$0.02: Big plays (via Big Ben) made Pats Super | SummitDaily.com
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$0.02: Big plays (via Big Ben) made Pats Super

DEVON O'NEIL
Devon O'Neil
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Ben Roethlisberger had been so good for so long, we almost forgot that he was a rookie. Thanks for the reminder, New England.A week after turning NFL MVP Peyton Manning into the QB that couldn’t, the unstoppable Patriots put Big Ben in his place with a defensive performance every bit deserving of a trip to the Super Bowl. The key, to me, was big plays. Game changers. Roethlisberger threw ’em, but the Patriots – not Pittsburgh’s receivers – caught ’em. In a game as big as the AFC Championship, momentum can be a team’s best friend. It was New England’s on Sunday. People think that game was over early, and they’re right. The biggest reason? Roethlisberger’s first throw of the day, which landed in enemy hands.Then, with the Steelers threatening later in the game, the rookie misjudged safety Rodney Harrison’s speed and threw a pass that went 87 yards the other way, again switching momentum.

So that we don’t lose perspective, though, let’s remember one thing. While Philip Rivers and Eli Manning – both of whom went higher in last April’s draft than Roethlisberger – were watching from the couch, Big Ben was explaining to the nation how he came oh-so-close to the Super Bowl. He was finding words to describe defeat for the first time in his 15 NFL starts …Meanwhile, at the state’s eastern end, Philadelphia’s defense proved itself against the game’s most dangerous player to send its fans home happier than a cheesesteak in ketchup. And let’s not forget Brian Westbrook, either. This is a guy that gets every inch possible, every time he carries the ball. We should all be so efficient in our jobs.As for Terrell Owens, I really don’t think there’s a question of whether or not he’s going to play on Feb. 6. The bigger debate, I think, is how much he’ll impact the game. And after seeing him dance around the sidelines on Sunday, I think New England’s coaches had better figure out how to stop him, because he’ll be ready to go in a big way.All of this brings us to the question of who’s going to win. Last week’s picks brought $0.02 to 9-1 this postseason, with the biggest game to go. I suppose I’ll take advantage of the two-week hype break (which is an awful idea, by the way) and take a stab next Wednesday …

A quick boo bird goes to Nike for its new TV commercial, which ran during the conference championship games on Sunday. The spot features a number of top pro athletes – Albert Pujols, Mariano Rivera, Brian Urlacher, among others – in horror-movie masks, and closes by saying: “Nike Pro Apparel – For Warriors.” Silly Nike. Looks like they got “athlete” confused with “medieval gladiator” …Is Don King serious? He filed a defamation lawsuit against ESPN recently, claiming the network portrayed him in an inaccurate, ugly light in its award-winning SportsCentury series. This from someone who was convicted of killing another man in 1967, and who has been sued by a number of the fighters he promoted. I understand the anger at being insulted, Don. But $2.5 billion? …Nice to see Tiger Woods won a tournament this weekend, his first stroke-play victory in more than a year. I wonder how soon the cocksure attitude we’ve come to despise will return, as well …

In parting, it is with great pleasure that I bring you this news. Brazilian midfielder Kaka was named the best overall player and the top foreigner in Italy’s highest-level soccer league this season.Two thoughts: First, I know it’s tradition to play under a one-word name as a soccer star in Brazil, but maybe Kaka could’ve gone a different direction. Second, does it strike anyone else as odd that Kaka’s league gives out an award for “top foreigner”?Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.


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