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Steelers rally past Cards for sixth title

| Monday, Feb. 2, 2009

TAMPA — The Steelers became the first team to win six Super Bowls. In the process, they denied the Arizona Cardinals a chance to become the most improbable of Super Bowl champions.

And they did it in dramatic fashion.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger rallied the Steelers after they squandered a 13-point lead, and his late-game heroics produced a 27-23 win and one of the most memorable finishes in Super Bowl history.

Roethlisberger led the Steelers on one of his patented fourth-quarter comebacks, and he capped a 78-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left in the game. Holmes made a spectacular catch amidst heavy traffic in the back-right corner of the end zone and managed to keep his toes in bounds.

A defense that had faltered in the fourth quarter held the Cardinals at the end of the game as the Steelers staved off a loss that would have haunted them.

"That was Joe Montana-like," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said of the final drive that Roethlisberger engineered, "but Ben's been doing that all year."

Roethlisberger completed 21 of 30 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. Holmes caught nine passes for 131 yards, earning game MVP honors.

"They talk a lot about this offense, and you know what I'm so proud of the way we responded on that last drive," Roethlisberger said. "I hope we silenced some critics."

The win gave the Steelers a second Super Bowl title in four years. It also capped a 15-4 season in front of a pro-Pittsburgh crowd, compelling president Barack Obama to call coach Mike Tomlin and offer congratulations.

Last night's game at Raymond James Stadium produced many memorable moments and the longest play in Super bowl history.

With the Steelers clinging to a 10-7 lead at the end of the first half, James Harrison picked off Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and then made one of the best runs in Super Bowl history.

He rumbled the length of the field, breaking several tackles along the way before crashing through two Cardinals into the end zone.

His 100-yard touchdown allowed the Steelers to take a 10-point lead into the locker room. It also punctuated an entertaining first half.

The Steelers dominated the first quarter, outgaining the Cardinals 140 yards to 13. A 1-yard touchdown run by Gary Russell early in the second quarter gave them a 10-0 lead.

After controlling the first half, it looked like the Steelers would actually trail going into halftime. But on first down from the Steelers' 1-yard line with 18 seconds left in the quarter, Harrison backed off after showing blitz and intercepted a pass intended for Anquan Boldin. Harrison's return not only set a record, it also shifted momentum back to the Steelers' side.

The Steelers increased their lead to 20-7 after Jeff Reed kicked a short field goal, but they almost paid for not putting the Cardinals away.

Warner, who threw for 377 yards, led an eight-play, 87-yard drive that he capped with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. That cut the Steelers' lead to 20-14.

The Cardinals got within four points after a holding call in the end zone resulted in a safety. Warner then gave Arizona its first lead when he threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter.

"I knew it wasn't over," Warner said.

Indeed, Roethlisberger completed four passes to Holmes on a drive that won't be soon forgotten, and a last-gasp push by Arizona ended when Warner fumbled after LaMarr Woodley sacked him.

"We've got a team that doesn't blink," Tomlin said. "It's never going to be pretty or perfect, but they've got a great deal of belief in one another."