Super Bowl XLIII, the TV as-it-happened review, from pregame (6 p.m.) to
commercials to halftime to the amazing end. We'd like to thank HDTV,
skycams and DVR for making it quite an enjoyable evening.
If you want to check out the commercials, go to hulu.com or nbc.com. Review real-life live blogs by the News' Jerry Sullivan -- for the game -- at Sully on Sports and by Anne Neville -- for the ads -- at the Pop Stand blog.
This one might get into a little bit of both -- it's not really about the X's and O's but how Al Michaels, John Madden, NBC and company brought them to us. Early on, TV-wise, the ads get most of the blabber.
* * *
** John Madden opens with commentary with some teeth: The Cardinals
have made him think "futility" and he says you would even forget they
were in the league. Nice.
** Isn't this one of the most orchestrated, planned out events in
sports? So if we're going to have cameras following the players and
coaches to the field, do you think the flag-holders and the support staff can
get out of Mike Tomlin's way so he's not zig-zagging through people
down the tunnel?
** The Man of the Year award goes to Kurt Warner, and we have our first
Brenda Warner sighting. How many of those will we get during the game?
** Jennifer Hudson seems like she's singing a decent National
Anthem, but I can't tell with the loud recorded background music. Not
** First commercial break leads with an action army movie with Dennis
Quaid leading the charge? I don't know about that. Oh, it's G.I. Joe
vs. Cobra!? I think I just saw Snake Eyes! AWESOME. Ahem. Sorry about that.
** There seems to be an annoying clicking noise in the background. Hey,
this is the Super Bowl. Get a man on that. (It disappeared once the
** Nice nods to the important stuff in the pregame, with the flight
crew from the plane that landed in the Hudson River (with one member holding a
Steelers Terrible Towel) as well as Gen. David Petraeus in on the coin
toss. Players and officials applauding right before the biggest game of their lives.
** During the coin toss, some cameraman must have said something funny,
because Ben Roethlisberger and Jeff Reed both look over and
have a did-he-just-say-that-during-the-coin-toss? smile on their face.
** Pittsburgh sideline reporter Andrea Kramer says Hines Ward was
reinjected with his own blood and he feels better. Umm, isn't that also
called blood doping?
** Arizona sideline reporter Alex Flanagan busts out with F. Scott
Fitzgerald! Talk about shameless pandering to the NPR and
public-television-watching demographic. Actually a nice touch.
* * *
** The first flag of the game is on NBC, which showed the play clock
expiring well before hand, an obvious glitch as play continued.
First commercial breaks. For many, the real start of the game.
** Bud Light, always a strong Super Bowl-er, starts nicely with a guy
getting thrown out a window during a meeting. Best part is when someone
pokes fun at the company's own "drinkability" slogan: "Does my pen have
** Three commercials in, two of them have guys getting thrown out of
windows. I llke it. That was an Audi ad, where the car chases were
cool, but the best thing was the fake billboard in the 80s advertising
"The Mousse is Loose."
** Another theme, as two commercials in a row feature traveling through
generations -- Pepsi brings Bob Dylan and will.i.am together. Sort of.
** The ad for delicious Doritos, with a guy throwing a crystal
ball/snow globe into a vending machine, was dopey. But they're still
delicious. Man, it's tough typing with Dorito-fingers.
Back to the game: Quality video angles on the Roethlesberger non-touchdown. ... Cardinals first drive. Nothing doing.
* * *
Second commercial break.
** Conan O'Brien does a Bud Light ad that will broadcast "only in Sweden." Very
Conan, very wacky, very good. Bud Light apparently has more ad execs
** Jack Black and the kid from "Superbad" are cavemen or something in "Year One." Early review: Gonna stink.
Back to the game -- Pittsburgh's second drive.
** Arizona's 'D' is the last unit to do the self-introductions at the
bottom of the screen. Good to see Edgerrin James keep "the U" (Miami)
in the national dialogue. I still would love to know what college
alumni boards think of their star NFL alums opting
to use their high schools rather than their colleges.
** Madden describes Big Ben as "being Superman" after a very
outstanding scramble-around-and-completion. Superman? Maybe. Hey, it's
the first quarter. After Superman, there's nowhere to go with your
* * *
End of the first quarter, Pittsburgh 3-0: Seemed like that went pretty fast. Or maybe that's my DVRing through the bad commercials.
** Bridgestone somehow courted Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head to drive a car.
Just saying: I didn't see any shoulder belts on those two. ... Another Fast and the Furious movie. Thank goodness. ... Castrol gets into monkey business: I think I just saw a monkey kiss
a guy. That one is the clubhouse leader for conversation-starter at
* * *
Start second quarter
** Good Madden stuff: "Usually for a skirmish you'll find Hines Ward
in the middle of it. If there's a fight to be fought he wants to be
part of it."
** A Will Ferrell movie, Land of the Lost. One movie exec says to the
other, "Hey, let's have Ferrell do his schtick, but instead of being a
70s basketball player or a dumb step-brother we send him back in time
with dinosaurs!" Other exec: "I love it!"
** More Doritos. This one ends with something that's always funny: a guy gets
hit by a bus. Thousands of males watching with other males pause their
DVRs for the first part, when Doritos gave him superpowers to remove a
woman's clothes. I'm too busy writing to do that. I swear.
** godaddy.com featuring Danica Patrick in a shower, sort of. Why is
Danica selling herself like this? Doesn't she have other endorsements?
Doesn't she realize that she loses more and more credibility the longer
she plays off her looks and doesn't win any races (in North America)?
** Lots of guys getting hurt, slapstick-style. Fun stuff. It's for Diet
Pepsi Max, which inferred that men don't like diet cola. I wonder what
the eight 12-packs of diet Coke in my kitchen think about that. Hmm.
That reminds me, almost time for my queche dinner.
** Pedigree advertises its adoption drive. Nice scene of a pig in the
backseat of a car with grandma. Animals are always Super Bowl ad
winners. ... Speaking of, Budweiser's horse and dog are back. ... NBC keeps promo-ing the blank out of Heroes even though, just from the ads, you can tell the show has jumped the shark.
* * *
Steelers kickoff after taking a 10-0 lead and we're back to the commercials.
** And back to the animals. Boy horse meets girl horse. Personally, I'm done with the Bud horse. ... Another Star Trek movie? What is this, the eighth incarnation of those guys?
Just goes to show you can never underestimate the amount of people who
* * *
Cardinals on the move in the second quarter.
** Brief mention of Kurt Warner's comeback from being Leinhart's
backup. Thought they might milk that a little more -- it's a great
storyline. But the night is young.
** Warner hits Anquan Boldin and he's inside the five. Excellent, we gotta game. NBC and NFL execs gotta love it.
And another commercial break. ... Gatorade commercial features Jason McElwain of the feel-good high school hoop three-point fest a couple of exits down the Thruway from a few years back. ... Cars.com ad has lots of buildup of a child genius, but no payoff.
Best thing is during his negotiation with parents for later bedtime,
you can see a power-point pie chart in the background which features
more than half of the pie attributed to "roughhousing."
* * *
And back to the game.
** Lovely montage of Warner tripping on handoffs during the playoffs. He's gotta love that
one -- hey Kurt, here's a collection of you stumbling around. ... Madden's still got it, nice Football 101 of why chop-blocking is a penalty.
** Some screaming execs in different languages, then "Hyundai, like
Sunday." Not bad. ... Infants at the computer for E-Trade. I'm done
with that, too. Can ads jump the shark?
Time in for a punt ...
** Nice job by Al Michaels, calling the fact that Larry Fitzgerald has no catches the game's "stunning statistic." A little alliteration.
** Ad for a Pixar movie with an old man in a house. Hollywood makes dumb movies
which are animated, too! ... Bud Light is back, now with the
telestrating guy. Done with him, too.
* * *
Two-minute warning with the Cardinals coming off an interception.
** Death appears in H&R Block ad. Not funny. ... Flowers in a box. Flowers
come in a box? Talking flowers tell off a girl. Big laugh at the end
thanks to her cubicle neighbor. But I already forgot who it was for. ... Jay Leno driving this time in a promo. Mr.
Potato Head had a nicer chin. Baddump-bump.
* * *
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have our Blunder of the Game. As a graphic
advertises that the halftime show wil be done from the pirate ship
above the end zone (of the Buccaneers' stadium), Al Michaels references
the pirate ship and says "hopefully none of them from Somalia." Al, you
know the whole world heard that, right? Wow. Awful.
* * *
Cardinals driving late in the first half ...
** Madden nice breakdown of the Arizona backs able to take passes to the
outside because Pittsburgh is concentrating on preventing Fitzgerald
from going inside.
Timeout Cardinals ...
** Cheetos is a winner, with the small-town girl and Chester Cheetah
(where have you been?) sending pigeons over to pester some annoying
snobby girl from Long Island (I can say that about her. But you can't).
Back to the action ...
** Quality video & Madden analysis of Steelers' defending of Fitzgerald.
** Nice camera angles on the amazing James Harrison interception return -- In one of the
slow-mos, you see the Cardinal cheerleaders in the background with
hands on hips and huge smiles on their faces -- as their team is giving
up one of the worst plays in Super Bowl history. C'mon ladies.
** Madden: James Harrison runs "like James Brown." Groan.
* * *
And we're at halftime with Pittsburgh suddenly up, 17-7.
** Hey, something in 3-D! Cool! Where are my glasses? Um, I don't have
any. You needed to pick them up in a store? Hey, Disney, Sobe, NBC and
3-D marketers out there! Want to guarantee a much larger audience
actually watch? How about sticking them in the Sunday newspaper?
Newspaper ad execs, get on it. I like my job.
** Bob Costas: "One of the biggest turnarounds in Super Bowl history"
is right-on. Cris Collinsworth makes a great point on Arizona RB Tim Hightower being kept in to
block on the play, affecting where Harrison would be. Considering all the schmoes at the desk, they're doing a good
job doling out some quality info. Mike Holmgren says he would have gone for
it on fourth-and-goal on Pittsburgh's first drive; Tony Dungy and Collinsworth say no. Surprisingly quality stuff when it looked like there were too many cooks on the screen.
** Heroes football ad: John Elway is really a mutant? Insert teeth joke here.
** Bruce Springsteen brings it, screaming at us to get away from the guacamole.
Great start. Nice to see people -- even middle-age people -- actually enjoying the show; usually the Super Bowl imports
no-nothing-about-the-artist teeny boppers to do some blind bopping. ... Bruce goes into a full slide into a camera. Ouch. ... Everyone singing along with Born to Run. A Super Bowl halftime act with some actual energy! Who knew? ... Bruce goes football on Glory Days, at the end a referee comes out to signal
delay of game. Not bad schtick. Now that was a Spuer Bowl halftime show.
Back to the ads.
** Priceline. Funny. William Shatner is funny just talking, much less some guy doing Shatner ... Overstock and Carlos Boozer and some kids was a feel-gooder. ... NBC promo for Thursday night exposes LMAO Syndrome, where people are hospitalized after literally laughing their A off. Quality.
Back to Costas, who asks who would have known Harrison would be
"Born to Run." Not bad -- flirting with groan territory, but he's Costas so you give him the benefit of the doubt. Jerome Bettis says at the half he gave Harrison a nod and
Big Ben looked great. Thanks, Jerome. Now that's the useless information we expect from our talking heads.
Back to the ads again, which have gone local. ... For Ch. 2, silent newscasters are holding signs. Leftover cue cards? ... Some more local ads -- the ad time must be discounted now.
"Hurt in a car?" Puke. Only thing worse would be the idiot who sincerly hopes that we stay out of trouble.
* * *
** Great graphic to start us off - Cardinals scored the most points in third quarter this season, Steelers allowed the fewest.
First ads of the third quarter ... Coca-Cola bringing avatars together - not bad. .... Some moon buggy dudes
get their Bridgestones swiped. Very funny, bonus points for bringing
House of Pain's "Jump Around" back, stirring wistful memories of playing it at 4 a.m. to infuriate a college roomate. ... Denny's gives us Mobsters out to breakfast. Eh.
... Monster.com shows what's behind those trophy animal heads. Nice. ... A few breaks later, I am definitely sick of Budweiser's horse droppings. A clydesdale
with an Irish brogue. Whatever.
* * *
Back to a Pittsburgh drive start.
** Shot of Cuba Gooding at the game, or is that Cardinal great Rod
Tidwell? Al talks about Jerry Maguire and how they filmed
scenes during MNF. Weird, but Gooding's Tidwell and Maguire have been on cable a
** Weak roughing-the-passer call gets appropriate I'm-not-sure-about-that treatment from Al & Madden.
** Nice block by Heath Miller helps spring Willie Parker, and nice
breakdown by cameras and Madden. "About as good a block as a tight end
** Dubious non-intentional grounding call -- until a good replay removes the doubt.
* * *
After a Pittsburgh field goal, it is 20-7, and more commercials. Maybe they'll tail off now?
** Transformers sequel. Awesome. ... Woman screaming in her car,
a coworker saying "Hey dummy," and "if you daydream of punching small animals"
and "if you sit next to this guy" (BIG warning on the visual here if you watch it), you might need Careerbuilder.com. BEST COMMERCIAL OF
GAME. ... Coca-Cola goes with animated insects -- maybe because animals are
tapped out? It's actually a fun one wiht all them bugs
working together to steal a bottle. Nice. ... The outstanding Tina Fey does her thing with a great "if
you're Conan lasts more than three hours, see a doctor" line during a Conan O'Brien
* * *
Back to game: Cardinals take over late in the third.
** First Brenda Warner in-game shot! Over under on the rest of the game? I'm setting it at two and taking the over.
** Michaels says Warner "looks like he's been at the spa for a month." Huh?
** Did we really need the shot of Warner in a Rams uniform to show he
didn't wear gloves back then? Weird. What we need is some then/now
shots of Brenda Warner!
* * *
End of third quarter, Steelers still up, 20-17.
Usama Young of the Saints wins the NFL Super Bowl ad contest after going
from Redskins sno-cone seller to the NFL. "Now I'm in the Super Bowl,"
he says. "It's just a commercial, son," says Dad, "now get me a snow cone."
Nice. ... A Jesus (Frank) Reich sighting! Shilling Frey Electric with
Laurie Lisowski. ... Enjon Development? A company apparently run by a
16-year-old. WORST COMMERCIAL OF GAME. ... LaBatt Blue Lights are brewed by a
goalie with an icicle hockey stick. Interesting.
* * *
Start of the fourth quarter.
** Ed McMahon and MC Hammer for cash4gold.com! Somehow pathetic and
hilarious at the same time. That looked like a Tropic Thunder-esque spoof, but I just
checked the Web site and it's real. Wow. Ed's wrinkled fingers holding his gold? I'm starting to think that he's sunk to a certain level, but then again, he was at that level: he was Mr. Publishers Clearinghouse.
Back to the game ..
** Shot of sportswriter Larry Fitzgerald Sr. in the press box. He's
just sitting there. I know Larry's having a quiet game, but you're making
us look bad! Can we get a laptop flip or a scribble on a notebook or
** Vocabulary word: Al says Cardinals are going to the no-huddle, working with "alacrity." Nice.
** Another shot of Larry Sr. Still just watching the game. Somebody from the sportswriters association get ahold of him! Put a pen in his hand or something!
** Touchdown Fitzgerald! NBC shows dad, who is still stonefaced, "like
a true journalist" says Al. Then a shot of Warner's wife! Booyah. One down, two
to go and I hit the over.
** "A little David Tyree" in that play, Madden says of Fitzgerald's TD catch. Nice.
** Madden lauds Darnell Dockett, who then makes another great play with a 10-yard sack.
** One of the few standout ads late is a surprising version of an SNL skit: "MacGruber!" Funny stuff.
* * *
Back to late drama. Steelers lead, 20-14. A Warner wife shot HAS to be coming up soon.
** Another great pre-call by Madden: "I think they can do business in the middle," right before Warner hits Steve Breaston -- in the middle.
** Madden says something to the effect of if the Cardinals can pull
this off, Kurt Warner could be headed for the Hall of Fame. Sounds like
a good spot for a Warner wife shot! But no.
** Boom! Brenda Warner reaction on a replay, and then a live shot! I win!
Unless you count that as the same shot. Even so, I feel confident.
Victory or despair, we'll be seeing blondey again. Definitely set the over/under too low.
** "He ought to be thrown out for that." Very appropriately strong stuff from Madden on a personal foul by Harrison on a Cardinals punt, even though he says, "I love the guy."
** More good stuff from Madden, he talks about Dockett but he leaves the game. "If I'm coaching, I want Dockett in there."
** Holding call means a safety and a 20-16 game instead of a Holmes catch to get Pittsburgh out of its end zone! Great camera angles on play,
including from the ground behind the end zone, and Al speaks for
all of us, "Wow!"
** Bills alert! Al says it's the first Super Bowl safety since Bruce Smith slammed Jeff Hostetler.
** Warner to Fitzgerald up the middle for a TOUCHDOWN! Are you kidding me!?!?!!?
** Warner wife shot! She's partying. Larry Sr. shot -- he's not doing
much. Great replays and Michaels voice-overs "and he watches himself go into the end zone on
the big screen." Great game, great TV.
* * *
Cardinals 23, Steelers 20, but one more chance for the Steelers ...
** "This would be the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history." Good stuff from Al (or the director in his ear).
** Madden sets up the final drive: "It's funny you go through the whole season and all the
stats, and Pittsburgh stats, and when you needed them to play, they
didn't do it. And now, Arizona's defense, not a great stat defense this
year, but now you need them to play. Are they going to it?"
** An incompletion just before the two-minute warning -- "Aaron Francisco
on the coverage." Great time for Al to go with "Francisco, that's fun to say!" but he doesn't.
** We didn't need an ad like this at such a late, tense, important moment. Another lowest-common denominator ad from godaddy.com and Danica, as she joins some buxom witnesses testifying before congress
about whether they are "enhanced" or not (the ad actually does very nicely to poke fun at Roger Clemens and his
"misremembers" line). Danica, Danica, Danica. You
should be better than this. There may have been a time for ads like this, and Maxim photo
shoots and such, but if you are a major-league sports star, you don't
do this. Ugh.
* * *
Back from the two-minute warning...
** Jeff Reed practicing on a very crowded sideline. The guy is only
going to try and tie the Super Bowl up. Can we give him some room?
** Great looks and Madden talk about Ben's big hands bringing down on his initial pass before hitting Santonio Holmes to get inside the 5.
** Touchdown Holmes! Can you remember the days when we didn't have all these camera
angles? A definite "wow" on the shots of Holmes catching the ball in
the end zone, right down to his toes (although we should have seen the toes-on-the-ground angle more). Great breakdown by Madden about
how they went back to Holmes on the second straight play, same play,
** Heart-breaking replay shot (for Cardinals fans) of Fitzgerald mouthing "no, no, no" and shaking his head while watching the replay on the same big screen he watched himself score on.
* * *
Game over. Wow.
** After a very nice pause, Al sums it up: "I don' t know if you could
beat last year's game between the Giants and New England, but this one
is in the neighborhood." Later: "It was a classic."
** Madden, too: "When
Santonio Holmes had to make the play, he made it. When Ben
Roethlisberger had to make the throw, he made it. They were both
* * *
** Cool shot of Joe Namath bringing the Vince Lombardi trophy up a path lined by Steelers who all want a touch.
** Dan Patrick MC-ing the awards presentation; one minor speaking flub but surprisingly does a solid job of getting out of the way.
** Mike Tomlin gives it up to his players, President Obama and Steeler
Nation. Hearing him preach makes you want to play for the guy.
** Andrea Kraemer with Harrison: one good question (about the big runback), one not-so-good question (how does this compare with his first Super Bowl. Dud question, dud answer).
** Good questions from Alex Flanagan and some great responses from Ken Whisenhunt,
particularly the last one about how noone believed in the Cardinals.
** Back to the too many cooks: Holmgren doesn't offer much; Dungy does OK, Matt Millen offers "this is what the NFL
is all about." This, from a man that knows what the NFL is not all about after being the architect of debacle known as the Detroit Lions. Still not sure how he got the TV gig back.
** Worst-commercial-of-the-day company Enjon is back with their 16-year-old CEO, who is apparently very good at using his cell
phone and talking with an attractive girl from the office.
* * *
Putting the post in postgame.
** "Professional football has evolved into our national pastime," says
Al (take that, baseball!). "This is the perfect way to end the season,
with a classic Super Bowl."
** Madden: "That was a real super Super Bowl."
** Costas: Kurt Warner now has the three highest-passing Super Bowl games. Wow. Hello, Hall of Fame.
** Flanagan with Warner, and she does a very smooth job asking the retirement question without asking the question: "Is this something that you want to try and make it back to, a Super
Bowl?" She gets a good answer, although media-friendly and well-spoken Warner probably would have
had a good answer no matter what.
* * *
In the end, you gotta love sports. A live-up-to-the-hype finish that
actually just might just justify everything, from the two weeks of coverage to the insane pregame show and maybe even all the bucks put
into those ads. Nothing else like the Super Bowl.
Costas gets the last sound bite, and whether it was him or a teleprompter or what, a great postscript:
"An incredible Super Bowl 43. Back and forth, with both teams angling
for fantastic finishes, with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers
finally getting the last word. A picture-perfect winning touchdown pass
to the MVP, Santonio Holmes -- there it is -- with 35 seconds to go,
and a record sixth Super Bowl title for the Pittsburgh Steelers: Who
now rank perhaps as the model franchise in all of American sports."
(Take that, Yankees!).
"We've finally reached the end of our Super Bowl broadcast ..."
And we've finally reached the end of this blog.