What a Great Day for a Drive

In one of the most memorable and dramatic Super Bowls in history, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger completed the game-winning touchdown drive immediately after Kurt Warner turned in a great one of his own. Video by AP
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 2, 2009

TAMPA, Feb. 1 -- The last time he reached a Super Bowl, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was carried to a victory by his teammates. This time, he returned the favor.

The Steelers had wasted a 20-7, fourth-quarter lead when they got the ball at their 22-yard line with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in Sunday's Super Bowl XLIII. They had allowed 16 straight points and trailed the Arizona Cardinals, 23-20.

But Roethlisberger engineered a 78-yard drive that culminated with a superb six-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Santonio Holmes. The Steelers won, 27-23, for a record sixth Super Bowl title.

"I told the guys, 'It's now or never. We'll be remembered forever if we do this,' " Roethlisberger said. "It was a heck of a drive. We won the Super Bowl. We're on the ultimate high right now."

Holmes had four catches on the winning drive, including a 40-yarder that got the ball to the Cardinals 6-yard line and set up the decisive play.

The Steelers had to regain their composure after allowing two touchdown catches by Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and a safety on a holding penalty in the end zone against center Justin Hartwig. Their winning touchdown drive came after Fitzgerald's 64-yard catch and run had given the Cardinals the lead.

"There's no time to sit around and say, 'Woe is me' if you have intentions of winning," Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said.

It was redemption for Roethlisberger, who'd thrown two interceptions and completed only 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl three years ago in Detroit. This time, he connected on 21 of 30 throws for 256 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

He becomes a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, and he's not even 27 years old. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the standard bearer for championship-winning quarterbacks of this generation, has three Super Bowl victories.

Wide receiver Hines Ward, the MVP of the Steelers' last Super Bowl triumph and usually Roethlisberger's top target in crunch time, was slowed by the sprained knee he suffered during the AFC title game and had a modest two catches for 43 yards Sunday. He did have a 38-yard catch early to help get the Steelers going.

But it was Holmes who teamed with Roethlisberger to make the big plays when it mattered. He finished with nine catches for 131 yards and was named the game's most valuable player.

Cardinals players said they were highly disappointed by the defeat. But they never thought they had the game won, they said, not with Roethlisberger on the other side and plenty of time remaining on the clock.

"No one in a million years thought we'd be here," Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "That's the way football is. Not one time did I think we had them beat. They made plays, and they got it."

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