Just an amazing, amazing day and night. I think my kids want to change their names to Fitz and Kurt. Having covered this team full-time since 2000, I frankly didn't think it would reach this point. I remember writing my column after the Bucs beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl in January of 2003, with former Cardinals Michael Pittman and Simeon Rice playing a big role. I wrote then you couldn't even picture the Cardinals on a Super Bowl field. My, have times changed.
On to the aftermath of the NFC Championship:
-- Everyone wants to know about Anquan Boldin and what happened during/after the game. He and offensive coordinator Todd Haley got into it on the sideline during that last drive after Q was taken out in favor of Steve Breaston. Q wasn't happy and Haley, which he is admittedly prone to do, got heated in his response. Those things happen in a game. Now, the part about Boldin leaving quickly and not taking part in the celebration, well, that's noticeable. I don't pretend to know what's going through Q's head; I'm sure he is frustrated with his hamstring injury and not being able to contribute more. I would guess it's probably hard seeing Larry Fitzgerald being anointed the greatest wide receiver in the game by all the national press corps. I am guessing Q has never forgotten about his contract status.
Here's what I do know. The media is about to descend on the Cards. There will be attention this week, and next week, in Tampa, everyone will ask – over and over and over – about his feelings toward the organization and his contract status and whether he wants to stay. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of Super Bowl week players are stuck talking to the media for 45 straight minutes each day. The story isn't going away.
-- If you have to play the best defense in the NFL in the Super Bowl, I like the idea the Cards have two weeks to prepare. As the Cards showed yesterday, they have a very good offense that can score points on a good defense. I'm sure one of the major storylines of Super Bowl XLIII will be what the Steelers can do to stop Kurt Warner. But the Cards have time to figure out some things and hopefully that will help Feb. 1.
-- Bottom line: 29 rushing attempts, 30 pass plays (including two sacks). They've found the balance, just like they promised.
-- Ben Graham's groin injury didn't feel great, but the punter gutted out a solid performance. And how about the perfect, 38-yard-and-dropped-out-of-bounds-at-the-Eagles-7-so-there-was-no-return at the end of the game?
-- The Eagles took a lot of shots down the field and I would expect the Steelers, behind Big Ben's big right arm, to do the same. The Cards will have to load up to stop Willie Parker, and Rod Hood and DRC will have to be ready for the bomb.
-- Kurt Warner and a 145.7 quarterback rating, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Wow. He's still bitter about losing that Super Bowl to the Patriots once upon a time. This is a man driven to win another. And while I have been one of those people who wasn't sure Warner was a Hall of Famer, he should cement it if he wins another championship.
-- I love seeing the Cards break out some trick plays, like the J.J. Arrington throwback to Warner to Fitzgerald. Speaking of Fitz, when you have a defense talking all week how they will focus on stopping you first and then they don't, that's a sign of superstardom.
Well, I'll be your embedded reporter for this wild next two weeks. I have covered every Super Bowl since Giants-Ravens save for one (my son was just born for the aforementioned Rams-Pats game), but this will be from a whole new perspective. We'll give you as "inside" as we can on azcardinals.com.
Here we go.