I know that everyone wants to forget about the Steelers’ Super Bowl loss, and move on to the NFL Draft. And I promise to start talking about the Draft soon enough. However, there’s one final thought about the Super Bowl that’s been lingering on my mind, and it just won’t seem to leave.
Was it just me? Did anyone else get a terrible feeling of deja vu when watching the Steelers lose Super Bowl XLV to the Green Bay Packers?
Some fans may not be old enough to remember the last time the Steelers lost a Super Bowl. After all, it was 15 years ago. So a 25 year old Steelers fan would have only been 10 years old the last time we experienced this.
So for those who don’t remember Super Bowl XXX, let me take you back in time.
The Steelers were facing the hated Dallas Cowboys. This was the Cowboys team that featured Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith. Legends all.
The Cowboys were favored in the game, and the Steelers felt disrespected entering the game because nobody believed they could win.
As it turned out, not only could the Steelers hang with the Cowboys, but they ended up dominating them.
The Steelers had approximately an 8 minute advantage over the Cowboys in their time of possession. They rushed for over 100 yards, while holding Emmitt Smith and the vaunted Cowboys’ rushing attack to only 56 net yards on the ground. They forced the Cowboys to punt more times than the Steelers punted. The Steelers also had approximately 50 more yards of total offense than the Cowboys.
Anyone reading the statistics from the game would probably assume that the Steelers won the game. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Everyone on the Steelers played a great game…..except one player. We don’t actually say his name on this blog. It’s officially banned. Instead, we simply refer to him as “He whose name is not to be spoken”.
“He whose name is not to be spoken” threw three interceptions in the game. Two of those interceptions resulted in touchdowns by the Cowboys. Had it not been for those interceptions, the Steelers would have won their “one for the thumb” ten years earlier than they ultimately did when they won it at Super Bowl XL.
Because of those interceptions, “He whose name is not to be spoken” became the Bill Buckner of Pittsburgh sports. No other poor performance by an athlete had ever cost a Pittsburgh sports franchise so much. Until now.
Fast forward 15 years to Super Bowl XLV. Once again, the Steelers entered the game as an underdog. Once again, the team felt disrespected because nobody thought that they had any hope of winning.
If you look at the statistics from Super Bowl XLV, you’ll notice that the Steelers actually dominated the Packers statistically. Someone who hadn’t seen the game would probably assume that the Steelers won based on their statistical advantage.
Just like in Super Bowl XXX, the Steelers had approximately an 8 minute advantage in their time of possession. They rushed for over 125 yards, while holding the Packers to only 50 net yards on the ground. They forced the Packerss to punt more times than the Steelers punted. The Steelers also had approximately 50 more yards of total offense than the Packers.
Are you starting to see the similarities?
But just like in Super Bowl XXX, it was costly turnovers that caused the Steelers to lose a game that they dominated statistically.
So why are the two games viewed so differently? More importantly, why are the two quarterbacks treated so differently?
One quarterback had his name banned from this blog. It isn’t safe for him to set foot within the limits of Allegheny County. He probably doesn’t even attend player’s reunions because Greg Lloyd, Levon Kirkland, or Kevin Greene might beat him silly.
The other quarterback escaped a bad performance (his second in his 3 Super Bowl appearances) virtually unscathed. Despite his untimely, and ultimately extremely costly interceptions, I’ve heard few fans or journalists blame Ben for the loss. In fact, few even seem to think that he performed poorly.
Both quarterbacks threw interceptions that ultimately cost their team a Super Bowl victory. Yet one is still viewed as a pariah 15 years after his Super Bowl meltdown. The other was welcomed as a hero, mere minutes after his Super Bowl failure.
Big Ben even took personal responsibility for the loss. He admitted that his mistakes cost the team a ring. Yet he has not been labeled a goat, despite the Steelers’ loss.
I’m not saying that Ben Roethlisberger should be treated the same way that “He whose name is not to be spoken” was treated. Rather, I’m asking why their treatment was so different.
So that’s my question for you. How were the two performances different? More importantly, why are the two players treated so differently? Inquiring minds want to know.
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