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Steelers Super Bowl moment No. 1: Santonio's toe-tapping TD catch

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By Pittsburgh The Tribune-Review

Published: Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011

10. Steelers record first safety in Super Bowl history, Super Bowl IX, Tulane Stadium, New Orleans

Jan. 12, 1975

Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6

Defensive end Dwight White spent most of the week before the game in the hospital, felled by pneumonia. But he dragged himself onto the field and tackled Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who fumbled a snap in the end zone. The Steelers turned their 2-0 halftime lead into their first of four Super Bowl victories in six seasons, with the defense pitching a shutout and holding the Vikings to a record-low 119 yards. The only Vikings score occurred in the fourth quarter when Matt Blair blocked a Bobby Walden punt, and Terry Brown recovered in the end zone. White celebrated by going back into the hospital for a few more days.

9. Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith drops a pass in the end zone, Super Bowl XIII, Orange Bowl, Miami

Jan. 21, 1979

Steelers 35, Cowboys 31

Smith's drop goes down as one of the most glaring mistakes in sports history, right there with Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series and Scott Norwood in Super Bowl XXV. The Steelers led, 21-14, in the third quarter, and the Cowboys were on the Pittsburgh 10-yard line. Smith was open in the end zone when quarterback Roger Staubach spotted him and threw a soft, catchable pass that had tie game written all over it. But the football bounced from Smith's midsection to the turf. The Cowboys settled for a field goal, and the Steelers ran with the gift, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns to ensure their third Super Bowl title. Smith retired after that season, his only one with the Cowboys, carrying his exemplary 16-year career and 40 touchdown receptions with him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

8. Steelers recover onside kick in midst of failed rally against Cowboys, Super Bowl XXX, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

Jan. 28, 1996

Cowboys 27, Steelers 17

Coach Bill Cowher took the Steelers to a Super Bowl in his fourth season (faster than Chuck Noll did two decades earlier), but he needed a gimmick to counteract the Hall of Fame Cowboys trio of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. So after Norm Johnson's 46-yard field goal cut the lead to 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, Cowher ordered an onside kick. Johnson was an expert at such things, and Steelers cornerback Deon Figures easily recovered, inciting Cowher to boast, kiddingly, to the official about the genius who made the call. The gamble led to a Bam Morris touchdown run, but Larry Brown's two interceptions of Neil O'Donnell passes doomed the comeback.

7. Lynn Swann's three spectacular catches, Super Bowl X, Orange Bowl, Miami

Jan. 18, 1976

Steelers 21, Cowboys 17

Super Bowl MVP Lynn Swann recorded 161 receiving yards, the fourth most in Super Bowl history, with only four catches. Three of those are among the most spectacular of all-time, and longtime Steelers PR director Joe Gordon called the first "one of the best I've ever seen." Swann caught the ball high in the air, 2 yards out of bounds, and came down just inside the sideline. The 32-yarder led to the Steelers' first touchdown. The second — a 53-yarder — is the most iconic. Not unlike a male ballerina, Swann leapt over the Cowboys' Mark Washington at the 49, tipped the football to himself at the 43, got up and was tackled at the 37. Although it is a staple of NFL Films, the catch was the penultimate play of the first half and had no effect on the game. The last was a long, arcing, 64-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw never saw Swann's catch or his over-the-shoulder spike because he was decked by defensive lineman Larry Cole and had to be helped off the field on wobbly legs.

6. Jack Lambert body slams Cliff Harris, Super Bowl X, Orange Bowl, Miami

Jan. 18, 1976

Steelers 21, Cowboys 17

Roy Gerela suffered a cracked rib making a tackle on the opening kickoff, and it bothered him enough that he missed two field-goal attempts. After a 33-yard try that would have tied the score, 10-10, in the third quarter, the Cowboys' Harris mockingly tapped Gerela on the helmet. Lambert angrily stepped in, grabbed Harris by the shoulder with one hand, by the helmet with the other and threw him to the ground. Harris protested to the officials, but Lambert was never penalized or fined. "Today, it would have been worth a $25,000 or $50,000 fine," longtime Steelers PR Joe Gordon said. The exchange sparked the Steelers, who scored the next 14 points on a safety, two Gerela field goals from 36 and 18 yards and Lynn Swann's TD catch.

5. Antwaan Randle El's touchdown pass to Hines Ward, Super Bowl XL, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.

Feb. 5, 2006

Steelers 21, Seahawks 10

Antwaan Randle El, a quarterback at Indiana University, became the first and only wide receiver to throw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl. The play was called by offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who sensed the need to boost the Steelers' 14-10 lead with less than nine minutes left in the game. Earlier in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks were poised to retake the lead, but Ike Taylor's interception ended the threat and Whisenhunt didn't want to leave the outcome to chance. The play started with a handoff to running back Willie Parker, who ran to his left and pitched to Randle El, coming from the opposite direction. The pass hit Ward in stride, and he skipped into the end zone on his way to Super Bowl MVP honors.

4. Willie Parker's 75-yard touchdown run, Super Bowl XL, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.

Feb. 5, 2006

Steelers 21, Seahawks 10

The longest run in Super Bowl history was a perfectly executed play into the right side of the Seahawks' defense. Look it up in the Steelers playbook under Counter 34 Pike. Just 22 seconds into the second half with the Steelers clinging to a 7-3 lead, left guard Alan Faneca pulled into the hole to wipe out linebacker Leroy Hill, giving Parker a wide lane. Parker was largely untouched coming through the line, and only safety Etric Pruitt, a third-team player forced into duty by injury, had a shot to bring him down. His diving attempt wasn't close, and Parker punctuated the run with a dive into the right corner of the end zone. Parker gained only 18 yards on nine other carries and wasn't the game's leading rusher. That honor went to Seattle's Shaun Alexander (95).

3. John Stallworth's 73-yard touchdown reception, XIV, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

Jan. 20, 1980

Steelers 31, Rams 19

The last of the Steelers' four Super Bowl teams in six seasons was trailing entering the fourth quarter, 19-17. That's when Stallworth hauled in a high-arcing touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to give the Steelers the lead for good. Stallworth, who had three receptions for 121 yards, caught the pass in stride while looking back over the wrong shoulder at the Rams' 32. Cornerback Rod Perry stretched his arms but couldn't deflect the pass. Bradshaw threw three interceptions but was named Super Bowl MVP on the strength of two scoring strikes and 309 passing yards. The Steelers dominated the rest of the game, with Franco Harris scoring on a 1-yard burst, his second of the game. It was the end of an era. The Steelers didn't return to the Super Bowl for 16 years.

2. James Harrison's 100-yard interception return, Super Bowl XLIII, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

Feb. 1, 2009

Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

The Cardinals' Kurt Warner had the second-most productive day for a quarterback in Super Bowl history, throwing for 377 yards, but the two he didn't get turned into one of the greatest plays in history. With the ball on the 2 and the Cardinals preparing to erase a 10-7 deficit on the last play of the first half, Warner believed Harrison was planning to blitz. But Harrison hung back, shadowing intended receiver Anquan Boldin and picking off the pass at the goal line. From there, Harrison followed a convoy of teammates, including cornerbacks Deshea Townsend and Ike Taylor, defensive end Brett Keisel and linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, down the sideline. Finally, receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston caught Harrison inside the 5-yard line, but he bulled into the end zone to give the Steelers a 17-7 halftime lead. Time elapsed from snap to touchdown: 17 seconds.

1. Ben Roethlisberger's game-winning, 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl XLIII, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

Feb. 1, 2009

Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

The clock was ticking down — 40, 39, 38 seconds left in the game — while Ben Roethlisberger scanned the field, looking for an open receiver. Finally, he spied Holmes in the far right corner of the end zone under the pirate ship at the home of the Buccaneers. Roethlisberger fired a dart that Holmes speared with a firm grip while tiptoeing the sideline. Touchdown. The game gave the Steelers a record sixth Lombardi Trophy and marked the second year in a row, but only the third time in history, that a Super Bowl was decided by a touchdown in the final minute. Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress (XLII) and Joe Montana to John Taylor (XXIII) were the others.

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