“I’m disappointed for our team,” said Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh when the Steelers won the 2005 title. “This is a group of men that I’m very proud of. They played very hard in circumstances where nobody believed in them.
“We learned a lot about our team, it’s just unfortunate it had to come out that way.”
Pittsburgh looked like the offensive juggernaut to open the game, smoothly driving 71 yards in eight plays. But the 72nd yard that would have given the Steelers a touchdown never came.
It looked like it had when Roethlisberger’s short run was ruled a TD. Whisenhunt challenged, and the score was overturned, leaving Tomlin his first difficult decision.
He took the points, Reed’s 18-yard field goal, the shortest in a Super Bowl since 1976.
After forcing a punt, the Steelers kept the ball the remainder of the first quarter — 11:28 in all, outgaining Arizona 140-13, getting seven first downs to one for the Cardinals. As Warner and the usually potent Cardinals’ offense watched, frustrated, from the sideline, Pittsburgh plowed it in on Gary Russell’s 1-yard run to make it 10-0.
When Arizona finally got the ball back, it knocked the Steelers off balance with short passes — and one huge play.
Warner, handed the NFL Man of the Year trophy just before kickoff, then hit Anquan Boldin streaking from left to right. He was upended at the Pittsburgh 1, and Warner’s lob to Ben Patrick got Arizona on the board. It was the tight end’s first touchdown this season.
Harrison, the defensive player of the year, stepped in front of Boldin at the goal line, picked off Warner’s throw and began a journey down the right sideline that ended as the longest play in Super Bowl history.
Harrison ran past or through most of the Cardinals, nearly stepped out of bounds at one point, and was dragged down by Fitzgerald as he fell to the goal line. The play was reviewed as several Cardinals knelt on one knee, exhausted from the chase and disheartened by the result.
“Those last couple of yards were probably tougher than anything I’ve done in my life, but probably more gratifying than anything I’ve done in football,” Harrison said.
“I didn’t see him around my offensive line,” Warner said. “He made a great play and a great run to get them a touchdown.”
The previous longest play was Desmond Howard’s 99-yard kickoff return for Green Bay in 1997.
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