A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

8 Thoughts from Super Bowl XLV

with 6 comments

1. Obviously, as I wrote before, I love what the Packers represent, so I’m quite happy with how this turned out.

2. This game clearly was a good of a case that you’ll ever see that turnovers are really, really important in football. And yet, the 3-0 advantage of the Packers here is clearly mostly luck. The Steelers and Packers had two of the top 4 turnover differentials in the league this year, and the larger of those two numbers was the Steelers’ +17, which puts them just slightly above +1 per game. The Packers, 4th in the league with a +0.625 TO edge per game, about quintupled their normal edge in this game, despite going up against an elite defensive team.

Bottom line, take the turnovers out of the game, the Steelers almost certainly win. And if you play this game in a series, I see no reason to assume that the Packers would generally have the turnover edge. Very, very lucky Packers indeed.

3. The canonization of Aaron Rodgers has begun in earnest now, and I don’t generally object. Dude’s been solid from the beginning, and now has the best regular season and post-season QB ratings in history. That’s unbelievable. Also, it’s yet another one of Colin Cowherd‘s silly lines in the sand made comical (he emphasized that he didn’t buy Rodgers numbers because the guy hadn’t shown ability to win in the playoffs). Making clear irrational people are irrational is of course a hobby of mine, and one could simply write a blog responding to Cowherd and have enough example irrationality demonstrated to have plenty of content.

4. And I thought Rodgers was really great in this game. Pinpoint accuracy. The broadcasters were talking about the missed connections, but what I saw was a guy under pressure throwing into traffic, and throwing bullets that made it very difficult for anyone but the receiver to intercept the ball. Better some dropped receptions than interceptions, and think about it: Was there ever a time yesterday where a Rodgers ball was even close to being intercepted? Of course that may be luck, but I’m willing to give at least a little credit there.

5. All that said, I find the knocking of the Steeler defense comical. It’s amazing really. Rodgers passed for 300 yards, 3 TDs and no INTs, but by no means was he toying with the Steeler defense. Anyone intently watching the game yesterday felt the momentum the Steelers had through the meet of the game, but let me break it down for you:

From mid-way through the first quarter to mid-way through the fourth quarter, the Packer got the ball 7 times. They only got first 2 downs on 2 of those possessions. Those two possessions happen to be when the Steeler offense turned the ball over, and gave the Packers great field position resulting in touchdowns. Then in that same time period there was the interceptions returned immediately for touchdowns. So literally, the Packers’ offense was largely shut down in that time period which was why the Steelers felt like they had the momentum, yet the Packers added 21 points on the board in the span. Brutal.

The Steeler offense in the same span? 10 possessions, only 2 punts total. First downs in 6 of those possessions, and turnovers in two of the other possessions. The Steeler offense was simply not being stopped by downs.

Consider this given the Packers benefit of field position due to turnovers. In the time drives I’m talking about here, the Packers offense gained 136 yards. Meanwhile, the Steelers gained 303 yards. And the Steelers *defense* is getting blamed? That’s just rough.

6. Aside from my general happiness for the Packers, I’ll also admit happiness that Ben Roethlisberger didn’t win. There’s a little bit of this that comes from his stupid off field behavior, but in all honesty, it’s mostly because it spares me from hearing the Cowherds of the world talk about how clutch Big Ben is. Like with the case of Kobe, it’s not that I’m saying Ben’s a closet choker, it’s just that people massively overrate clutchness generally, and even more massively overrate the clutchness of guys who win championships specifically.

Roethlisberger with 3 Super Bowls would start talk about him being one of the greatest big game quartebacks in history, and that’s just ridiculous. He’s yet to even play particularly well in a Super Bowl. He’s gotten to the Super Bowl 3 times, on the back of defenses that ranked 3rd, 1st, and 1st in the league according to footballoutsiders.com. Stupid off field behavior aside, I’d be happy to have Big Ben as my team’s quarterback, but there’s literally nothing backing up the claim that Ben belongs mentioned with the Peytons, Bradys, Breeses, or now the Rodgers of the world. Football Outsiders has an article on ESPN going into more detail on this.

7. There’s a trend in “instant replay” meta-analysis that’s driving me nuts. This whole “Well, you’ve got to see it in real time” thing. The argument is that a player may look like he has possession for a significant amount of time if you slow it down enough, but in reality, the ball just went in and out. Bang- bang they call it. Folks, this makes very little sense. Not saying no sense. When you have a partial grip on something, the static friction of your hand can be enough to hold it in place for a short period of time before it falls out. As in, if you can get a basketball to stick in the palm of your hand for part of a second, that doesn’t mean you can really palm the ball.

However, these guys aren’t palming basketballs in their driveway. Their bodies are being wrenched in a variety of directions by giant, angry men, and the cold, hard ground. It’s entirely possible for a guy to catch the ball, and then a split second later get hit and lose possession. If this happens in mid air, we have rules saying that it’s not technically a catch. When it happens on the ground though, it’s a fumble. Nothing more complicated than that.

Now, in the game yesterday, there was a catch by a Packer receiver that was ruled incomplete, with former officiating VP Mike Pareira in the broadcasting booth saying this was correct because it was a bang-bang play. I’ve been trying to find video of this to confirm what I thought I saw, with no luck. (Anyone have it?) Closest thing is an actual article by Pareira talking about the close calls from yesterday and including this call among them.

What I thought I saw, was a guy catching a ball with both feet down, the ball stable in his hands briefly, and then a Steeler ripping the ball out of his hands. Obviously, if that’s indeed what happened, insistence than the Packer didn’t have the ball in his hands long enough for it to be a catch is completely foolishness on the part of the referees.

8. Going outside of the actual football, of all the ads yesterday, the one that struck me was the one with Eminem promoting Chrysler by praising the city of Detroit. Absolutely fascinating confluence of memes there – and the ad totally works If this blog were about something else, I could write on tome on it. Eminem’s transition from snot nosed shock rapper to spokesman for all of the huddled masses of Detroit, and by Chrysler’s implication, all of America, is mind-blowing.

6 Responses

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  1. Did you listen to the interview Cowherd had with Rodgers on ‘The Herd’?


    February 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    • No actually. I’ve actually try to avoid listening to his show. I’d be interested to know the gist of the interview though.

      Matt Johnson

      February 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  2. Rodgers fired a few quips at Cowherd’s former antagonizing comments. It was a pretty entertaining segment. So much so that Cowherd played the segment two times.


    February 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    • Something I will say about Cowherd, is that there are times where he eats crow with gusto. That’s nice and it helps.

      I just get bothered because I think he really promotes the very worst tendencies of leaping to conclusions without any basis, and then when callers try to point out his issues, he’s incredibly condescending to them.

      Matt Johnson

      February 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      • His opinion of Rodgers was pretty insane, but I’ll admit that even I didn’t hop on the Rodgers bandwagon until the Falcons game. I figured that the 48-17 drubbing would have convinced Colin, but the next day he wanted to see more of the same against Chicago. After the Pack upended the Bears, he still deigned Rodgers for the game he had in the second half. I shook my head, but took his comments with a grain of salt, just like I usually do. And I think that’s why I like listening to the show. I just don’t take anything he says too seriously and laugh off the craziness.

        I think he agrees with the adage that controversy will draw in listeners. I can’t imagine a local guy saying some of the things Colin says to callers, but I guess being a nationwide radio guy, things are a lot different and he’s able to be more loose with his words.


        February 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm

  3. I’ve listened to his show a good amount, simply because I like sports radio, and the counter-programming isn’t always strong. I get what he’s doing. I get that the kind of rational-insightful sports talk I want to here isn’t what brings in the most listeners.

    What he does really proves that if you do something with enough cockiness, people will remember your successes more than your failures.

    I think if I could really take him as a guy who didn’t take himself too seriously, I’d be more okay with him, but the way he handles callers drives me over the edge.

    Matt Johnson

    February 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

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