Santonio Holmes: Big Plays in Big Games Pay Off for Super Bowl MVP

jonathan staub@JStaubSportTalkCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2009

Six Wide Receivers have now been named Super Bowl MVP. Three of them have been Pittsburgh Steelers. Santonio Holmes joins Lynn Swann (Super Bowl X) and Hines Ward (Super Bowl XL) as the third Steelers wide out to win the Super Bowl MVP award.

It's a remarkable story for a kid who grew up selling drugs on a street corner in rural south Florida. As remarkable as it is, it should have been expected. For those of us that saw him play at The Ohio State University, there was never any questioning of his talent or big game ability.

"Santonio is a guy who just loves to deliver in big moments and big games," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the game.

If delivering in big games is Holmes' desire, then Steeler nation might as well start calling him the Mailman. He has shown this season that he can deliver, even if it is Sunday.

While most of the attention this weekend for wide receivers was on Larry Fitzgerald, and deservedly so, Holmes' contributions to the Steelers this postseason got lost amidst all the stories and sub-plots of what turned out to be one of the most exciting games in NFL history.

Hines Ward's knee, Mike Tomlin vs. Ken Whisenhut, Larry Fitzgerald's record setting postseason, two Super Bowl winning Qb's with Hall of Fame aspirations, Arizona's storied history of failure, a sub-par Pittsburgh offensive line, and a Steelers defense trying to cement it's place in history as one of the best ever.

These were just a few of the stories that dominated headlines of the course of the week.

One thing that was overlooked throughout the week was the importance of Santonio Holmes to the Pittsburgh Steelers success. Rest assured, after tonight's nine catch, 131 yard, MVP performance, highlighted by one of the best catches in Super Bowl history, no one will be overlooking Holmes' importance to Pittsburgh's success again.

For those who say the Steelers live and die with Big Ben, and it is very hard to argue against that, let's take a look back at just what Santonio has done for Pittsburgh these past two months.

Fourth-quarter comebacks were the calling card of this years Pittsburgh Steelers, and none may have been bigger than the eight-play, 92-yard drive in Baltimore. With 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Steelers trailing 9-6, Big Ben hit Santonio Holmes on a 10-yard pass for the game-winning score. Holmes made a toe dragging, jaw dropping catch that clinched the AFC North Division title for the Steelers.

Then there was the divisional playoffs against San Diego. After driving down the field in the first two minutes to jump ahead 7-0, the Chargers had essentially sucked the life out of Heinz Field.

That was until five minutes later when Holmes returned a punt 67-yards for a touchdown that sent Steelers nation into a Towel waving frenzy energizing not only the crowd, but a shell-shocked Steelers sideline.

Fast-forward a week to the AFC Conference Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers, seeking to beat their hated rivals for a third time this season, again turned to Santonio.

After their short yardage offense failed again in the redzone, resulting in two Jeff Reed field goals, Santonio Holmes turned a broken play into a 65-yard touchdown to open up a 13-0 lead and calm a rather uneasy Heinz Field crowd.

In a game that was one of the hardest hitting games of the season, Holmes turned in a brilliant run that sent the Steelers on their way to their seventh Super Bowl.

Then there was tonight. Holmes made catch after catch in leading the Steelers to their NFL record sixth Super Bowl title. He even had a spectacular one-handed catch for a first down, that ultimately resulted in an Arizona safety due to a holding call in the end zone on center Justin Hartwig, negated.

The catch of the night, and maybe his career, was made in the closing seconds, in triple coverage, on a perfectly thrown ball, with his arms outstretched, his toes dragging on the ground, and the fate of a franchise, NFL history, and a nation of Steelers faithful on his shoulders.

Holmes' catch will go down in Super Bowl lore as a lasting image that will be forever etched in the annals of time as one of the greatest Super Bowl moments in history.

Santonio Holmes was a deserving MVP, not just for his performance in this game, but for his performance in the last two months of the season. Without his big play ability the Steelers would not have hoisted their sixth Lombardi Trophy on this historic night.

Holmes and Hines Ward can now write their name in Steelers lore as a tandem deserving comparison to Swann and Stallworth.

The Steelers are the first team in NFL history to boast a pair of Super Bowl MVP's at Wide Receiver. Not bad for a team historically known for a brutal pound and ground offensive attack.

With Hines Ward breaking Steelers' receiving records all season long, it may be only a matter of time before he is joined atop those lists by Santonio Holmes. Roethlisberger said it best when he told reporters after the game, "The sky's the limit for that guy, he can go places no receiver has ever gone."

You'd be hard pressed to find any arguments here.