Super Showdown in Tampa

Vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers Square Off Against Surprising Arizona Cardinals


Pittsburgh Steelers will be making their sixth Super Bowl appearance, the second most appearances behind the Dallas Cowboys’ 8. (Courtesy of MCT)

Published: January 29, 2009

Nineteen weeks. Eighteen  games. Two teams. One championship.

After a long and trying season, two teams are left fighting for their chance to have their names forever remembered in the history books. The Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers will play Super Bowl XLIII on Sun., Feb. 1 in Tampa Bay, Fla. to determine who will become the 2008 National Football League (NFL) champions.

Although the futures legacies of these teams will be decided the Super Bowl, their pasts are very different. The Arizona Cardinals have never once been in the Super Bowl. Also, before this year, the Cardinals had not won a playoff game since 1947—when they won the NFL Championship, before the NFL and AFL combined and the modern Super Bowl era was established.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a different story. The franchise is rich with historic players, playoff appearances and most importantly, Super Bowl victories. The Steelers have been to the Super Bowl six times, winning five of them. Their most recent win was in 2006 when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks.

Steelers fan Allison Saabye, FCLC ’09, said she is “very excited that the Steelers made the Super Bowl.”

“I can’t wait for that Sunday to come,” Saabye said. “I’ll be watching the game and celebrating that night, especially if they end up winning.”

A native of New Jersey, Saabye knows this will be a tough match for the Steelers. “I think that the Steelers can not expect the game to be an easy win just because the Cardinals are the underdogs,” Saabye said. “The Cardinals’ offense has scored at least 30 points in each of their playoff games, but none of the defensive lines that the Cardinals were up against is as tough as Pittsburgh’s.”

The roads to the Super Bowl for these two teams were as opposite as they could be. The Cardinals relied on veteran quarterback Kurt Warner to lead an explosive offense, anchored by wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Their high-powered offense led to many high-scoring games. The Cardinals ended the season with a 9-7 record, the only team in history to make a Super Bowl appearance after finishing the season with such a record; yet, this was good enough to give them the NFC West title and propel them to the playoffs.

In the wild card round of the playoffs, the Cardinals stopped the power running game of the Atlanta Falcons and defeated them 30-24. In the divisional round, the Carolina Panthers’ running back duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams was shut down by Arizona’s defense, leading the Cardinals to a 33-13 victory. In the conference championship game, the Cardinals stopped Philadelphia Eagles’ running back Brian Westbrook and sent the team to its first Super Bowl in franchise history with a 32-25 win.

The Steelers used their defense to make it back to the Super Bowl. The Steelers had the number one defense in the league throughout the season, playing a very physical game. The Steelers ended the season an impressive 12-4, locking up the number two seed and a first-round bye. In the divisional round of the playoffs, they fended off a resilient San Diego team that came into the game with a five game win streak. In the conference championship game, they faced the Baltimore Ravens for the third time and defeated them once again in a hard-hitting game to send them to the Super Bowl. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is also the youngest head coach ever to make it to the Super Bowl at the age of 36.

This year’s Super Bowl looks like it will live up to all the expectations, and one thing is certain: history will be made.