Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pittsburgh won the big game, ho hum

If you know me, you know that I'm an Eagles (and sometimes Niners) fan. If you know me, you also know that I loath the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, I'll try to put that hatred aside for this post.

So Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl. So what? Maybe it's just this area of the country that lacked excitement over the big game this year, but it didn't really mean anything to me. A big part of this was the way the Eagles exited the playoffs this season. The Eagles looked like they could be one of the better teams in the league early in the year, before stumbling mid-season, and making a miraculous comeback to join the party as the NFC's 6th seed. The low point obviously was their 36-7 loss to the Ravens, in which Donovan McNabb got benched for the first time in his career. That game motivated the team down the stretch, though, and they finished the season 4-1, capped off by a brilliant performance against the hated Cowboys. They somehow got all the help they needed from other teams and slipped into the playoffs. But they weren't finished. They ran through the Vikings in the first round and then demoralized the defending champion Giants in the divisional round. Next up was a rematch with the Arizona Cardinals, the team whom they put 48 points against on Thanksgiving, the first game after their humiliating loss to the Ravens.

The feeling around Philly in the week leading up to the game was that the Eagles would easily win. I wasn't so sure. I watched bits of the Cardinals first two playoff games and I knew that they were a different team than the one that showed up on Thanksgiving. One of my co-workers overheard someone saying that Arizona is good and actually said "no they're not." The confidence level was sky high for the fans going into the game. And maybe it was for the team too, as they gave up 3 Larry Fitzgerald touchdowns in the first half and didn't have enough left to seal the win after going up by a point late in the 4th quarter.

It was the worst Eagles loss I have ever watched. I have now watched them lose 4 NFC championship games in the last 7 years and this is definitely the worst. The way the team fought back after all the criticism and stood up for their coach and quarterback made me proud of them. When they came back late in the game to take a 1-point lead, I thought they were a team of destiny. Also, it seemed like this had to be the year. The rumors swirled all year about McNabb leaving Philly and Reid getting fired. The coaching staff has already gone through some big changes with three assistants leaving and Jim Johnson revealing that he has skin cancer. Unfortunately, the only destiny that waited for this team was to fall just short, like so many other times, and to once again break the hearts of their loyal fans. I think the sentiment was shared amongst most Eagles fans that this was the worst loss ever. It made Philly fans simply not care about the Super Bowl, even though another Pennsylvania team was in it. From what I have seen regarding Eagles fans, though, most hate the Steelers.

The Steelers are (arguably) America's team. They have now won a record 6 Super Bowls. They have an impressive cast of characters in the Hall of Fame. They were the team involved in the Immaculate Reception, they are the Steel Curtain. Everyone loves the Rooneys. Bill Cowher became a hero after finally winning the big game with the Steelers in 2005. So it's understandable for the Eagles to despise them, being that the Eagles are the franchise that is known mostly for its futility over the years. The Eagles have won zero, count 'em, zero Super Bowls in their history. They haven't won an NFL championship since before the Super Bowl existed. The Eagles are known as the team that has the choking quarterback that threw up during a key drive late in the Super Bowl in 2004. Philly as a city just won its first major sports title in 25 years when the Phillies won the World Series. As a sports city, we just haven't been that good.

So when the Eagles lost, most fans around this area stopped caring. Sure, I watched the Super Bowl. It was a great game. It gave me some consolation knowing that the Cardinals put up a good fight and almost won the game. It made me feel like the Eagles were still one of the best teams in the league and didn't just get hot at the right time. However, in a city filled with hate and criticism for its sports teams, both players and coaches, that's just not good enough anymore. So when the Steelers won, I really didn't care. I hate to say it, but I watched the game because of the commercials and the game ended up being better than the commercials. Sure, the Steelers got a bunch of calls that went their way, as always. Did it change the outcome of the game? Probably not. Should that last play have been reviewed? Sure. Would it have made a difference in the end? Probably not. But that's just it. I'm so down from the Eagles losing, that I don't even have the energy to argue about it. Instead, I'll just leave you with this: Was he in or was he out? You decide.

Not like it matters anyway.

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