Monday, January 26, 2009

Super Pressure Is On Cardinals

Usually when faced with a David vs. Goliath type match-up in the NFL either in the regular season or postseason, most consider the pressure to be squarely on the shoulders of the favorite. Last year the pressure was on an undefeated New England Patriots squad that was looking to become the first ever 19-0 team. A loss in the Super Bowl would be devastating to the Pats, who were perfect for so long. Well, that loss did happen, and a year and Tom Brady's gimp knee later, the Patriots were out of the postseason party in 2008.

This year, however, all of the pressure is on the David: the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are coming into Super Sunday with a huge fanfare. The little engine that could never get up that steep hill has finally made it, and everyone wants to meet and greet them. A franchise once believed to be a doormat to the NFL is now one step away from immortality. How these young red birds handle the pressure of Super Bowl week will go a long way toward determing how they will perform on Sunday.

Tuesday morning is media day, a day where players are gathered onto the field to answer questions from hundreds of reporters from all over the world. The questions range from the serious to the absolutely ridiculous, so patience is a virtue for anyone not used to a media frenzy.

The Cards are not used to seeing a lot of media. They come from a part of the country that is still growing as a sports city and are a franchise that no one has paid attention to until their 33-13 victory over Carolina in the Divisional round of the playoffs.

If Arizona uses this recent bandwagon as motivation to stick it to those who didn't believe in them before, or even now, it will go a long way in determining how good a game Super Bowl XLIII will be. The Cardinals must find a way to ignore all of the distractions that surround them on this Super Bowl week and foucus primarily on the game. It is the only way they can succeed.

Once Sunday comes, a different kind of emotion will sweep the Cards when they take the field for the opening ceremonies. There could be a sense of "Wow, this is the Super Bowl, we really made it." That feeling must be destroyed immediately for Arizona to succeed.

The Steelers will be ready to play; they are used to these types of games, having played in several championship games in their history. The spotlight is expected for the Steelers. The Steeler players are used to seeing extra media in attendance at their games because they are a national franchise. If the Cardinals come out riding on too much of a high on Sunday, they will fall behind so fast that it will be hard to come back, even with a veteran of big games in Kurt Warner on their side.

The pressure is on the Cards to make this Super Bowl a successful one for the NFL. They have to go out and prove that they belong in this moment; they must crave and own this moment because it may never come again.

1 comment:

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