Tomlin makes history with Super Bowl win

Former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin became the youngest coach in Super Bowl history and came away with the sixth Lombardi Trophy in Steelers history.

They're calling it Sixburgh in the Steel City.

The Pittsburgh Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls when they beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in one of the most exciting of the 43 championship games.

They did it with the youngest head coach in the game's history, 36-year-old Mike Tomlin, and behind a 26-year-old quarterback who won his second Super Bowl, Ben Roethlisberger.

It could be a nice long marriage for the coach and his quarterback.

"He's a franchise quarterback that we have a long-term commitment to," Tomlin said. "He's our guy."

Tomlin's second team avoided the kind of late-season injuries that doomed the chances of his first in 2007, when they labored down the stretch and were eliminated at home in their first playoff game.

Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and Aaron Smith all had healthy productive seasons. Their offense labored because of injuries to Willie Parker, two starting linemen and rookie halfback Rashard Mendenhall. Roethlisberger s statistics were mediocre with 17 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions, but he led them on six winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime to make up for it, including the one that covered 78 yards in the Super Bowl.

Ward had his most productive season since 2003 with 81 receptions and his first over 1,000 yards in that time. And Parker, while missing five games with injuries, was healthy and running well by the end of it.

The Steelers head into free agency trying to rebuild a week offensive line again. Tackle Marvel Smith, who missed the end of the season with a second back surgery in one year's time, is a free agent, as is the man who replaced him on the left side, Max Starks.

Even before he played in his second Super Bowl in his first five seasons in the NFL, Roethlisberger rose to become the clear team leader.

"He is driving the bus now," said Ward, who noted that Roethlisberger was mostly along for the ride in Super Bowl XL. "Now, when he gets in the huddle he demands all eyes on him, all the attention. He knows this is his team and we go as far as Ben takes us. He's a leader of this team, voted captain."

That's on the field. On the sideline is Tomlin, who became the second African-American coach to win the Super Bowl, after another former Vikings coordinator, Tony Dungy. But Tomlin was among the Steelers in a receiving line to touch the Lombardi Trophy as Joe Namath went to make the presentation.

"I see five of them every day," Tomlin said. "I know what they look like."

What went right: Coordinator Dick LeBeau wanted a better pass rush and more interceptions, and he got both. One reason was the addition of linebacker LaMarr Woodley, whose presence and 11.5 sacks on the left side helped James Harrison, who set a team record with 16 on the right side. That helped the secondary and the pressure helped increase their interceptions to 20, up from 11 a year earlier.

What went wrong: Pittsburgh's offense pulled some games out near the end of the season, but overall was not as effective as in the past. The Steelers' running game ground down to a 23rd ranking in the league, the second-lowest since it joined the AFC in 1970, and its offensive line was a problem all season.


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