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Third quarter: On the run

| Monday, Feb. 6, 2006

DETROIT -- The Steelers began the second half of Super Bowl XL with a 7-3 lead against the Seahawks, thanks in part to Seattle's first-half inability to capitalize on golden opportunities.

But it was their capitalization on a big mistake by Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that kept the Seahawks' championship dream alive.

Following the Rolling Stones' hits-heavy halftime performance, the Steelers were the ones who still needed started up - having gained only 113 yards in the first half, 43 of those coming on the ground.

Not a problem.

After all, the Steelers had Willie Parker.

Parker, who had been held in check with just 11 yards on six carries in the first half, broke through a huge hole opened up by the right side of the Steelers' offensive line on the second play of the quarter and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. Jeff Reed's successful extra point gave the Steelers a 14-3 advantage.

"Fast Willie," he's called by teammates. And he was on that play, breaking the longest run in Super Bowl history.

Seattle answered with a first down on the third play of its following drive. Then, NFL Most Valuable Player Shaun Alexander ran 21 yards to put the Seahawks in position to answer the Steelers' score, moving the Seahawks into Steelers territory.

But quarterback Matt Hasselbeck overthrew wide receiver Darell Jackson on third-and-6 from the Steelers' 33, and kicker Josh Brown failed to convert on a 50-yard field - his second miss from 50 or more yards in the game.

With 11:40 remaining in the quarter, the Steelers led by 11 points. Such a deficit was seemingly bad news for the Seahawks, as the Steelers had lost only one game in Bill Cowher's 14 years as head coach when they were ahead by 11 or more points.

The Steelers' second possession of the third quarter began at their own 40. They promptly marched to Seattle's 7 behind wide receiver Hines Ward's two catches for a total of 29 yards - including a key, 16-yard conversion on third-and-3 from Seattle's 40 and four Jerome Bettis runs for 24 yards.

On third-and-7, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Kelly Herndon at the 3-yard line. Herndon returned the ball to the Steelers' 20.

The interception was Roethlisberger's second of the game. Entering Super Bowl XL, he had thrown just one interception in three previous playoff games this postseason.

On first down, Alexander ran for 4 yards to the Steelers' 16. Hasselbeck threw incomplete to wide receiver Bobby Engram on second down. That brought up third-and-6, and Hasselbeck found tight end Jerramy Stevens wide open for a 16-yard touchdown reception.

The score cut the Steelers' lead to 14-10 with 6:45 remaining in the quarter.

The Steelers ran three times on their next possession and failed to gain a first down. Chris Gardocki's punt put Seattle at its own 27.

The Steelers' defense held Seattle to a three-and-out on the next possession.

Pittsburgh started its fourth possession of the quarter at its 26. Roethlisberger threw incomplete twice on first and third downs and the Steelers were forced to punt.

Gardocki came through with a 54-yard punt that downed the Seahawks at their 2. From there, the Seahawks drove to the Steelers' 48 as the third quarter ended with Pittsburgh holding onto a tenuous 14-10 lead.

Additional Information:

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Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review

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