February 2, Week in Sports
:: STEELERS BEAT CARDINALS TO WIN SUPER BOWL (Pro. Football)
:: NADAL DOWNS FEDERER AT AUSSIE OPEN (Pro. Tennis)
:: SERENA WILLIAMS WINS AUSSIE OPEN, RECLAIMS NO. 1 SPOT (Pro. Tennis)
MEN OF STEEL
The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in a close, hard-fought game to win this year’s Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is the championship game of the NFL season, and the most highly-watched sporting event of the year.
The Steelers, though heavily favored by many analysts, had to pull out all the stops to win the game by a score of 27-23. Without a series of incredible plays–including a 100-yard interception return at the end of the first half and the breathtaking winning catch by Santonio Holmes–the Steelers could very well have lost the game. The Steelers entered the fourth quarter winning 20-7, but the Cardinals came roaring back to take the lead, scoring 16 unanswered points, including a stunning reception by Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. However, the Steelers marched down the field as time ran off the clock and scored the go-ahead points with less than a minute to play. Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes was named the Super Bowl MVP.
Though the Steelers certainly earned the victory, the game ended on a somewhat controversial play. With just seconds left in the game, the Cardinals still had a chance to pull out a miracle comeback. However, they lost the ball on a ball that was ruled a fumble by the officials, though it very well may have been an incomplete pass. Furthermore, the referees did not even choose to use instant replay to review the play, effectively ending the game. It is hard to say whether or not the officials blew the call, but there were enough questionable calls during the game that you can be sure to hear some angry Cardinals fans on the radio and around the office.
Quote of the Week: “It will go down as one of the most thrilling Super Bowls of all-time. But, as has become all too common in the NFL, an officiating controversy threatens to overshadow the stellar play on the field.” — Chris Chase, Shutdown Corner
Further Reading: “Holmes’ grab lands Steelers record sixth Super Bowl title” — Greg Garber, ESPN
KINGS OF THE COURT
Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer on Sunday in Melbourne to win the men’s singles final at the Australian Open. The Australian Open is the first of four Grand Slam events of the year–the most important tournaments in tennis.The rivalry between Nadal and Federer is one of the greatest in professional sports, with Federer playing the role of the veteran player in the sunset of his career and Nadal as the heir to the throne. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that Nadal, who has defeated Federer in their last three Grand Slam clashes, has already eclipsed his rival. Nadal now has a chance to win all four Grand Slam events in a single calendar year for the first time since Rod Laver did it in 1969.
Despite Federer’s recent losses to Nadal and the growing opinion that he is on the decline, he is just 27 years old and still one of the best players in the world. However, this loss was particularly painful for Federer, since he is just one Grand Slam title short of Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam titles. The next Grand Slam tournament is the French Open, which takes place in May.
Quote of the Week: ”Maybe I’ll try later. God, it’s killing me.” — Roger Federer, on congratulating Nadal
Further Reading: ”Nadal defeats Federer at Australian Open” — Associated Press, via New York Times
BACK ON TOP
On Saturday, Serena Williams won the women’s singles final at the Australian Open, handily defeating Dinara Safina, who was the top-ranked female player in the world going into the match.
Williams was ranked No. 2 in the world going into Saturday’s match, but by beating Safina she reclaimed the top spot. Since Williams won the U.S. Open in September, Saturday’s victory also means that she has won back-to-back Grand Slam titles–a feat that has not been accomplished since 2004. During this year’s tournament, Serena also became the all-time leading money winner among female athletes.
Serena and Venus Williams captured this year’s doubles title, as well. The Williams sisters, despite being seeded 10th in this tournament, are the most dangerous tennis duo in the world. In the past year, they have now won two Grand Slam events, as well as a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.
Quote of the Week: “Serena was too good … I was just a ballboy on the court today” — Dinara Safina, after the match
Further Reading: “Serena rolls to 10th Grand Slam title” — Associated Press, via ESPN
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: COLLEGE BASKETBALL: For those of you hoping to get a leg up on your co-workers during March Madness, now is the time to be doing some homework. Next Saturday, 20 of the top 25 teams in the country are playing. None of the big dogs are playing each other, but it’s a great opportunity to see some of the best of the best in action. Many of the games are on ESPN, and Notre Dame vs. UCLA will air on CBS in the early afternoon.
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 season is currently underway. It runs from late October to April of 2009, when the playoffs commence. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): The college basketball season is currently underway and runs through “the Tournament,” which takes place in March. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): Now that the Super Bowl is over, the next major NFL event is the draft, which takes place in late April. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football season is now over, with Florida defeating Oklahoma in the national championship game. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. The Masters is scheduled for the first week of April. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season is currently underway and runs through April of 2009. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. The next event is the French Open, which takes place in May. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in this year’s World Series. During the off-season, baseball news will focus on major trades and player signings. [Official MLB Website]