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Albrecht Powell

One for the Thumb!

By February 5, 2006

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It's official. The Bus is bringing the Vince Lombardi trophy home to Pittsburgh, on what will be his final ride. With a final score of 21-10, the Pittsburgh Steelers overcame a poor first half to beat the Seattle Seahawks and win Super Bowl XL. It was the Steelers fifth Super Bowl title, the long elusive "one for the thumb" they've been seeking since the days of Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and Jack Lambert in January 1980.

Obviously impacted by Super Bowl jitters, the Steelers got off to a rough start, beginning the game with back-to-back false starts, and not making a single first down in the entire first quarter. But the Steelers defense held strong, keeping the Seahawks to a single field goal. The Steelers finally started to wake up with 8 minutes left in the second quarter, driving the ball down to the Seahawks' 40. Roethlisberger then made an important 37-yard pass (and Hines Ward a great catch) to take the Steelers to Seattle's 3. Two runs by Bettis put the Steelers on the 1, and Roethlisberger then took the ball in for the touch down himself on third down. It was questioned whether the ball actually nudged into the end zone as Big Ben made his diving leap, but the call of touchdown on the field was upheld after review - a call that many still believe was in error.

Seattle had the opportunity to come back before the end of the half, but poor clock management forced them to attempt a 54-yard field goal. The Josh Brown attempt was long enough, but went wide right, and the Seahawks were left trailing the Steelers going into halftime.

The beginning of the second half looked much more like the Steelers we all know and love. It took just two plays for the Steelers to score another touchdown, when running back Willie Parker took a handoff and ran it 75-yards to the end zone in front of excellent blocking by his teammates. The Steelers quickly got the ball back on an intercepted pass and took it all the way down to the Seattle 7. On third-and-6, a time when the Steelers usually stick to the running game, Roethlisberger lobbed the ball to Cedrick Wilson near the end zone, where it was intercepted by Seattle cornerback Kelly Herndon who ran it back 76 yards to the Pittsburgh 20. Seattle didn't let that opportunity go to waste, and a 16-yard pass from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to tight end Jerramy Stevens pulled the Seahawks within 4 points, to 14-10.

Just when it looked like the Seahawks were in position to take the lead back, mistakes and another questionable penalty call killed their drive. A nice pass from Hasselbeck to Stevens that would have taken them to the Pittsburgh 1-yard-line was nullified by a holding penalty. The Steelers capitalized quickly, as nose tackle Casey Hampton sacked Hasselbeck for a 5-yard loss on the very next play. On third-and-18 from the Steelers' 27, a rushed Hasselbeck, trying to avoid a blitzing Troy Polamalu, threw a poor pass that was intercepted by Steelers' Ike Taylor. To add insult to injury, Hasselbeck was also called for a blocking penalty on the play, giving the Steelers the ball back at their own 44 with 10:46 left in the fourth quarter. The Black and Gold then reached into their bag of cool tricks and pulled out a play called the "Fake-39 Toss X-Reverse Pass." Willie Parker took a pitch from Roethlisberger, then handed it off to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who threw it 43-yards to Hines Ward for a touchdown. During the remaining minutes, the Steel Curtain defense stepped up and kept the 'Hawks from scoring on two separate drives, and the Pittsburgh offense, with some great plays by Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger, kept the ball on the ground and ran the Seahawks out of time.

The Steelers ultimately won the game because of a few very important big plays, but the game wasn't played as well as they hoped. Ben Roethlisberger completed just 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards, 2 interceptions, and no touchdowns - finishing with a passer rating of 22.6, the lowest ever for a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. The Steelers were also helped by several questionable critical penalties called against the Seahawks, including a call for offensive pass interference which overturned an early Seahawks touchdown.

Following the presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy, Jerome Bettis officially announced his retirement from football. "It's been an incredible ride," Jerome said to a packed Ford Field. "It's always a time when you have to call it quits. I played this game to win a Championship. I'm a Champion. And I think The Bus...the last stop is here in Detroit."

There's just no better way to go out than on top - a storybook ending for a well-loved player. Thank you Jerome, from all of Pittsburgh!!!

It was also great to see Steelers coach Bill Cowher finally get that elusive championship title after 14 years as the Steelers head coach, the longest tenure in the NFL. The Pittsburgh native who always looks so tough on the sidelines cried tears of joy for himself and his team.

The sixth seeded Pittsburgh Steelers pulled out some real magic on their ride to a Super Bowl win, including Willie Parker's Super Bowl record 75-yard touchdown run, and the first Super Bowl touchdown thrown by a wide receiver. Ben Roethlisberger is the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. Hines Ward received the well-deserved MVP award for his five catches for 123 yards. And the Steelers became the first team in history to win three road playoff games and then the Super Bowl.

Our son, and probably most of Pittsburgh, is now belting out a new version of the popular Steelers fight song by Roger Woods - "Here we Go, Steelers...Here We Go...Pittsburgh's Won the Super Bowl!!!!"

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