Look familiar? Mike Wallace plays the role
The Steelers had lived this moment before, a game-winning drive punctuated by a tiptoe catch along the end zone sideline. Only, this time, Mike Wallace played the role of Santonio Holmes.
In a mirror image of Holmes' heroics in Super Bowl XLIII, Wallace caught a 19-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger as time expired for a 37-36 victory Sunday over the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field.
"It was a perfect ball," Wallace said. "You can't put the ball in no better place than that."
Roethlisberger already had, giving the Steelers a sense of dejà vu.
"It definitely reminds me of the Super Bowl drive," said Holmes, the Super Bowl XLIII MVP. "Before the drive even started, I was that same guy on the sideline, saying, 'Who's daring to be great right now?' My first words to (Wallace) after he scored the touchdown were, 'That's how you be great.'"
The catch capped a 12-play, 86-yard drive that covered 2 minutes, 5 seconds and saved the Steelers' season, or at least kept it on life support. Like the touchdown grab by Holmes in the Super Bowl, the play stood up to video review - and will go down as one of the most fantastic finishes to a regular-season game in club history.
"That's a Super Bowl MVP-type catch," Roethlisberger said.
Much like the 40-yard catch that set him up for Super Bowl stardom, Holmes had kept the drive alive on a fourth-and-7 from the 22 with a 32-yard catch-and-run to the Green Bay 46.
"Ben stepped up and saw me running across the field and delivered a strike," Holmes said, "and I did the rest."
The Steelers then escaped a possible turnover when defensive back Jarrett Bush's interception was nullified by linebacker Brandon Chillar's illegal-contact penalty for knocking down receiver Hines Ward. Roethlisberger escaped pressure in the pocket to throw it away, but left tackle Max Starks drew a false start penalty that pushed the Steelers back to their own 44.
After an incomplete pass, Roethlisberger found Heath Miller near the left sideline for a 20-yard gain to the Packers' 36. Again, the Steelers survived a scare when defensive end Cullen Jenkins' sack of Roethlisberger was negated by cornerback Josh Bell's holding penalty.
Roethlisberger found Miller for a 12-yard gain to the 31. With 18 seconds left, Roethlisberger passed to Wallace but it fell incomplete. When Wallace returned to the huddle, the quarterback had choice words for the rookie.
"I really chewed him out because I felt like he quit on the play," Roethlisberger said. "I said, 'Listen, you've got to make a play. If I come to you, I come to you. It's time to grow up and do this.'"
After a second-down incompletion, it was down to one final play. With three seconds left, the Steelers receivers were ordered to run "go" routes and Roethlisberger would find the open man. Wallace was his fifth option.
But Bell had his back turned and Wallace positioned himself along the left sideline in the end zone. Roethlisberger's throw was waist-high and Wallace leaned out of bounds, dragging his toes on the turf as he caught it.
"Nobody in the stadium thought we were going to score," Wallace said, "except for us."