By JIM WEXELL
TAMPA, Fla. — He infamously came back from the near-dead a few years ago. And now, after coming back from the near-dead in Super Bowl XLIII, Ben Roethlisberger will forever be known as the Comeback Kid.
Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 78 yards in two minutes on a game-winning drive punctuated by a brilliant 6-yard touchdown catch in the back right corner of the end zone by a triple-covered Santonio Holmes.
Holmes went up over safety Aaron Francisco to grab the pass from Roethlisberger with 35 seconds left and give the Steelers a 27-23 win and their sixth Vince Lombardi trophy.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, in handing the trophy to Dan Rooney, compared the game to last year’s in terms of excitement. Holmes’ catch, with the same 35 seconds left as last year’s game-winner, will be remembered along with David Tyree’s dramatic reception in Super Bowl XLII.
“It was a play we drew up that we were hoping to get open in the back corner,” Holmes said.
“The defensive back bit up on the short route and Ben held onto the ball long enough to get it to me.”
And the ballerina footwork?
“All I did was extend my arms and use my toes as extra extension to catch up to the ball,” Holmes said. “Now we’re going down in history with one of the greatest games ever played in the Super Bowl.”
The way the Steelers jumped out, it didn’t appear as if the game was headed in that direction. But the Steelers’ 20-7 lead was eradicated when Larry Fitzgerald ran a short slant pattern and took Kurt Warner’s pass 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:37 left in the game.
What was going through Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin’s mind as he watched Fitzgerald?
“I was thinking, if they’re going to score, that’s how you want them to score – quickly,” Tomlin said. “That’s been our strength all year. Steeler football is 60 minutes. And it’s never going to be pretty.”