Roethlisberger engineers another comeback

TAMPA – He infamously came back from the near-dead a few years ago. And now, after coming back from the near-dead in Super Bowl XLIII, Ben Roethlisberger will forever be known as the Comeback Kid.

Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 78 yards in two minutes on a game-winning drive punctuated by a brilliant 6-yard touchdown catch in the back right corner of the end zone by a triple-covered Santonio Holmes.

Holmes went up over safety Aaron Francisco to grab the second-down pass from Roethlisberger with 35 seconds left and give the Steelers a 27-23 and their sixth Vince Lombardi trophy.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, in handing the trophy to Dan Rooney, compared the game to last year's in terms of excitement. Holmes' catch, with the same 35 seconds left as last year's game-winner, will be remembered along with David Tyree's last season as well.

"It was a play we drew up that we were hoping to get open in the back corner," said Holmes. "The defensive back bit up on the short route and Ben held onto the ball long enough to get it to me."

And the ballerina footwork?

"All I did was extend my arms and use my toes as extra extension to catch up to the ball," Holmes said. "Now we're going down in history with one of the greatest games ever played in the Super Bowl."

The way the Steelers jumped out, it didn't appear as if the game was headed in that direction. But the Steelers' 20-7 lead was eradicated when Larry Fitzgerald ran a short slant pattern and took Kurt Warner's pass 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:37 left in the game.

What was going through Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin's mind as he watched Fitzgerald break into the clear?

"I was thinking, if they're going to score, that's how you want them to score – quickly," Tomlin said. "That's been our strength all year. Steeler football is 60 minutes. And it's never going to be pretty."

Roethlisberger, though, has been quite pretty late in games with his team behind. He'd engineered 17 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career prior to last night, and five during the recent regular season, so there was hope in the huddle as the Steelers took over at their 22 with 2:30 left.

"I said ‘It's now or never,'" Roethlisberger said at the start the drive. "I told the guys, ‘All the film study you put in don't matter unless you do it now.'"

Holmes chimed in with: "I want to be the guy to make the plays."

So, the two players, with Hines Ward hobbled, set about making the biggest plays for the Steelers since Super Bowl XL.

A 14-yard catch-and-run by Holmes reduced a 1st-and-20 hole, and Holmes came through with a difficult catch to gain 13 on 3rd-and-6. Roethlisberger threw 11 yards to Nate Washington before hitting Holmes for a 40-yard gain to the Arizona 6. Francisco had slipped on the short pass and Holmes bolted down the sideline for the big gain.

Roethlisberger then threw to Holmes in the left corner, but the ball went through his hands. Holmes made up for it on the next play with his game-winning catch.

Roethlisberger completed six of eight passes on the game-winning drive for 83 yards. He finished with 256 yards – more than double his paltry 123 yards of his previous Super Bowl – and a passer rating of 93.2. Holmes caught four passes for 73 yards on the final drive to finish with a career-high nine catches for 131 yards to earn the game's MVP award.

"I definitely asked the Lord to help me today," said Holmes. "I asked Him, ‘Can I be the guy to win this game? I told my coach earlier this evening that I wanted to be a great playmaker for this team. The Lord was willing to look out for me today and gave me the opportunity."

"The sky's the limit for him," the Comeback Kid said of the MVP. "He has the potential to go where no receiver's ever gone. I think this is a big confidence booster for him."

Steel City Insider Top Stories