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Dan Levy
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Dan Levy

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Best Ever? Five Seconds Short.


The greatest thing in the history of sports writing -- perhaps in the history of the written word -- is the use of instant hyperbole. This was the greatest Super Bowl of all time. It was even better than last year's game, which, from what I remember, was the greatest game of all time.

The Super Bowl is 43 years old. I am 30 years old (turning 31 next week if anyone is thinking about presents) so it's hard to put proper perspective on the matter of which Super Bowl has been the best. I can say this; we watched one heckuva game last night.

As I wrote -- nay tweeted -- last night after seeing the play that ended the first half, "that is the greatest play in the history of the Super Bowl. Hyperbole be damned." A good first half with an absolutely amazing play to end it, a great halftime show -- When it comes to tomatoes, corn, organized crime and Super Bowl halftime shows, don't mess with Jersey -- and a thrilling finish, maybe it was the best.

Well, if we're talking best ever, the finish should have actually been a bit more thrilling.

When Larry Fitzgerald caught a pass from Kurt Warner and streaked down the middle of the field for a touchdown and improbable lead with under three minutes to go in the game, we got the moment all Super Bowls look for. We got the ending that would satisfy football fans.

When Ben Roethlisberger drove Pittsburgh down the field to the five-yard line with just under a minute to go, we were ready for another moment that would define this game again. And when Santonio Holmes made an incredible catch with three defenders near him in the corner of the end zone, having the presence of mind to keep both feet in bounds, we got that moment. A better moment.

It seemed improbable that Arizona could come back twice on a defense as good as Pittsburgh. But the Cardinals had just scored a 64 yard touchdown in 21 seconds, so anything was possible. After two quick passes and two quick timeouts, the Cardinals had a first down at the Steelers' 44 yard line with 15 seconds remaining.

Kurt Warner is not fleet of foot. Warner does not have the escapability of Roethlisberger, so having to buy time to let his receivers get down near the end zone for a Hail Mary pass, Warner was hit and purportedly fumbled the football. Despite the fact that Warner's arm was going forward and the ball fell in the same direction as the motion of his arm, the play was ruled a fumble on the field.

In a game with many questionable calls, this was one of the most questionable. Wasn't his arm going forward? Was the ball out of his hand before his arm motion started? What about the empty hand rule we remember from earlier in the season? Where is Ed Hoculi when you need him?

Most importantly, we were left wondering if the Cardinals should get another chance to see if Warner could get the ball up in the air to Fitzgerald -- the best jump ball receiver in the game today (and maybe of all time). We'll never know what might have happened. According to the official box score, the play was never reviewed by the replay booth.

The Cardinals were 44 yards away. It would have taken a miraculous throw and catch to win the game. Pittsburgh deserved to win and Arizona should not feel cheated out of a victory.

But no matter how great the game was, it could have been better. If only we were given the chance to watch a ball sail downfield as time expired in hopes that Fitzgerald could rip another pass out of the sky. The country would have been holding its collective breath. The world would have seemed like it was in slow motion.

The end of the game was fantastic. But if we're talking about putting this game as the best Super Bowl ever, we deserved a better ending. We deserved a Hail Mary.

By Dan Levy  |  February 2, 2009; 9:17 AM ET  | Category:  Dan Levy , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

"Wasn't his arm going forward? Was the ball out of his hand before his arm motion started?"

Yes, and yes.

Posted by: presto668 | February 2, 2009 4:37 PM

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