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Lords of the Rings: Your World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers!

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by Tommy Brown

This one doesn’t need much commentary.  One of the most exciting Super Bowls ever. From an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazettte:

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s one for the other thumb.

Santonio Holmes made an acrobatic touchdown catch with 35 seconds remaining in a heart-stopping comeback, allowing the Steelers to become the first team to win six Super Bowls. It earned Holmes a ring and the trophy as the game’s MVP.

“It’s going down in history,” Holmes said after his catch gave the Steelers a dramatic 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. “All I did was extend my arms and use my toes.”

The Steelers, with the league’s No. 1 defense, had blown a 13-point fourth-quarter lead as Larry Fitzgerald caught two touchdown passes, giving him a record seven touchdown catches in the postseason.

That lead was built on James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown on the last play of the first half, which became the longest play in Super Bowl history.

If north, east, south, west, up and down are known as the six cardinal directions, add a new twist that sends Holmes to Disney World and brings the Lombardi Trophy back home to form a sextet.

“The Super Bowl is a test, at one point, of who wants the game more than the other guy,” said Harrison, who capped a magic year after being named team MVP and the league’s defensive player of the year. “All 11 guys on the field helped out on that play.”

Harrison’s 100-yard return of a Kurt Warner pass showed how much he wanted it. Out of gas after an exhausting run, the linebacker just made it to the end zone as two Cardinals finally brought him to the ground. The score held up after a replay challenge.

A championship is the Pittsburgh version of seventh heaven, and there’s no limit on how many will be satisfactory.

“It never gets old, that’s for sure. We’ll take as many as we can get,” said team president Art Rooney II.

The Lombardi Trophy was presented to his father, Dan, by Hall of Famer Joe Namath.

In accepting the trophy, chairman Dan Rooney thanked President Barack Obama, who made his first congratulatory phone call as commander-in-chief to a man who supported him in the election.

Asked if there was room in the trophy case for a sixth one, Mr. Rooney answered: “We’ll make room.”

The Steelers passed up Dallas and San Francisco, who had won five Super Bowls. The Green Bay Packers have won 12 NFL titles, nine of which were won before the Super Bowl came into existence. Still, the Steelers can claim six degrees of separation over the rest of the pack.

It was a fitting season-ending game for Harrison.

“He epitomizes what the Steelers organization is all about,” fellow linebacker James Farrior said. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed guy. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He always plays aggressive, and I definitely think he’s the most intimidating player out there. He doesn’t have to talk. He just goes out there and plays.”

It was the Steelers’ second Lombardi Trophy in four years, and the sixth in 34 years. Ben Roethlisberger, who engineered the final drive with the clock ticking away, became the 10th quarterback to win at least two Super Bowls.

“We won it for the fans. I know they’re going crazy back in Pittsburgh,” Mr. Roethlisberger said. “It’s special to win one for the Rooneys.”

The Super Bowl is supposed to be a neutral site, but once again, legions of Steelers fans took over Raymond James Stadium so overwhelmingly it looked like Heinz Field South.

Throughout the week, black and gold stood out among the palm trees and azure waters of Tampa Bay. It was said more than once and in more than one establishment by the local citizenry — they had never seen fans provide such passionate support or say how proud they were to be from Pittsburgh.

The swirl and swagger remained with the Terrible Towel, which was desecrated last week by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. He stomped on one after using it to blow his nose at a Cardinals rally.

As heart-pounding as the game was, sixes seemed to be the order of the night. During the halftime show, Bruce Springsteen rocked on his six-string guitar while singing “Glory Days.”

During the week in Tampa, the Rooneys were asked repeatedly to explain the Steeler success. They most often pointed to the stability at the head coaching positions, but coaches and players say it begins with ownership.

“We are under the leadership of Dan and Art Rooney. Their vision of what Steeler football is all about is very clear,” said Mike Tomlin, who at 36 became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.

In summarizing the game, the coach said: “Steeler football is 60 minutes. It’s never going to be pretty. Throw style points out the window, but these guys will fight to the end. We didn’t blink.”

In the end, it was a victory for the organization.

“It’s a credit to the Rooneys,” said safety Ryan Clark. “It’s a credit to how they live their lives, how they run their organization, how they treat their team. They’ve done things the right way,” he said.

To deep six something is to discard it, which is was the Steelers did to their lead. But the Cardinals’ hopes went six feet under in the final moments, despite being the first team ever to rally from a deficit of 10 or more points.

The Cardinals have played in more cities than they’ve won titles in the last 61 years, and the Super Bowl loss was crushing because they thought they had it in their grasp.

The Cardinals were in Chicago in 1947 when they claimed the NFL championship, and have moved to St. Louis and Phoenix in the interim. The drought is the longest in football and second in sports only to the century-long travails of the Chicago Cubs. The Steelers have actually won more Super Bowls than the Cardinals have playoff victories in their 89-year history.

“We wanted it more,” said Santonio Holmes.

It’s time to just accept that the Steelers as the greatest franchise in NFL history.

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