First off, it's absolutely fitting for our boy Josh from Hollywood, the season of the safety ends with a big safety late in the Super Bowl.
I'd imagine there are plenty of columns around the Internet deeming this the greatest Super Bowl ever. I've been thinking over this game and some of the other great games of the recent past and I definitely think this one is close to those other games. First a quick look back at yesterday's game, followed by recaps of some of the games I found to be highly entertaining.
First off, big time props to Kurt Warner for an amazing performance. He did just about everything he possibly could to put his team in a position to win this game. Only one time has a player on the losing team won the game's MVP award, but if I had a real vote, I actually would have voted for him. Obviously Larry Fitzgerald was huge. After a quiet start, he absolutely blew up in the fourth quarter. However, on those scoring drives, it was Warner making plays up and down the field. Had the Cardinals won, I think it very well could have been split between Warner and Fitzgerald, but again, my vote goes to Warner, win or lose.
As for the Steelers, James Harrison definitely deserves some love for the interception returned for a touchdown. I'm a bit surprised he didn't get MVP. If the Cardinals had not come back to take the lead I think Harrison would have gotten the award. Instead, my guess is that the press figured the momentum-swing didn't matter in the end. Not my belief, but something people might have thought.
If I had to pick just among Steelers, if not Harrison, I actually think Roethlisberger should have gotten more love for MVP. His only mistake was a batted ball INT, and he did a phenomenal job moving around in the pick to avoid the Cardinals pressure. He showed some of the best pocket presence I've seen in some time. He definitely redeedmed himself for that performance against the Seahawks.
All in all though, the game brought a crazy back and forth we don't get to see all that often. As is the case in many great Super Bowls, really it's a matter of it being an exciting 4th quarter more than anything else. The James Harrison INT is a signature moment from the game, but the Cardinals furious comeback would have made for an amazing story in and of itself. Fitzgerald had been quiet all game, but as they say, big players make big plays in big games. When he scored the final touchdown, most everybody agreed there was plenty of time left, and Roethlisberger made them pay for it. Santonio Holmes tip-toe touchdown was a great cap on the game. Although I'm somewhat surprised the booth didn't review Warner's fumble at the end. I don't think it would have been overturned, but given the gravity of the situation, it still surprised me.
Past Super Bowls
I've included a poll and as you can see, I'm only asking about games of the past 30 years, or roughly since the 49ers started winning Super Bowls. I could go back and include the Jets and others, but I figure the proverbial "ESPN Era" is a good time frame to use. I'm sure I'll miss some, but for these are the most notable.
Super Bowl XXIII - 49ers 20 - Bengals 16: Montana to Taylor anybody? Isn't that John Candy? Even if you weren't old enough to remember that game, you've read and heard enough about the game to know how special it was. A back and forth affair that culminated in the greatest proof of why a team should never run a prevent defense late in the game against Joe Montana.
Super Bowl XXV - Giants 20 - Bills 19: WIDE RIGHT! 49ers fans remember this game for the heartbreaking NFC title game loss to the Giants. Bills fans remember this for something so much worse.
Super Bowl XXXII - Broncos 31 - Packers 24: I actually couldn't find game footage on YouTube so this random video will have to do (and that is a dummy being hit by the car). At first glance this game might seem overrated because of the Elway first title storyline. However, if you watched this game, you'll remember a back and forth affair that always makes for a fun Super Bowl. Probably not the best one ever, but the seesaw nature of it made for a really fun game.
Super Bowl XXXIV - Rams 23 - Titans 16: There is a a large contingent of folks that consider this the gold standard of recent Super Bowls, in large part because of the Kevin Dyson just short of the goal line play. The Rams took a 16 point lead before the Titans made a furious comeback to tie the game before Isaac Bruce took a Warner bomb to the house. On the final play of the game, Steve McNair threw a slant to Kevin Dyson who famously reached as far as he could for the end zone, to no avail.
Super Bowl XXXVI - Patriots 20 - Rams 17: New England seemed ready to run away with this game before the Rams rallied for a late tie. Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri secured their legacies in the final minute and a half. It's funny because in reality, the first 3 quarters of this game were not all that entertaining, aside from seeing the underdog punch the favorite in the mouth. Many might not agree, but I would actually say the victory over the Panthers two years later might have been more entertaining. I don't think either would get enough votes to make it worth separating, but feel free to comment on that topic.
Super Bowl XLII - Giants 17 - Patriots 14: Yet another game where the first three quarters were quite boring, but a furious finish made it all worth it. You had the amazing catch of David Tyree (not to mention a great throw from Manning), you had a late exchange of touchdowns, and as with the Patriots upset of the Rams, you had a big underdog shocking the world. Probably not the greatest Super Bowl of the last thirty years, but certainly a good one.
As my list indicates, I'm not including what I found to be highly entertaining 49er whuppings of the Broncos and Chargers. I'm thinking more of Super Bowls most, if not all fans can agree are great. Even if you don't think last night's was the best ever, you have to admit there was some highly entertaining football late in the game.