Steelers Are Super, But Packers Are NFL’s Best

Originally posted on February 2, 2009 by Sportslifer

SportsLifer Rewind: I posted this blog two years ago, after the Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl by beating the Arizona Cardinals. Who knew that Super Bowl XLV would pit the Steelers against the Packers.

Not to rain on Pittsburgh’s parade (hey, we all love a parade), but to claim the Steelers are the best team in NFL history is a bit over the top.

Granted, the Steelers have now win six Super Bowls, more than any other franchise — the Cowboys and the 49ers have each won five. So if you want to give Pittsburgh the nod as the best team in the Super Bowl era, well who’s to argue. No disputing the fact that they are a model franchise, classy and competitive.

DSCN2434 But the best all-time? Not. That’s like claiming the team that has won the most World Series since baseball adopted its playoff format in 1969 is the best ever. (That team happens to be the Yankees with six (now seven) championships, but they won 20 more before 1969).

The Steelers were formed in 1933, and were NFL doormats for more than 40 years, never winning so much as a conference championship. Five years after shifting to the AFC Central in 1970, the Steelers won their first Super Bowl.

You can’t ignore history.

Packers Have Most Titles
So who is the best? Counting three Super Bowls, the Green Bay Packers have won 12 NFL, including the first two Super Bowls, since the formation of the NFL in 1920, the  Packers have actually won 12 titles.

Green Bay is the only NFL team to win three straight championships (1929-31) and (1965-67), the latter including the first two Super Bowls.

The Chicago Bears also supersede the Steelers with nine NFL titles, including Super Bowl XX. And the New York Giants have seven championships, including three Super Bowls.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers rank behind the Steelers with five Super Bowl wins apiece

Another team that’s sometimes forgotten in the haze of football history is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns won four straight championships in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) before that league was disbanded in 1950. The Browns then proceeded to make six straight appearances in the NFL championship game, winning in 1950, 1954 and 1955.

Cleveland won another championship in 1964, but has never been to the Super Bowl.

Cleaning out the Notebook
Among the dozen or more “experts” in the booth for Super Bowl XLIII, it’s hard to believe NBC would include Matt Millen. Yes, the same Matt Millen, the general manager who set the Detroit Lions back years. Heck, I wouldn’t trust this guy to pick my fantasy football team.

Jennifer Hudson’s emotional rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was moving, best since Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV.

DSCN2429 Lots of fans, even football fanatics, were looking forward to the halftime show as much as the game. Bruce Springsteen didn’t disappoint. He never does. That’s why he’s the Boss.

Finally, why didn’t the refs review Kurt Warner’s last play? Fumble or incomplete pass? Close call. But at the very least the play deserved review.

According to the NFL head of officials, the play was reviewed and upheld. For what, 20 seconds?

Rules state that if Warner’s arm is moving in a forward motion with the ball still in his hand when it comes out, the play should be ruled an incomplete pass, not a fumble.

Oh, and one more thing.

After the play, the Steelers were called for a personal foul, so if the play had been reversed, and with the 15-yard penalty yardage marked off, the Cardinals would have had the ball on the Pittsburgh 30 with about seven seconds remaining.

Certainly time enough for a miracle.


Dandy Don Meredith Was Almost a Super Star

Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford brought the NFL into the American living room with ABC’s Monday Night Football.

Don Meredith was a Monday Night Football original — Howard Cosell’s foil, full of homespun humor with his game-ending signature call:  “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

But Dandy Don was also a proven quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the 60s, one who came agonizingly close to representing the National Football League in the first two Super Bowls.

If not for some simple twists of fate, the Cowboys — and not the Green Bay Packers — might have been remembered as the original Super Bowl winners. Think about it — instead of the Vince Lombardi Trophy Super Bowl winners might instead cherish the Tom Landry Trophy. And Don Meredith, not Bart Starr, could have been a Super Bowl MVP quarterback.

In 1967, the Packers and Cowboys squared off in two nail-biting NFL Championship games played almost exactly a year apart — January 1 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and New Year’s Eve in the frigid cold of Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

The 1966 NFL title game went right down to the wire before the Packers defeated the Cowboys, 34-27. Trailing 34-20, Meredith hit Frank Clarke on a 68-yard touchdown pass with five minutes left to bring Dallas close.

The Cowboys then stopped Green Bay and drove as far as the Packers two-yard line late in the game before Meredith, under heavy pressure and looking for Bob Hayes, was intercepted in the end zone by Packer defensive back Tom Brown.

The Packers advanced to the very first Super Bowl, where they defeated the American Football League representative, the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.

The Ice Bowl
Some 364 days later, the Cowboys and Packers met once again for the NFL Championship ion the coldest New Year’s Eve in the history of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The official game-time temperature at the Ice Bowl in Green Bay was −13°F, with a wind chill around −48°F.

It was so cold that the officials were unable to use their whistles after the opening kick-off. As the referee blew his metal whistle to signal the start of play, it froze to his lips. For the rest of the game, the officials used voice commands and calls to end plays and officiate the game.

At one point during the game, announcer Frank Gifford, who years later would hook up with Meredith and Cosell in the ABC booth, said, “I’m going to take a bite of my coffee.”

That day the Packers jumped out to a 14-0 advantage, but the Cowboys rallied to take  a 17-14 lead on a 50-yard option pass from halfback Dan Reeves to Lance Rentzel on the first play of the fourth quarter.

With less than five minutes remaining, Green Bay embarked on a 68-yard drive that ended when Starr sneaked into the end zone from a yard out with just 16 seconds remaining for a 21-17 win the gave the Packers their third straight NFL championship.

Super Bowl II was all Green Bay as the Packers smothered the Oakland Raiders, 33-14. For the Cowboys, defeat was devastating.

Meredith, drafted out of Southern Methodist University by the Chicago Bears and then traded to expansionist Dallas Cowboys for future draft picks in 1960. A three-time Pro Bowler, Dandy Don finished with 135 touchdown passes in this career, and retired following the 1968 season, never having made it to the Super Bowl.


Will The Real Giants Please Stand Up

When the Giants are going right, the opposing quarterback – not Eli Manning – is the guy facing the big pass rush.

Since their Thanksgiving Day debacle in Denver, the New York Giants have had 10 days to figure things out; 10 days to try and save their season.

The Giants, pre-season picks to win the Super Bowl in some circles, showed why they are the NFL’s most overrated team in that  26-6 drubbing by the Broncos. .

They looked like turkeys against the Broncos. It was their fifth loss in six games following a 5-0 start.

Even during their bad times, the Giants have almost always played their trademark smashmouth football style. Put pressure on the quarterback and stop the running game on defense. Maintain ball control with a strong running attack on offense.

Not lately. These Giants have been imposters in blue.

“Well to be honest with you, I don’t even know what is going on.” defensive end Osi Umenyiora, left, said earlier this week. That was before Tom Coughlin decided to bench both Osi and Fred Robbins — at least in certain situations — when the Giants play their divisional rival, the Dallas Cowboys, on Sunday.

The Forgiving NFL
The National Football League can be very forgiving. In spite of their prolonged slide, the Giants have a chance to turn their season around against their hated rivals.

A win over the Cowboys would put the Giants just a game behind Dallas in the NFC East. And the Giants would own the tiebreaker over the Cowboys by virtue of a 33-31 win that spoiled the opener of Cowboys Stadium.

Following the Dallas game, the Giants host another divisional rival and playoff contender, the Philadelphia Eagles.

The G-Men wrap up their season with road games at Washington and Minnesota, sandwiched around a home tilt with Carolina.

Amazingly, if they can figure things out in time, the Giants could still make a playoff run. They have the talent — less than two years ago they won the Super Bowl, and last year they started out 11-1 before losing four of their last five games, including a home playoff loss to the Eagles.

“We can deal with being 6-5,” said quarterback Eli Manning. “We’ve got to play better football. That’s our concern. That’s what we go to worry about. We’ve got five games left. Let’s see what we can do with those five games.”

So which Giants team will show up against the Cowboys — the Super Bowl contender or the club that’ has lost nine times in its last 16 games?


The Ring-Leaders: Champions of Championships

Do the math. The Boston Celtics have won 16 NBA titles, the Los Angeles (nee Minneapolis) Lakers 14. When the 62nd NBA Finals are completed in a few weeks, the Celtics and the Lakers will have combined for 31 titles, exactly half of the 62 championships. This is their 11th meeting in the finals, another NBA record.

What about the other sports?. Who are the champions of championships?

It starts with the New York Yankees, the king of champions. The Yankees have won 26 World Series, the most in any of the North American team sports. That’s more than double the number of championships won by the St. Louis Cardinals (10) and Philadelphia-Oakland A’s (9).

In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers have each won five Super Bowls. The Green Packers have won nine total NFL titles and the Chicago Bears 7 since the first NFL championship game in 1933.

In hockey, the Montreal Canadiens, Les Habitants, are far away the ring-leaders with 23 Stanley Cups. The Habs are followed by the Toronto Arenas-St. Pats-Maple Leafs with 13 and the Detroit Red Wings with 11, including this year’s Stanley Cup.

UCLA has won 11 NCAA basketball championships and Kentucky seven since the advent of the NCAA tournament in 1939. Kentucky also won a national championship in 1933.

Notre Dame is the king of college football with 13 national championships, including nine since the polls were first instituted in 1936. In the so-called “early years” of college football (1869-1935), Yale won 18 championships and Princeton 17. All told, Alabama and USC have each won 10 total football championships, seven apiece since 1936.