In one of the greatest Super Bowl finishes ever, a valiant comeback by the Cardinals fell tantalizingly short as the Steelers escaped with a 27-23 win in Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium.
Arizona trailed 20-7 entering the fourth quarter but reeled off 16 straight points, including two touchdown passes from Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald. But Ben Roethlisberger threw a six-yard scoring strike to Santonio Holmes with 42 seconds remaining to give Pittsburgh its sixth Vince Lombardi trophy.
Warner threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns, while Fitzgerald hauled in seven passes for 127 yards and two scores. The Cardinals finish the season as NFC champions with an overall record of 12-8.
QB Brian St. Pierre (3rd QB)
CB Eric Green
FB Tim Castille
LB Victor Hobson
T Elliot Vallejo
T Brandon Keith
DT Alan Branch
TE Jerame Tuman
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The Steelers drove 71 yards down the field in 9 plays on their opening drive, culminating in an 18-yard field goal by Jeff Reed.
The Cards offense struggled on their first possession and were forced to punt after running 5 plays and gaining only 3 yards.
Pittsburgh was drove down the field again on their next possession and were faced with 2nd and 5 from the 5 yard line to end the 1st Quarter
Cardinals 0 – Steelers 3
Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for a 4-yard gain to start the second quarter. Gary Russell ran 1 yard into the end zone on the next play and after a Reed PAT the Steelers lead 10-0 with 14:01 remaining in the second quarter.
The Cards offense answered by moving the ball 83 yards in 9 plays which was capped off by a 1 yard touchdown pass to Ben Patrick. After a Neil Rackers extra point the Cards trailed 10-7 with 8:34 remaining in the first half.
The Cards defense forced their first turnover of the game when Karlos Dansby picked off Roethlisberger prior to the two-minute warning.
Warner and the rest of the offense moved the ball 33 yards down to the 1-yard line but on 1st and 1 Warner was picked off by linebacker James Harrison who returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown. Reed connected on the PAT to increase the Steelers lead to 17-7 as the teams headed to the locker room for halftime.
Cardinals 7 – Steelers 17
The Cards moved the ball 27 yards in 6 plays to start the second half but were forced to punt after Warner failed to complete a pass on 3rd and six.
The Steelers marched 78 yards down the field and settled for a field goal attempt, however Adrian Wilson was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty on the field goal to give Pittsburgh 1st and 4. The Steelers were unable to find the end zone and Reed connected on a 21-yard field goal to extend the Steelers lead to 20-7 with 2:11 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Arizona began their next possession by moving the ball 14 yards in 4 plays as the third quarter came to an end.
Cardinals 7 – Steelers 20
The Cards were unable to convert a first down to start the final quarter and were forced to punt.
Darnell Dockett came up with two big plays back to back, a tackle for a 4 yard loss and a sack for -12 yards to force a Pittsburgh punt and Cards offense took over at their 13-yard line.
Warner completed seven consecutive passes to six different targets on Arizona’s next drive to give the Cards 3rd and goal from the 1 yard line. Warner hit Fitzgerald in the corner of the end zone for the score and Rackers connected on the point after as the Cards trailed 20-14 with 7:33 left in the game.
Dockett sacked Roethlisberger on 2nd down for a loss of 10 to leave the Steelers with 3rd and 16. Miller hauled in a 10 yard reception on 3rd down and the Steelers were forced to punt with 5:41 remaining.
The Cards offense took over from their 25-yard line and Warner hit Boldin for an 11-yard gain to start the drive and Ike Taylor was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty to move the ball up to the 49-yard line. Warner hit Breaston two plays later for a 23-yard gain. Gandy was hit with a holding penalty and Warner threw three incomplete passes to give the Cards 4th and 20 and Graham punted the ball back to the Steelers with 3:36 left in the game.
Pittsburgh took over at the 1-yard line after an unnecessary roughness penalty. The Steelers appeared to pick up a first down on 3rd and 10 when Roethlisberger connected with Holmes on a 20-yard gain. But the Steelers were flagged for holding in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. Pittsburgh's lead was cut to 20-16 and the Cardinals got the ball back at their 36-yard line with 2:53 remaining.
Two plays later Warner found Fitzgerald, who streaked down the middle of the field for a 64-yard touchdown catch. Fitzgerald had his second scoring grab of the quarter and Arizona had its first lead of the game at 23-20.
But Roethlisberger marched the Steelers down the field, highlighted by a 40-yard pitch-and catch to Holmes, who raced to the Cardinals six-yard line with 49 seconds to play. Two plays later, Roethlisberger found Holmes in the right corner of the end zone, giving Pittsburgh a 27-23 lead with 35 seconds to play.
The Cardinals still had two timeouts and took over at their 23 with 29 seconds left. Warner completed two passes over 14 seconds to move the ball to the Pittsburgh 44. But Woodley stripped the ball from Warner on the next play and Keisel recovered to end the game.
Cardinals 23, Steelers 27