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One for the Ages: Steelers Clinch 6th NFL Title in Amazing 27-23 Win in Super Bowl XLIII

You didn’t think it would be that easy – did you? Living up to all the hype of possibly the best Super Bowl ever, the Steelers rallied late to overcome a game Cardinals team and win their NFL record 6th Lombardi Trophy with a stunning 27-23 victory at Raymond James Stadium. The game was everything a Super Bowl should be, with lead changes, big plays that changed momentum, and a late game-winning drive from the Steelers that stunned the Cardinals.

It was that drive, an 8-play, 78-yard drive by QB Ben Roethlisberger that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to the games MVP Santonio Holmes, that sealed the victory for Pittsburgh. The drive came after the Steelers blew a 20-7 fourth quarter lead, and the Cardinals rallied for 16 points to go up 23-20 with 2:37 left.

The Cardinals go-ahead score was a big play in itself, as Larry Fitzgerald, rather quiet minus a 1-yard touchdown, at that point, broke free on a slant route for a 64-yard score that put the Steelers behind for the first time all day. The mostly pro Steelers crowd seemed stunned as it’s defense seemed a step behind the Cardinals offense for most of the fourth quarter.

Pittsburgh started the game-winning drive at their 12-yard line following a first down hold. Roethlisberger went to work, hitting Holmes for 14 yards, then on third-and-6 he found Holmes again for 13 yards to the 39. Then he nailed Nate Washington with an 11-yard pass to midfield with 1:08 left.

After an incomplete pass, Roethlisberger threw short to the right to Holmes, and the former Ohio State speedster raced 40 yards to the Cardinals six with :48 ticks left on the clock. The team used their last timeout after the play, as the crowd went crazy with the notion the Steelers would get the lead back.

First down brought an incomplete pass, then on second-and-goal, Big Ben moved around in the pocket, and with the Cards in zone coverage threw in the right corner of the end zone for Holmes, who made an amazing catch dragging his feet in bounds with full control of the ball for the game-winning touchdown with :42 seconds left.

After a look from the ref, the call stood, and the Steelers took the lead. Arizona had one last shot, and they got two receptions to the Steelers 44 with :15 left. On 1st-and-10 from the 44, Warner scrambled, and LaMarr Woodley got to him, and ball came out as Brett Keisel fell on it to clinch the win with :05 left.

Roethlisberger was 21-for-30 for 256 yards with a TD and an interception and a QB rating of 93.2. Warner was 31-for-41 for 377 yards, the most allowed by Pittsburgh this season, with a pick and three TD’s and a rating of 112.3. MVP Holmes had 9 grabs for 131 yards with the winning score. Fitzgerald had 7 grabs for 127 yards with the 64-yard TD.

The game could have been a runaway, as the Steelers jumped out 10-0 after dominating the first quarter, scoring on their first two drives. Arizona came back with a Warner to Ben Patrick score to make it 10-7 with 5:27 left in the first half. They had a shot to take the lead, as Warner got them to the Steelers one with :18 left in the half. Warner through, looking for Anquan Boldin, had his pass intercepted, and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, James Harrison, grabbed the pass, and after an amazing run, raced to the end zone for a 100-yard return to make it 17-7 at the half.

Arizona then saw the Steelers stop their offense again, and Pittsburgh went almost 8 minutes and drove to the Cardinals three, but couldn’t pound it in, and had to settle for a Jeff Reed chip shot field goal of 21 yards to make it 20-7 with 2:16 left in the third quarter. Arizona then started their comeback, complete with the big play to Fitzgerald that gave them the lead with 2:37 left.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. mark

    February 2, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I really dont know where to start!! This game was up and down for 4 hours or so. It was an emotional rollercoaster for us Steeler fans, and a clutch performance from 2 of our great players. I really hope this stops the ANTI- Roethlisberger idiocy that we have seen too many times on this site. The kid is clutch and he wins. PERIOD! The defense played very hard all day. The Cards are for real people and have a strong future, at least if Warner is back for 1 or 2 more years. For 3 quarters I really thought the Defense had the Cards figured out and they did. But… Warner and that Offense is GREAT and the 4th had all of us fans ready to puke.Its easier to show praise when you are on the winning side so with that I have to say I have nothing but respect for the Cards and Kurt Warner. They showed guts in playing and class in losing. Remember John Facenda in the old NFL films? When talking about the Steeler-Rams SB he said something like “the Rams won the respect of their fans…but the Pittsburgh Steelers won ANOTHER World Championship” . Put in Cardinals for Rams and their you have it. Case closed, end of story! REJOICE STeeler fans, 6X Champions and we could not be prouder.

  2. Scott

    February 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm


    I couldn’t agree more.

    Great Job Steelers Nation…AMERICA’S TRUE TEAM!

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