Founder / Editor


Associate Editor


Assistant Editor











Super Bowl XLIII: Super Game, Super Halftime, Not-So-Super Ads
February 2, 2009  | By David Bianculli
Super Bowl XLIII final scorecard: The game was super. Bruce Springsteen's halftime was super. The ads? Not so much...

The morning after, ESPN's SportsCenter showed what it considered the Top 10 Super Bowl plays of all time -- and Super Bowl XLIII claimed three of them, all touchdowns. Two of them were by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and inarguably belong on the all-time highlight reel.

SB-harrison-td-half.jpg sb-winning-touchdown-35-sec.jpg

First there was James Harrison's end-zone interception and 100-yard runback for a first-half-ending touchdown. And, at the end, there was Santonio Holmes' jaw-dropping, but not ball-dropping, touchdown catch with :35 seconds left -- his toes on the ground, but the rest of him reaching out to Super Bowl history.

In between, there was Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals who scored an exciting, burst-of-speed touchdown that game his team the lead in the final minutes -- a lead Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and Super Bowl MVP receiver Holmes stole back with a thrilling photo finish.


Speaking of photo finishes: NBCs Super-Slow-Motion "NBSees" cameras, catching that final play perfectly, paid for themselves a thousand times over. Just like that footage will be replayed in the next few days: a thousand times over.

Astounding, exciting game.

As for halftime, and Springsteen's four-song set? Best. Halftime. Ever.


sb-half-springsteen-steven.jpg sb-half-springsteen-triumph.jpg

"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." "Born to Run." A new song, "Working On a Dream." And, as the perfect capper, "Glory Days," with Springsteen and Little Steven Van Zandt back to back, then sharing the mike, as the E Street Band played to a phenomenal finish.

At the end, Springsteen's look of triumph was easy to read -- and something to savor.

sb-ad-coke-ladybug.jpg SB-ADS-Heroes-singing.jpg

As for all the Super Bowl ads, a Doritos ad supplied by amateurs -- with the snow-globe crystal ball -- beat all the big boys in ad-tracking polls. I liked other ads better, including the sweet Coke ad with the ladybug and other bottle-stealing insects, and I even was impressed by two of NBC's promos, one of which showed stars of NBC's Monday shows lip-synching to Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright." It didn't make any sense, but it was fun.

So was NBC's wordless promo for Jay Leno's new prime-time show. A vintage sports car, with the number 10 on it, zipped down California's Highway 10, and cameras got close enough to show a smirking Leno. The 10s, of course, referred to the new show's unprecedented time slot.

sb-ad-hate-your-job-career-.jpg SB-confident-kid.jpg

Also, I liked the CareerBuilder ad with the "Do You Hate Your Job?" repetitive screams, punches and insults, and the Cars.com ad about the confident kid who grows up to need help selecting the right car to buy. Even the 3-D images worked for me, in High-Definition, better than I expected.

But one ad, more than any other but the Doritos surprise win, may be a news story in coming days. The Monster.com ad, in which the glorious mounted moose head in one room turns out, with a change in perspective, to provide an office drone with a much more demeaning perspective.


It's a funny ad, worthy of being unveiled during the Super Bowl. Except that it was unveiled early -- and accidentally -- during Sunday's Today show, when Meredith Vieira was doing a live interview about classic Super Bowl ads, and the control booth mistakenly showed the wrong Monster.com ad. An unfamiliar one, which turned out to be the mounted moose ad. With ad spots costing some $3 million for Super Bowl XLIII, don't be surprised if Monster.com doesn't protest NBC's premature showing by asking for its money back.

Football and Springsteen fans, though, have no such claims to make. The teams, and the musicians, delivered superbly.




Adam Bomb 1701 said:

I stayed away from the Super Bowl like the plague, like I usually do, and watched USA's 17 hours of "House" marathon. Infinitely more entertaining, if you ask me. But-I did catch Springsteen's half-time show. At least he didn't lip-synch. (At least, I don't think he did.)

Comment posted on February 3, 2009 9:24 AM

Ivan said:

I dunno. I thought the ads were better this year than last, and some were more disappointing.

The Monsters vs. Aliens 3D ad didn't work out for me and my friends agreed. I mean, the 3D worked, but not well. We were watching on an HDTV, using real HD cable (not just upscaling), but the 3D didn't pop, except for a few minutes. I felt the Sobe ad that followed it was better in execution of 3D than the other one.

I thought the Hulu ad was quite funny. It's not often that I get to say this, but "the tentacles MADE that ad."

Springsteen was a little disappointing, I thought. Nothing against him, but it seems so... small. Then again, I've never been impressed with halftime shows.

Comment posted on February 3, 2009 4:28 PM
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 Name (required)
 Email (required) (will not be published)
Type in the verification word shown on the image.