Play of the game: Mike Wallace's 95-yard catch
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Nothing makes Mike Wallace's eyes widen like a clear view of single coverage.
Well, except when he also sees the safety standing in another zip code.
"I get happy," he said with a broad grin. "Lunch meat."
There evidently is no menu that would alter the Steelers' appetite in this case: On the first snap after being pinned at their 5-yard line on a punt, Ben Roethlisberger took two steps back, held on a bit thanks to sound protection, then completed a 95-yard touchdown pass to Wallace. The catch-and-run was the longest pass play in franchise history, the second-longest play from scrimmage.
"That's pretty nice to hold a record like that," Wallace said.
The ball traveled 45 yards in the air, came down into Wallace's arms in full stride at the Steelers' 42, and he burst free — doesn't he always• — to find the end zone. That put the Steelers up, 14-0, in the second quarter en route to a 32-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The play, intended to be far less ambitious, called for Roethlisberger to throw underneath to tight end David Johnson and escape the shadow of the goal posts.
But, moments after the snap, Roethlisberger took "a peek out of the corner of my eye" to the right side at Wallace.
"We got the coverage we wanted," Wallace said. "The safety was in the middle of the field, so I just threw up my hand and Ben saw me."
The cornerback was Richard Marshall, who jumped outside and allowed Wallace to beat him to the inside. And that might have been fine had safety Rashad Johnson not begun his pursuit from so far away.
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "We knew that was coming. We did everything we could to prevent it."
It's hard to imagine how the Cardinals did that with single-coverage, but the Steelers were delighted they did.
"You put it out there for a guy like that, he makes a play, and you kind of start smiling because you know he's not going to get caught," Roethlisberger said.
The Arizona secondary took it differently.
"It was my fault," Marshall said. "He's fast, and that's all there is to it."
"It's something we talked about all week: We wanted to keep 17 in front of us," Johnson said. "It's hard to guess on a guy when he's that fast."
This was Wallace's sixth consecutive game with a catch of 40 or more yards, the NFL's longest such streak since Isaac Bruce in 2000, and the touchdown was his 21st of 40 or more yards. For the season, Wallace has 36 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns, an average reception of 20.3 yards.
The previous longest pass in franchise history was a three-way tie for 90 yards, most recently between Kordell Stewart and Bobby Shaw on Dec. 16, 2001, at Baltimore. The longest play from scrimmage remains a 97-yard run by Bobby Gage on Dec. 4, 1949, at Chicago.
Steelers vs. Cardinals 10/23/11
The Steelers defeat Arizona, 32-20, at University of Phoenix Stadium.