When Super Bowl XLII came to an end a year ago with the Giants crowned as one of the sport's unlikeliest champions, it was hard to imagine we'd see a game like it for quite some time. A furious fourth quarter of action, hair-raising plays and an outcome in doubt until the very last play combined to make it a contender for the greatest Super Bowl of all time. There was no way fans could be so lucky as to get a repeat performance, right?
We're doing something right, because we got blessed again Sunday night. The Steelers 27-23 victory was another game worthy of the stage. The score was 20-7 Steelers entering the final 15 minutes, and then the game took off. Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, a non-factor through three quarters, scored twice on magnificent plays. These playoffs ultimately belonged to Pittsburgh, but Fitzgerald's individual performance was without peer.
And then there were Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes. Roethlisberger, under pressure all night from a game Cardinals defense, evaded the rush time and again to move his team back down the field. Holmes turned a short catch into a 40-yard gain that put the Cardinals on the brink, and then pushed them over the edge with a deft bit of footwork in the corner of the end zone.
The game ended with an agonizing fumble as Warner was brought down by the Steelers pass rush.
Compare that to the 80's and 90's when you were lucky to get a good quarter out of Super Sunday. Part of the reason that the commercials during the Super Bowl became such a big deal is because almost every year the game was worthless. There was no reason to expect anything more.
We should be expecting it now. In addition to these last two classics, the past 10 Super Bowls have featured more great games than snoozers. The Titans falling a yard short, the Patriots holding down the Rams offense, Adam Vinatieri booting winners and Antwan Randle-El turning a trick play into a Super Bowl ring are just a few of the reasons why. Only two games, the wins by the Ravens and Buccaneers, were lopsided. All of the rest were close games that were decided late in the proceedings.
It's been a tough year in many regards, but we can take some small solace that we're living in the Golden Age of Super Bowls. Hope's been a big word over the past 12 months. As football fans, let's express our hope that this trend doesn't die anytime soon.