First, we’re going to start our post-Super Bowl coverage by telling you what nobody else would: the Arizona Cardinals didn’t belong in the Super Bowl. The Cardinals were not, as some pointed out, one of the weakest teams ever to make it to the Big Game, they were the weakest.
Over the course of the season, Arizona scored 427 points to their
opponents’ 426, and they played in a division so bad that the rest of
the teams in it won just 13 of 48 games against opponents in their
conference. The Cardinals were thus able to sneak into the playoffs and
host two playoff games, something their regular season performance
didn’t really entitle them to. If the NFL had seeded their teams and dealt out
the home games according to merit, the Cardinals almost certainly would
not have made it to Tampa.
That said, the fact that the
Cardinals were so perilously close to mediocrity made their Super Bowl
performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in yesterday’s 27-23 loss
even more courageous. If nothing else, the game proved once and for all
that Kurt Warner is a Hall of Famer.
We’ve mentioned Warner a
couple times in this space during the postseason, but the lack of ink
he got today after his amazing performance Sunday demands one more
statement, and we’ll make it: Kurt Warner is the greatest quarterback
in the game and, at his best, better than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or
Brett Favre. His postseason stats alone leave the others in the dust
with an 8-3 record, not so gaudy as Brady’s 14-3, but Warner has thrown
for as many TDs, 26, in 11 games as Brady has in 17, and Warner has
averaged 8.4 yards per throw to Brady’s 6.6.
Kurt Warner was
also the true MVP of yesterday’s Super Bowl. Not to take anything away
from the trophy winner, Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes (9 catches,
131 yards, one touchdown), but Holmes was no more a factor in the game
than the Cardinals great wideout, Larry Fitzgerald (7 receptions, 127
yards, two TDs). Warner was the man who made the game. Pittsburgh
quarterback Ben Roethlisberger – 21 of 30 for 256 yards, one TD, one
interception, and 8.5 yards a throw – but Warner was better, completing
31 of 43 for 377 yards, three TDs, and one interception with 8.8 yards per throw. Warner brought the Cards back from a 20-7 third quarter deficit, and he
did it while throwing against a far tougher defense than Roethlisberger
faced. And he did it all without the support of a rushing game (just
33 yards, all by Edgerrin James).