The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Steelers in the Lead


Well, that was fun.

If ever a game to show just how critical every inch is on the football field, then last night was that game.

Ben Roethlisberger scored the first touchdown of the ball game. No wait, after further review, he didn't.

James Harrison goes 100 yards for the most improbable touchdown in Super Bowl history. As Larry Fitzgerald pulls him down, Harrison's knee lands on the Arizona WR's leg instead of the one-yard line as he then tumbles into the end zone. With no time left on the clock, with only the season at stake, that's a monumental inch to go the Steelers way.

Steelers ahead 20-14, the latter part of the 4th quarter, Roethlisberger faced with 3rd-and-20 on his own one-yard line. I wondered if there was an incompletion on that 3rd down play, whether it wouldn't be smart for punter Mitch Berger to just step out of bounds, take the safety, and then kick it off without having to punt from the tight confines of the end zone. Santonio Holmes then made a tremendous sliding first-down catch which looked like the back-breaker. But there was a hold on Pittsburgh in the end zone. As it turned out, safety.

In what I believe propelled Kurt Warner over the top in Hall of Fame consideration was his ability to lead the Cardinals back on the ensuing possession. His perfect throw to a perfectly positioned Fitzgerald, who then went the distance, was just remarkable. I couldn't believe they came back to take the lead. I was sitting there naming quarterback after quarterback who I felt were simply incapable of making such momentous plays with the world watching. Of course as it turned out, Warner scored too quickly.

Because if there's one clutch fourth-quarter QB, a QB who knows how to respond before the clock strikes the proverbial midnight hour, it would fittingly be a guy nicknamed Big Ben.

Roethlisberger's poised passes down the field in the final two plus minutes showed what champions are made of. There was no fear, no sense of doubt. Instead, there was this uncommon sense of cool, calm and collected where you knew the Cardinals were in trouble.

And they were -- because of the catch. It was like the Dwight Clark catch, only better.

I can't believe Santonio Holmes caught it. He caught the ball. With both hands, with both sets of tippy toes officially in-bounds, with a flock of Cardinals in-between him and his QB.

I was screaming for the replay. I had to see it over and over and over again to convince myself that everything was legitimate. And it was. I couldn't believe it, but it was.

So in what turned out to be a historic game filled with penalties and challenges and storylines galore, what will be remembered most was the precision of the pass-catch from Roethlisberger to Holmes in the final minute of Super Bowl XLIII.

In the end, football is the ultimate game of inches. One inch can change lives and impact football history forever. Over time, the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise has usually gotten that extra inch. That was clearly the case last night in Tampa.

In doing so, the Steelers claimed their sixth Super Bowl title and officially stepped one inch ahead of the rest.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  February 3, 2009; 8:30 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Pittsburgh Steelers , Zach Leibowitz Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Like you, this die hard former Pittsburgher, screamed "take the safety!" God works in mysterious ways.

Posted by: wgmadden | February 3, 2009 3:39 PM

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