So far the top ten questions regarding Sunday’s Super Bowl read as follows:
1. If Larry Fitzgerald wins has a great game, can we go ahead and call him, like, the best receiver ever?
2. If the Cardinals win, is Kurt Warner a Hall-of-Famer?
3. Are there really 44 strip clubs in Tampa?
4. Should Super Bowl Media Day go the way of the Bud Bowl and Astroturf?
5. Are we supposed to care when parties like the ones hosted by Playboy and Maxim are canceled?
6. Do the Cardinals lead the league in dreadlocks?
7. Do the Steelers and their fans really take the Terrible Towel that seriously?
8. Just how long are John Madden’s eyebrows, anyway?
9. Will the Super Bowl halftime show ever feature an artist under 40?
10. Are we all still asleep, or are the Arizona Cardinals actually playing in the Super Bowl?
Here are your answers: 1) No, because Jerry Rice existed; 2) Yes, the same way Jeff Kent should be a HOFer; 3) Yes, although I think one burned down; 4) Hell, yes; 5) Not one bit; 6) Yes, although the Packers are close; 7) Yes, just ask the Mayor of Phoenix; 8) At least four inches; 9) No; 10) Yes.
Now that we got that settled, let’s talk about the most important player of the game. No, it’s not Fitzgerald or Warner. Nor is it Ben “HARF HARF HARF” Roethlisberger, Hines Ward or James Harrison (the linebacker everyone loves praising in order to prove they know football, sort of like how people enjoy talking about their love of Radiohead to show everyone they’re a music expert).
The key player in Super Bowl XLIII — and the reason I think the Cardinals are going to win their first Super Bowl — is Edgerrin James. Sure, Fitzgerald caught 3 touchdown passes before Donovan McNabb had a chance to puke at halftime, but none of that would have happened without James, who caused Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to rethink that whole “blitz every time” theory.
If you hadn’t noticed, the Steelers enjoy blitzing and getting to the quarterback much like the Iggles, and Warner isn’t exactly the most elusive of signal callers. If the Steelers can both pressure Warner and stop James at the same time, Pittsburgh should be the easy winners of their sixth Super Bowl in franchise history. If Edge goes off for a few first down runs on the Cardinals’ first possession, get ready for a whole lot of Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin as the game goes on.
Remember, James is actually the leading rusher in this year’s playoffs with 203 yards on 52 carries, ahead of Steeler Willie Parker, who enters the Super Bowl with 193 yards on 51 carries. That doesn’t sound like much of a difference on the surface, but the Steelers don’t have the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. They have a heavily concussed quarterback and a penchant for winning games based on a staunch defense and capable ground game.
James was a forgotten man over the last half of the regular season in favor if Tim Hightower, who we can officially label “the poor man’s Marion Barber.” Hightower’s a brutal runner to be sure, but fairly worthless outside of goalline situations. After leaving Indianapolis right before the Colts won a Super Bowl two years ago, nobody has more to prove than Edge, who looked certain to leave the Cardinals after this season. James leads the NFL in carries and yards over the past decade, but he’s as fresh right now as he’s been in years after only 133 carries during this year’s regular season.
He’s only 30, but in the NFL that’s ancient for a running back. Super Bowl XLIII might be the last hurrah for Edge, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t rise to the challenge.