Super Bowl XLIII Review: Steelers Define Greatness with Sixth Championship

Bryan HollisterAnalyst IFebruary 1, 2009

Ben Roethlisberger overcame the nerves that plagued him in his last Super Bowl appearance, completing 21-of-30 passes for 256 yards, and at the end of the game hit Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone to cap off what was soon to be the 18th come-from-behind victory of his career.

Three plays later, LaMarr Woodley forced a Kurt Warner fumble as the Arizona Cardinals drove for one last chance to put points on the board.

This time there was no review: it was a fumble, and just like that, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first team in NFL history to win six championships, defeating the scrappy Arizona Cardinals, 27-23, in Super Bowl XLIII.

Let's allow that sink in for a minute.

Six championships, one better than both Dallas and San Fransisco. The Steelers are going to have to do some renovation, because it's possible that this team isn't done yet.

Mike Tomlin became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl, and James Harrison managed to run the 100-yard dash in just under 20 seconds to set the record for the longest play in Super Bowl history, an interception at the Cardinals' goal line that he returned for a touchdown. 

This was a game of big defense and even bigger plays, with each team putting together amazing drives at the end of the game to give their club a chance to bring home the hardware.

Both defenses were solid all game, particularly against the run. Arizona held Pittsburgh to 58 yards on the ground, with the Steelers doing even better and limiting the Cardinals to 33.

Larry Fitzgerald came up big as expected, gaining 127 receiving yards with two touchdowns, including a 64-yard romp that momentarily gave the Cardinals their only lead of the game late in the fourth quarter.

But no play was bigger than Santonio Holmes' game-winning catch with 35 seconds left on the game clock. Trailing 23-20, Pittsburgh had just over two minutes to drive 78 yards to tie or win the game. Eight plays later, they were within six yards of scoring when Roethlisberger dropped back and threw to Holmes in the left corner of the end zone.

It went right through his hands.

On second down, Big Ben dropped back again, scrambled to his right, and threw to Holmes again, this time in the right corner of the end zone.

This time, Santonio did what he is paid to do: with both toes dragging in the end zone, Holmes pulled in the pass as he fell to the ground. A perfect pass, a perfect catch, and upheld upon review; the Steelers had a four-point lead and closed it out on the next series.

LaMarr Woodley's second sack of the game—a feat he has now accomplished in four consecutive postseason games—forced Warner to fumble, and the ball was quickly covered by the Steelers' Brett Keisel to end the game.

I'm not one who is big on moral victories, but the Cardinals can look back later and know that they played hard for 60 minutes against one of the best teams in NFL history—arguably THE best judging by their championship record—and lost by the slimmest of margins on a spectacular play.

In the meantime, the Steelers are once again Super, beating everyone to six championships and solidifying their place in the annals of NFL history.