TAMPA, FL – Where do you start? Super Bowl XLIII turned out to be a much better game than originally expected and included a momentum-swinging flurry in the waning minutes that rivaled a similar one a year ago. Both teams picked themselves up off the mat on more than one occasion on this evening in Tampa, but the Pittsburgh Steelers landed the final blow.
When Larry Fitzgerald went 64 yards on a pass from Kurt Warner to give the Arizona Cardinals a 23-20 lead with 2:47 left in the game, it appeared that the vagabond franchise would win its first championship since the days of the Nuremberg trials. But Ben Roethlisberger directed the Steelers to the game-winning drive by dissecting the Cardinal secondary along with game MVP Santonio Holmes. The wide receiver’s leaping grab over double coverage in the right corner of the end zone was even more impressive when considering that he was able to keep both feet in bounds. Holmes finished with 9 catches for 131 yards and one touchdown.
“It was a play that we drew up that we were hoping to get open in the back of the corner,” said Holmes. “The defensive back bit up on the short route and Ben (Roethlisberger) held onto the ball long enough to get it to me.”
Arizona fought back from a second quarter 10-0 deficit and were poised to go into the locker room at halftime either tied or in the lead. With the score 10-7 and only 18 seconds remaining in the half, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison picked off a Warner throw intended for Anquan Boldin and rumbled down the field 100 yards for the score. It set a Super Bowl record for the longest interception return.
Many teams would have been deflated by the sudden turn of events, but Arizona held Pittsburgh in check and Warner directed them on an eight-play, 87-yard scoring drive culminating with a one-yard pass to Fitzgerald. A subsequent safety on a Jeff Hartwig holding penalty in the end zone made it a four-point game. The Cardinals received the free kick, setting up Fitzgerald’s long touchdown run and, unfortunately, false hope for many.
“Yeah, I was confident we were going to be able to get a stop and we were going to be champions,” the wideout said. “I never lost faith. Sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
The Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls, and head coach Mike Tomlin now has a title in only his second year at the helm. “I’m not concerned about my personal milestones,” he said. “I just want to contribute to the legacy that is the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
By accomplishing what he did, Tomlin now becomes an important part of that legacy.