Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Monday, February 06, 2006

Five Storylines from Super Sunday

5) Bradshaw and Montana are no-shows. In a side event that was arguably better than much of the game, quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana did not attend the ceremony celebrating former Super Bowl MVPs. The two combined for five MVP awards and led two of the sport's great dynasties, making them notable absences in an otherwise classy parade. Many of football's greats attended the event, as did some men who stepped up on the sport's biggest stage. But Bradshaw said he wanted to spend time with his family (a weak alibi for a guy who participated in events all week and has had a love-hate relationship with Pittsburgh). And Montana, it's being reported, wasn't guaranteed enough money to appear, which if true, deeply tarnishes the Super Bowl's greatest star.

4) Questionable officiating. So concludes the worst-officiated postseason I can remember. It would be overstating it to say the Steelers won because of the officials, but the tentative calls by the crew followed a trend that ran throughout the entire playoffs. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Instant replay, despite the merits of being able to review plays from multiple angles in slow motion, has led to the unintended consequence of taking the game out of the officials' hands. It has undermined their confidence in calling a game.

3) Quarterbacks falling to earth. Both Matt Hasselbeck and Ben Roethlisberger were shaky, after performing very well throughout the postseason. Roethlisberger looked like the rookie who hijacked the Steelers' playoff run last year. Hasselbeck started well but didn't adjust when the Steelers backed off their blitz in the second half. Give credit to Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who dared the Seahawks to put long drives together by reducing his pass rushers and dropping eight men into coverage. They couldn't do it. In fact, save the gift pick by Roethlisberger, Seattle might not have scored a touchdown all game.

2) One for the thumb. Pittsburgh joins San Francisco and Dallas as the only franchises to win five Super Bowls. And while this one wasn't pretty, it was decidedly "Steeler football." It was oddly reminiscent of the Steelers' first Super Bowl win, in 1975. That team, built around defense and a running game as this one was, led 2-0 at halftime and slugged out a 16-6 victory over Minnesota. Ostensibly, it's easy to say that this Pittsburgh team was one of the weakest entries to ever win a Super Bowl, but with many young stars in Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Heath Miller and Troy Polamalu, it might (MIGHT) be on the verge of greatness as well. Winning multiple Super Bowls is more difficult in this era than it was in the late 1970s, which makes the Patriots' recent success so impressive, but this team can't be judged on one game or even one great playoff run. Time will tell if this Pittsburgh team was a one-year wonder or a truly great team.

1) Hines Ward shines. Ward has always been a favorite of Steeler Nation for his toughness, talent and winning attitude. In a game in which many of the Steelers' stars had subpar games, Ward stepped up as he has all year. And over the past two seasons, Ward has caught touchdowns in five of the six Steelers playoff games. Think about it: Roethlisberger was off target all game and had his longest pass "completion" returned 76 yards the other way. Troy Polamalu didn't make many plays. Joey Porter had three tackles and no sacks. Willie Parker had only 18 yards on nine carries aside from his long touchdown run. Jerome Bettis had only one run over 10 yards. But there was Ward, doing what he's always done for the Steelers. But outside of Pittsburgh, most people haven't noticed. Think the Steelers signed the right wide receiver this past year?

Congratulations, Steelers and their fans (from one of your own)!



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