- It's February 1, 2009.
Super Bowl 43 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The Steelers are trailing the Cardinals
with 43 seconds left in the game.
But they're within striking distance.
You may know what happens next,
but every big moment is meaningless
without the little ones that came before it.
So let's rewind.
The Cardinals, in the franchise's first ever
Super Bowl appearance are clinging to a late lead.
But the real surprise is that they are in this game at all.
Since the AFL NFL merger, the Cardinals have
won only one playoff game,
a matchup against the Cowboys in the 1998 NFC Wildcard.
Since then, they haven't even finished
a season with a winning record.
That is, until this year, when they finished nine and seven,
just enough to take the NFC West.
They kicked off the post season with a Wildcard win
over the Falcons, their first playoff win in a decade.
Then followed that up with a commanding
20 point win over the two seed Panthers.
And a 32-25 win at home against the Eagles.
Making the Cardinals the second team in NFL history
to advance to the Super Bowl
with a nine and seven regular season record.
The first being the '79 Rams,
who lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl 14.
But here they are, an underdog to make the Super Bowl,
in position to win it.
Thanks in part to the unlikely career of this man,
Quarterback Kurt Warner.
Warner went undrafted in 1994
and ended up in the Arena League
where he became a two time first team
All Arena Player for the Iowa Barnstormers.
In 1997, he got a try out with the Bears,
but a spider bite he received on his elbow
during his honey moon prevented him from attending.
Then at the end of the 1997 season,
he signed a futures contract with the St Louis Rams
and spent time in Europe playing for the Amsterdam
Admirals before joining the Rams as a third stringer
for the 1998 season.
But the rollercoaster had only just begun for Warner.
In 1999, an injury to Rams quarterback Trent Green
left the starting role open for Warner.
That season, he was named Super Bowl MVP
in the Rams victory against the Titans.
Warner continued to play well for the Rams,
but as the years went on, injuries and a decline
in production led the Rams to release him,
four years after their Super Bowl run.
He was picked up by the Giants, named starter,
and then promptly benched for rookie Eli Manning.
In 2005, Warner signed with the Cardinals
and in 2006 he was benched for rookie Matt Leinart.
Then in 2007, an injury to Leinart gave Warner
a chance to showcase his talents once again.
He was chosen as a starter for the 2008 season
over a now healthy Leinart, and finished the season
second in the league in completion percentages,
second in yards, third in touchdowns,
and third in passer rating.
And his performance in the playoffs
has taken the Cardinals here,
to a led with under a minute to go
in his third Super Bowl appearance.
But his performance has also almost doomed them.
With 18 seconds left in the first half,
down by three and on the two yard line,
Warner threw it over the middle and into the hands of
the Defensive Player of the Year, James Harrison.
Harrison had a long road here as well.
In 2002, he was signed to the Steelers practice squad
as an undrafted free agent,
but struggled to make the active roster.
He was released three time before signing
with the Ravens in 2003.
Baltimore then sent him to play in Europe
before ultimately cutting him.
In 2004, Steelers linebacker Clark Haggans
broke his right hand in a weightlifting accident.
So for the fourth time, the Steelers signed Harrison,
who was considering retirement at the age of 26.
With improved play, Harrison made the final roster.
Four years later here he is intercepting Kurt Warner
in the end zone and taking it back for a
Super Bowl record 100 yard touchdown return.
- [Announcer] Harrison is going to, the ball away.
- Instead of taking the lead or at the very least
tying the game with a field goal,
the Cardinals entered half down 10.
The Steelers had done what they did all season,
strangle teams with their defense.
James Harrison, along with players like
Troy Polamalu and Eric Smith, led a defense
that was a top the NFL in almost every step,
including fewest points and fewest yards allowed per game.
And at the helm of all this was defensive-minded
head coach Mike Tomlin, the youngest coach
to ever lead his team to a Super Bowl.
Having left his position as Vikings defensive
coordinator two year prior,
Tomlin filled the void left by legendary coach
Bill Cowher's retirement.
But when Cowher initially retired,
rumors swirled that his replacement would be either
offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt
or assistant head coach Russ Grimm.
Well, before a decision was made
Whisenhunt took a different head coaching gig,
one with the Arizona Cardinals.
Once the Steelers chose Mike Tomlin
Grimm joined Whisenhunt in Arizona.
The two began using their experience with the Steelers
to craft a contender.
And as they stand across the field from
their former team, a championship hanging in the balance,
they know they wouldn't of had a chance to be here
without their star receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald was the number three over all pick
in the 2004 draft.
In his rookie season, he became the youngest
player to record two receiving touchdowns in a game
at 21 years and 110 days old.
But it wasn't until 2008 that he and his Cardinals
would have a winning season.
Thanks in part to his league leading 12 receiving
touchdowns along with 96 receptions
and 1431 receiving yards.
But this six yard reception with 10 and a half
minutes remaining in the fourth quarter,
was only Fitzgerald's second reception of the game.
Down 20 to seven with time slipping away,
the Cardinals needed their star to step up quick.
Following a 22 yard grab by JJ Arrington,
that's exactly what happened.
Fitz turned this pass from Warner into an 18 yard game
which he followed up with this six yard reception
before finishing off the drive on a leaping catch
in the corner of the end zone,
bringing the Cardinals to within six.
And with his father, a sports writer,
watching from the press box,
Fitzgerald tied Jerry Rice's record
with his sixth touch down reception of the post season.
Then with three minutes remaining,
an unsuccessful Cardinals drive ended with a punt.
Pinning the Steelers at the one yard line.
As they cling to a lead, it's a tough spot
for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who's had
no real trouble delivering since he entered the league.
After getting drafted eight spots
behind Larry Fitzgerald in a 2004 draft,
Big Ben won Offensive Rookie of the Year.
He followed that up in his second year by
winning Super Bowl 40, albeit with the lowest
passer rating by a winning quarterback
in Super Bowl history and his 51 wins
through his first five seasons,
are the most by any quarterback in NFL history.
But at this point, none of that matters.
With their backs against their own end zone,
they need to find a way to create some space.
A second down run by Willy Parker
is very nearly a safety, so on third down
Roethlisberger decided to throw the ball.
His options were Steelers all time leading receiver
Hines Ward coming off his fifth 1000 yard season
and third year wideout Santonio Holmes.
He called Holmes' number, who came up
with a beautiful catch, but,
there was a holding penalty on center Justin Hartwig
in the end zone.
It's a safety and the score is now
Pittsburgh 20, Arizona 16.
The kickoff set the Cardinals up at the 36 yardline
with just under three minutes remaining.
Still down four, they needed a touchdown to take the lead.
On second down, Warner went to his star receiver.
A 64 yard touchdown gave the Cardinals
their first lead of the game.
And it gave Fitzgerald soul possession
of the single post season receiving touchdown
record in the process.
- [Announcer] Arizona has the lead.
- Big Ben and the Steelers now had one final chance
to march down field with two and a half
minutes left on the clock and claim the championship.
Roethlisberger hit Holmes for a 14 yard gain
and started to claw back some momentum.
It was the sixth reception of the night
for the wideout from Ohio State.
Drafted in 2006, Holmes had an up and down rookie season.
He did, however, end it on a high note.
The last play of the year
was a 67 yard touchdown in overtime
which dashed the Bengals hope to make the playoffs.
Holmes then broke out in 2007, leading the Steelers
in receiving yards and touchdowns.
But in 2008, Holmes ran into legal trouble
and was benched for a game following an arrest
for marijuana possession.
Once back in the lineup, he was a pivotal part
of the Steelers offense.
Now with the game on the line,
Roethlisberger hit Holmes again.
This time for 13 yards on third down.
Then on second and six, from the 46 yard line,
one minute remaining, Holmes' number was called once again.
A 40 yard catch and run brings us here.
43 seconds away from Ken Whisenhunt
and the Arizona Cardinals
completing a 13 point comeback win,
the largest in Super Bowl history
against his former team.
From an undrafted Kurt Warner winning his second Super Bowl
and Larry Fitzgerald using his sticky fingers
to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Or we're 43 seconds away from Ben Roethlisberger's
second Super Bowl in five seasons,
and the Steelers NFL record sixth Super Bowl
led by the youngest coach to ever win one.
Welcome to a moment in history.
- [Announcer] Washington outside,
Roethlisberger throws to the back of the end zone
and it is Holmes for a touchdown.