SUPER BOWL NOTEBOOK

Steelers' Holmes Cherishes His Moment in Final Minute

Pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger III and the US Airways Flight 1549 crew stand on the field as Jennifer Hudson performs the national anthem during the pregame show.
Pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger III and the US Airways Flight 1549 crew stand on the field as Jennifer Hudson performs the national anthem during the pregame show. (By Jamie Squire -- Getty Images)
Associated Press
Monday, February 2, 2009

TAMPA, Feb. 1 -- Santonio Holmes sat on the grass alongside the end zone -- legs outstretched, head bowed, arms wrapped tightly around the ball.

He'd come too far to let go.

The kid who once sold drugs on a street corner had grown up to become most valuable player of a most remarkable Super Bowl.

Holmes, who overcame his gritty childhood in rural South Florida, made a brilliant touchdown catch with 35 seconds left to give the Pittsburgh Steelers their record sixth Super Bowl title, a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night.

"I dared the team," Holmes said. "Just give me the ball, give me the chance to make plays and I will do it for you."

He was true to his word on the six-yard winner.

After a pass to the left corner went through Holmes's hands, Ben Roethlisberger lofted the ball toward the right corner, over the hands of not one, not two, but three Arizona defenders. Holmes leaped to get it -- and somehow managed to drag both feet inbounds, his toes barely scraping the grass before he tumbled out of bounds.

The official threw up both arms, and Holmes sat out of bounds for several seconds, looking down at a ball he didn't want to give up. His teammates piled on top of him, celebrating a game that will go down as one of the greatest in Super Bowl history.

The referee took a look at the replay to make sure Holmes had control of the ball and got both feet down. The third-year wide receiver never had any doubt.

"I knew it was a touchdown 100 percent," he said. "My feet never left the ground. All I did was stand on my toes and extend my hands."

Holmes was so good -- nine catches for 131 yards, four of them on the winning 78-yard drive -- that he actually managed to outshine teammate James Harrison, who seemed a shoo-in for MVP through three quarters.

"Santonio is a guy who just loves to deliver in big moments and big games," Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said.


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