Super Bowl XLIII will be remembered as having one of the most exciting, breathtaking, heart-wrenching, and controversial endings in Super Bowl history.
I see a great number of similarities between this game and the NFC Championship Game just two weeks earlier, particularly Kurt Warner's performance in the Super Bowl compared to Donovan McNabb's in the championship game.
Although neither Warner nor McNabb won the game, both played very well. Warner threw for 377 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. McNabb threw for 375 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Each quarterback was sacked twice, and both quarterbacks led their team back from huge deficits.
With the Eagles trailing by 18 points with just over a quarter to play in the conference championship game, McNabb threw three touchdown passes in a span of just over eight minutes to give the Eagles a slight lead over the Cardinals.
With the Cardinals trailing by 13 points with just over half a quarter left in the Super Bowl, Warner threw two quick touchdown passes (and was aided by a safety,) in a span of five minutes to give the Cardinals a slight lead over the Steelers.
And yet both the performances of McNabb in the championship game and Warner in the Super Bowl were overshadowed by the opposing quarterbacks. Against the Eagles, Warner threw for four touchdowns, including the game-winner on a key third-and-goal. Against the Cardinals, Roethlisberger threw just one touchdown, but it was the game-winner to Holmes.
Neither quarterback was able to benefit from a strong running game. McNabb was aided by just 66 rushing yards, while Warner was helped by only 33 yards on the ground. This put the pressure on both quarterbacks to make plays happen.
Neither the Eagles' nor the Cardinals' defense was able to hold the slim lead.
The Eagles allowed Kurt Warner to march down the field before he connected with Tim Hightower on a screen pass for an eight-yard touchdown that gave the Cardinals the lead back. The Cardinals allowed Ben Roethlisberger to march down the field before he connected with Santonio Holmes for an improbable six-yard touchdown catch that gave the Steelers the lead back.
Both Warner and McNabb got one last chance to win the game, but neither was able to do so. Each quarterback marched their team just past midfield, McNabb to the Arizona 47 and Warner to the Pittsburgh 44, but a controversial no-call ended their chances of winning.
For McNabb, the officials missed a glaring pass interference call on former Eagles' cornerback Rod Hood against Kevin Curtis. With the penalty, the Eagles would have gotten the ball at the Arizona 31 with time still remaining on the clock.
For Warner, the officials missed an apparent incompletion that was ruled as a fumble and recovered by Pittsburgh. With the ball back, plus the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Lamar Woodley, the Cardinals would have gotten the ball at the Pittsburgh 29 with time still remaining on the clock.
It's an amazing coincidence in how similar the two games were.
I also saw similarities between this year's Super Bowl and last year's Super Bowl.
This year, the Arizona Cardinals were seen as the underdog, just like the New York Giants were last year, and although the Cardinals didn't pull off a victory like the Giants, there were many similarities between the games.
Each featured one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history with under a minute to play. David Tyree's helmet catch and Santonio Holmes' touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone will live on in highlight packages forever. Both catches helped their respective teams win the game.
Each game featured quarterbacks (Brady and Warner) throwing a come-from-behind touchdown pass to his best receiver (Moss and Fitzgerald) with about two and a half minutes left. The other quarterbacks (Manning and Roethlisberger) responded by marching their team down the field and tossing the game-winning touchdown with just over thirty seconds remaining.
Both quarterbacks of the losing team got the ball back with exactly 29 seconds left, but were unable to get a score.