View Full Version : Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals reach Super Bowl XLII

01-19-2009, 01:15 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals reach Super Bowl XLIII

09:59 PM CST on Sunday, January 18, 2009

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent ... 01209.html (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/stories/011909dnspogosselin.3d01209.html)

GLENDALE, Ariz. When Bill Cowher walked away from the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2006 season, there was a scramble among his assistants to replace him.

The Steelers interviewed offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm for the vacancy. The Steelers wound up offering the position to Grimm, then retracted it and, in the span of 24 hours, named an outsider, Mike Tomlin, as their head coach.

Having been passed over by the Steelers, Whisenhunt and Grimm knew they couldn't and wouldn't stay in Pittsburgh. Whisenhunt became the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals that off-season and took Grimm with him.

Imagine the culture shock: Whisenhunt and Grimm were leaving a franchise that annually played in January for a franchise that was annually out of contention by Thanksgiving.

The Steelers share the NFL record with five Lombardi Trophies. The Cardinals are at the other end of the spectrum with a 61-year championship drought, the longest in the league.

But in two years, Whisenhunt has done what few thought possible, capturing an NFC championship with the Cardinals. Standing in the way of Arizona's first NFL championship since 1947 his former team, the Steelers.

The Cardinals toppled the Philadelphia Eagles, 32-25, in the NFC title game Sunday, and the Steelers upended the Baltimore Ravens, 23-14, in the AFC title game.

Even before the AFC game began Sunday, Whisenhunt expressed a desire to play the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

"The reason I'm here is because of my time with Pittsburgh," Whisenhunt said. "I'm very grateful for that."

The Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s to capture team of the decade acclaim, then played in a Super Bowl in the 1990s and another this decade. They lost to the Cowboys in 1996 and beat the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. Whisenhunt and Grimm both have rings in their safe-deposit boxes commemorating that championship season.

Arizona, on the other hand, has won more playoff games this month (three) than in it had in the franchise's first 87 years (two). The Cardinals are the most unlikely Super Bowl team since the 1979 Los Angeles Rams, who were the last nine-win team to advance to the NFL title game.

Like the Cardinals, the 1979 Rams won the NFC West with a 9-7 record. Like the Cardinals, the Rams rode a string of upsets to the Super Bowl, winning on the road at Dallas and Tampa Bay.

The Cardinals were underdogs in playoff victories this month over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia. And like those Rams, the Cardinals will face the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Since moving to Arizona from St. Louis in 1988, the Cardinals have managed two winning seasons, finishing 9-7 in 1998 and 2008. The Cardinals have nine last-place finishes in Arizona.

"I just want to say the words 'Arizona Cardinals' and 'Super Bowl' in the same sentence," said Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner after his four-touchdown pass performance against the Eagles. "I like the way that sounds."

During that 21-year stretch, the Steelers have won nine division titles and qualified for the playoffs 11 times. Now these two teams square off for NFL supremacy. The Cardinals will attempt to become the first nine-victory team to capture a Super Bowl since the 1967 Green Bay Packers (9-4-1).

The two conference champions bring contrasting styles to the Super Bowl.

The Cardinals finished fourth in the NFL in offense and second in passing. Quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald all were selected to start in the Pro Bowl.

The Steelers led the NFL in defense for the third time in five seasons. Pittsburgh allowed the fewest yards and points this season and also led the NFL in pass defense. James Harrison was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and he'll join fellow linebacker James Farrior and safety Troy Polamalu at the Pro Bowl.

But keep an eye on the sidelines in the Super Bowl. Whisenhunt and Grimm have something to prove to their former employer.

01-19-2009, 01:38 AM
My understanding was that Whiz took the AZ job before it was offered in Pitt, he may well have become the HC, but took the AZ job before the process was completed.

Again, that was my understanding.