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Six Thoughts on the Six Pack

By Gretel T.G. Egan

So, it's a done deal. In the books. One for the ages. Whatever your cliché of choice, the bottom line is this: the Pittsburgh Steelers stand alone. And it sure doesn't feel lonely at the top.

Now that I've had time to process everything, I've found myself reflecting on the spectacle that was the Super Bowl. I watched a lot of coverage leading up to, during (natch), and following this game of games. I'm sure many of my sentiments were shared throughout Steeler Nation: the bittersweet emotions conjured by the piece on Myron Cope and the history of the Terrible Towel; the knowledge that Mike Ditka could be the coolest dude on earth; the jubilation of James Harrison's 100-yard pick six; the anxiety of the last 2:30; and, finally, the heady exhilaration of victory.

Days later, there are some specific moments/thoughts/speculations that continue to stand out. And in honor of the Steelers' sixth Lombardi Trophy, I will share six of them with you:

1. Why, suddenly, no respect for the schedule?
Throughout the year, we heard lots of talk about how Pittsburgh had the toughest schedule of any team. That a trip to the playoffs would be a coup in itself. Why then, in the days leading up to the final match-up, did I hear commentators making remarks like, "But who have they really played?" OK, I'll tell you:

  • Of the eleven other teams who made the playoffs, the Steelers faced six of them (Indy, San Diego, Baltimore, Tennessee, Philly, and the Giants) during the regular season. (They also played two of the others -- Minnesota and Carolina -- in the preseason. Not that you will ever catch me making the case that the preseason counts in any way. I just found it interesting.)
  • Of the seven other teams that made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Steelers had faced five in regular-season play.

I just found it irksome that, at the eleventh hour, anyone was trying to make a case that the Steelers top defensive rankings weren't all that they seemed. I know there was a need to manufacture some drama…but couldn't that have been left to Kurt Warner's wife and Larry Fitzgerald's dad?

2. Holy crap, Jennifer Hudson smoked the National Anthem.
For those of you who heard her and have a brain in your head, I clearly mean "smoked" in the most positive of all senses. It sounded like a different song entirely, and that (again) I mean in the most positive of all senses. It's quite possible that I'm building this up in my mind as the days pass (much like I did Footloose in the multiple decades between viewings), but I don't think so.

3. Pittsburgh must be the worst team in history in the red zone.
How painful were these moments? I was afraid my face was going to freeze in a perpetual grimace when we got to try 6 of 6 during Arizona's we're-trying-to-hand-you-the-game-by-taking-a-zillion-penalties stretch. Horrifying, predictable, pointless play calls. If Jeff Reed had missed that field goal…well, I'd rather not think about it. But don't tell me you weren't waiting for it.

4. Ben must be top-five in the two-minute drill.
Phenomenal, right? Good decisions, smart plays, efficient clock usage, the whole nine. I suspect he calls the majority of plays in this scenario. And he came close to confirming that when, during post-game questioning about who was calling the plays during the last drive, he said something along the lines of (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Well, I called some plays, then we took a time out and Bruce called some plays." Ben compared it to "backyard ball," and all I can say is, keep playing. And please, Steelers, get a new offensive coordinator next year. That brief period of fresh, interesting plays in the first quarter was potentially not too late, but it was far too little.

5. Why did Obama get top billing over the fans?
When Dan Rooney got his hands on the illustrious and record-setting sixth Lombardi, he proceeded to thank…President Obama? Really? Sure, the Pittsburgh fans followed, but it was still strange. I know everyone's on the bandwagon and that Obama -- when forced to answer with a bajillion cameras in his face -- tossed his loyalty to the Steelers (for this game, anyway). But top billing? Really? And I know I've said already, but…really? It was just such a non-Rooney thing to do. I don't necessarily think the fans should have been the first thing out of his mouth, but at least something relevant, please.

6. Mike Holmgren is still BITTER.
It appears that the pill that was Super Bowl XL is still stuck in our buddy Mike's crabby little throat. During the pre-game, when asked who he was taking, Mike picked the Cardinals. Not surprising, and not flagrant. (Though I suspect Mike would pick a pee-wee team over the Steelers if pressed.) The really funny bit came after the game, as the coaches roundtable went down the line making comments about the outcome of the contest and Mike…wanted to take the time to say how great the Cardinals had been and how it was a difficult time in their locker room at that point. Of course he did. Because it's still a difficult time in Mike's locker room. Just can't seem to get...that…dang…pill…down!

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