Notebook: Ward named MVP

DETROIT – Hines Ward of the Steelers overcome a dropped touchdown pass early in the game to win the Super Bowl XL Most Valuable Player award.

Ward caught five passes for 123 yards and one touchdown on a 43-yard pass from Antwaan Randle El. He also gained 18 yards on his only rush, an end-around in the first half.

"I am at a loss for words," said Ward. "There have been a lot of great MVPs who won the Super Bowl. I am speechless right now.

Ward had dropped a 22-yard touchdown pass on a first-down play in the second quarter. But after a penalty and a sack, Ward redeemed himself by converting a third-and-28 play with a 37-yard catch at the Seattle 3 on a cross-field pass from a scrambling Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers scored three plays later on a 1-yard quarterback sweep by Roethlisberger to take a 7-3 lead.

The Seahawks cut the lead to 14-10, but Ward's 43-yard touchdown catch off a reverse by Randle El put the game away with 8:56 remaining.

The yardage total was Ward's third-highest of the season. He gained 135 receiving yards at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and 125 receiving yards at home against the Cleveland Browns.


Cornerback Ike Taylor led the Steelers with seven tackles, due in large part to the fact the Seahawks threw so often to his side in the first half. Taylor also dropped an interception early in the first quarter, but burned the Seahawks with the defensive play of the game when he intercepted Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck with 10:46 left.

The Seahawks trailed 14-10 and drove to the Pittsburgh 27 when Hasselbeck overthrew Darrell Jackson on third-and-18 and Taylor made the interception. He returned it to the Pittsburgh 29 and the officials tacked 15 yards on because of a blocking penalty by the Seahawks. The Steelers scored the game's final points less than two minutes later.


Fast Willie Parker's 75-yard run on the Steelers' counter-power play on the first possession of the second half put the Steelers in the driver's seat at 14-3.

Left guard Alan Faneca pulled right as the rest of the line blocked down to the left. Faneca blocked linebacker Leroy Hill in the hole as Parker slipped past SS Michael Boulware. He then outran FS Etric Pruitt for the touchdown.


While counterpart Tom Rouen punted four times into the end zone, Steelers punter Chris Gardocki had a terrific game. He averaged 48.7 yards gross on six punts, and a 40.8 net average, including a 54-yard punt that was downed at the Seattle 2 by Brett Keisel. Rouen's net average was 31.5 yards.


The subject of Joey Porter's verbal onslaught during the week, Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens scored the Seahawks' only touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Hasselbeck.

Stevens had a costly drop in the third quarter before redeeming himself with the touchdown that cut the Steelers' lead to 14-10.

Stevens also dropped a second-quarter pass at the Pittsburgh 8 and kicker Josh Brown missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt three plays later.

For the game, Stevens dropped three passes and caught three passes for 25 yards. He was also fortunate that his second-quarter drop after a hard hit by Chris Hope was not ruled a fumble, as replays indicated it should have been.


The Steelers tied two teams for fewest first downs in the first quarter: 0. … Parker's 75-yard touchdown run broke Marcus Allen's record 74-yard run in Super Bowl XVIII as the longest run in Super Bowl history. … Kelly Herndon's 76-yard interception return for the Seahawks broke Willie Brown's record 75-yard return in Super Bowl XI.


Steelers special-teamer Mike Logan injured his left knee in the first quarter and did not return. … Seattle free safety Marquand Manuel, in the starting lineup as a replacement for injured Ken Hamlin, injured his left hip tackling Hines Ward during Ward's 18-yard run around the left corner early in the second quarter and did not return. Marquand was replaced Etric Pruitt, a second-year player out of Southern Mississippi. … Seahawks CB Andre Dyson injured his thigh early in the third quarter. He was replaced by Herndon, who returned the interception that set up the Seahawks' only touchdown. … Seahawks DT Rocky Bernard left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. He was replaced by Marcus Tubbs. … Steelers back-up center Chukky Okobi injured his thigh during the Seahawks' kickoff late in the third quarter. … Steelers OLB Clark Haggans was shaken up late in the third quarter on a Hasselbeck scramble. Haggans was replaced by James Harrison and returned a play later.


The Seahawks had a first down at their own 27 with 1:46 left in the first half, and moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 40 with 54 seconds left. But even though the Steelers called two timeouts, the Seahawks' drive stalled. They let the clock wind down to 13 seconds left before throwing an incomplete deep pass on third-and-6 from the Pittsburgh 36. A 54-yard field goal attempt by Josh Brown was wide right and the Seahawks walked off the field with an unused timeout.

In the fourth quarter, the Seahawks trailed by 11 points and punted on fourth-and-13 from the Seattle 48 with 6:32 remaining. The Seahawks didn't get the ball back until 1:51 remained.


Hasselbebeck's 16-yard touchdown pass to Jackson with two minutes left in the first quarter was called back for offensive pass interference. Jackson pushed off of Steelers safety Chris Hope, who complained to the back judge and drew the flag. The Seahawks settled for a 47-yard field goal by Josh Brown for the game's first points.


According to the Associated Press, Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will interview with the Oakland Raiders by the end of the week.

Whisenhunt joined the Steelers' staff as the tight ends coach in 2001 and was promoted to offensive coordinator when Mike Mularkey left prior to the 2004 season.

Under Whisenhunt, the Steelers' offense improved from 22nd in the NFL to 16th. This year, the Steelers finished 15th, but increased dramatically late in the season. Counting three playoff games prior to the Super Bowl, the Steelers scored 162 points, the second-highest five-game total in team history. The 1984 Steelers scored 166 points during five mid-season games.


With Andre Frazier out, the Steelers were able to activate Duce Staley for the Super Bowl. Staley, the 30-year-old running back, had played in only five games this season. He rushed for 148 yards on 38 carries (3.9 avg.). Staley was inactive for all three playoff games and 11 regular-season games because of the depth at the position and his lack of a special-teams role.

The other inactive players for the Steelers were CB Willie Williams, LB Arnold Harrison, LB Rian Wallace, G Chris Kemoeatu, T Trai Essex, WR Lee Mays and DE Shaun Nua. QB Tommy Maddox was the third quarterback.

The inactive Seahawks were CB Michael Harden, FB Leonard Weaver, T Wayne Hunter, T Ray Willis, DE Robert Pollard, TE Itula Mili and DT Rodney Bailey. The third quarterback was David Greene.


Several past Super Bowl MVPs were introduced prior to the game. Deion Sanders drew boos from the pro-Steelers crowd. Tom Brady was introduced next and the boos became louder. Dexter Jackson, who spurned the Steelers with a surprise signing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2003, drew no reaction, but Ray Lewis and Larry Brown followed with the loudest booing accompanying them. Naturally, Lynn Swann and Franco Harris drew the loudest cheers.


Both teams were introduced en masse, but only Detroit-native Jerome Bettis ran to midfield upon the introduction of the Steelers. The rest of the team waited a moment before following.

The captains were introduced before the coin flip. The Steelers captains were Alan Faneca, Hines Ward, Joey Porter, Jams Farrior, Sean Morey and Chidi Iwuoma. The Seahawks captains were Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Lofa Tatupu, Grant Wistrom, Isaiah Kacyvenski and Josh Scobey. Brady was booed and then tossed the coin. The Seahawks called tails and won the toss.


The Rolling Stones played at halftime on a stage formed in the shape of their traditional lips-and-tongue logo. They opened with the lackluster jingo "Start Me Up" and followed with a song, "Rough Justice," from their new album. Their final song was "Satisfaction."

The band played longer than their allotted time, but the scoreboard clock was held at 9:00 as they finished up. One writer said they used the timeout the Seahawks took into the locker room.

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