Last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII, held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, to win their sixth title in franchise history. Although the result was anything but unexpected — with Pittsburgh being the heavy favorites to win — the final score does not reveal the suspense, dramatic turns, and big plays throughout the three hour, thirty-eight minute masterpiece.
Early in the game, the Steelers appeared to be in complete control, jumping out to 10-0 lead. Their defense was able to control Arizona’s potent passing game. As halftime neared, however, Kurt Warner and the Cardinals had cut the deficit to three points and were poised to take the lead, with first and goal at the Pittsburgh 1. However, as time expired in the half, Steelers linebacker James Harrison intercepted a pass at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a Pittsburgh touchdown — the longest play in Super Bowl history.
Pittsburgh kept its momentum going into the second half, extending its lead to 20-3 on a drive which lasted for almost nine minutes and included three huge penalties on Arizona. Once again, it appeared as if the Steelers were well on their way to a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
In the fourth quarter, however, the Cardinals came roaring back with 16 unanswered points, including two Larry Fitzgerald touchdowns (tying Jerry Rice’s record of most receiving touchdowns in a single postseason) and a safety. The second Kurt Warner-Larry Fitzgerald score, a 64-yard completion down the middle with only 2:37 left in the game, gave the Cardinals a 23-20 lead and put them in position to cause one of the biggest upsets in the Super Bowl.
The Steelers were not finished, however. Ben Roethlisberger and company took the ball at their own 22-yard line, and drove to the Arizona 6. On second-and-goal with 35 seconds left, Roethlisberger floated a perfect spiral in the back of the end zone to Santonio Holmes — the game’s MVP — who caught the ball outstretched and managed to keep both feet inbounds, giving Pittsburgh a four-point lead.
Although the Cardinals had one last shot to score, the Steelers’ lauded defense lived up to its reputation, forcing a Kurt Warner fumble and setting off wild celebrations and frenzied waving of Pittsburgh’s “Terrible Towels” throughout the stadium.