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Super Bowl XLIII - Arizona v Pittsburgh

Sunday, 1 February
Tampa, Florida

By Martin Gough

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Watch highlights as the Steelers clinch the title in the final minute

Pittsburgh won an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl title with a late touchdown in a thrilling 27-23 win over Arizona.

Arizona came back from a 13-point deficit in Tampa to lead by three with less than three minutes to go.

But quarterback Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 78 yards before finding Santonio Holmes for the score with just 35 seconds left.

Holmes was voted Most Valuable Player after catching nine passes for 131 yards against the Cardinals.

His diving touchdown catch in the right corner of the endzone was reviewed by video officials, who saw that he just managed to keep both feet in bounds as he fell.

Mike Tomlin of the Steelers became, at 36, the youngest head coach ever to win the Super Bowl.

"I'm not concerned about personal milestones," Tomlin said. "I'm concerned about adding to the Steelers legacy."

The Steelers, who won four titles in six years in the 1970s and triumphed again in 2006, moved ahead of five-time champions San Francisco and Dallas.

To fight back and put us in position felt great, but give credit to the Steelers to come back down and get a touchdown

Kurt Warner

The Cardinals won their only NFL title in 1947 and their 61-year title drought remains the second-longest in American sport, trailing only the 100-year wait of baseball's Chicago Cubs.

Arizona were down 20-7 in the third quarter, with the highlight of Pittsburgh's scoring a record 100-yard interception return by linebacker James Harrison on the stroke of half-time.

Harrison's spectacular display was followed by one from Bruce Springsteen, who gave a 12-minute concert on the field at Raymond James Stadium during the break.

No team has ever come back from more than 10 points behind to triumph in the NFL's championship game.

But the Cardinals looked like doing just that after scoring 16 unanswered points in under five minutes in the fourth quarter.


Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had been held to a single catch in the first half, caught two touchdown passes from QB Kurt Warner in that time span.

The first, battling corner Ike Taylor to hold on in the right corner of the endzone, was the climax of an eight-play, 87-yard drive in which Arizona broke out of their first-half fug.

The second came on a 64-yard catch and run down the centre of the field after the Pittsburgh defence failed to see Fitzgerald running a short pattern to catch over the middle.

And there was a two-point safety awarded for the first time in 18 years in the Super Bowl, when Pittsburgh committed a foul in the endzone trying to protect Roethlisberger from a sack.

Warner tackled
It was a tough day for Warner on his return to the Super Bowl

The Cardinals were not helped by the fact they conceded a Super Bowl record 106 yards on 11 penalties, including a foul for running into the Pittsburgh field-goal holder, although the Steelers failed to capitalise fully.

Three years after leading his side to victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL, Roethlisberger thought he had opened the scoring with five minutes gone with a scrambled run to his right.

Replays showed he was grounded before crossing the line and the Steelers were forced to settle for a field goal on their opening drive, before Gary Russell rumbled to paydirt from a yard out with 6 minutes 13 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Arizona's defence only sprang to life in the second quarter, forcing a punt then intercepting Roethlisberger, after Warner opened the scoring with a throw to tight end Ben Patrick.

Nine years after winning the big game with the St Louis Rams, 37-year-old Warner completed 31 of his 43 passes for 377 yards.

He now holds the top three marks for yards passing in a Super Bowl, previously throwing for 414 yards in 2000 against Tennessee and 365 yards against New England in 2002.

"To fight back and put us in position felt great, but give credit to the Steelers to come back down and get a touchdown," Warner said.

"These guys exceeded expectations. They were so much fun to play with. I just can't say enough about the season that we had."

see also
Super Bowl porn hits US viewers
02 Feb 09 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Super Bowl half-time show
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NFL great tips Arizona for upset
29 Jan 09 |  American Football
Hudson to perform at Super Bowl
15 Jan 09 |  Entertainment
London NFL team 'a decade away'
30 Jan 09 |  American Football
Super Bowl fever hits America
29 Jan 09 |  TV/Radio Schedule
Cardinals & Steelers seal titles
19 Jan 09 |  American Football

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