Super moments in Tampa top the list
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes's 6-yard touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIII -- one of the greatest finishes in Super Bowl history.
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They range from 62 Scat Flasher Z Level and Counter 34 Pike, plays that won Super Bowls, to interception returns that rocked Heinz Field and paved the way for the Steelers to become the first NFL team to win six Vince Lombardi trophies.
But they also include a couple of trick plays used by a former offensive coordinator who went on to become an opponent in Super Bowl XLIII and a 100-yard interception return by an outside linebacker that just might be the greatest individual effort in Super Bowl history.
Finding the best plays by a team that in the past decade won two Super Bowls, appeared in four AFC championship games and made the postseason six times is not a difficult task. Keeping the list to 10 is infinitely more difficult, primarily because the Steelers have a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, whose signature is the dramatic moment.
And he provided the biggest moment of all just 12 months ago in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla., teaming up with wide receiver Santonio Holmes to provide one of the most exciting finishes in Super Bowl history -- a 6-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining to cap a drive that covered 88 yards and gave the Steelers a 27-23 victory against the Arizona Cardinals.
Holmes made an incredible catch in the back corner of the end zone, tapping both feet inbounds as he was hammered in the back by Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco.
"It was a great catch," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "But the throw was unbelievable."
The play, known as "62 Scat Flasher Z Level" in the playbook, is designed as a pass over the middle to Hines Ward, who is the "Z," or flanker. The second option is a checkdown to running back Mewelde Moore.
But, when both were covered, Roethlisberger went to his third option -- Holmes, who made a dazzling play to stretch his body outside the boundary with three defenders nearby.
It was not only the play of the decade, it was a play for the ages.
"My feet never left the ground," said Holmes, who was voted Super Bowl MVP after catching nine passes for 131 yards and one amazing touchdown. "All I did was extend my arms and use my toes as extra extension to catch up to the ball."
The play was so dramatic it even overshadowed what may have been the greatest individual effort in Super Bowl history -- James Harrison's 100-yard interception return for touchdown as time expired in the first half.
It came with the Cardinals, trailing 10-7, at the Steelers 1 with 18 seconds remaining in the first half. Expecting a blitz, quarterback Kurt Warner tried to jam a quick pass in to wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who lined too close to the inside.
Instead of rushing Warner, Harrison dropped into coverage, picked off the pass and rumbled behind a caldron of blockers down the right sideline. He stepped out of several tackles and, shaking off a last-ditch tackle attempt by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, tumbled into the end zone with no time remaining, giving the Steelers a 17-7 lead.
"I believe it was the greatest single play in Super Bowl history," said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. "It was absolutely magnificent."
Willie Parker's 75-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL in Detroit, on a play called "Counter 34 Pike," was the longest run in Super Bowl history. And Antwaan Randle El's flea-flicker touchdown pass to Ward in that victory against the Seattle Seahawks was the first touchdown pass by a wide receiver in Super Bowl history.
But even those monumental plays, each called by former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, cannot compare to the plays they executed against their former assistant 12 months ago in Tampa.
First Published February 7, 2010 12:00 am