Steelers storm back to win Super Bowl

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Pittsburgh wins sixth title in a championship game many are already describing as the most exciting ever

All it had going for it, this Super Bowl, was several of the most memorable football plays in the game's 43-year history.

All it had was a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, James Harrison, stepping in front of a Kurt Warner pass at the goal line and thundering an eyelash short of 100 yards on the last play of the first half for one of the greatest touchdowns - and certainly the longest - ever in the championship game.

When Pittsburgh Steelers' defender James Harrison (92) intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and scampered 100 yards for the longest touchdown in Super Bowl history on the last play of the first half, no less many figured there wouldn't be another play in Sund

Tampa, Fla. - All it had going for it, this Super Bowl, was several of the most memorable football plays in the game's 43-year history.

All it had was a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, James Harrison, stepping in front of a Kurt Warner pass at the goal line and thundering an eyelash short of 100 yards on the last play of the first half for one of the greatest touchdowns - and certainly the longest - ever in the championship game.

All it had was an Arizona comeback, potentially the largest in the game's history, keyed by a 64-yard, Warner-to-Larry Fitzgerald lightning strike that took the air out of 90 per cent of the crowd at Raymond James Stadium that had been waving gold Terrible Towels - and took the Steelers' No. 1-ranked defence down one very large peg in the process.

All it had was a Ben Roethlisberger-led response, when all looked lost, in the final two minutes, with a series of incomprehensible catches by Santonio Holmes - the payoff a leaping, stretching six-yard TD grab against three Arizona defenders in the corner of the end-zone with 35 seconds left, somehow holding the ball and getting both feet down and killing the stubborn Cardinals, once and for all.

"We call that play 'Drop back, scramble right, scramble left and find someone open," joked Roethlisberger, who completed 21-of-30 passes for 256 yards. "I was going to throw the ball in the flat, but they covered it up so I looked at Hines (Ward), but he was covered, getting held. All of a sudden, I saw Tone (Holmes) go to the corner so I threw it, and thought it was going to be picked. He made a heck of a catch.

"I'm so proud of the way we responded, that last drive. It'll be remembered a long time, at least in Steelers history."

All the game had was the coronation of the most accomplished franchise in the league's modern era, a sixth Super Bowl for the Steelers, who broke the tie with Dallas and San Francisco by the skin of their teeth in a thrilling 27-23 victory over an Arizona team that gave them all they could handle.

Was it better than last year's New York Giants-New England Patriots thriller?

Yup.

It's no use trying to stitch together all the versions of this story that were written, torn up, rewritten and finally trashed in favour of a simple rave about the wondrous collection of plays and players these two teams threw out on the field for your viewing pleasure.

It used to be, more often than not, the dullest four hours in sports. Not any more.

Roethlisberger and the Steelers looked dead and gone when they gave up a safety in the fourth quarter on an end-zone holding penalty, and Warner, on the Cardinals' next possession, delivered the coup de grace to the seemingly uncoverable Fitzgerald, who took a perfect throw in stride and ripped through the middle of the defence - watching himself score the touchdown as he ran on the big screen directly in front of him.

That gave the Cardinals, who now had all the momentum, a three-point lead with just over two minutes left.

But Roethlisberger, who had played so miserably in the Steelers' fifth Super Bowl win three years ago, was money in the clutch, and though the toss to Holmes in the final minute was his only TD throw of the game, it was enough. Enough, too, for Holmes, who caught nine passes for 131 yards, to be voted the game's MVP.

"I said before that drive, 'Ben, I want the ball in my hands, no matter what, no matter where it is. I wanted to be the one to make the play,'" said Holmes.

"This is how we've been all year - football is still 60 minutes, and these guys have not quit. They do not blink," said emotional Steelers coach, Mike Tomlin, who took a post-game call from President Barack Obama, but admitted he didn't hear much of what was said.

Harrison looked as though he had delivered the decisive blow at the end of the half, just as the Cardinals were threatening to go four points up, when he suckered Warner into a throw he would love to have reeled back in, but couldn't. The National Football League's defensive player of the year stepped in front of Anquan Boldin, intercepted Warner on the goal-line and made like some crazy hybrid of Jim Brown and Rudolf Nureyev. When Harrison reached the end-zone - expiring with his final lunge over the body of Fitzgerald, who had come from out of bounds to tackle him - the clock read 0:00.

"A lot of times in that situation, they bring what we call a zero, an all-out blitz," said Warner. "James Harrison had stepped up like he was going to blitz and I didn't see him step out. Just as I threw it I could see he had jumped out, but it was too late and he made a great play - the unfortunate thing is that we couldn't bring him down."

No door-shutting on this night

Pittsburgh led by 10, which happens to be the largest half-time deficit any team has ever come back from in a Super Bowl. Surely, no one was going to do that to these Steelers. When Roethlisberger, aided greatly by three major Arizona penalties, burned most of the third quarter on a 16-play drive for a 21-yard Jeff Reed field goal, the table was set for the Steelers' defence to shut the door. It couldn't.

The Cardinals had twice denied Roethlisberger touchdowns - once on the game's first drive, again in the third quarter - making the Steelers settle for three each time.

In between came an impressive early second-quarter Pittsburgh drive finished off by a one-yard Gary Russell touchdown run for a 10-0 lead, and an immediate answer from Warner, who led the Cardinals right back with passes to Steve Breaston and Boldin, and a TD toss to tight end Ben Patrick.

The Cards, who had little in common other than longevity with the stable, successful Steeler franchise, won't have to hang their heads any more, having won three games to get to Super Bowl, and then pushed the Steelers to the brink, forcing the issue at every turn until the teams, between them, produced as entertaining a football game, probably, as any championship ever.

The No. 1 defence in the league - which had given up just 3.9 yard per snap all season, the lowest in 30 years - just couldn't get a handle on Warner and Fitzgerald once they began to find the range in the second half, when Fitzgerald scored two touchdowns.

The second one looked like a dagger, but the first thing Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt thought was: "There was too much time on the clock. That's something you're always worried about. I was hoping we could hold them to a field goal and have a chance to go to overtime, but they made the play."

Warner great, but not good enough

"To be so close, to score that touchdown, and have it snatched away like that . . . it hurts," said Fitzgerald, who caught seven passes for 127 yards, while Boldin had eight for 84. Warner's 31-of-43 night, with 377 yards, three TDs and an interception ought to have been MVP stuff, but in the end, the defence couldn't contain Roethlisberger and Holmes.

"Everybody is down," said Cards cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. "You can't even describe the feeling of hurt and the pain you see in the players' eyes. It's going to be hard to go home and smile."

Organizations: Steelers, Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers New York Giants-New England Patriots National Football League

Geographic location: Arizona, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Fla. Raymond James Stadium Dallas San Francisco

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  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    This was a well written article, Cam wrote it as he saw it.
    We who live around the Pittsburgh area live & die by what the Steelers do and in the 4th quarter we were dying until Big Ben threw that pass to Holmes. This was the most exciting game in Super Bowl history.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    This was a well written article, Cam wrote it as he saw it.
    We who live around the Pittsburgh area live & die by what the Steelers do and in the 4th quarter we were dying until Big Ben threw that pass to Holmes. This was the most exciting game in Super Bowl history.