But Terry McAulay was too big a part of the game for my tastes. The catch and throw between Big Ben and Santonio was simply perfect. You love to see big games won by the winner as opposed to lost by the loser. This game was won by Pittsburgh for sure. But when it seemed like the refs were calling everything by the letter of the law, there were instances like the Santonio celebration that made you wonder. I mean, you can see that Adrian Wilson did not mean to run into the holder, but he did and they called it. The Lebron-esque celebration was great, but clearly a violation, and not called. The facemask by the rookie ARI corner was marginally flag-worthy, but on the replay, you could at least see why the ref reached for his hanky. But America also could see that it was clearly something that did not HAVE to be called (no head jerk). On a case-by-case basis, the three personal fouls by the Cards on that one drive were ones that get called...for the most part...sometimes. Let's be honest, everyone knows you can call a penalty on every play. What in the hell are these guys thinking adopting that philosophy on Super Bowl Sunday? During one rather important drive? Again, you can't say they made necessarily bad calls, but you could argue that over the course of a season, those calls don't get made with the regularity they were made in this game. And even if you did argue that, you would still be sucking on sour grapes, because the calls were there to make.
The last play was a fumble. I thought it was a fumble after the first replay. The previously reviewed Warner fumble was clearly an incompletion, again, evident after the first slow-motion replay (double slow motion if you paused and slow-mo'ed it on your DVR like I did). It was just a bad way to handle the situation by not reviewing the last play. In a game like that, what is the cost of 60 extra seconds to have the ref announce to the crowd that the booth was reviewing the play? They were reviewing it anyway, so making that announcement might have put the slobberingly drunken masses watching the game at that point rest a little easier. The impression was that nobody in the booth was reviewing it, and with no booth review, the perception is something might get missed. The post-game statement that the play was actually a fumble is meaningless. We knew it was a fumble. We wanted the review of the play resulting in the correct call to occur prior to the final whistle. The fact that two ENORMOUS calls were reversed by Arizona challenges should have meant something in the closing seconds to the replay guys in the booth. If for no other reason than to effect the appearance of due process, the Cards deserved to have that call looked at more closely. (By the way, calling a TD on the opening drive when Ben simply did not seem to cross the goal line in regular speed, even with the illegal help of his offensive lineman was conspicuous.)
All that said--and thank God for the NFL's sake:
The Steelers won. The Cards did not get jobbed. Between the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year making his impact on the game with no time remaining in the first half, and the improvisation and poise of Big Ben down the stretch, this game was won by the Steelers, not lost by the Cards. The plays on the field overshadowed the calls by the refs. In time, I think that will be more and more the case as we look back on this particular Super Bowl.