By Matt Pugliese
And we thought after Super Bowl 42 that no other Super Bowl could ever come close to having the same thrilling conclusion. Well, it only took 1 year until we had another spectacular Super Bowl. In Super Bowl 43, The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23, in an epic battle of two teams that so desperately wanted to win the game. Visit the ESPN overview here.
Santonio Holmes made an unbelievable 6-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds left in the game to win their sixth Super Bowl Championship, the most all-time. The Steelers won their second Super Bowl in the last four years.
The Steelers led the game 20-7 in the fourth quarter, only to see the Cardinals stage an incredible comeback. The dynamic duo of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald provided a spark for the Cardinals that they desperately needed. Warner hooked up with Fitzgerald for a 1 yard touchdown catch to make the score 20-14. Then with 3 minutes left in the game, the Steelers were penalized for offensive holding in their own end zone, which resulted in safety.
With the score 20-16, not only did the safety result in a change of the score, it also meant that the Cardinals would get the ball back. On the second play from scrimmage, Warner found Fitzgerald for a 64 yard touchdown, making the score now 23-20 Cardinals.
Fitzgerald would have to watch and rely on his defense to win them the game and ultimately make the Cardinals Super Bowl champions. The Steelers on the other hand have a quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger, and he wanted to add another ring to his already fantastic resume.
He engineered a 78-yard touchdown drive to win it all and add another Super Bowl ring to the historic franchise. The Steelers surpassed the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, to now have six Super Bowl Championships to their five.
David Gentile, a junior at Marist College said, “That was one of the greatest Super Bowls that I have ever seen. Besides last years game, I cannot remember a game that was filled with that much excitement.
The momentum of the game changed when the Cardinals were going into score with only 18 seconds left in the first half. With the score 10-7 the Cardinals were destined to score a touchdown. They got all the way to the 3-yard line, when Warner was looking for a streaking Anquan Boldin in the end zone. He found Steelers linebacker, and Defensive MVP, James Harrison who ran the ball back 100 yards for a Steelers touchdown to end the half and make the score 17-7. This was the longest play in Super Bowl history.
Mike Caiola, a junior at Marist College said, “That was the turning point in the game. If the Cardinals had scored and made it 14-10 going into halftime, they would have had all the momentum and it probably would have changed the whole complexion of the game.”
Pittsburgh looked like the offensive juggernaut to open the game, smoothly driving 71 yards in eight plays. But the 72nd yard that would have given the Steelers a touchdown never came.
It seemingly had when Roethlisberger’s short run was ruled a TD. Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt challenged, and the score was overturned, leaving head coach Mike Tomlin his first difficult decision. He took the points; Jeff Reed’s 18-yard field goal was the shortest in a Super Bowl since 1976.
After forcing a punt, the Steelers kept the ball the remainder of the first quarter outgaining Arizona 140-13, getting seven first downs to one for the Cardinals. As Warner and the usually dominant Cardinals’ offense watched, frustrated, from the sideline, Pittsburgh drove it in on Gary Russell’s 1-yard run to make it 10-0.
Warner had enough time to shine, as the newly crowned NFL Man of the Year, hit Anquan Boldin streaking from left to right. He was upended at the Pittsburgh 1, and Warner’s lob to Ben Patrick got Arizona on the board. It was the tight end’s first touchdown this season.
The Steelers denied the Cardinals their first NFL title since 1947 when they were the Chicago Cardinals. The Cardinals hadn’t played in a championship game of any kind since 1948.
Penalties are what ultimately doomed the Cardinals. They had 11 penalties, which resulted in 106 penalty yards. The Steelers had seven penalties for 56 yards.
Santonio Holmes was named Super Bowl MVP. He finished the game with nine catches for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
A former Marist football player, Mike Zambrano, said, “Both teams really came to play, and gave the fans a great show. Just when it looked like the Steelers had the Cardinals down and out, the Cardinals came back and proved that they belonged there. Ultimately, the better team prevailed, and the Steelers are a great team. This was truly a great game, and will be a classic for years to come.”