Mike Tomlin spent halftime talking about moments, the kind of moments that define a career, that define a Super Bowl.
Santonio Holmes wanted a moment, the kind of moment that defines a career, that defines a Super Bowl.
Before Pittsburgh’s final drive, with Steelers training by three, Holmes found quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers bench and demanded the ball.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Bradenton Herald
“Ben, I want the ball in my hands, no matter what,” is how Holmes recalled the conversation.
Then Holmes prayed.
“Can I be the guy to win the game?” is how Holmes recalled his prayer.
Here’s how we will recall Super Bowl XVIII:
Holmes stretched out in the end zone, the toes of his feet dug into the Raymond James Stadium grass, his body leaning across the white sidelines.
“I used my toes as extra extension,” Holmes said.
Give those piggies a shoe contract.
It was the touchdown catch that will likely define the career of Santonio Holmes, unless he somehow finds a way to top it in future Super Bowls, and, honestly, that seems unlikely.
It was the catch that will define this Super Bowl.
It was the Steelers 27, the Cardinals 23 in a game that lived up to its hype and, for sheer fourth quarter excitement, topped Super Bowl XVII.
Both games were won on a touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining.
While the Giants conquered a dynasty, the Steelers secured theirs, with their NFL-record sixth Super Bowl win in franchise history.
All of them were filled with big moments. Bradshaw to Swann. Bradshaw to Stallworth.
The Steel Curtain.
At halftime, with his team up 17-7, Tomlin asked his players to honor those Steelers who helped build the legend. Then he spoke about moments.
“We embrace those moments,” said Tomlin, the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. “We believe we were built for those moments, and the guys proved it with their play.”
Roethlisberger proved that he is just as much a big game quarterback as any one in the NFL. He engineered the winning touchdown drive, completing six of eight passes.
It was a career-defining moment for Big Ben.
Kurt Warner had taken over the show.
Warner is every bit a Big Game as Ben. He has thrown for at least 300 yards his three Super Bowls and has his team either leading or tied in the final minute.
Warner brought the Cardinals back in the fourth quarter, throwing for a pair of touchdowns, the last a 64-yard catch-and-run by Larry Fitzgerald with 2:37 to play that gave the Cardinals their only lead of the night.
For a few moments, it appeared Warner and Fitzgerald and the Cardinals wild 16-point comeback would define this Super Bowl.
But here is the thing with Warner: He puts his team in position to win Super Bowls, but they don’t always win.
Tom Brady and the Patriots got him in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers got him Sunday night.
“Two minutes left is way too much time for Ben,” Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend said.
Roethlisberger moved the Steelers 78 yards on the game-winning drive. Holmes covered 39 of those yards with four receptions.
Holmes demanded the ball, and Big Ben complied, going to Holmes on five occasions. The only ball Holmes didn’t catch came on a diving effort on the other side of the end zone.
That was on first-and-goal from the 6.
On second-and-goal, Roethlisberger first looked for Hines Ward, saw him covered and looked for Holmes.
Here’s how Roethlisberger recalled the play: “Drop back, scramble right, scramble left, find someone open.”
There were three defenders around Holmes. Roethlisberger threw the ball anyway, finding the only sliver of space that would get the ball to his demanding receiver without it being intercepted.
Holmes stretched and somehow caught the ball.
“If you get the ball to ‘Tone, he’s going to make plays,” Roethlisberger said.
Hey, when you demand the ball, pray for the ball, you’d better catch the ball.
“World champions,” Holmes said. “We are going down in history. We are going down in history right now.”
So is the comeback.
So is the catch.
So are those piggies.