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Are the Cardinals a Fluke?


For pure football fans, the question that will be answered this Sunday is simply–are the Cardinals a fluke?  A couple of months ago they looked less like Super Bowl material than any team this side of Detroit or Kansas City. In the playoffs, they have beaten three good teams and against Philadelphia they had to come from behind late in the game to do it. They have gone, in a few games, from being perennial chumps to this. Win one more and they are lords and masters of the entire football universe.

Football language is full of the locutions of war–”blitz the quarterback,” “in the trenches,” “long bomb,” etc. and in this game we shall see if an offense that is built on speed, deception, and quick thrusts can accomplish what Stonewall Jackson did in the Valley in 1862.

“Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy,” Jackson said of his tactics.  “Never fight against heavy odds if you can hurl your own force on only a part of your enemy and crush it.”

The Steelers defense is perhaps the best in football. Certainly the most aptly named. If the Cardinals can get the incomparable Larry Fitzgerald singled up, if Warner reads the blitzes and hits the fearless Anquan Boldin running free, if Edgerrin James runs draws when the Steelers are playing pass rush.

Yeah, could happen. And for those of us who are feeling outnumbered and outweighed (by a crushing “stimulus” package) it would be sweet to watch. The only thing sweeter would have been if the Atlanta Falcons had made it to the big show (they were first to fall to the Cardinals in the playoffs) and Michael Vick was watching the game from inside Concrete U.

Geoffrey Norman is editor of


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