After a whirlwind week at the Super Bowl, could it be capped any better than with a super game on Sunday?
Regardless of what Ravens fans will say about the dreaded Pittsburgh Steelers winning the battle, you can't help but admit that it was a thrilling contest that lasted until the bitter end.
When Santonio Holmes tapped his two toes in the end zone with 35 seconds left, I was on the field for my post-game duty, which was Cardinals quotes. This meant that I would be assigned two Arizona players that I would have to latch on to and get to a podium in a big converted storage area that was called the 'interview pen.'
But the job changes whether your assigned team wins or loses. A Cards victory would put me on the field for the trophy ceremony, where I would have had to grab star wideout Anquan Boldin and get him to that booth as soon as possible. This is normally after the confetti drops and he celebrates a little bit with his family.
Two years ago, I had a similar job. The Colts has just beaten the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI in Miami, and I was assigned giant left tackle Tarik Glenn. In a crazy downpour, I soggily navigated the bedlam to latch onto Tarik's shoulder pads as he searched around for his kids in the stands. After he hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Glenn bounced to the interview area and happily took on a barrage of questions from media.
Of course, the other side is when your designated team loses. With two lead changes in the last few minutes, the quote teams' jobs changes with the score. First, it was the Steelers group ready to rush the turf. Then when Larry Fitzgerald raced 64 yards to paydirt, my squad readied itself.
And then Holmes, the Super Bowl MVP in only his third year, plunged the final dagger into the hearts of the Arizona believers.
Immediately, me and my fellow quote teamers turned and sprinted to the Cardinals' locker room, where we waited outside like caged tigers ready to pounce on our prey before the media got to them. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said a few words – which I didn't hear because we were closed off from the players – and then we rushed in.
No, I didn't get to see that confetti this year, nor the trophy presentation, nor did I get any TV time (of which I received ample at Dolphins Stadium).
As the lead changed, however, so did my assignment. Instead of Boldin, I got offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
You can imagine that Haley was a little somber after such a heartbreaking loss. He went around the locker room thanking each of his charges, offering words of encouragement to Edgerrin James, consoling a tearful Fitzgerald.
I went up to him and simply said, "Coach, I'm with the NFL. Congratulations on getting to this point, but I'm sorry about your loss. I need to take you to do interviews now. I'm sorry, but it's part of the post game schedule."
He softly said back, "OK. Let's get this over with."
Haley is a true professional, and I was impressed with the way he consistently defended his players, the guys that fought so hard for him to get as far as they did. After a few minutes, Haley stepped down and trudged back to the showers. Congrats, coach, for the historic run.
I did go back and chat for a bit with Boldin. He had a glassy look to his eyes, almost as if he was in shock and the loss hadn't set in yet.
In a way, I can understand. The Ravens had that same look when their season was abruptly halted with that devastating loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship a few weeks ago.
It hurt then, and it still hurts now.
But for a few moments in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XLIII, forgetting the fact that the Ravens weren't in the big game and it was the hated Steelers coming from behind to take their sixth title ring was easy.
Because at that moment, you knew you were witnessing history. Hopefully next year, the Ravens can make some of their own.
Thanks for sticking with me all week from Tampa on BaltimoreRavens.com. We'll do it again in 2010.