Super Bowl XLIII Preview: Old School vs. New School in Tampa

Ron JohnsonSenior Writer IJanuary 19, 2009

For everyone who wanted a Super Bowl with surprises, they're going to get it this time around. No Patriots or Giants? No problem.

We got something better than that. Here's how we got our final two.


AFC Championship

Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Baltimore Ravens 14

Mike Tomlin has probably heard that he was not supposed to be as good as advertised. With a quarterback trying to find his way back to the glory days of yesteryear and a running game that was considered damaged goods, Tomlin's Pittsburgh Steelers have a chance to give him what they gave Cowher: A Super Bowl Championship.

Thanks to Troy Polamalu's interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Ravens chances of continuing their string of upsets came to an abrupt end in the snowy Steel City. Baltimore formulated a 'D' that brought forth the moniker that "Defense Wins Championships."

Pittsburgh took that same moniker and applied it to stopping their NFC North rivals' chances of grabbing the lead late in the fourth. A pretty decent throw from Joe Flacco went right into the hands of waiting Polamalu who dodged tackles and strolled right into the end zone to seal Pittsburgh's fate. Now Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to grab his second Super Bowl ring in three years.

But his shot at glory has a huge roadblock in the form of a history making quarterback...


NFC Championship

Arizona Cardinals 32, Philadelphia Eagles 25

Donovan McNabb faced a familiar foe on Sunday in the form of Kurt Warner. The two faced each other when Warner's Rams defeated the Eagles to earn a trip to their second Super Bowl. The Eagles had been riding a wave of anarchy for over a month. They defeated two division champions en route to their showdown with Arizona.

But when they got there, their momentum got stopped.

In the first half, Warner and Larry Fitzgerald teamed up for three touchdowns to give the Cardinals a 24-6 lead going into halftime. But in the second half, the Eagles stormed back with three quick scores to look like the old school Buffalo Bills and take a 25-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.

But Kurt Warner didn't give up...and neither did the Cardinals. 'Zona came right back and took over the final stretch of the fourth quarter and Hightower took a screen pass into the end zone to give the Cardinals a six-point lead. Following a successful two point conversion, Arizona once again put the pressure on Donovan McNabb's arm.

But even when given two final chances to make something happen, it was Arizona's defense that stepped up and dominated when the clock hit zero. The Cardinals 'D' snagged a final attempt from the Eagles and almost ran it back in for another six points, but instead, they just celebrated as for the first time since they moved to Arizona, the Cards are heading to the Super Bowl.

Now I don't want to make a mistake, so I'll ask the question: Has there ever been a quarterback to take two teams to the Super Bowl in the same decade? Is Kurt Warner the only quarterback to do such a feat?

I believe he is the only quarterback to accomplish leading two teams in the same division to the Super Bowl. But if I'm wrong, please don't hesitate to inform me of that.

So this year's Super Bowl has the Ultimate Opportunist in the form of Pittsburgh taking on the Ultimate Underdogs known as Arizona.

Did Vegas see this coming? Did any of us? I mean, we all probably saw Pittsburgh, but Arizona? No one could have possibly saw that coming.

In retrospect, this year's game should be just as good as last year's game. It's old school (Warner) vs. new school (Roethlisberger). You got the defense minded Mike Tomlin taking on the offensive genius of Ken Whisenhunt. It's two dangerous defenses battling it out for Lord Lombardi's Trophy in Tampa.

Can we ask for a better Super Bowl than this?