Monday, February 2, 2009



After the pregame festivities, which seemed like they took forever, we finally got down to business.

Like they have in their last 5 Super Bowls, the Steelers lost the toss, but for the first time in Super Bowl history, the winning team deferred, giving the Steelers first crack at the ball.

Parker gets a quick 2, then Ben hooks up with a wide open Hines Ward who scampers for 38 yards to get inside Arizona's 40. After a few quick hits to Parker for another first down, Ben goes down the seam for Heath Miller who has 4 houses and a hotel on the middle of the field to get the ball down to the 1.

The Steelers come out in a pro set with Russell and Davis and the play gets blown up for a 4-yard loss. Parker gets it all back, and in a typical Arians move, he calls a play-action pass on 3rd and 1. Ben rolls out and can't find anyone and charges for the goalline...

Darnell Dockett tries to slow him down and Justin Hartwig grabs Ben and pulls him forward...

Ben falls forward and the initial signal is touchdown, but the Whizard of Az pulls one out of his hat and challenges. The call is overturned and the field goal team comes out with the ball on the 1-foot line.

This was a good call. Take the points early.


Arizona gets the ball with a chance to prove our coaches either smart for kicking or dumb for not putting a touchdown on the board. Warner fires one to Breaston the Steeler Killer on 2nd down to move the chains. A holding penalty on first down, followed by a botched handoff set the Cards way back. The defense holds and forces a punt.

Ben comes out firing and hits Holmes for 25 yards to get back into Arizona territory. Arizona was about as good at keeping us out of their territory in the first quarter as France was at stopping the Germans. Ben goes play-action and takes a shot over the top to Nate, but DRC makes a great defensive play to knock the ball away after Nate left him in the dust. After a quick slant to Holmes, Stapleton gets flagged for a false start, setting us back 10 yards. Ben does his Ben thing and scrambles away from pressure and flings it out to Heath Miller for a huge conversion. Arians goes to the WildParker, which goes nowhere, but Ben bails him out by finding Heath again down the middle. The Flash goes for 8, then Ben hits Holmes again on a short out as DRC is playing off. Parker gets a carry inside the 10 as the quarter expires.

That was a long paragraph.

The Steelers had the ball a long time in the first quarter.

TOP: Pit 11:28 (19 plays), Ari 3:32 (5 plays)

Second Quarter

Ben goes back to Heath over the middle who gets down to the 1...again. The Steelers don't mess around this time and go right to the bulldozer.


Arizona's offense answered back, with a series of short passes to running backs and BSK (Breaston the Steeler Killer), they move the ball out across the 50. Another holding penalty sets the Cards back again, but BSK picks up some yards, the Boldin crosses up B-Mac and takes one for a big gainer down to the 1 yard line. Some joke catches a touchdown pass over Larry Foote.


Things started to get a little tense as we all wanted the offense to answer right back. The Flash is able to pick us up one first down, but a hold on Kemoeatu, who might have the best neck beard in the league, sets us back, invariably killing the drive. Lob Wedge scalds one, sending a low kick to BSK, who brings it back across the 50.

With the Cards poised to take the lead, a big stand from the defense was needed. In the past, when we called on the defense, they were shaky at times, especially at situations like this in the game. But not this defense. Not this time. After a chop block call on Edge, LaMarr Woodley does his undertaker impression and buries Warner on the other side of the 50. Huge stand by the defense to force a punt there when Arizona started across the 50.

Moore gets a carry and turns it into a solid gain of 6. Ben, who had been sharp all game, gets a pass batted into the air by a defensive lineman and fall into the arms of Karlos Dansby. This wasn't Ben's fault, it's a jump ball when it gets tipped and it's out of the QB's hands.

Two-minute Warning

But once again, we had to call on the defense, this time with Arizona starting at the 34. The Steelers force two bad throws, but Warner comes through on 3rd down with a dump-out to Hightower that he turns into a first down. After a timeout, Fitz gets his first grab of the game for 12 yards and another first down. The Steelers take a time out to change their defensive alignment. Warner comes out and hits Boldin with two quick slants to get the ball down to the 1. Arizona takes their last time out with 18 seconds to play in the half. LeBeau calls an all-out blitz, but Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison opts out and takes a step back into coverage, reading the quick slant to Boldin.

Harrison steps in front of the pass and snags it at the goal line...

...then takes off down the field, breaking tackles and rumbling down with blockers ahead...

...Fitz and BSK catch him at the goal line, but it's not enough.

That dude knows what's up.
Fitz and Breaston are stunned.

Harrison is winded, but he got in as time expired.

Reed comes out for the extra point before halftime.


Thanks to Harrison, we now had some breathing room and could enjoy Bruce without a knot in our stomach.

...and the Boss didn't disappoint.

Bruce comes out and shocks the Springsteen-listening world with Tenth Avenue Freeze Out to open the set. Odds on bet was that he would open with Radio Nowhere or The Rising.

Bruce throws down Born to Run as the second song in the set.

A solid segue into his new title track, Working on a Dream, which is followed by the classic Glory Days. Bruce does the typical Bruce things like his "It's Quittin' Time" routine with Stevie...

...and of course the guitar twirl.

All in all, an epic and very memorable halftime performance. Probably the best in recent memory. Maybe the best ever.

Third Quarter

Arizona got their hands on the ball to start the third and came out in a 3-wide look, hitting Boldin on a quick pass to get things rolling. Edge gets a few carries out of the spread set and is able to find some creases in the Steelers defense to move the ball. As the Cards approach midfield, the Steelers buckle down. The defense swarms and holds Boldin and Edge to short gains on passes, then Farrior gets heat and hits Warner from behind, knocking the ball loose. The ruling on the field is a fumble, but the Whizard of Az throws the red flag again and wins another challenge. Upon replay review, Warner's arm was going forward, so it was an incomplete pass. Punt.

After a Parker slips in a cut on first down, Ben goes back to picking on DRC and hits Holmes on a quick out. Holmes stiff-arms DRC and DRC grabs his facemask, tacking another 15 on the end of the play. Ben throws Matt Spaeth a bone. We should have kept Spaeth more involved in the offense after Heath came back, he was a solid contributor. On 3rd and 1, Arians refuses to run and goes spread-set where Ben finds Hines on a quick out. With the ball at midfield, this would seem like a good time to take a shot downfield. Ben goes for a check-down and Dansby gets called for roughing the passer, giving us 15 more free yards. Holmes reels in a big 15-yarder to get down to the 20 and into solid field goal range. The Willie Parker Show takes over, and he almost breaks one on the Steelers patented guard-pull play where Kemoeatu and Heath throw monster blocks to get Willie to the second level. He's dragged down at the five. The offense stalls out and the field goal unit comes on. Reed drills it, but Adrian Wilson gets flagged for pile-driving Mitch Berger.

Seriously? You needed to lower your helmet and run over the holder? That was necessary?

At any rate, the Steelers get a first down, but the offense just can't punch it in. Reed comes back out and hits another field goal. This was a big win for the Arizona defense to keep it a 2-score game. A touchdown here would have been huge.


Reed crushes the kickoff and it bounds out of the end zone for the touchback. Amazing what playing on a field with good footing can do for a kicker.

Arizona comes out mixing runs and short passes, with Warner finding Boldin for a first down as the quarter runs out.

Fourth Quarter

A potentially damaging pass to Boldin is called back on another hold against Gandy. It was good to see people actually getting called for holding Harrison. 'Bout time. Boldin grabs another short one then Warner throws on behind Hightower and the Cards have to punt. Arizona's joke punter makes a terrible kick that goes out of bounds, giving the Steelers good field position to start the drive.

Ben goes across the middle for Hines who got held out of his cut and the flags come out again. Parker runs for 6 to take it across the 50 and set the Steelers up with a positive down and distance. But it wasn't happening on this drive. Parker gets stuffed in the backfield by Dansby then Ben is sacked by Dockett. Berger makes a good kick and Big Play Willie Gay lays the stick on Breaston at the 16.

With 11 1/2 to go, Arizona comes out with a no huddle offense and Warner picks the Steelers apart through the air with passes to Breaston, Urban, Fitz, and Arrington. Warner goes back to Fitz on a quick come-back route, which Fitz turns upfield and takes down to the 10. Warner goes back to Fitz to get to the 6, then dumps one short to Hightower who is stood up at the 1. On 3rd and goal, Warner throws one up for Fitz on the fade...

Fitz goes up and gets it with Ike's hand in his face.

Upon further review, Ike actually got his hand on the ball, but Fitz was just too strong.

Stellar camera work on this one:


The touchdown hurt, but we knew if we could put together a decent drive that would take time off the clock (and maybe even points on the board), we'd be hoisting Lombardi.

Arians wasn't so inclined. With under 7 minutes to go, he puts Ben in shotgun on 2nd and 6, where Ben is sacked by Dockett, putting the drive in a dangerous spot. Not wanting to force anything, Ben dumps one off to Heath that's good for 10 yards, but nowhere near enough for the first down. Berger punts with 5:42 left in the game.

Boldin picks up 11 yards on first down, and gets 15 more after Ike gets flagged for extracurricular activities. With the ball across the 50, the Cards make a token run, trying to catch the Steelers in pass coverage, but Potsie is all over it. On 2nd down, BSK reels one in for 23 yards to get down to the Steelers 26. Your heart started coming up in your throat, but sank back down a little when Gandy got called for another hold on Harrison. Polamalu nearly gets a pick on first down, and two incompletions later the Cards punt.

They are able to down the ball at the one, and Harrison picks up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play for punching a guy who was down. I guess anyone would be frustrated if you'd been getting held all game. At least they called it this game.

The penalty really didn't mean anything as the Steelers started at the 1 anyways. With 3:26 to play, Arians calls a pass. Hines can't pull it in and the clock stops. The Steelers go back to the ground and Parker barely gets out of the end zone. On 3rd and long, Ben drops back and guns one to Holmes, but Hartwig gets called for holding in the end zone, which results in a safety.


The free kick was a recipe for disaster, but Rookie of the Year Patrick Bailey comes up with a huge tackle to stop BSK in his tracks. The Steelers possession had started at 3:26. The Cards got it back at 2:58. A 28-second drive is not the kind of ball control you want with the Super Bowl hanging in the balance.

Warner and Boldin can't hook up on first down. On a play that had the potential to live in infamy in the minds of Steelers nation, Fitz pulls in a quick slant and turns on the jets, blowing away Ike Taylor and splitting the seam of the 2-deep safeties, his Superman cape flashing in the breeze as he flew to the end zone.


On the bright side, we still had about 2 1/2 to play. Ben had led us back before, he would simply have to do it again. I'll admit, I was worried. Our offense hadn't done much in over a quarter of game time, and I wondered if we could turn it back on when we needed to. I got my answer. Never doubt 007.

Kemoeatu is called for holding on the first play, turning a 78-yard field into an 88-yard field. Ben scrambles away from pressure and rips one to Holmes for 14 to get more than half of it back on the first play, then hustles the troops up to the line to get off another play before the 2-minute warning. He tries to go deep for Nate down the sidelines, but it gets broken up.

Two-minute Warning

Longest commercial break ever.

On 3rd and 6, Ben goes right back to Holmes for the first down. Out of the no-huddle set, Ben finds Nasty Nate who scampers for 11, but he can't get out of bounds. Ben keeps the offense moving in the no-huddle, but is forced to scramble out of the pocket and picks up 4 yards. The Steelers take a timeout to stop the clock with just over a minute to play.

Ben drops back, makes a pump-fake that looks so real the ball almost comes out of his hands, getting a corner to bite in coverage, letting Holmes come open towards the numbers. Ben flings it out and Holmes snags it, turns it upfield and runs...

...all the way down to the 7.

The Steelers take their last timeout to set things up. The gameplan here was simple. 3 shots to the end zone.

Ben looks for Holmes in the left corner, but no dice. Holmes later says he took his eye off the ball worrying about getting his feet down and the ball went right through his hands. 2nd down. 42 seconds to play.

Ben takes the snap, looks left, pumps, takes a few steps, and fires to the corner...

Holmes appears to be surrounded...

But the ball makes it through...



A closer view:

And he hangs on...

All the way through the catch



They go up to the replay booth for another look, but there is NO DOUBT.

"The ruling on the field stands."



The Cards still had 35 seconds and 2 timeouts, so the game wasn't in the books quite yet. And when you have Larry Fitzgerald, nothing is over.

The Steelers only rush 3 (Smith, Keisel, and Woodley) and can't get to Warner, who finds Fitz at the 43. Timmons keeps him in bounds, forcing Arizona to use their 2nd timeout. Warner comes back with a short one to Arrington, but he can't get out either as Harrison drags him down, forcing Arizona to take their last timeout with 15 seconds to play. Once again, the Steelers rush 3 and drop 8, but the downfield coverage is superb and Warner is forced to step up to avoid Woodley. However, having LaMarr Woodley coming at you from behind is never a good thing either.
Warner cocks his arm to throw the Hail Mary... Woodley lunges...

...the ball comes out of Warner's hand before it starts moving forward...

...the ball is loose...

...and Keisel falls on it to end the Cardinals hopes.





Players of the Game:

Ian's Super Bowl MVP: Santonio Holmes
John's Super Bowl MVP: Santonio Holmes

Ian's Offensive Player of the Game: Santonio Holmes
Huge catches throughout the game and none bigger than those that came on the last drive or the touchdown grab to win the game.
John's Offensive Player of the Game: Ben Roethlisberger
As good as Holmes was, every receiver still needs a QB to get him the ball, and I'm still trying to decide which was better - Ben's throw or Santonio's catch. Quite simply, it was one of the best plays I've ever seen.

Ian's Defensive Player of the Game: James Harrison
The 100-yard interception return was the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history and a backbreaker for the Cards. That was a 14-point play that changed the game.
John's Defensive Player of the Game: LaMarr Woodley
With all due respect to James Harrison, I'm going to go with Woodley, who recorded 2 sacks for the fourth straight playoff game. Oh, and one of those sacks forced a fumble on the Cards' final offensive play of the year.

Honorable Mentions:
LaMarr Woodley
2 sacks, 1 forced fumble. Had 2 sacks in every playoff game.
Ben Roethlisberger

007 was 21/30 for 256 and 1 TD...the game winner.
Gary Russell

Scored the only rushing touchdown of the game.
Heath Miller
5 catches for 57 yards, 2 of which got the Steelers down to the 1 yard line.
Max Starks and Willie Colon
The only non-penalized linemen tonight. They did a great job against edge rushers.
Ike Taylor
He shut down Fitz for 3 quarters. Solid performance.

The final drive:

Holmes touchdown set to epic music:

Harrison Interception:


Final Thoughts:
  • What a game. Quite possibly the best Super Bowl of all time.
  • I'm still not sold on Arians, but I trust Ben.
  • Better nickname: 007 or 00Ben?
  • Defense. Wins. Championships.
  • What a final drive by Ben and Holmes.
  • Wow...this is too good for words.
  • Incredible game by Woodley. He just blows tackles away with his bull rush. No one can stop him.
  • Harrison is a beast. What a play. Gamechanger. 14-point swing.
  • Great performance by Bruce at halftime.
  • Congrats to Tomlin. He's done a hell of a job as a coach.
  • Words can't really describe this season. Simply amazing.
  • Best defense of all time? Quite possibly. We can start that discussion now that they sealed the deal.
  • There is nothing better than wearing a Super Bowl Champions shirt and blogging.
  • This was about as perfect a season as anyone could have imagined with the schedule we had and the questions we had about out O-line.
  • To quote Ben, "Hey O-line, who's laughing now?" great quote after the game.

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