stowing away the column for the off-season is a necessary task, but that question lingers. Will anyone notice? Or for that matter, does anyone care?
Well, there are more than a few storylines to tie up for the football faithful, so if you count yourself among those, don’t worry. This will be a short final ride.
Let’s begin where we left off, with Super Bowl XLIII.
The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly came through on the final prediction. However, this column did not foresee how close the final contest would be. Actually, to his credit, despite some equivocation, Michael Wilbon successfully predicted that the Steelers' defense would cause a fumble and win the game because of it in the last 90 seconds. Despite the controversy at the end (about whether quarterback Kurt Warner actually fumbled), that’s just what happened.
Despite a 17-7 halftime score, the Arizona Cardinals never seemed like they were out of the contest. Their fourth quarter rally likely happened for two reasons: strong offensive adjustments by Cardinals’ Coach Ken Whisenhunt and his coaches and a fatigued Steelers’ defense. This is why Whisenhunt is coaching and this writer is just an armchair quarterback. Last week, the advice was to find a way to push the Cardinals' running attack and roll out Warner to offset the Steelers’ pass rush. The Cardinals certainly used rollouts but instead of leaning on the running attack they put running back Edgerrin James into swing pass routes, which gave him sideline running lanes. James’ success forced the Steelers to adjust and then the Cardinals went back to their usual game plan of getting the ball to stellar receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
In the end, despite the loss, Warner acquitted himself well, throwing for 377 yards. Warner, by the way, has the three highest passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history.
So this piece of advice to the Cardinals: sign Warner (who becomes a free agent in the off-season) to a short contract and tell back-up hotshot Matt Leinart to be patient for another few years.
Other key notes:
Super Bowl XLIII
National Football League
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