Column: How much credit to take for a win?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Jeff Budlong, Sports Editor

Something happened a couple of minutes after the Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their Super Bowl XL victory over Seattle.

I got a couple of calls congratulating me on the win.

I had to think for a second before responding &8220;thank you.&8221;

As any fan &045;&160;Viking, Bear, Steeler&160;or anyone else other than New England in recent years &045; can attest it is hard work supporting a team that has either never won the big one or has come up just short on different occasions.

However, when Ben Roethlisberger knelt down on the final play of the game Sunday night I was happy for so many of the players, coaches and Steeler owner Dan Rooney.

But I never thought about congratulating myself.

I sat through a couple of hours of pregame, yawned through the first quarter, hollered through the second, nearly passed out in the third and smiled at the end of the fourth quarter but I didn’t do anything to help &8220;my team&8221; win.

Sure, I ordered a pizza at precisely the right time so I could pick it up just after Mike Holmgren was done stomping off the field at the end of the first half.

I made sure to preheat the oven so I was eating the first slice just before the Steelers took the opening kickoff of the second half.

A nice little accomplishment, but again, it probably didn’t help Pittsburgh hold on for the win.

I remained seated in the same spot during the game once Pittsburgh took the lead and didn’t let anyone else watching the game with me move until the game was over.

It might have helped but probably it’s just my own superstition at work.

Over the last week I have been accused of wavering back and forth about my pick for the Super Bowl &045;&160;I didn’t &045; but like any good fan I spent more time focusing on the Steelers’ weaknesses rather than their strengths.

– I was sure that Bill Cowher would never be able to win &8220;the big one.&8221;

Like Lute Olson before him everything seemed to fall into place this postseason.

But a calm, cool, collected Cowher led his team Sunday and for that he has earned a reprieve at least from me.

– Two years ago I was ready to throw Jerome Bettis under the bus as I cursed the Steelers loyalty to him instead of going full time with Amos Zereoue (this is why they don’t call me for coaching advice.)

Bettis was able to morph himself from an declining every down back into a vital short yardage player and team leader.

– For a defensive secondary that I believed was the weak link for years, I found respect for this group in the postseason as it became more playmaker than liability.

– Finally, to Antwaan Randle-El.

He of the run 10 yards backwards on kickoffs hoping to break the return.

Sure, I didn’t believe you deserved to wear the uniform, but on Super Sunday it was you not Roethlisberger who threw the prettiest &045;&160;and most important &045; pass of the day.

All of it was done just in time to cash in during free agency this off season (old habits die hard.)

So, a postseason run that included any number of reasons why the Steelers shouldn’t have won

&045;&160;Carson Palmer’s knee, the ability of the Colts to pick up a blitz, Champ Bailey actually catching the ball &045;&160;ended with Pittsburgh hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

For that I am thankful, and if I had anything to do with it than that is just the cherry on top.