The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yes We Can

Last week I wrote about how happy I was that the Cardinals had earned a berth in the Super Bowl. I said that was more than enough for me and that the outcome didn't matter.

In some sense, that's true. But as we draw closer to game day, my take on the game has changed. Here's what I really want:

Yes, I want to experience the game and the entire Super Bowl experience for the reasons I outlined last week. But I want more than that too...

I want the Cardinals to win Super Bowl XLIII. I want them to win big. I want Kurt Warner to play a game so great that he can enter retirement if he wishes with no regrets. I want Larry Fitzgerald to further cement his status as the best receiver in the NFL currently. I want Anquan Boldin to play so well and to contribute so much that no one talks about his shouting match on the sideline during the NFC championship game anymore. I want Edgerrin James to score a touchdown or two and to earn the first ring that he won on the field. I want to see Terrelle Smith play in the Super Bowl in honor of his deceased parents and watch him deliver crushing blocks to break open long runs for Edgerrin James. I want Steve Breaston to emerge on the national stage, leaving fear in the hearts of everyone who think the Cardinals will take a step back if the team has to trade Boldin in the offseason.

I want Adrian Wilson and Bertrand Berry to become household names for their starring roles in a dominant performance by the Cardinals defense. I want to see Calais Campbell see the field enough to make a meaningful contribution. I want to see Antrel Rolle remind everyone of why he was such a high draft pick with a long return of an interception. I want Rod Hood to remind the Eagles why they shouldn't have let him go. I want Travis LaBoy to get healthy enough to make a contribution to the game. I want to see Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, and Chike Okeafor excel.

While it would be cool to see Ben Graham become the first Australian play in the Super Bowl, I hope he never sees the field because the Cardinals never need his punting services.

As you can tell, I hope the Cardinals win in a blowout. They're invited to the biggest party there is in football. They might as well have a good time. I hope the Cardinals game plan is aggressive from the beginning and that they never let up. I hope the Cardinals win going away.

The Steelers and the media have talked about how none of that will happen. The Steelers -- led by Troy Polamalu -- have talked about how this Steelers defense may be not only the greatest Steelers defense ever, but the best defense in the NFL in more than a generation. It's a little early for the coronation ceremony. As Denny Green might say, "If you want to crown them... go ahead." But I don't think the current version of the Cardinals is going to let the Steelers off the hook if they have the chance.

I feel like I've been on the Steelers side of this in the past. When I cheered for the Miami Hurricanes in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl (National Championship game against Penn State) and the 2003 Fiesta Bowl (National Championship game against Ohio State) all of the pre-game talk was about how great the Canes were, how undermanned the opponent was, and where the Canes would rank in history once the game was officially decided.

Well, the Canes lost both games. It was devestating. In both cases Miami under-estimated their opponent (as did the media). It sure feels like that's what's happening with this Super Bowl.

If you solely consider statistics and history, the Cardinals shouldn't take the field. That's true. But football games aren't played inside your television. They're not played in computer simulations. And they're not played by emotionless robots that execute their skills perfectly in all situations.

Football is played by men with emotions and injuries. Given that, I'll take the Cardinals this Sunday. And if they win, I think they'll win big: Cardinals 34, Steelers 20.


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