Friday, September 21, 2007
The Super Bowl Match-Up That Wasn't
The year was 2005.
The 13-3 Seattle Seahawks had the best record in the NFC by two full games, and was an odds-on favorite to ride their home field advantage all the way to Super Bowl XL.
In the AFC, the playoff seeding was much tighter.
The 14-2 Colts earned home field by just a game over the 13-3 Broncos, however, each team's strength was the other team's weakness, so a SB berth was no gimme. The Wild Card teams, the 12-4 Jaguars and the 11-5 Steelers, each had as-good or better records than the other two division winners, the 11-5 Bengals and the 10-6 Patriots.
At the end of the regular season, many of the pundits were picking the Cincinnati Bengals to represent that AFC in SB XL, in a classic showdown of two of the league's most high-powered offenses. After the second play of Wild Card weekend, when the questionable low hit on Carson Palmer started the Cinderella Steeler's pumpkin-coach ride to Ford Field, any Super Bowl dreams for the Bengals were as hopeless and tattered as their quarterback's anterior cruciate ligament.
Fast forward two years.
The Seahawks no longer have as dominant an offensive line, a slate of new stars at receiver, but arguably a better defense. (last week's game notwithstanding). The offense for the Bengals is pretty much the same, having only lost the services of Chris Henry to Judge Judy, with most of the other suspended, incarcerated or otherwise former-Bengals represented on the defensive side of the ball.
But while the make up of the teams may be somewhat different, there's still a feeling of "what might have been" surrounding this game, if only to a few of us struggling for new content for our blog site.
What if Carson Palmer played the whole game against Pittsburgh?
Would it be he who was faced with the game saving tackle the following week in Indy? Or would the Bengals have ridden the emotional home win through Indy and Denver, and gotten to Detroit as so many had predicted?
If only it was Bill Levy whose knee got shredded and not Carson Palmer's, perhaps the memories of the 2005 would not be so bitter-sweet for most Seahawks fans.