A team for the ages played a game for the ages. It featured a comeback for the ages. Joe Montana, Bill Mazeroski, Rocky Balboa, John Wayne…Ben Roethlisberger.
In 2004 at Dallas Texas Stadium I witnessed a rookie named Ben Roethlisberger lead the Steelers on an improbable comeback with 2 minutes left to beat the Cowboys. At that moment we all knew. The Steelers had a special Quarterback. For the first time since Terry Bradshaw retired, we knew that the guy with the keys to the car could drive it all the way home. All the way to the Promised Land. The entire Steelers Nation knew it. Now, the talking network heads that berated Benny for holding the ball and taking too many sacks know it too. Last night in XLIII was just another in a long line of chapters (19 to be exact) of Benny riding to the rescue in the forth quarter. Kudos to the front office for getting Ben in the 04 draft. He was the best QB available. More kudos to the front office for getting the best WR in the 06 draft in Holmes. They also got the best TE in the 05 draft in Miller. Then when Bill Cowher retired, the front office got the best coach available. Not Ken Whisenhunt and not Russ Grimm. That man is a motivator and communicator named Mike Tomlin. That was a very impressive hire and another in a long line of great moves by the front office.
All season long if it wasn’t DeShea Townsend with the pick 6 to beat Dallas it was Troy Polamalu burying Baltimore with a Championship ending INT TD. When the “Championship Caliber” defense let the team down for the first time all year with 2 and a half minutes to go the beleaguered offense stepped up to the challenge. Santonio Holmes reportedly told Ben in the huddle “Get me the ball. I want to make a play for you.” Ben did and Santonio made several, all the way down the field. He saved his best for last. A spectacular “John Taylor” like tip toe catch in triple coverage off a frozen rope from Benny the gunslinger. TD. Super Bowl. 6 time Champions. Not just a championship caliber defense, a championship caliber team. Resilient. Whichever phase needed to step up did. Holmes HUGE punt return TD against SD. Polamalu and the D against Baltimore in the AFCCG. Ben and the offense driving 80 plus yards with 2 minutes left for the ring clinching score. Resilient. Working On A Dream.
The offense was led by Big Ben; Godsend. While the Offense struggled (as it has all year) with play calling inside the 10 and Hines Ward injury, they got it done at crunch time. Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger came up big when the chips were down. Great players make great plays to win big games. As stated previously, with this O line, there is no other QB in the NFL I would want leading our team other than Big Ben. Not Brady, not Manning, not Warner. Santonio Holmes made up for indiscretions earlier in this year and has solidified himself in Steelers lore and as the top WR and playmaker on this Steelers team. Hines Ward trained him well. Like Bettis trained FWP. This is why the Steelers are always competitive. The older leaders teach the “Steeler Way” to the young guys.
The defense was immovable for 3 quarters holding the explosive AZ offense to one TD. James Harrison played like a man possessed bringing back memories of 58, Jack Lambert. While in today’s game, punching an opponent usually gets one ejected Deebo intimidated, tackled, hit and punched his way to a title. His 100-yard INT TD return was simply one of the most spectacular plays in Super Bowl history. Rumbling, bumbling, stumbling and finally tumbling into the end zone at the end of the half Harrison took away an almost guaranteed AZ lead and turned it into a 17-7 Steelers lead. It was a fitting prologue to the Boss version of Born To Run at halftime. Lamar Woodley is an animal. He is averaging 2 sacks a game in 4 career playoff games. Great players make great plays to win big games. Woodley’s sack of Warner and forced fumble ended any shot at a Hail Mary from Warner to the fantastic Fitzgerald. The WR from Pitt gave fits to the Steelers secondary all during the forth quarter. Ike Taylor was burned from one side of the field to the other and became so frustrated he took a 15-yard personal foul on the AZ sideline swinging at the Cards. As hapless as Bruce Arians play calling was all night (the Steelers biggest plays were again when Ben improvised) the Cards could be second guessed for not lining up in the shot gun from the first quarter on and throwing every down. It worked in the forth quarter pretty well.
And while the defense almost blew a 13-point forth quarter lead, the Steelers were lucky to have had the eleventh pick in the 2004 draft where they picked big number 7 at QB. Riding to the rescue with the cavalry was Big Ben in the biggest moment of the biggest game in front of the biggest audience. The guy is not Brady. He is not Manning. He is just a winner. As long as the Steelers suit up with Ben at QB they will always be in the hunt for the Lombardi. Hope Ben stays of his motorcycle this off-season and comes to Latrobe in July healthy. If he does, the Steelers have a great shot at a repeat. One for the other thumb is now a reality. Need to get the other fingers started next year. Glory Days Steeler Nation!