Top 7 reasons why Super Bowl XLIII was an Instant Classic lists the top 7 reasons why Super Bowl XLIII was an instant classic:

Santonio Holmes7. Arizona’s Three Goal Line Stands
Who would’ve thought Arizona would have three goal line stands? Granted, Pittsburgh’s short yardage running game is subpar but Arizona’s run defense was mediocre in the regular season…

6. Controversial Officiating
I already talked about Roethlisberger’s near touchdown. There were other close plays that will be debated by sports fans for years to come…

5. Two Great QB Performances from Possible Hall of Famers
Neither team could run, so they had to go with the pass. This could’ve been an ugly game if the quarterbacks threw too many incompletions but both Warner and Roethlisberger came to play…

4. The Longest Play in Super Bowl History
The Cardinals were one yard from paydirt with 18 seconds left in the first half. They had no timeouts but it was first down. They could’ve taken a couple shots in the end zone. However, they only got one play because Harrison stepped in front of a Warner pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. Until this play, Warner was 15 for 16 with five touchdowns in the red zone for the 2009 playoffs…

3. Fitzgerald’s Insane Second Half
Fitzgerald proved that you can’t keep a good man down. His only reception in the first half was in the two minute warning. But in the second half, he exploded with 6 receptions, 112 yards, and 2 touchdowns…

2. The Greatest Super Bowl Comeback Ever… Almost
The greatest comeback was in Super Bowl XXII. The Washington Redskins trailed the Denver Broncos 10-0 at the start of the second quarter, but scored 35 unanswered points to put the game away…

1. Big Ben Does His Best Joe Montana Imitation
…you can’t have an instant classic Super Bowl game without a late game winning drive. (Okay, there’s the Titans vs Rams game but that’s the exception.)…

The article goes into more detail explaining every reason, so make sure to check out the link above to view the entire piece.

The reasons listed above are pretty compelling. Yes, Super Bowl XLIII had several great moments (Harrison’s interception, Fitzgerald’s big play, Holmes’ TD catch). But for me, the game was sloppy on a whole, uneventful in the first half outside of Harrison’s touchdown, and often controversial at times. I thought it was one of the greatest fourth quarters of any Super Bowl played, but not one of the greatest games.

If you want to be technical, I think is right – it was an instant classic. But so many people are coining XLIII the best Super Bowl ever played and I don’t think it even tops two other Bowls in the same decade (Super Bowl XLII between the Giants and Patriots and Super Bowl XXXXVIII between the Panthers and Patriots).

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Kawakami: Super Bowl XLIII was no classic

Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News writes that while Super Bowl XLIII was exciting, it wasn’t a classic.

Larry FitzgeraldA classic? That was a fun Super Bowl, no question. A triple plot-twist, loop-de-loop carnival ride.

That was a raucous fourth quarter Sunday evening, full of Arizona Cardinals grit and, eventually, a great Pittsburgh Steelers drive to win 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII.

Oh, and there was that stunning 100-yard interception return by Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison to close the first half.

But was that really a classic, Ali-Frazier Super Bowl? I doubt history will treat it that way.
The protagonists were slightly less than epic and the action was just a bit too herky-jerk for instant masterpiece status. No Brett Favres or Lawrence Taylors in this game.

All those penalties. The wide-open receivers when the last thing the defense could afford was to leave wide-open receivers. That third-quarter sag.

Much better description: This was a classic example of the NFL’s Parity Era, when no team is good enough to dominate the Super Stage.

After all those blowouts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and all those Super Teams, we’ve now had two shriek-finish Super Bowls in a row and five straight that were close in the fourth quarter.
The last blowout? Yep, Tampa Bay 48, Raiders 21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

So Larry Fitzgerald was outstanding Sunday. Kurt Warner, too. Santonio Holmes was a revelation. Harrison made the greatest single play in Super Bowl history, by my reckoning.

But… this felt more like a good first-round playoff game that happened to have Bruce Springsteen at halftime and a spaceship capsule as the postgame stage.

Agreed. It was a sloppy game for the most part and take away Harrison’s interception return and the first half was largely uneventful. That doesn’t mean the game wasn’t entertaining because it was. But a classic? That’s reach.

Six Pack of Observations: Super Bowl XLIII

Here are six quick-hit thoughts from the Steelers’ 27-23 victory over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

1. Santonio Holmes saved the Steelers.
Santonio Holmes saved the Steelers tonight. He saved Ben Roethlisberger from erratic play. He saved the usually stingy Pittsburgh defense from getting torched by Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald in the second half. He saved several of his teammates that decided to make costly penalties down the stretch. And he saved the Steelers from almost blowing a game they had control of for three quarters. Holmes was an easy choice for MVP and he was brilliant in Pittsburgh’s game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. True playmakers go above and beyond and that’s what Holmes did tonight. His touchdown catch was absolutely phenomenal and what a throw by Big Ben.

2. Why wasn’t the final play reviewed?
I’m confused – can an attempted forward pass not be reviewed by the booth in under two minutes? Because while it would have been a close call either way, Warner’s arm looked like it was coming forward on the final play of the game, which would have meant an incomplete pass and one last gasp for the Cardinals. And while it still would have been a long shot for ‘Zona to reach the end zone and win the game, I’m shocked the most important play wasn’t at least reviewed. Maybe the officials would have still come to the conclusion that Warner’s arm wasn’t coming forward and the fumble would have stood. But you’ve got to at least review it.

3. Harrison’s interception cannot be overlooked.
How fitting was it that the defensive player of the year came up with one of the biggest plays in the Super Bowl? James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown before half changed the entire makeup of the game. Some may fault the Cards for not trying to run the ball in that situation because they were at the 1 yard line and had they got stuffed, they still would have had plenty of time to spike the ball and have one last attempt at a touchdown. But they were out of timeouts and with only 18 seconds on the clock, it’s hard to blame Arizona for throwing the ball; Warner just made a bad decision with the pass. But had the Cards at least kicked a field goal in that situation, it’s a 10-10 game at half and maybe the game plays out differently from that point on. Regardless, Harrison’s effort was outstanding and he truly wasn’t going to be denied. If it weren’t for the Cards’ fourth quarter comeback and Holmes’ amazing play down the stretch, Harrison would have been the game’s MVP.

4. Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t great, but he was once again clutch.
One of the post game commentators used the word “outstanding” to describe Roethlisberger’s play tonight. That’s a stretch. While it’s true Big Ben kept plays and drives alive several times by scrambling away from defenders, his indecisiveness and his penchant for holding onto the ball too long also led to a couple of key holding penalties against the Steelers in the fourth quarter, including the one that led to a safety. That said, he was once again clutch down the stretch. He zeroed in on his best playmaker (Holmes) and put the ball in his hands in order to make plays. Roethlisberger’s play wasn’t sharp by any means, but then again, it rarely is. But there’s no denying he makes plays when the game is on the line and he did so once again tonight. He now has two Super Bowl rings and he’s still only 26.

5. Get aggressive, Aaron Francisco.
On Holmes’ 40-yard reception to set up the Steelers’ game-winning touchdown, Arizona safety Aaron Francisco took a horrible angle on the play and it allowed the Pittsburgh receiver to race up the sideline and put his team in position for the go-ahead score. Granted Francisco eventually made the tackle down field, but it looked like he was playing not to make a mistake and it cost his team. It’s one thing to be caught out of position. It’s quite another to allow a receiver to easily make a catch in the open field, completely overrun the play and then allow him to race down the field. Safeties have one of the toughest jobs on the field because they have to play in so much open space. But Francisco’s effort on that play was questionable at best. (Outside of chasing Holmes down and eventually making the tackle, of course.) Francisco also was one of the defenders who was beat on the Holmes’ touchdown catch.

6. Do the Cardinals even need Anquan Boldin?
Anquan Boldin has been one of the most underrated receivers in the league for several years and there’s no doubt he deserves to get paid like a No. 1 receiver. But should Arizona bend over backwards in getting him a new contract when they already have Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston on the roster? How good was Breaston tonight? I realize he’s able to make more plays with Fitz and Boldin on the outside, but does anyone think Breaston doesn’t have the ability to be a No. 2 in this league after the way he played in 2008? Thanks to him, the Cardinals might be able to acquire multiple draft picks in a deal for Boldin this offseason.

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