Jeff Reed

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Posted by sonny 04/30/2009 @ 06:11

Tags : jeff reed, football players, football, sports

News headlines
Orchestra Kentucky searching for star - Bowling Green Daily News
Jeff Reed, music director for the orchestra, hit upon the idea for a talent competition to find a singer as a way to attract as many singers from the region as possible and get a better sense of the local talent pool. “Quite often, I'm approached by...
Salary Cap Issues Looming Large For Pittsburgh Steelers - Bleacher Report
The list includes: S Ryan Clark, RT Willie Colon, NT Casey Hampton, C Justin Hartwig, DE Brett Keisel, TE Heath Miller, RB Willie Parker, LT Max Starks, and K Jeff Reed. All of them could become free agents at the end of the season....
Roseville soldier's story is one of humble sacrifice - Roseville Press Tribune
“He'sa hero,” said his friend and fellow Vietnam veteran Homer Reed. “I am trying to hook him up with some of his old unit friends. What we've found is they all think he's dead. He was shot down and nobody knew what happened.” During the Vietnam War,...
One look and Mark Loretta knew Ryan Church hadn't touched third - Los Angeles Times
Instead of the Mets taking a 3-2 lead in the 11th, the score remained tied 2-2 and the Dodgers won in the bottom of the inning when Loretta scored after first baseman Jeremy Reed threw wildly to home plate on a grounder by Orlando Hudson -- the Mets'...
Dodgers 5, Mets 3: Mets fall from first - New York Daily News
Jeremy Reed committed the Mets' fifth error of the series opener, throwing wide to catcher Ramon Castro and allowing Mark Loretta to score the game-winning run. (One uniformed member of the Mets on Tuesday suggested the throw wasn't that poor,...
Track: Dartmouth boys run away with first OCL championship - South Coast Today
"We had never won the conference championship since we came into the OCL," boys coach Jeff Reed pointed out. "This is the deepest team we've had and, for the seniors, this is a great way to cap off their season." The boys got off to a flying start,...
Religion news in brief - The Associated Press
In a 2-1 decision, the court rejected Jeffrey Reed's claim of faith-based discrimination in the amount of money that must go to charity in lieu of paying dues to the UAW. Jeffrey Reed, who works at AM General, a Hummer factory in Mishawaka, Ind.,...
Lake Zurich knocks off Stevenson for North Suburban Lake title - Chicago Tribune
Sophomore Alex Hagberg hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh and went 4-for-4 with three RBIs to lead Reed-Custer (19-14). Chase Fisher added a two-run homer and Grant Van Haelst was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a double....
Inside Fights Interview: WEC Executive Reed Harris - Inside Fights
I asked Faber, “Were you worried when Jeff Curran got your back and he said 'dude I train that everyday, I wasn't worried at all.'” This fight has the potential to be the best fight we have ever done. It has the potential to be fight of the year....
Lodi Unified board delays more layoffs, proposal vote - Lodi News-Sentinel
Special needs teacher Susie Reed echoed his sentiments and drew attention to the fact that her custodian would likely be losing his job. While disappointed, she said she didn't mind using the vacuum on her own classroom, and encouraged other...

Jeff Reed (American football)

Jeff Reed kick.jpg

Jeffrey Montgomery Reed (born April 9, 1979) is an American football place kicker currently playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Reed graduated from East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1997. While there, Reed was captain of the soccer team and kicker for the football team. He was a letterman in both sports. His senior year the soccer team went all the way to the state finals but fell short to a 2-1 defeat. Also during his senior year, Reed kicked a 54 yard field goal, the second longest in North Carolina history, against Providence High School, setting a new school record. In football, he won All-Conference and All-County honors.

Reed was also involved in the school newspaper, National Honor Society, and the Spanish National Honor Society. He graduated 9th in his class out of 365 and was voted Best Personality and Best All Around by his fellow classmates.

In the Spring of 2005 he was added to the East Mecklenburg Wall of Fame. His father, Morris, played basketball for Wichita State and his mother, Pam, was a cheerleader for Wichita State, his sister Kristen, played soccer at UNC-Charlotte and one year professionally for the Carolina Speed.

Reed attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he majored in journalism and played football. He had never kicked in a college game until the 2000 season, but he emerged as one of the most consistent kickers in the country. He was an honorable mention All-ACC pick as a senior and a second-team All-ACC player as a junior. He entered the 2000 season as a walk-on, but he eventually earned a scholarship after connecting on 28-of-36 field goal attempts and 66-of-67, setting a UNC record with 66 consecutive extra points. He was also one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top kicker, and was also first-team Academic All-ACC.

While at UNC, Reed would be teammates with running back Willie Parker, his future teammate with the Steelers.

His unshakable presence on the field has led to him making several game-winning or game-tying field goals, frequently amidst loud, hostile crowds. Reed proved that he could kick in the clutch during the Steelers 2005 AFC Divisional Playoff game against the New York Jets, as he kicked the 33-yard game winning field goal (after his New York counterpart Doug Brien missed two late field goals) in overtime to give the Steelers the victory. Reed was also a major reason the Steelers were able to compete in the 2005-2006 playoffs, as he kicked two game winning field goals during the 2005 campaign, one against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football, and another against the Baltimore Ravens on Halloween to give the Steelers two crucial victories. During the 2005-06 NFL playoffs, where the Steelers eventually won Super Bowl XL, Reed successfully kicked all three field goal attempts and converted all fourteen of his potential PATs. Reed's streak of 189 consecutive successful PAT's (210 including post-seasons), dating back to the Steelers' week 16 victory over the Chargers in 2003, came to an end on Monday November 3rd, 2008, against the Washington Redskins.

Reed is also involved heavily in his community with charity work such as “Kick For Kids” which donates $300 dollars for every field goal he makes. Also he is involved in Junior Achievement, does commercials for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and helped a family raise money for a 5 year old who had a brain tumor.

In 2008 Reed was a finalist for the NFL Super Ad, in which fans vote on a player's story about their most memorable NFL moment. Reed's ad mentioned about how he became kicker for the Steelers. The winning ad that aired during Super Bowl XLIII was on New Orleans Saints cornerback Usama Young; however, the Steelers advanced to the game itself. Reed went 2-for-2 on field goals and 3-for-3 on PAT's in the Steelers 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, giving Reed a second Super Bowl ring.

On December 28, 2008, Reed surpassed Roy Gerela as the Steelers's second-most point scorer. Reed's 733 points trails Gary Anderson's 1,343.

Jeff Reed can frequently be seen in section C27 of Pittsburgh Penguins games. By foregoing luxury box seating in favor of mixing with the crowd, he has gained a lot of respect from fans. After the win in Super Bowl XLIII , Reed dropped the ceremonial first puck at the Penguins-Tampa Bay Lightning game in February 6, 2009; for the occasion, he wore a rare gold throwback Sunday Mario Lemieux jersey from the 1980s.

Jeff Reed was cited by police late on the night of February 14th, 2009, for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief for destroying a paper towel holder in a bathroom at a Sheetz convenience store in New Alexandria, Pennsylvania. Reed was reportedly angry that the men's restroom was out of paper towels. He pleaded guilty to the two summary offenses and was fined $543.50.

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2008 Pittsburgh Steelers season

The Steelers have won 14 consecutive Monday night games at home.[133]

The 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the franchise's 76th season in the National Football League (NFL). The season concluded with the team winning Super Bowl XLIII to become the first franchise in the NFL with six Super Bowl titles.

The Steelers entered the season as defending champions of the AFC North Division, coming off a 10–6 record in 2007. Based on the previous season's results, the team faced the most difficult schedule in the league, however, they were called Super Bowl contenders by ESPN. The Steelers opened their regular season on September 7, with a win over the Houston Texans en route to a 12–4 record, and a second straight AFC North Division title. In his second season as head coach Mike Tomlin was selected in fan balloting as the Motorola Coach of the Year. Linebacker James Harrison was named the NFL's defensive player of the year after leading a defense which set the standard for the league as measured by scoring as well as total yardage. The playoffs began on January 11, 2009, with a win over the San Diego Chargers. The following week saw the third victory of the season over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game and the advancement to Super Bowl XLIII where the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals on February 1, 2009.

Entering the 2008 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost ten-year lineman Alan Faneca, after his contract expired, and he signed with the New York Jets. Allen Rossum, Jerame Tuman, and Clint Kriewaldt were released on February 22. The team also lost Dan Kreider, Verron Haynes, Brian St. Pierre, and eight-year veteran Clark Haggans to free agency.

The Steelers renewed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's contract with an eight year, $102 million agreement, the largest in franchise history. The team re-signed Max Starks to the largest single-year deal in franchise history, despite him not being a starter during the 2007 season. Nate Washington, Chris Kemoeatu, and Trai Essex also agreed to one-year deals. Seven-year center Justin Hartwig and running back Mewelde Moore were signed to multi-year deals, and linebacker Keyaron Fox agreed to a one-year deal. Entering the season, 14 players were in the final year of their contracts.

The 2008 NFL Draft was held on April 26 and April 27, 2008, at Radio City Music Hall. In the first round, the Steelers selected running back Rashard Mendenhall, from the University of Illinois, with the 23rd overall pick. He was the first running back selected in the first round by the franchise since 1989. The Steelers selected Limas Sweed, from the University of Texas, in the second round. Sweed was ranked by the Steelers as one of the top three receivers in the draft. The drafting of Sweed came after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's suggestion of acquiring a tall wide receiver; Sweed is 6-feet 4-inches in height. In round three, the Steelers selected Bruce Davis, of UCLA. Davis primarily played defensive end at his alma mater, however, he is expected to switch to linebacker at the pro level. The Steelers traded their fourth-round pick (123rd overall) to the New York Giants for the Giants' fourth and sixth-round selections, 130th and 194th overall, respectively. The Steelers selected offensive tackle Tony Hills with the 130th overall selection, in the fourth round. Like second-round pick Sweed, Hills came out of the University of Texas where he had been elected a captain of the football team during his senior season. With their fifth-round selection, the Steelers chose quarterback Dennis Dixon. Prior to an injury in 2007, Dixon was a Heisman Trophy candidate. The sixth round selection was the Steelers' second linebacker of the draft, Mike Humpal out of the University of Iowa. Also in the sixth round, the final selection of the team was safety Ryan Mundy, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers did not pick in the seventh round, due to a 2007 trade with the Atlanta Falcons. Kevin Colbert, Director of Football Operations, said of the draft, "we’re happy with the way things turned out." Also stating that the first and second-round selections were players who the team expected to have already been chosen. Coach Mike Tomlin said that the Steelers tried to select skilled offensive "weapons" over a strong offensive line, which struggled the previous season. The following day, the Steelers signed twelve free-agent rookies. All draft picks agreed to terms by July 25, two days prior to the start of training camp.

A mandatory three-day mini-camp was held in early May. Hines Ward, Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu attended the camp, but did not fully participate because of injuries. First round draft pick, Rashard Mendenhall was welcomed by Steelers current running back Willie Parker. Parker was "surprised" when he heard a running back was selected in the first round, but hoped to work with Mendenhall like Jerome Bettis worked with Parker during his rookie season. During the mini-camp, the offense experimented with formations using Parker and Mendenhall in the backfield simultaneously. Receiver Hines Ward took a similar approach to Parker's in welcoming second round draft pick Limas Sweed. As with other receivers in the past, Ward was "very hands-on with Sweed throughout the weekend". Coach Mike Tomlin called the new draft picks "humble", adding that he liked their "spirit and attitude"; however, it was too early to tell how well they will ultimately perform.

The team held two Organized Team Activities (OTAs) prior to the draft, in addition to 12 throughout May and June. The OTAs were voluntary, however, most players did attend. Many players routinely worked on their conditioning and strength together, in addition to "informal" on field training. A week prior to the end of OTAs Mike Tomlin said he was happy with the team's progress during the sessions. Also stating, “We are having a productive off-season and that is what we are here for. We are here to get better individually and collectively and I think we are doing that.” Limas Sweed experimented on special teams play for the first time ever, with a concentration in punt blocking. On the day of the final OTA, June 12, Tomlin stated that while he was pleased with the progress of the team, no positions would be gained or lost based on the voluntary camp. Tomlin added, "it's been teach-oriented, it's been skill-develop-oriented. It's different than playing the game of football." The team was given 44 days off until the beginning of training camp.

In May, ESPN The Magazine released the findings of its annual survey of over 80,000 fans entitled the "Ultimate Standings: Fan Satisfaction Ranking." The Steelers ranked as the 25th best major league sports franchise out of 122 teams from MLB, NFL, NBA, and the NHL. The franchise finished one position behind the cross-town hockey team Pittsburgh Penguins. The Steelers were sixth among all NFL teams. In August, ranked Steelers' fans as the best in the National Football League, citing their "unbelievable" sellout streak of 299 consecutive games.

During the Pittsburgh Penguins run for the Stanley Cup multiple members of the Steelers showed support for the cross-town team. Ben Roethlisberger attended games in Detroit, where he and the Steelers won Super Bowl XL three years prior. Mike Tomlin watched Game Six of the finals outside Mellon Arena, along with 3,000 other fans, on a JumboTron which had been erected for fans unable to acquire tickets to the sold-out game. Kevin Colbert, Charlie Batch, and Tomlin attended many games throughout the regular season. In September, Penguins' coach Michel Therrien attended the Steelers' first game of the season.

On February 17, Ernie Holmes, who played for the Steelers from 1972 to 1977, was killed in a car crash. Ten days later, on February 27, award-winning journalist, Steelers radio announcer of 35 years, and inventor of the Terrible Towel, Myron Cope, died at age 79. On June 6, Dwight White, a defensive end on the Steel Curtain died from a blood clot. Upon his death, Dan Rooney called White, "one of the greatest players to ever wear a Steelers uniform." A pre-game ceremony was held in their honor prior to the first game of the season.

Training camp was held at Saint Vincent College, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for the 42nd consecutive year. Players reported on July 27, practices commenced the following day and ran through August 17. Throughout the twenty three day span, seventeen included practices; making the camp one of the shortest in Steelers history. The camp was less demanding under Tomlin, who was in his second year as coach. "We are a veteran team in some areas. You have to approach it differently because of that," said Tomlin.

Pittsburgh looked to build on their defense, which was ranked first in the league throughout the 2007 season. At over thirty years in age each, all three starting linemen returned. First round draft pick, Rashard Mendenhall entered camp with expectations to make an impact on the team throughout his rookie season. Pittsburgh's Willie Parker, who returned after suffering a broken leg in the 2007 season, was expected to share the load with Mendenhall. On July 29, punter Daniel Sepulveda tore the ACL in his right leg and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The Steelers acquired Paul Ernster later in the day as a possible replacement. After concluding practices at St. Vincent's, the Steelers began to practice at their facility on Pittsburgh's South Side. Tomlin called the camp "very productive".

Pittsburgh opened their pre-season schedule with a 16–10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers scored on their first possession, after driving 80 yards on eight plays. Ben Roethlisberger's 19-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes completed the drive. In the first quarter, Charlie Batch was removed from the game after breaking his clavicle. Jeff Reed converted three field goals from 20, 24, and 50 yards. Toronto's Rogers Centre hosted the second pre-season game; it was the first pre-season game Pittsburgh played in Toronto since 1960. Pittsburgh's starting offense played longer in the second game. Willie Parker increased his output over the first game by playing on third downs. However, the team failed run the ball consistently and struggled on defense, losing the game 24–21. "We fell short essentially in all three phases," stated coach Tomlin after the game.

Pittsburgh traveled to Minnesota to play the Vikings for their third pre-season game. The Steelers's defense held the Vikings early, led by Aaron Smith who had three tackles, including one sack, in the first quarter. The offense failed to score a touchdown, with Rashard Mendenhall fumbling twice. Quarterback Byron Leftwich, who was signed to replace the injured Batch, lead the team with 129 yards passing. Jeff Reed accounted for all of the Steelers' points, kicking four field goals—the final with 4 seconds remaining—to give Pittsburgh a 12–10 victory. Entering their final pre-season game the Steelers had selected every starting player except the punter. Carolina tied the game with 1:54 remaining in regulation, but rookie Dennis Dixon lead the Steelers on a 47-yard drive, which was capped with Reed kicking the game winning 43-yard field goal as time expired. After the three point victory, Tomlin stated, "It has been a pleasure working with this group guys, but it is that time of year where we need to make tough decisions." The Steelers cut 22 players on August 30, to bring their roster to the required 53 player total. The following day the Steelers signed nine players from their pre-season team to the practice squad.

Based on 2007 records, the Steelers boasted the NFL's most difficult schedule in 2008, with an opponent winning percentage of .598; ten games were played against teams that finished 2007 with winning records. The Steelers played each of the teams in the AFC North twice, once home and once on the road. The Steelers also faced the teams from the AFC South and NFC East divisions throughout the season. Pittsburgh's matchups included the San Diego and New England, who each won their division in the 2007 season. The Steelers played five nationally televised primetime games, the maximum allowed number by the NFL.

Entering the first week of the season, players voted Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, James Farrior, and Jeff Reed team captains. Farrior, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu were voted to represent the Steelers at the 2009 Pro Bowl. James Harrison set the Steelers' franchise single-season record for sacks, surpassing Mike Merriweather's previous record of 15 sacks in 1984. Harrison also became the first undrafted player to win the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year Award. He was the fifth Steeler to win the award—the first since Rod Woodson in 1993. Harrison and Polamalu were also voted to the NFL's All-Pro team. The Steelers' defense tied the 1973 Los Angeles Rams record by holding 14 consecutive opponents under 300 yards of total offense. The defense finished ranked first in the league in total and passing yards given up and second in rushing yards. For the fifth time in his career Hines Ward received for over 1,000 yards throughout the season. The team's offense ranked 22nd in overall offense, 17th in passing, and 23rd in rushing. Rashard Mendenhall was the team's only rookie to start a game; the fewest rookie starts of any team in the league.

The 2008 season was the Steelers' seventh as members of the AFC North Division. Pittsburgh defended their division title from the 2007 season, which they obtained by tying the Cleveland Browns' 10–6 record, but holding the tie-breaker with two wins over the Browns. Through 2008, Pittsburgh is the only team to have won the AFC North four times, since its inception prior to the 2002 NFL season. Entering the 2008 season, the Steelers were chosen to win the division by sportswriter Ron Borges, as well as nine of 13 analysts interviewed by Four analysts predicted that the Steelers would finish with a 10–6 record. The Steelers finished the regular season with a record of 12–4, going undefeated against opponents in the AFC North and winning 12 games for the fourth season since 1979. The team clinched the second seed in the AFC for the playoffs and received a bye the first week of the post-season. The Baltimore Ravens finished at second place in the AFC North with an 11–5 record, clinching a playoff seed as an AFC wild card. The Cincinnati Bengals finished 4–11–1, winning their final three games of the season. The Cleveland Browns finished in the AFC North's fourth position at 4–12; the team fired head coach Romeo Crennel after the season.

The Steelers started their regular season, against the Houston Texans, in front of 64,001 spectators at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Steelers drove the ball 52 yards on their opening drive, with their biggest gain coming on a 17-yard run from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Willie Parker scored a touchdown at 5:44 of the opening quarter and added a second touchdown in the following quarter. After a LaMarr Woodley interception the Steelers extended their lead to 21 points when Roethlisberger completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ward. With 4:34 remaining in the half, former-Steelers' kicker Kris Brown converted a 34-yard field goal. Pittsburgh led the game 21–3 as time expired on the first half.

In the second half, Parker scored his third touchdown of the game—surpassing his touchdown total for the entire 2007 season—and was named the AFC offensive player of the week for his performance. Pittsburgh's defense held Houston to six yards on their ensuing drive and the Steelers drove 80 yards to take a 35–3 lead. The Texans scored two touchdowns in the final quarter, but Pittsburgh's James Harrison led the team with three sacks—forcing a fumble on the third—and the Steelers won their first game of the season.

The Steelers entered their first matchup with the Cleveland Browns having won 15 of the last 16 games between the two teams. Ben Roethlisberger started the game despite missing practice time during the week due to a shoulder injury suffered in Week One. The Steelers' defense held the Browns to 16 yards on their first four drives, as the teams played to a scoreless tie after the first quarter. After a Bryant McFadden interception the Steelers drove 70 yards and Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward for their third touchdown combination of the season. Cleveland responded with a 14 play, 71 yard drive, but Troy Polamalu intercepted a Cleveland pass as time expired in the first half solidifying Pittsburgh's seven point halftime lead.

A 48-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes and a 48-yard field goal from Jeff Reed on the team's second drive of the second half brought the score to 10–0. The Browns' Phil Dawson converted two consecutive field goals, to pull Cleveland within four points with 3:21 remaining. After a fourth down stop, Cleveland's offense took over with 26 seconds remaining, but failed to gain yardage as time expired. With the win, the Steelers increased their win streak over the Browns to 10 consecutive games—the longest current winning streak over a single opponent in the NFL.

Pittsburgh's first inter-conference opponent of the season was the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers scored on their first drive, with a Jeff Reed field goal. The Eagles offense drove 85 yards to take the lead on a touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Correll Buckhalter. The Eagles defense sacked Ben Roethlisberger eight times throughout the game, two of which resulted in fumbles. Bryant McFadden intercepted his second pass of the season which allowed Reed to add his second field goal of the day—this one from 53-yards. The field goal brought the half time score to 10–6.

Donning their throwback uniforms, the Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens in their first Monday Night game of the season. Multiple Steelers starters did not play in the game, due to various injuries. After a 3–3 first quarter, Baltimore took a ten point lead into half time with a field goal and touchdown pass in the second quarter. Rashard Mendenhall—in his first NFL start—left the game in the third quarter with a season-ending shoulder injury. On Pittsburgh's third drive of the half, Roethlisberger connected with Santonio Holmes for a 38-yard touchdown pass. On the first play of Baltimore's ensuing drive, James Harrison's forced fumble was picked up by LaMarr Woodley and returned 7 yards for a touchdown. The two touchdowns within 15 seconds took the Steelers from ten points behind to four points ahead. In the final quarter, the Steelers' offense was stopped on the one yard line and Reed kicked his second field goal of the night. Baltimore drove 76 yards and tied the game with a touchdown. Neither team was able to score on their final drive as the regulation clock expired.

Baltimore won the overtime coin toss and elected to receive. The Ravens started the drive at their own 15 yard line. The Steelers held them for no gain on the first two plays and Lawrence Timmons sacked Flacco on third down. The Steelers took over after a punt and Mewelde Moore caught a 24 yard reception to bring the Steelers to Baltimore's 31-yard line. Jeff Reed converted a 46-yard field goal to win the game for the Steelers. Reed was named the NFL's special teams player of the week. With the win the Steelers passed the Ravens for first place in the AFC North at 3–1, as well as extending their all-time record of 14 consecutive home wins on Monday Night Football.

The Steelers' matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars—their first since the Jaguars knocked the Steelers out of the 2007 playoffs—was featured as the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Throwback Game of the Week. On the Steelers opening drive, Roethlisberger—who missed practice time during the week due to injections for his shoulder—was intercepted by Rashean Mathis who returned the ball 72 yards for a touchdown. Pittsburgh responded by driving 71 yards, with Heath Miller receiving a 1-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. Jacksonville re-gained the lead on the next drive when Maurice Jones-Drew ran for a touchdown. Pittsburgh took the lead in the second quarter with two field goals and a 48 yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Nate Washington.

Jacksonville scored first in the final quarter with a touchdown pass from David Garrard to Marcedes Lewis. The Steelers drove from their 20 yard line in the fourth quarter, Ward received an 8-yard touchdown pass to put the Steelers up by 5 points with 1:53 remaining in regulation, however, the 2-pt conversion failed. Roethlisberger received the AFC offensive player of the week award for his 309 yard, 3 touchdown pass performance, despite having an injured throwing shoulder. The NFL selected the game as the league's Week Five Game of the Week.

Willie Parker was expected to return after missing two games, but aggravated his knee injury during a weekday practice and missed the game. Pittsburgh received the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to open the scoring up with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Mewelde Moore to put the Steelers up 7–0. The Steelers' defense forced the Bengals offense into five consecutive three-and-outs, before the Bengals scored on their final possession of the opening half. The 5 yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Chad Johnson brought the Bengals within three points of the Steelers who added a field goal from Jeff Reed.

Pittsburgh added their second touchdown of the game on their opening drive of the second half when Moore rushed to the left side for 13 yards. Cincinnati retaliated on their ensuing drive adding a field goal from Dave Rayner. The Steelers scored three consecutive touchdowns in the final quarter, while holding the Bengals scoreless. At 8:26 of the fourth quarter Roethilisberger connected with Nate Washington for a 50 yard touchdown pass. Pittsburgh's Moore scored his second touchdown of the day—his second rushing—and Hines Ward's 16 yard touchdown reception gave the Steelers 31 points to the Bengal's ten. Moore finished the game with 120 yards rushing, while Santonio Holmes lead the Steelers with 89 receiving yards.

Willie Parker missed his fourth game due to a knee injury. Santonio Holmes also missed the game after a "small quantity of marijuana" was found in his car and the team placed him on the inactive list. Mewelde Moore opened up the game's scoring with a 32-yard touchdown run on the Steelers opening drive. The 5–1 New York Giants responded with a field goal on the ensuing drive. Pittsburgh stopped the Giants on four consecutive plays from inside the Steelers 2-yard line to force a turnover on downs. But were unable to score when two Ben Roethlisberger interceptions and a punt lead to two more field goals in the second quarter for the Giants.

At 10:10 of the third quarter Roethlisberger completed a 65-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington to give the Steelers a 14–9 lead. Later in the quarter, a Steelers 53-yard touchdown pass was negated due to a holding penalty and Pittsburgh was forced to punt. In the final quarter Pittsburgh kept New York out of the end zone on three plays inside the 10-yard line, however, the Giants connected on a field goal to bring the Giants to within two points. On the next drive, James Harrison—who was called in to replace injured long snapper Greg Warren—snapped the ball out of the end zone to give the Giants a safety and tie the game. The Giants drove after receiving the safety's kickoff to score a touchdown—taking a 21–14 lead with 3:07 remaining. Pittsburgh was unable to convert on their final two drives, as Roethlisberger threw his fourth interception of the day.

The night before the United States presidential election, the Steelers played in the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C.; both major party candidates were interviewed at half-time. The Washington Redskins took a 6–0 lead in the first quarter with two field goals. The Steelers defense shut out the Redskins in the second quarter while the Steelers scored on a field goal to cut the lead in half. A blocked punt with 2:21 remaining in the half led to a Steelers 1-yard touchdown run from Ben Roethlisberger.

Due to an injury to Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich took over as quarterback in the second half. Leftwich completed a 50 yard pass to Nate Washington on the opening drive of the third quarter; the Steelers capped the drive with a Willie Parker touchdown run. Pittsburgh extended their lead in the final quarter with a touchdown pass from Leftwich to Santonio Holmes. The Redskins gained 124 yards in the final quarter, but were unable to score. The Steelers' 17 point win took their record to 6–2 on the season.

Both the Steelers and Indianapolis Colts drove more than 60 yards on their opening offensive drives, each scored a touchdown to bring the score to 7–7 after the first quarter. A Steelers 42-yard flea flicker advanced the ball to the 2 yard line. On the following play Mewelde Moore scored his second touchdown of the game. The Steelers extended their lead to ten, but an interception with 1:30 remaining in the half led to a Colts touchdown—bringing the halftime score to 17–14.

The Colts kicked a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter to tie the game at 17. A Steelers field goal in the final quarter gave them a three point lead. The Colts scored on Peyton Manning's third touchdown pass of the game to take the lead with 3:10 remaining in regulation. The Steelers drove from their own 27 yard line, but were unable to score.

Pittsburgh entered week eleven with starters having missed 31 games due to injuries. The San Diego Chargers scored first, and led 7–0 after the first quarter of play. On the second play of the second quarter, the Steelers' James Harrison forced a fumble in the endzone, then forced a safety by tackling the Marcus McNeill after he had recovered the fumble. Jeff Reed converted on a field goal as time expired on the first half, pulling the Steelers within two points.

Reed kicked his second field goal of the game from 41-yards to give the Steelers the lead going into the final quarter. The Chargers drove 74 yards on 17 plays, converting on a field goal to give them the lead again, with 6:45 remaining. On the Steelers' ensuing drive, the offense drove 73 yards and Reed converted on his third field goal of the day, giving the Steelers an 11–10 lead with 15 seconds remaining in regulation. The Chargers attempted to score on their final play, but Troy Polamalu forced and recovered a fumble, returning it for a touchdown. The call was reversed when the officials ruled that San Diego had made an illegal forward pass. After the game, head referee Scott Green admitted that the touchdown should have been counted. With the touchdown not counted the final score kept Pittsburgh under the 5 point spread by which they were favored, and resulted in over $32 million being lost in bets. The game was the first game in NFL history to end with a final score of 11–10.

The Steelers concluded their primetime schedule with their only Thursday night game of the season. The Cincinnati Bengals took a 7–0 lead in the first quarter after a 62 yard drive. In the second quarter the Steelers tied the game on a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller. Jeff Reed converted a field goal with 1:56 remaining in the first half to give the Steelers a 10–7 halftime lead.

Pittsburgh added another ten points in the third quarter when Gary Russell ran for his first rushing touchdown of the season, after Reed's second field goal. In the final quarter, Roethlisberger rushed for a touchdown to put the Steelers up by a score of 27–10. Roethlisberger passed for 243 yards and one touchdown, while Santonio Holmes led the game with 84 receiving yards. James Farrior led the Steelers with 8 tackles.

The Steelers fell behind the New England Patriots less than three minutes into the first quarter, after an interception of Ben Roethlisberger was driven to the endzone. The Steelers came back with 2:55 remaining in the initial quarter to convert on a 20 yard Jeff Reed field goal. The Patriots extended their lead to seven points with a 29 yard field goal in the second quarter. Pittsburgh drove 63 yards on nine plays, capping their drive with a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes to tie the game at ten points at the halfway point.

Pittsburgh took their first lead of the game on their first drive of the second half, after Reed's second field goal put them up by three points. On the ensuing kickoff the Steelers recovered a Patriots' fumble and Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward for an 11-yard touchdown pass. James Harrison forced his first of two fumbles on the Patriots' next drive and the Steelers recovered as Reed added his third field goal of the game—putting the Steelers up 23–10. Gary Russell scored a touchdown after Lawrence Timmons returned an interception 89 yards to the Patriots' one-yard line.

The Dallas Cowboys and the Steelers held each other scoreless in the first quarter. Troy Polamalu intercepted a pass in his fourth consecutive game, overall he led the league with seven interceptions. The Steelers scored first on a 24-yard field goal from Jeff Reed with 2:44 remaining in the second quarter. The Cowboys converted a 44-yard field goal as time expired on the first half to tie the game at 3–3.

A Tony Romo touchdown pass in the third quarter gave the Cowboys their first lead of the game. The lead was extended when Nick Folk converted his second field goal of the day, putting the Cowboys up 13–3 as the game entered the final quarter. Reed converted his second field goal of the game, bringing the Steelers within seven points with 7:20 remaining in regulation. On the Steelers next drive, Ben Roethelisberger threw a touchdown pass to Heath Miller—tying the game with 2:10 remaining. Deshea Townsend intercepted Romo's next pass and returned the ball 25 yards, scoring a touchdown to give the Steelers a seven point lead, which they held to the end of the game.

Entering their second game of the season against Baltimore, the Steelers' defense ranked first in the league, while the Ravens' defense ranked second. "We're going to win by any means necessary. If the defense has to score, if the special teams have to kick in a score, or if the offense has to score 50 points -- whatever it takes to win," stated James Harrison prior to the game.

Both teams were held scoreless before a record crowd at M&T Bank Stadium until a Baltimore field goal gave the Ravens a 3–0 lead at 12:34 of the second quarter. Pittsburgh tied the game on a Jeff Reed field goal; Matt Stover converted a second time to give the Ravens a three point lead at halftime. Stover kicked his third field goal of the game in the third quarter, extending their lead to six points. In the final quarter, Reed kicked his second field goal of the game to put the Steelers within three points. On the Steelers final drive of the game, the offense drove 92 yards over 2:53, with Ben Roethlisberger completing a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 50 seconds remaining. The Ravens embarked on one more drive, but the Steelers second interception of the game prevented them from scoring. With the victory the Steelers won their second consecutive AFC North title and clinched a first round bye and became the first AFC franchise to amass 550 wins.

Pittsburgh entered their final road game of the regular season with a chance to surpass the Tennessee Titans for the top seed in the AFC. The Steelers and the Titans were scoreless after the first quarter, when Tennessee took a 3–0 lead on the second play of the second quarter. Justin Gage's 34-yard reception later in the quarter extended the lead to 10–0. Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes also received a touchdown pass in the second quarter, bringing the halftime score to 10–7.

In the second half, Ben Roethlisberger threw his second touchdown pass of the game—to Hines Ward—to give the Steelers their only lead of the game. After a 21-yard touchdown run on Tennessee's ensuing drive, the Titans entered the final quarter with a three point lead. The Titans scored two touchdowns in the final quarter, and the Steelers were unable overcome two Roethelisberger fumbles and two interceptions throughout the game.

Although guaranteed the second seed in the AFC Tomlin stated, "It is a big week for us." Willie Parker's 34-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the Steelers longest run of the season. With less than two minutes left in the first half, Ben Roethlisberger was hit by D'Qwell Jackson and Willie McGinist and had to be immobilized and carried off the field after suffering from a concussion. Byron Leftwich replaced Roethlisberger and scored the Steelers second touchdown of the game to give the Steelers a 14–0 lead at halftime.

Pittsburgh scored the only points of the third quarter when Jeff Reed converted his sole field goal attempt of the game. The Steelers added two touchdowns in the final quarter—on a Gary Russell rush and Tyrone Carter's return of his second interception of the game. "We were so upset we had to practice on Christmas, we had to take it out on the Browns," said Larry Foote after the victory.

Their 12–4 regular season record gave the Steelers a second place finish in the AFC. Along with the Tennessee Titans, who finished with the best record in the AFC, the Steelers received a bye during the opening week of the post-season. The 2008 season was the seventh of the past 16 that the Steelers were the first or second seed in the AFC entering the playoffs—never winning the Super Bowl during those seasons. Pittsburgh defeated the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional round, giving up a franchise post-season low of 15 rushing yards. The victory was head coach Mike Tomlin's first in the post-season. The Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII over the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals on February 1.

Pittsburgh hosted the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field due to the Chargers' overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts during the Wild Card round. The Chargers scored on the game's first drive with a 41-yard pass from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson for a touchdown. After the Steelers defense stopped the Chargers on their next drive, Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes returned a punt 67 yards to tie the game at seven. With two minutes remaining in the first half Nate Kaeding converted a 42-yard field goal to reclaim the lead for the Chargers. Pittsburgh's offense responded with a 7 play, 66 yard drive in 1:33 to take their first lead of the game after a 3-yard touchdown run from Willie Parker.

The Steelers opened the second half with a 7:56, 13 play drive which concluded with Ben Roethlisberger's sole touchdown pass to Heath Miller. San Diego had one offensive play in the third quarter, which resulted in an interception. The Steelers entered the final quarter with a 21–10 lead. Gary Russell scored on a 1-yard touchdown rush to extend the Steelers lead. The Chargers scored on their next possession, when Legedu Naanee received Rivers' second touchdown pass of the game to conclude a 73 yard drive. With 4:17 remaining Willie Parker scored his second touchdown of the game—with a 16-yard run. The Chargers' Darren Sproles concluded the game's scoring with a 62-yard touchdown reception, bringing the final score to 35–24.

Pittsburgh scored the game's first points, with Jeff Reed converting on field goals from 34 and 42 yards in the first quarter. Santonio Holmes received a pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter and ran for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 13–0 lead. Baltimore's Willis McGahee ran into the endzone for a touchdown with 2:44 remaining in the second quarter—bringing the halftime score to 13–7. Reed converted his third field goal of the game from 46 yards in the third quarter. McGahee scored his second touchdown of the game with 9:32 remaining in the final quarter bringing the Ravens within two points. Troy Polamalu intercepted a pass from Joe Flacco and returned it 40 yards to score the final touchdown of the game, giving Pittsburgh a 23–14 victory.

Jeff Reed concluded the first drive of Super Bowl XLIII with a field goal—giving the Steelers a 3–0 lead over the Arizona Cardinals. Gary Russell scored on a 1 yard touchdown rush on the Steelers' second drive and the Cardinals responded by scoring a touchdown on the ensuing drive. On the final play of the first half James Harrison intercepted a pass from Kurt Warner and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. As he did in the first quarter, Reed scored the sole points of the third quarter giving the Steelers a 20–7 lead entering the final quarter. The Cardinals scored three consecutive times in the fourth quarter—with two Larry Fitzgerald touchdown receptions and a Steelers' holding call in the endzone that resulted in a safety—to give them a 23–20 lead with 2:37 remaining in regulation. Pittsburgh drove 78 yards in 2:02 and scored on a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes. The Steelers four point lead held as time expired and the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first team to win six Super Bowl titles.

Santonio Holmes was voted the game's Most Valuable Player. Mike Tomlin became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. Harrison's interception return was the longest play in Super Bowl history. On February 3 a parade was held in Pittsburgh to celebrate the victory, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette an estimated 400,000 people attended. The city's name was ceremonially changed to "the City of Sixburgh" for the duration of 2009.

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Super Bowl XLIII

Super Bowl XLIII Logo

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game which featured the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Arizona Cardinals to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 season. The Steelers (15–4) defeated the Cardinals (12–8) by a score of 27-23, earning their sixth Super Bowl win, and thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins. This broke the three-way, five-victory tie the Steelers themselves achieved alongside the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XL. They also joined the New England Patriots (who won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX) as the second team of the decade to win multiple Super Bowls.

The game, played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, was a contest between one of the NFL's most successul franchises (Pittsburgh) and a historically unsuccessful franchise (Arizona). The Cardinals entered the game seeking their first NFL title since 1947, the longest championship drought in the league. The club became an unexpected winner during the season and the playoffs with the aid of head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was the Steelers offensive coordinator during Super Bowl XL, and the re-emergence of quarterback Kurt Warner, who was the Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXXIV with the St. Louis Rams.

Pittsburgh outgained Arizona 158 to 102 yards in the first half of Super Bowl XLIII, jumping to a 17–7 lead at halftime, aided by linebacker James Harrison's Super Bowl record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. However, trailing 20–7 at the start of the fourth quarter, Arizona scored 16 unanswered points, including wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard touchdown reception, to take the lead with 2:37 remaining in the game. But then the Steelers marched 78 yards to score on wide receiver Santonio Holmes' 6-yard game-winning touchdown catch with 35 seconds left. Holmes, who caught nine passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, including four receptions for 71 yards on that final game-winning drive, was named Super Bowl MVP. He became the sixth wide receiver to win the award, and also was the third Pittsburgh receiver to win the award, following Lynn Swann and Hines Ward.

Despite the global financial crisis and limited amount of ancillary festivities that are normally held before the game, approximately 98.7 million American viewers watched the game on the NBC television network, making it the most-watched Super Bowl in history.

Tampa was selected for the game site on May 25, 2005, beating out three other finalists: Atlanta, Houston, and Miami. Super Bowl XLIII was the second Super Bowl at this venue and the fourth overall in that city.

In February 2008, the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee unveiled the Super Bowl XLIII logo, featuring an abstract representation of a football stadium, with blue and green colors representing the regional waterways and landscapes of Tampa Bay. Eight yards of playing field are shown, alluding to the game's status as the championship of the 2008 NFL season. In a tradition starting with the Super Bowl XL logo, two stars — one red, representing the AFC, and one blue, representing the NFC — are flanked on either side of the Super Bowl XLIII logo. The tagline for Super Bowl XLIII as well as the 2008 NFL season is "Believe In Now".

The seeds of Super Bowl XLIII can be traced back to the end of the 2006 season. After winning Super Bowl XL in 2005, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell to an 8–8 record the following year. At the end of 2006, Bill Cowher ended his 15-year tenure as their head coach, leaving with a 149–90–1 record and a 12–9 record in the playoffs. Both offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and assistant head coach Russ Grimm were widely considered the front-runners to succeed Cowher in Pittsburgh.

However, without waiting to see if Pittsburgh would hire him, Whisenhunt accepted the head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals, a team that held the second longest championship drought in U.S. sports (1947, with only the Chicago Cubs last winning their championship in 1908) and had never advanced to the Super Bowl in their franchise history. The Steelers then passed over Grimm and instead hired Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. Once Tomlin was hired by the Steelers, Grimm joined Whisenhunt in Arizona in the same position as assistant head coach as he had in Pittsburgh, and the two of them began to remodel the perennial losing club into a winner like the Steelers.

Of historical note, the game matched up two franchises previously merged into a single team, "Card-Pitt", for the 1944 season in response to the depleted rosters during World War II. Pittsburgh was going for its sixth Super Bowl win, which would place it in sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins, while the Cardinals were seeking their first league title since 1947 and only the second undisputed league championship in their history. (The then-Chicago Cardinals were named the NFL champions in 1925 for finishing with the best record, but also because the Pottsville Maroons had been fined and suspended for playing a game against the Notre Dame football team in another NFL franchise's territory.) It was the third Super Bowl in history to feature two pre-expansion era (pre-1960) teams, joining Super Bowl XIV (Steelers vs. Los Angeles Rams, the latter of which coincidentally also went 9-7 in the regular season) and Super Bowl XLI (Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears). The Cardinals and Steelers played each other twice per season from 1960 through 1969, first in the Eastern Division (1960-66), then in the Century Division of the Eastern Conference (1967-69).

It was also the first time that two quarterbacks who previously started for a Super Bowl winning team (Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger) opposed one another since Jim Plunkett's Los Angeles Raiders defeated Joe Theisman's Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. Warner started for the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowls XXXIV and Super Bowl XXXVI, winning the first and losing the second one, while Roethlisberger was the winning quarterback in Super Bowl XL.

Under Tomlin's first season as head coach, the Steelers improved to a 10–6 record in 2007. Pittsburgh then finished the 2008 season with the second best record in the AFC at 12–4, making the playoffs for the 6th time in the last eight seasons, and went on to earn their seventh Super Bowl trip in franchise history, breaking a three-way tie with the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos for second most Super Bowl appearances. The Steelers are now one Super Bowl behind the Dallas Cowboys, who currently hold the record for most appearances with eight.

The Steelers excelled on defense, leading the NFL in fewest points (13.9) and yards (237.2) per game allowed, while also ranking second in sacks with 51. Up front, their line was anchored by defensive end Aaron Smith, who recorded 60 tackles and six sacks. Behind him, two of the Steelers starting linebackers ranked among the top ten sack leaders in the NFL, LaMarr Woodley (11.5 sacks) and pro bowler/NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison (16 sacks). Pro Bowl linebacker James Farrior was also a big contributor, recording 4 sacks and leading the team with 133 tackles. The Steelers secondary was led by pro bowl safety Troy Polamalu, who ranked second in the NFL with a career high seven interceptions.

For the fifth year in a row, the Steelers offense was led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who finished the season with 3,301 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions. His top target was the Steelers all-time receiving leader Hines Ward, who recorded his fifth 1,000-yard season with 81 receptions for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns. Other reliable receiving options included Santonio Holmes (55 receptions for 821 yards), Nate Washington (40 receptions for 631 yards), and tight end Heath Miller (48 receptions for 514 yards). The Steelers ground game was led by two-time pro bowl running back Willie Parker, who had rushed for over 1,200 yards in each of his last three seasons. Injuries in 2008 limited him to 791 yards in 11 games, but running back Mewelde Moore proved to be a solid replacement, rushing for 588 yards and catching 40 passes for 320.

For their efforts, Tomlin won the 2008 Motorola Coach Of The Year Award and Harrison was awarded with the 2008 GMC Sierra Defensive Player Of The Year.

Under Whisenhunt's first season as head coach, the Cardinals finished with an 8–8 record in 2007. Arizona then finished the 2008 season with a 9–7 record and went on to earn their first trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history, becoming only the second NFL team to do so with nine wins.

One reason for Arizona's success was the re-emergence of 37-year old quarterback Kurt Warner. Warner, after he was not selected in the NFL draft, went to work in a grocery store for a short period of time before getting his first professional break in the Arena Football League. Warner became a member of the Iowa Barnstormers and led them to two Arena Bowl appearances. After four AFL seasons, he signed on as a backup quarterback with the St. Louis Rams, being allocated for the 1998 season in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals. In 1999, he earned a chance to play in the NFL following a preseason injury to starter Trent Green. Warner ended up taking full advantage of that chance, not only securing a spot as the Rams full-time starter, but also leading them to two Super Bowls and one Super Bowl win (in which Warner was named MVP), while also winning two NFL MVP awards.

However, in 2002, Warner's production was drastically reduced by injuries and he soon lost his starting job to Marc Bulger. He eventually left the team to join the New York Giants, but once again he lost his starting job (beaten out by their #1 draft pick of 2004, future Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning) and signed on with the Cardinals in 2005. For the third time, Warner lost his starting job due to mediocre performances and injuries. After the season, Arizona selected Heisman winner Matt Leinart with their first round draft pick. This, combined with another mediocre performance in the 2006 season, appeared to severely limit Warner's chances of ever being a permanent starter on the team. However, early in the 2007 season, Warner was thrust into the starting lineup to replace an injured Leinart, and by the end of the team's season, he had emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the league, throwing 27 touchdown passes with a passer rating of 89.8.

With his starting job on the team more secure, Warner posted one of his best seasons in 2008, throwing for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns, with only 14 interceptions, giving him an NFC best 96.9 rating. His top targets were receivers Larry Fitzgerald (96 receptions, 1,431 yards, 12 touchdowns), Anquan Boldin (89 receptions, 1,038 yards, 11 touchdowns), and Steve Breaston (77 receptions, 1,006 yards, three touchdowns, 900 special teams return yards), who made the Cardinals the fifth team ever to feature three players with over 1,000 receiving yards. The Cardinals ground game was led by veteran running back Edgerrin James and rookie Tim Hightower. James led the team with 514 yards, while Hightower rushed for 399 and scored 10 touchdowns. He was also a reliable target out of the backfield, catching 34 passes for another 237 yards. Overall, Arizona's offense ranked fourth in yards per game (365.8) and third in scoring (422 points).

However, their defense had played inconsistently during the regular season, ranking just 28th in points allowed. Up front, their line was anchored by defensive lineman Bertrand Berry, who recorded five sacks and forced two fumbles. Linebacker Karlos Dansby was also a solid contributor, recording four sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles, while also leading the team with 119 tackles. The Cardinals secondary was led by rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who led the team with four interceptions) and Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson (fourth on the team in tackles, 75).

Arizona advanced to the Super Bowl by beating the fifth-seeded Atlanta Falcons 30–24, the second-seeded Carolina Panthers, 33–13, and the sixth-seeded Philadelphia Eagles, 32–25. Warner played exceptionally well in those games, throwing for a total of 661 yards and eight touchdowns, with only two interceptions, giving him a rating of 112.1. The Cardinals also got a big performance out of Larry Fitzgerald, who caught 23 passes for a postseason record 419 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Arizona's 28th-ranked defense showed major improvement in the postseason, forcing twelve turnovers in their three games. This included five interceptions and one fumble from Carolina's pro bowl quarterback Jake Delhomme in the divisional round.

Pittsburgh began their Super Bowl run with a 35–24 win over the fourth-seeded San Diego Chargers, gaining 342 yards, avoiding any turnovers, holding the ball for 36:30 (including for 14:43 in the third quarter alone, an NFL record for a single quarter), and scoring a touchdown in every quarter. Also, Parker appeared to be fully recovered from his regular season injuries, as evidenced by his career postseason high 147-yard, two–touchdown performance against the Chargers. Pittsburgh then went on to beat, for the third time in the season, their AFC North division arch rivals, the sixth-seeded Baltimore Ravens, 23–14, holding them to 184 yards and forcing five turnovers.

The AFC Champion Steelers stayed at the InterContinental Tampa and held their pre-game practices at the training facility of the University of South Florida Bulls. The NFC Champion Cardinals were based at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and held their practices at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training facility. Both teams arrived in the Tampa area on Monday, January 26.

Also on January 26, the NFL announced that the Super Bowl game would be one of the safest places in the United States during game time. Personnel from over 20 different federal agencies were on site to assist in protecting players and fans.

Pittsburgh entered the game as seven-point favorites over Arizona. Major factors for this included the view that the Steelers' defense was better compared to the that of the Cardinals and the feeling that the AFC was an overall better conference than the NFC.

The Cardinals were the designated "home team," as was the case for all NFC champions in odd numbered Super Bowls. Arizona wore their red jerseys, which it has done at home since moving into University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006 after predominantly wearing their white jerseys at home for their first 18 years in Arizona to combat the intense heat of September and October. As a result, the Steelers wore white jerseys for their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh improved to 3–0 lifetime wearing white jerseys in the Super Bowl after the victory in Super Bowl XLIII. The other two times the team wore white was as the "visiting team" against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX (during a time when the designated "home" team was required to wear their team colored jerseys) and against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL despite being the "home team" that season but having road success in the playoffs. In addition, teams wearing white jerseys in the Super Bowl extended their winning streak to five games, dating back to Super Bowl XXXIX, currently the longest such streak between white and team colored jerseys in Super Bowl history. Pittsburgh also improved to 3-0 lifetime against NFC West Division teams in the Super Bowl, having previously beaten the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV and the Seahawks in XL.

Another pre-game storyline involved backup Steelers tight end/fullback Sean McHugh. McHugh, who spent the past three seasons with the Detroit Lions, made that team's 53-man roster at the end of the preseason, only to later be released 24 hours later alongside linebacker Anthony Cannon in order for the Lions to make room for linebacker Ryan Nece and running back Marcus Thomas. The Steelers promptly signed McHugh after the team traded center Sean Mahan back to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a draft pick before the start of the season. The subsequent media attention surrounding McHugh had to do with him being deemed not good enough for the Lions (a team that would finish 0-16, the NFL's first imperfect season since the expansion 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers), but good enough for a Super Bowl team such as the Steelers and being a valuable blocker for Ben Roethlisberger and Willie Parker. McHugh himself had mixed feelings about the situation, feeling bad for his former Lions teammates, but also feeling it's a little payback for the Lions for releasing him in the first place. McHugh would play in the Super Bowl as a blocker, much like his regular season role.

The Cardinals became the second team to have their city/state location painted in their end zone for a Super Bowl, as their end zone read Arizona Cardinals. In Super Bowl XL, the Seattle Seahawks became the first team to have this, as their end zone read Seattle Seahawks. For all other Super Bowl teams, end zones have just featured the team nickname.

With all the cutbacks resulting from the severe economic downturn in the United States, the game was dubbed "The Recession Bowl." Restaurants were slow in business and many parties, including parties hosted by Playboy and Sports Illustrated were canceled. There were also 200 fewer sports journalists covering the game than at Super Bowl XLII the previous year. According to the online broker StubHub, tickets with a face value of $500 changed hands the week of the Super Bowl for an average $2,500 – a 40% drop from Super Bowl XLII in 2008 and 16% lower than Super Bowl XL in 2006. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, the Big Three automobile makers, decided not to purchase television advertisements following the three companies' business struggles in 2008 and early 2009.

The game was televised live in the United States on NBC, the network's first Super Bowl broadcast since Super Bowl XXXII at the end of the 1997 season, and was available in 1080i high definition. Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels and color commentator John Madden were in the booth, with Andrea Kremer and Alex Flanagan serving as sideline reporters. The pre-game show – a record five hours long – was hosted by the Football Night in America team headed by Bob Costas, and preceded by a two-hour special edition of Today hosted by the regular weekday team live from Tampa and the NFL Films – produced Road to the Super Bowl. Matt Millen was part of the coverage as a studio analyst. The Today contribution included portions of a taped interview with President Obama and pictures of troops viewing the proceedings in Iraq.

John Madden was the first person to have announced a Super Bowl for each of the four major U.S. television networks, having called five Super Bowls for CBS, three for FOX, and two for ABC prior to joining NBC in 2006. Meanwhile, Al Michaels was the third man to do play-by-play for a Super Bowl on NBC television (following in the footsteps of Curt Gowdy and Dick Enberg). Also, Michaels became the second person (after Pat Summerall on CBS and FOX) to be the lead Super Bowl play-by-play announcer for two different major U.S. networks (ABC and NBC). This would also be the final game Madden would call, as he announced his retirement on April 16, 2009.

Super Bowl XLIII was the final Super Bowl to air in the analog television format in the United States before the nationwide digital television transition. The transition, originally scheduled for February 17 was pushed back to June 12.

With an average U.S. audience of 98.7 million viewers, this was the most-watched Super Bowl in history, and the second-most-watched U.S. television program of any kind (trailing only the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983). However, the national Nielsen rating of 42.1 was lower than the 43.3 rating for the previous year's game. The telecast drew a 53.6 rating in Pittsburgh and a 47.5 rating in Phoenix, first and ninth respectively among local markets.

In Tucson, Arizona and surrounding areas, the analog but not digital feed of the Comcast cable service was interrupted by an unknown party, when 30 seconds from Playboy Enterprises-owned adult cable television channel Shorteez was broadcast to homes just after Larry Fitzgerald scored his fourth quarter touchdown to take the Cardinals to a 23-20 lead. Minutes before this occurred, 10 seconds of an end credit segment from ClubJenna, another Playboy-owned channel, was shown. Comcast offered a $10 credit for customers who claimed to have seen the incident, and the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would investigate the cause of the incident.

The telecast was also carried to U.S. service personnel stationed around the globe via the American Forces Network.

Super Bowl XLIII also marked the first time that a 30-second commercial time slot cost up to US $3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs. Many traditional advertisers, such as Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo, bought multiple ads at discounted rates. Each of the "Big Three" U.S. automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) passed on advertising during the game. A short trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen premiered during the Super Bowl, a debut which director Michael Bay first revealed would occur in January. A preview of the upcoming Star Trek film also premiered during the game. However, with the weak economy, NBC was thought to have turned to companies already buying ad time for an additional purchase or two as set by the Los Angeles-based Forza Migliozzi agency, which would have eight advertisers simultaneously in one 30-second ad. SoBe and DreamWorks Animation aired a 3-D trailer for the upcoming film Monsters vs. Aliens, along with a 3-D ad for Sobe Life Water that featured Ray Lewis and Todd Light dancing Swan Lake (renamed Lizard Lake for this ad), as well as the promo for the upcoming episode of Chuck in 3D. About 150 million “ColorCode 3-D” glasses were given away at grocery stores across the country for the ad. Hyundai also advertised its new Genesis Coupe in two 30-second commercials. All advertising slots were sold out one day before the game, resulting in sales of $206 million.

YouTube's top five in "Ad Blitz 2009" also saw the two Doritos ads finish first and fifth. The middle three featured E*Trade's Singing Baby ad,'s "The Official 2009 Super Bowl Commercial" and Pepsi Max's "I'm Good" finish second through fourth respectively.

An international feed featured Bob Papa and Sterling Sharpe announcing, and was seen in 230 countries (including Antarctica) over 61 networks and 34 languages. ESPN Latin America also broadcasted across Latin America.

On radio, Westwood One had the national broadcast rights to the game in the United States and Canada. It was only made available to local affiliates as part of a 57-game package of regular season and post-season games. Stations were not allowed to stream the broadcast on their web sites.

FieldPass, the subscription Internet radio service provided by the league at, carried most of these feeds, with select international feeds for free. Due to contractual restrictions, only WDVE, WBGG, KTAR-AM and FM, Sirius XM, and FieldPass were permitted to carry the teams' local broadcasts, with the teams' network affiliates instead carrying the Westwood One feed.

Journey performed during the pre-game show, and Jennifer Hudson sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" in her first public appearance since the murder of her nephew, brother and mother. Hudson became the second consecutive alumna from the American Idol television series to perform the national anthem at a Super Bowl (Jordin Sparks sang the anthem at Super Bowl XLII). The national anthem was translated into American Sign Language by Kristen Santos. Following the anthem, the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed a fly-over. John Legend performed a short concert several hours before the game, while Faith Hill performed "America the Beautiful" prior to Hudson's performance of the national anthem. Also, the crew of US Airways Flight 1549 were recognized on field for their actions.

The NFL saluted four decades of champions during the coin toss ceremony and the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation. The coin toss featured Roger Craig (Super Bowl XXIII, 1989), John Elway (Super Bowl XXXIII, 1999) and Lynn Swann (Super Bowl XIII, 1979). Roger Craig followed last year's participants and fellow San Francisco 49ers Craig Walsh (son of Bill Walsh), Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice and Steve Young. General David Petraeus performed the actual coin toss. The Steelers called tails, but it landed on heads, so the Cardinals won the toss. Arizona deferred their choice to the second half, and the Steelers chose to receive, making it the first time in Super Bowl history that the coin toss winner kicked off to start the game. (The NFL had just changed the rule before the start of the season allowing the team that wins the coin toss to defer the choice to the second half, similar to that in college football and Canadian football.) By winning the toss, the Arizona Cardinals were the twelfth consecutive coin toss winner from the NFC, dating back to Super Bowl XXXII. Joe Namath (Super Bowl III, 1969) participated in the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation and he previously participated in the coin toss in Super Bowl XXVIII. Coincidentally, Namath—a native of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh—ultimately handed the trophy to his hometown team.

Each of the numbers had at least one verse removed, in order to fit the overall performance in the intended 12-minute time limit. Springsteen had turned down numerous invitations to play at the Super Bowl before this one, unsure of its legitimacy, but finally accepted after realizing the prestige value.

Bruce Springsteen stated in an interview with Bob Costas, he would like Coldplay to perform the halftime show next year.

The Steelers 2008 season/Super Bowl XLIII championship home video went on sale on DVD on February 24, 2009. One week later on March 3, it was released on Blu-ray Disc, making it the first NFL Films home video release to be on Blu-ray Disc. The Blu-ray copy is "officially" sold exclusively through, though it is also available through the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl offer, as well as eBay and a few retail stores that ordered copies from The New York Giants 2007 season/Super Bowl video was only released on DVD the previous year despite the fact that Toshiba dropped support of HD DVD (the primary rival of Blu-ray) just two weeks after Super Bowl XLII.

Pittsburgh took the opening kickoff and moved down the field on a 71-yard scoring drive, with Ben Roethlisberger completing a 38-yard pass to Hines Ward and a 21-yard strike to Heath Miller, putting the ball at the Arizona 1-yard line. On third down, Roethlisberger appeared to score on a quarterback scramble, but it was overruled by a replay challenge, which determined that he was down before the ball crossed the goal line. Rather than make another attempt at a touchdown, Pittsburgh settled for a Jeff Reed 18-yard field goal to take the 3–0 lead. It was the second straight year a team took the opening kickoff down for a score as the Giants did the same in Super Bowl XLII (the last time before that was the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII). The Steelers quickly forced an Arizona punt and then drove back down the field for what would turn into more points. On the first play of their drive, Roethlisberger completed a 25-yard pass to Santonio Holmes. Following three more completions to Miller for 26 yards and another one to Holmes for 7, reserve running back Gary Russell went into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run to make the score 10–0 on the second play of the second quarter. They became the first team to score on its first two drives since the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. On defense, Pittsburgh held Arizona to just one drive and one first down in the first quarter, while gaining 135 yards.

The Cardinals got going for the first time midway through the second quarter as a 45-yard completion from Kurt Warner to Anquan Boldin moved the ball to the Steelers' 1-yard line. On the next play, Warner nearly fell over after taking the snap, but he regained his balance and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Patrick. After an exchange of punts, Roethlisberger threw a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by linebacker Karlos Dansby at the Steelers 34-yard line with 2:46 left in the half. Seven plays later, the Cardinals drove to a first down on the Pittsburgh 1-yard line. But with 18 seconds left, Warner's pass was intercepted in the end zone by linebacker James Harrison, who then took off down the sideline for the longest play in Super Bowl history, a 100-yard return for a touchdown, increasing the Steelers' lead to 17–7 at halftime. A booth review was called to verify that Harrison had broken the plane, as he was tackled at the goal line, and the ruling stood.

After forcing a punt, the Steelers started off the third quarter with another long scoring drive. Aided by three personal foul penalties against Arizona, they moved the ball 79 yards in 14 plays and took 8:39 off the clock. However, they were unable to get into the end zone, despite two first downs inside the Cardinals 10 (a penalty against Arizona on a Steelers field goal attempt gave them another chance), and they had to settle for another Reed field goal to give them a 13-point lead, 20–7. After a few more punts, Warner led the Cardinals down the field on an eight-play, 87-yard scoring drive that took 3:57 off the clock, utilizing a no huddle offense. With 7:33 left in the game, Warner threw a high floating pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who made a leaping catch through tight coverage by Ike Taylor for a touchdown, making the score 20–14.

Later on, Ben Graham's 34-yard punt pinned the Steelers back at their own 1-yard line. Two plays later on third down and 10, Roethlisberger threw a 20-yard pass to Holmes, but center Justin Hartwig was called for holding in the end zone, which not only nullified the catch, but gave the Cardinals a safety, raising the score to 20–16. Taking over on their own 36 after the free kick, Arizona took two plays to score, as Warner threw a pass to Fitzgerald on a post route. Fitzgerald caught the ball without breaking stride and took off down the middle of the field past the Steelers secondary for a 64-yard touchdown reception, giving Arizona their first lead of the game, 23–20.

Pittsburgh got the ball back on their own 22-yard line with 2:37 left in the game and two timeouts remaining. On their first play, a holding penalty pushed them back 10 yards. Roethlisberger then completed two passes to Holmes for 27 yards. After an 11-yard reception by Nate Washington and a 4-yard run by Roethlisberger, he completed a 40-yard pass to Holmes at the Cardinals 6-yard line. Two plays later, Holmes caught a pass in the corner of the end zone and managed to land his toes down right before falling out of bounds for a touchdown. After a booth review, the touchdown pass stood. Reed's ensuing extra point made the score 27–23 with 35 seconds remaining. Following the ensuing kickoff, Warner completed a 20-yard pass to Fitzgerald and a 13-yarder to J. J. Arrington, moving the ball to the Steelers 44. With 18 seconds left, Warner prepared to attempt a Hail Mary pass, but linebacker LaMarr Woodley forced a fumble while sacking Warner, which defensive end Brett Keisel recovered, sealing Pittsburgh's NFL record sixth Super Bowl title.

In Super Bowl XLIII, Arizona and Pittsburgh combined for the fewest rushing attempts (38) and the fewest rushing yards (91) in Super Bowl history. The Cardinals outgained the Steelers in both passing yards (374 to 234) and total yards (407 to 292), but committed 11 penalties for 106 yards. Arizona's safety in the fourth quarter was only the sixth one scored in Super Bowl history, the first since Super Bowl XXV.

Warner completed 31 of 43 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. His 377 yards was the second most in Super Bowl history behind his own record of 414 yards in Super Bowl XXXIV (Warner also holds the third place record with 365 yards in Super Bowl XXXVI). With the three highest totals in Super Bowl history, he passed Joe Montana for most career yards in Super Bowl history with 1,156 (Montana threw for 1,142 yards in four games). He became the fifth quarterback in Super Bowl history to throw three touchdown passes in defeat (the others being Roger Staubach, Brett Favre, Jake Delhomme, and Donovan McNabb). He also became the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to have a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown in two different Super Bowls and is also the second quarterback to throw a fourth-quarter touchdown in three different Super Bowls (Terry Bradshaw threw a fourth-quarter touchdown in all four of his Super Bowls).

Warner's top target was Fitzgerald, who caught seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzgerald set a single postseason record with seven touchdown receptions, passing Jerry Rice, who had six in the 1988 postseason. Roethlisberger completed 21 of 30 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. Woodley had two sacks and a forced fumble, thus he continued setting NFL play-off records for consecutive multiple sack games by a player with 4. Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett had all of Arizona's three sacks. Harrison's 100-yard interception return was the longest play of any kind in a Super Bowl.

In Pittsburgh, mostly in the Oakland neighborhood, riots broke out on the streets after the Steelers' victory. Rioters—mostly college students—caused about $150,000 in estimated damages. More than 60 people were arrested during and after the rioting, and at least two students were suspended. Two of the Steelers' former homes, Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium, were in the Oakland neighborhood before moving to Three Rivers Stadium in 1970.

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2007 Pittsburgh Steelers season

The 2007 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the 75th season of the Steelers franchise. The season saw the team improve upon their 8–8 record from 2006, finish with a record of 10-6, and win the AFC North Division. The Steelers qualified for the playoffs for the first season since their Super Bowl victory in 2005, but were defeated in the Wild Card round.

The 2007 NFL Draft took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 28 and April 29, 2007. The Steelers selected eight players in six rounds.

Head coach Mike Tomlin was in his first year with the Steelers. The offensive coordinator was Bruce Arians and the defensive coordinator was Dick LeBeau. The quarterbacks coach was Ken Anderson. Keith Butler was the linebackers coach. The tight ends coach was James Daniel. Randy Fichtner was the wide receivers coach. The defensive backs coach was Ray Horton. Amos Jones and Bob Ligashesky were the special teams coaches. John Mitchell was the defensive line and assistant head coach. Kirby Wilson was the running backs coach. The offensive line coach was Larry Zierlein. The quality control coaches were Harold Goodwin for the offense and Lou Spanos for the defense. Garret Giemont was the conditioning coordinator.

The Steelers' 2007 schedule included two notable playoff rematches. The Steelers played the New England Patriots December 9 for the first time in the regular season since 2005, when they lost at home on a last-second Adam Vinatieri field goal 23–20. The 34-13 loss was also the Steelers' first visit to Foxboro, Massachusetts since 2002. The Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21–0 in week 5 on October 7, the teams' first meeting since the Steelers' 21–10 victory in Super Bowl XL 20 months earlier. The week 5 match was the Steelers' and Seahawks' first meeting in Pittsburgh since 1999 as well as the Seahawks' first-ever visit to Heinz Field. Another notable game occurred December 20 when the Steelers defeated the St. Louis Rams, 41-24, for their first-ever road win over the Cleveland/Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1-9-1). It was the two teams' first-ever meeting in St. Louis, a city the Steelers last visited in 1979 (a 24-21 win over the then-St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium).

Six players from the Steelers were selected to play in the 2008 Pro Bowl. Two started (bold), two were selected to the reserve squad, and two did not play due to injury.

The Steelers began their anniversary season on the road against their AFC North foe, the Cleveland Browns, for Round 1 of the 2007 Rust Belt series. Also, with both teams at 55 wins a piece, the Steelers would take the lead in the rivalry for the first time in the 57 year history of the rivalry.

Pittsburgh got off to a fast start in the first quarter as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed a 5-yard TD pass to WR Hines Ward. Later, kicker Jeff Reed made a 26-yard field goal, while Roethlisberger completed a 40-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes. After a scoreless second quarter, the Steelers went right back to work in the third quarter, as Roethlisberger completed a 5-yard TD pass to rookie TE Matt Spaeth. Afterwards, the Browns got their only score of the game as QB Derek Anderson completed a 1-yard TD pass to FB Lawrence Vickers. Pittsburgh put the game well out of reach as Roethlisberger threw his career-best 4th touchdown pass of the game, a 22-yard strike to TE Heath Miller. In the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh wrapped up the win with Reed's 31-yard field goal.

With the win, the Steelers began the year at 1-0, gave Mike Tomlin his first win as a head coach, and took the lead in the Rust Belt series with win #56.

Coming off their easy road win over the Browns, the Steelers debuted their special throwback uniforms and clashed with the Buffalo Bills in a Week 2 home opener. In the first half, despite the early struggles on offense, the defense kept the Bills back. Meanwhile, kicker Jeff Reed scored a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter, and added 28-yard and 39-yard field goals in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Buffalo would get their only score against Pittsburgh, as kicker Rian Lindell got a 24-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Steelers took over for the rest of the game as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed a 1-yard TD pass to rookie TE Matt Spaeth. In the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh closed out the game with RB Willie Parker getting an 11-yard TD run.

With the win, the Steelers improved to 2–0.

In Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers, the Steelers found themselves trailing for the first time on the young season as the 49ers drove deep into Pittsburgh territory before being forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Joe Nedney. The San Francisco lead lasted exactly 12 seconds, as Allen Rossum returned to ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 7-3 advantage. The Niners went 3-and-out on their next drive, but they sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and forced him to fumble on the Steelers' second offensive play from scrimmage. San Francisco recovered the fumble at the Pittsburgh 22 and drove to the 4, but was held to another Nedney field goal, this one from 22 yards out, to cut the Steelers' lead to 1. The teams exchanged punts until late in the second quarter, when Pittsburgh drove 80 yards on 12 plays which culminated in a Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Jerame Tuman to give the Steelers a 14-6 lead into the half.

Pittsburgh took the ball to begin the second half, and drove to the San Francisco 18 before being stopped (a catch by Heath Miller at the 49ers 2 yard line was overturned after a successful challenge by San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan showed that Miller was out of bounds). The Steelers were forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Jeff Reed to increase their lead to 17-6. On the 49ers' ensuing drive, Alex Smith hit leaping tight end Vernon Davis at the Pittsburgh 5 yard line when he was hit by strong safety Troy Polamalu and flipped into the air. Davis hit the ground, and the ball popped up and was caught by free safety Ryan Clark, who returned it into San Francisco territory. Nolan challenged the play, arguing that Davis was down by contact at the Pittsburgh 5. Referee Gerry Austin ruled instead that the ball had hit the ground, and that the pass was therefore incomplete (the Niners still won the challenge, as the original call of an interception was overturned). The 49ers could not drive any further, and Nedney kicked a 49-yard field goal to make it 17-9, Pittsburgh. The Steelers got the ball back after the field goal and drove deep into 49ers territory before Reed kicked a 49-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Steelers a 20-9 lead. The 49ers' next drive resulted in a punt, and the Steelers drove into field goal range again. Reed's 35-yard kick was good, and the Steelers led 23-9. On the ensuing possession by San Francisco was facing a crucial 3rd and 5 from their own 42. Smith forced a throw into coverage, and it was intercepted by Steeler cornerback Bryant McFadden and returned for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh a commanding 30-9 lead. Smith drove the 49ers down the field on their next possession, and he threw a 21 yard touchdown pass to Taylor Jacobs to give San Francisco its first and only touchdown of the day. The 49ers tried to execute an onside kick, but Nedney's kick was recovered by Steeler punter Daniel Sepulveda. The Steelers then attempted to run out the clock by handing the ball off to backup running back Najeh Davenport, but Davenport broke a 39-yard touchdown run with under 2 minutes to go to give the Steelers a 37-16 lead, which would be the final score. The Niners attempted one last drive, but could not even gain a first down.

With the win Pittsburgh became one of five NFL teams to increase its record to 3-0, while San Francisco dropped to 2-1. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 13 of 20 for 160 yards with a touchdown and a lost fumble, while Alex Smith was 17 of 35 for 209 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Both were sacked twice. Willie Parker ran for 133 yards on 24 carries, while Frank Gore was held to 39 yards on 14 carries.

Coming off their interconference home win over the 49ers, the Steelers flew to University of Phoenix Stadium for an interconference duel with the Arizona Cardinals. Near the end of the first quarter, Pittsburgh delivered the first punch as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed a 43-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes for the only score of the period. However, after a scoreless second quarter, the Cardinals responded with back-up QB Kurt Warner completing a 6-yard TD pass to WR Jerheme Urban for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, things went wrong for the Steelers as Arizona took the lead with WR Steve Breaston returing a punt 73 yards for a touchdown, while RB Edgerrin James got a 2-yard TD run. Pittsburgh tried to mount a comeback as Roethlisberger and Holmes hook up with each other again on a 7-yard TD pass. However, the Steelers' final drive ended with an interception.

With the loss, Pittsburgh fell to 3-1.

Trying to rebound from their road loss to the Cardinals, the Steelers went home for a Week 5 interconference duel with the Seattle Seahawks, in the rematch of Super Bowl XL. Going into the game, Pittsburgh was without Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Troy Polomalu, and Casey Hampton, due to injuries.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Steelers drew first blood with QB Ben Roethlisberger completing a 13-yard TD pass to TE Heath Miller to lead 7–0 at halftime. In the second half, Pittsburgh completed the shutout with RB Najeh Davenport running 1 yard for a TD in the third quarter and 5 yards for a TD in the fourth.

With the win, Pittsburgh entered its bye week at 4–1. During the game, the Steelers had over 40 minutes of possession, including 25 minutes of the second half. In their first five games Pittsburgh had outscored its opponents 57–6 in the first half. The Steelers also improved to 4–0 on the year when RB Willie Parker has a 100-yard rushing game, as he ran 28 times for 102 yards.

The Steelers did not take part in any trades or acquisitions during their bye week. They were able to give their injured players an extra week to heal as Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Troy Polamalu, and Casey Hampton were all sidelined due to injuries.

Coming off of a bye week, the Steelers flew to INVESCO Field at Mile High for a Sunday night intraconference clash with the Denver Broncos. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh struck first with QB Ben Roethlisberger completing a 1-yard TD pass to TE Heath Miller. Afterwards, the Broncos responded with QB Jay Cutler completing a 15-yard TD pass to WR Brandon Stokley. In the second quarter, the Steelers struggled as Cutler completed a 1-yard TD pass to FB Cecil Sapp, along with DE Tim Crowder returning a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh tried to recover with Roethlisberger completing a 13-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes, but the Broncos answered with Cutler completing a 1-yard TD pass to TE Tony Scheffler. In the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh managed to tie the game with Roethlisberger completing a 13-yard TD pass to rookie TE Matt Spaeth, along with a 12-yard TD pass to Miller. Unfortunately, Denver managed to get kicker Jason Elam to nail a last-second 49-yard field goal.

With the loss, the Steelers fell to 4-2.

Pittsburgh's defense, which had given up only 5 touchdowns in their first 5 games, gave up 3 on the night.

Trying to rebound from their last-second road loss to the Broncos, the Steelers flew to Paul Brown Stadium for a Week 8 AFC North brawl with the Cincinnati Bengals. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh trailed early as Bengals kicker Shayne Graham managed to get a 31-yard field goal. Fortunately, the Steelers took the lead with QB Ben Roethlisberger completing a 21-yard TD pass to WR Hines Ward. In the second quarter, Pittsburgh increased its lead with Roethlisberger and Ward hooking up with each other again on a 6-yard TD pass to lead 14–3. With 2:16 left in the second quarter on 4th-and-1 at the Steelers 2, Cincinnati chose to kick a 20-yard field goal and received loud boos from the hometown crowd upon successfully doing so. In a similar situation two minutes later, Steelers RB Willie Parker ran 1 yard into the end zone to put the Steelers up 21–6 at the end of the first half.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Bengals tried to make a fourth quarter comeback as QB Carson Palmer completed a 9-yard TD pass to WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh. Pittsburgh wrapped up the victory with kicker Jeff Reed nailing a 40-yard field goal.

With the win, the Steelers improved to 5-2.

Coming off their divisional road win over the Bengals, the Steelers went home, donned their throwback uniforms again, and played a Week 9 Monday Night divisional duel with the Baltimore Ravens. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh came out strong as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed a 17-yard TD pass to TE Heath Miller and a 15-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes. In the second quarter, the Steelers increased their lead with Roethlisberger completing a 30-yard TD pass to WR Nate Washington, a 35-yard TD pass to Holmes, and a 7-yard TD pass to Washington. Afterwards, the Ravens managed to avoid a shutout as RB Willis McGahee got a 33-yard TD run. In the third quarter, Pittsburgh increased its lead with kicker Jeff Reed nailing a 22-yard field goal, while the defense continued to shut down Baltimore's offense.

With the win, their 12th straight in Monday Night Football home games, the Steelers improved to 6-2.

Ben Roethlisberger had a career game as he completed 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards and a career-high 5 touchdowns for his second career "perfect game." LB James Harrison had a career day with two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception, and 3½ sacks.

During halftime, the Steelers honored their 75th Anniversary All-Time team. Members included Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, Rod Woodson, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, and Mel Blount.

Coming off their dominating Monday Night performance against the Ravens, the Steelers stayed at home for Round 2 of the 2007 Rust Belt series against the Cleveland Browns. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh trailed early as Browns QB Derek Anderson completed a 4-yard TD pass to TE Kellen Winslow. The Steelers managed to get a 28-yard field goal from kicker Jeff Reed. In the second quarter, Cleveland increased its lead with Anderson completing a 2-yard TD pass to FB Lawrence Vickers, while Pittsburgh only managed to have Reed kick a 35-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Browns continued their fast start with Anderson completing a 16-yard TD pass to WR Braylon Edwards. The Steelers drove into the red zone once again but settled for a 30-yard field goal from Reed. Both teams scored thrice in the first half; Cleveland led 21-9.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh began to come back as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed a 12-yard TD pass to WR Hines Ward for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers took the lead with Roethlisberger getting a career-best 30-yard TD run. Cleveland WR/KR Joshua Cribbs returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Pittsburgh on their next drive retook the lead with Roethlisberger completing a 2-yard TD pass to TE Heath Miller. The Browns tried to force overtime with a late field goal, but kicker Phil Dawson's 53-yard attempt came up short with 6 seconds left.

With their ninth straight win over Cleveland, the Steelers improved to 7-2.

Coming off their season-sweep over the Browns, the Steelers flew to The Meadowlands for a Week 11 intraconference duel with the New York Jets. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh surprisingly fell behind early as Jets QB Kellen Clemens completed a 1-yard TD pass to TE Chris Baker, along with kicker Mike Nugent getting a 25-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Steelers got on the board with QB Ben Roethlisberger completing a 7-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes. New York would end the half with Nugent kicking a 19-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh tied the game with kicker Jeff Reed getting a 37-yard and a 33-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers took the lead with Reed getting a 48-yard field goal. However, the Jets managed to tie the game with Nugent kicking a 28-yard field goal. In overtime, New York managed to pull off the upset as Nugent nailed the game-winning 38-yard field goal.

With the surprising loss, Pittsburgh fell to 7-3.

Even worse, the Steelers highly-ranked rushing defense allowed its first 100-yard rusher since 2005 (Edgerrin James of the Colts) as RB Thomas Jones got 30 carries for 117 yards.

Coming off their embarrassing loss to the Jets, the Steelers went home for a Week 12 Monday Night intraconference duel with the winless Miami Dolphins.

Playing in heavy rain with a delay due to lightning, the game remained scoreless through 59 minutes and 43 seconds, becoming the longest scoreless tie since November 7, 1943. In the end, Pittsburgh came through with kicker Jeff Reed nailing the game-winning 24-yard field goal with 17 seconds left for the game's lone points.

With the win, the Steelers improved to 8-3. Also, not only did they improve their home record to 6-0, but this also marked their 13th-straight home win on Monday Night Football. This game would also be crowned as the lowest-scoring game in Monday Night Football history. It was the lowest scoring NFL game since December 11, 1993, when the New York Jets defeated Washington by the same score.

Coming off their Monday Night slushfest victory over the Dolphins, the Steelers stayed at home for a Week 13 Sunday night divisional rematch with the Cincinnati Bengals. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh trailed early as Bengals RB Rudi Johnson got a 1-yard TD run for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, the Steelers took the lead with QB Ben Roethlisberger getting a 6-yard TD run, kicker Jeff Reed getting a 21-yard field goal, and Roethlisberger completing a 2-yard TD pass to WR Hines Ward. In the third quarter, Cincinnati tried to fight back as kicker Shayne Graham nailed a 24-yard field goal. However, Pittsburgh responded with Roethlisberger and Ward hooking up with each other again on an 8-yard TD pass.

With the win, the Steelers improved to 9-3, along with improving this year's home record to 7-0. It also marked the first time since 2004 that Pittsburgh managed to sweep the Bengals.

With his two touchdown receptions, Hines Ward surpassed John Stallworth for the most career touchdown receptions in franchise history with 64.

Coming off their Sunday Night divisional home win over the Bengals, the Steelers flew to Gillette Stadium for a Week 14 intraconference duel with the undefeated New England Patriots. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh struck first with kicker Jeff Reed getting a 23-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Patriots took the lead with QB Tom Brady completing a 4-yard TD pass to WR Randy Moss. In the second quarter, New England increased their lead with Brady and Moss hooking up with each other again on a 63-yard TD pass. Afterwards, the Steelers responded with QB Ben Roethlisberger completing a 32-yard TD pass to RB Najeh Davenport, along with Reed kicking a 44-yard field goal. New England would end the half with kicker Stephen Gostkowski getting a 42-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, the Patriots took control as Brady lateraled to Moss, who lateraled back to Brady, and then threw a 56-yard TD pass to WR Jabar Gaffney. Afterwards, New England increased its lead with Brady completing a 2-yard TD pass to WR Wes Welker. In the fourth quarter, the Patriots sealed the win with Gostkowski nailing a 28-yard field goal.

With the loss, Pittsburgh fell to 9-4.

The loss also made the Steelers' road record fall to 2-4.

Hoping to rebound from their road loss to the Patriots, the Steelers went home for a Week 15 duel with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh trailed early as Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee nailed a 36-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Steelers took the lead as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed an 18-yard TD pass to TE Heath Miller. Jacksonville regained the lead as QB David Garrard completed a 12-yard TD pass to WR Ernest Wilford.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh fell further behind as Garrard completed a 3-yard TD pass to WR Reggie Williams and a 55-yard TD pass to WR Dennis Northcutt. The extra point attempts on both of these touchdowns failed. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers rallied to tie the game with Roethlisberger completing an 11-yard TD pass to WR Hines Ward and a 30-yard TD pass to WR Nate Washington, with the later being followed by WR Cedric Wilson completing a 2-point conversion pass to WR Santonio Holmes on a trick play. On the Jaguars' ensuing offensive drive RB Fred Taylor scored on a 12-yard TD run. The Steelers' next drive ended just a half-yard short on a fourth-down conversion attempt with 41 seconds remaining.

With their first home loss of the year, the Steelers fell to 9–5. This was also the second game this year that Pittsburgh's defense had given up a 100-yard rusher: Fred Taylor ran 25 times for 147 yards and a touchdown.

Trying to snap a two-game losing skid, the Steelers flew to the Edward Jones Dome for a Week 16 Thursday night interconference duel with the St. Louis Rams. In the first quarter, Pittsburgh smashed first as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed a 17-yard TD pass to WR Nate Washington. The Rams would respond with QB Marc Bulger completing a 12-yard TD pass to RB Steven Jackson. In the second quarter, the Steelers regained the lead with kicker Jeff Reed getting a 21-yard field goal. However, St. Louis took the lead with Bulger completing a 12-yard TD pass to WR Isaac Bruce. Afterwards, Pittsburgh got the lead again as Roethlisberger completed a 33-yard TD pass to Washington and a 12-yard TD pass to RB Najeh Davenport. The Rams end the half with kicker Jeff Wilkins getting a 52-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, the Steelers increased their lead with Davenport getting a 1-yard TD run. St. Louis would respond with Bulger completing a 23-yard TD pass to WR Drew Bennett. In the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh ended the game with Reed nailing a 29-yard field goal and CB Ike Taylor returning an interception 51 yards for a touchdown.

With the win, the Steelers improved to 10-5. The Cleveland Browns' loss three days later automatically clinched the Steelers' first AFC North title since 2004.

WR Hines Ward (6 receptions for 59 yards) surpassed John Stallworth as the all-time franchise leader in career reception yards with 8,726 yards. Also, Santonio Holmes got a career high with his game-best 133 receiving yards on 4 catches. Finally, Ben Roethlisberger got his third career "perfect" game (16/20 for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns).

RB Willie Parker (1 carry for -1 yard) got injured on Pittsburgh's second offensive play of the game after getting tackled by LB Will Witherspoon. He would suffer a fractured right fibula, effectively ending his season.

Following their road win over the Rams, the Steelers closed out the regular season with a Week 17 AFC North rematch with the Baltimore Ravens. Because Pittsburgh already cliched a playoff berth (via winning the division), most of their key players sat out the game.

In the first quarter, the Steelers trailed early as Ravens RB Musa Smith got a 2-yard TD run, along with kicker Matt Stover managed to get a 28-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Pittsburgh continued to trail as RB Cory Ross got a 32-yard TD run. The Steelers would respond with RB Najeh Davenport getting a 1-yard TD run. Baltimore would end the half with Stover nailing a 31-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, Baltimore increased its lead with QB Troy Smith completing a 15-TD pass to WR Devard Darling for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh tried to rally as QB Charlie Batch completed a 59-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes and a 7-yard TD pass to WR Cedric Wilson. However, the Ravens manged to hold on for the win.

With the loss, the Steelers ended the regular season at 10-6 and with the AFC's #4 seed.

Entering the playoffs as the AFC's #4 seed, the Steelers began their playoff run at home in the AFC Wildcard Round against the fifth-seeded Jacksonville Jaguars in a rematch of Week 15 where Pittsburgh nearly came back to win.

In the first quarter, the Steelers got the first punch by capping the game's opening drive with RB Najeh Davenport getting a 1-yard TD run. The Jaguars would immediately respond as RB Fred Taylor got a 1-yard TD run following a 96-yard kick-off return by RB Maurice Jones-Drew. In the second quarter, Pittsburgh trailed as CB Rashean Mathis returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown and QB David Garrard completed a 43-yard TD pass to Jones-Drew.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh responded with kicker Jeff Reed getting a 28-yard field goal, but Jacksonville responded with Maurice Jones-Drew getting a 10-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers began to comeback as QB Ben Roethlisberger completed a 37-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes and a 14-yard TD pass to TE Heath Miller (with the latter having a failed two-point conversion), while Davenport got another 1-yard TD run (with another failed two-point conversion) to take a one-point lead. However, the Jaguars would regain the lead with kicker Josh Scobee nailing a 25-yard field goal. Pittsburgh would regain the ball afterwards, but Jacksonville immediately forced and recovered the fumble, effectively ending any possibility of a comeback.

With the loss, the Steelers ended their season with an overall record of 10-7.

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NFL playoffs, 2005–06

The National Football League playoffs for the 2005 season led up to Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

After scrutiny in the Wild Card and Divisional rounds, the league reversed a three-year precedent, and returned to "all star" officiating crews for the Conference Championship games. Since 2003-04, postseason officiating had been done by entire crews from the regular season.

Although the Redskins gained only 120 yards on offense, the lowest total in NFL playoff history for a winning team, they converted two turnovers into touchdowns.

Midway through the first quarter, Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington's 21-yard interception return set up running back Clinton Portis' six-yard touchdown run. Then, Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington recovered Tampa Bay running back Carnell Williams' fumble and returned it seven yards before losing it himself – into the arms of safety Sean Taylor who then ran 51 yards for the Redskins' second touchdown.

Early in the second quarter, Tampa Bay drove 38 yards to the Redskins 24-yard line where Matt Bryant kicked a 43-yard field goal to cut their deficit to 14-3. The Redskins responded with an 10-play, 40-yard drive and scored with a 40-yard field goal from John Hall.

In the third quarter, Mark Jones gave the Buccaneers the ball at their own 49-yard line on a 24-yard punt return. Tampa Bay's offense then went on a 7-play, 51-yard drive that ended with quarterback Chris Simms' two-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay drove to the Redskins 19-yard line, but linebacker Lemar Marshall tackled fullback Mike Alstott for no gain on third down and 1, and then Simms threw an incomplete pass on fourth down. Buccaneers defensive back Brian Kelly intercepted a pass from Mark Brunell on the Redskins' next drive and returned it the Redskins 35-yard line. With 3 minutes left in the game, Tampa Bay wide receiver Edell Shepherd caught what appeared to be a 35-yard touchdown reception, but he lost control of the ball as he was coming down in the end zone for an incomplete pass. The Buccaneers got one last chance to tie the game when they received a punt at their own 46-yard line with 1:05 left in regulation, but Simms threw a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and went into the arms of the Redskins' Marcus Washington for a game-ending interception.

This game was widely regarded by commentators as an "ugly" performance by both teams' offenses, rendering it a largely defensive game.

The three-time Super Bowl champion Patriots, who for the first time in their previous three playoff trips would have to win three games to advance to the Super Bowl, defeated the Jaguars 28-3. Linebacker Willie McGinest set NFL playoff records for sacks in a game (4.5, 1 sack ahead of the old record held by Richard Dent and Rich Milot) and career postseason sacks (16, two ahead of the old record held by Bruce Smith), while quarterback Tom Brady threw for 201 yards and three touchdown passes.

In the first half, the Jaguars recorded four sacks and held New England to 126 yards, while the Patriots defense recorded two sacks, gave up only 115 yards, and didn't allow a first down until 9:40 remained in the second period. Neither team could score in the first quarter, but early in the second, New England receiver Tim Dwight returned Chris Hanson's 46-yard punt 27 yards to the Jaguars 37-yard line. Two 4-yard runs by Corey Dillon and an 18-yard burst from Kevin Faulk then moved the ball to the 11-yard line, and Brady capped off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Troy Brown. On Jacksonville's ensuing possession, Jimmy Smith's 19-yard reception his team a first down for the first time in the game and moved the ball to the Patriots 44-yard line. But on the next play, a tackle from safety Eugene Wilson caused Alvin Pearman to fumble the ball, and defensive lineman Richard Seymour recovered it. However, the Patriots could not take advantage of the turnover; Jacksonville managed to force a punt and then drove into scoring range for the first time in the game. Quarterback Byron Leftwich completed five passes for 59 yards on the drive, and Josh Scobee finished it with a 36-yard field goal, cutting their deficit to 7-3. After the kickoff, Faulk's 21-yard reception moved the ball to midfield and gave the Patriots a chance to increase their lead before halftime, but receiver Deion Branch dropped a pass from Brady at the Jaguars 10-yard line with 19 seconds left.

After forcing Jacksonville to punt on the opening drive of the second half, Brady led the Patriots 81-yards in 12 plays. On the 11th play, they nearly turned the ball over when tight end Benjamin Watson fumbled the ball on the Jaguars 5-yard line, but receiver André Davis recovered the ball, and Brady threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to David Givens on the next play. Then after forcing a punt, Brady threw a short pass to Watson who broke several tackles en route to a 63-yard score, increasing New England's lead to 21-3. After the kickoff, Leftwich led his team to the Patriots 32-yard line, but on the first play of the fourth quarter, defensive back Asante Samuel intercepted Leftwich's pass and took off for a 73-yard touchdown return, making the score 28-3. After that, Jacksonville mounted two more drives, but could not come away with any points. First they drove to the Patriots 8-yard line. But on third down and 2, McGinest sacked Leftwich for a 15-yard loss and Scobee missed a 41-yard field goal attempt on the next play. Then after forcing a punt, they drove to the Patriots 6-yard line, but ended up turning the ball over downs with 5 minutes left in the game.

This game also marked three career playoff records: Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick set records for 10 straight postseason victories, eclipsing Vince Lombardi's run with the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s.

The Panthers forced five turnovers, limited the Giants to only 109 yards of total offense, and became the first club to shut out a home playoff team since the Los Angeles Rams shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1979 NFC Championship Game. Although the Giants entered the game with Pro Bowler Tiki Barber starting at running back, the Panthers running game, featuring DeShaun Foster and Nick Goings, outgained the Giants 223 yards to 41 on the ground. Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith caught 10 passes for 84 yards and scored two touchdowns, a 22-yard reception and a 12-yard run, while kicker John Kasay added three field goals and Foster rushed for 151 yards. Meanwhile, quarterback Eli Manning threw three interceptions in his first playoff start.

After the first five possessions of the game ended with punts, Carolina drove 77 yards in 12 plays and scored with Jake Delhomme's 22-yard touchdown pass to Smith. On Carolina's next possession, they were forced to punt, but New York safety Gibril Wilson muffed the kick and Panthers defensive back Dante Wesley recovered the ball at the Giants 15-yard line, setting up a 31-yard Kasay field goal to increase the lead to 10–0.

Carolina dominated the second half, intercepting Eli Manning three times. Midway through the third quarter, Ken Lucas intercepted a pass from Manning and returned it 14 yards to the Giants 12-yard line, setting up Smith's 12-yard touchdown run on the next play. On New York's next drive, a 17-yard pass interference penalty on Lucas nullified his second interception and gave the Giants a first down at the Panthers 43-yard line. But two plays later, Manning's pass was intercepted by Marlon McCree at the 18. On the Panthers ensuing drive, Foster rushed three times for 44 yards, and Delhomme completed a 25-yard pass to Keary Colbert, moving the ball to the Giants 27-yard line where Kasay's 45-yard field goal made the score 20-0. Then five plays after the kickoff, McCree recorded his second interception on the Panthers 44-yard line. Carolina subsequently closed out the scoring with a 14-play, 55 yard drive that ended with Kasay's third field goal with 2:40 left in the game.

The Bengals' first playoff appearance in 15 years began when Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer was knocked out of the game on their opening drive. They still managed to build an early 10 point lead, but gave up 24 unanswered points later in the game while turning the ball over three times.

On the Bengals second offensive play of the game, Palmer suffered a season-ending knee injury after being hit by Pittsburgh's Kimo von Oelhoffen, but his 66-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Henry (who was also injured on the play) set up kicker Shayne Graham's 23-yard field goal. Then after forcing a punt, backup quarterback Jon Kitna completed 3 consecutive passes for 40 yards and rushed for 11, while running back Rudi Johnson finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run, increasing their lead to 10-0. Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards to the 40-yard line. Aided by a 15-yard penalty on cornerback Tory James, the Steelers subsequently drove 60 yards in 8 plays and scored with Ben Roethlisberger's 19-yard touchdown pass to Willie Parker. The ensuing kickoff was returned by Tab Perry for 32 yards to his own 43-yard line, and then the Bengals drove 57 yards in 14 plays. Kitna completed the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to T. J. Houshmandzadeh, retaking their 10-point lead, 17-7. But on the Steelers ensuing drive, Roethlisberger's 54-yard completion to Cedrick Wilson set up his 5-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward, cutting the score to 17-14 at halftime.

Cincinnati took the second half kickoff and advanced the ball 62 yards to the Steelers 15-yard line. Graham attempted a 34-yard field goal but center Brad St. Louis' high snap sent the ball over holder Kyle Larson's head. Graham recovered the fumble, but the Steelers took over on the 34-yard line. On the seventh play of the drive, defensive back Kevin Kaesviharn committed 40-yard pass interference penalty on the Bengals 5-yard line, and Jerome Bettis ran the ball into the end zone on the next play.

Aftter Cincinnati was forced to punt, Pittsburgh receiver Antwaan Randle El took a direct snap, ran to his right, and threw the ball back to Roethlisberger — who then connected with Wilson for a 43-yard touchdown reception that increased their lead, 28–17. Then on the Bengals next drive, linebacker James Farrior intercepted a pass from Kitna and returned it 22 yards to the Bengals 40-yard line, setting up a 23-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Later in the fourth quarter, the Bengals managed to drive to the Steelers 43-yard line, but safety Troy Polamalu ended the drive with an interception and the Steelers offense ran out the rest of the clock.

The Seahawks overcame an early concussion suffered by NFL MVP and rushing champion Shaun Alexander, and three turnovers, to end their 21-year playoff victory drought. Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck led the offense, completing 16 out of 26 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 21 yards and another score. Despite the loss of Alexander, Seattle outgained the Redskins in rushing yards 119 to 59 and held Clinton Portis, who rushed for over 1,500 yards during the season, to just 41 yards on 17 carries.

The Seahawks took the opening kickoff and drove to the Redskins 11-yard line, but then Alexander lost a fumble without being touched, and linebacker Lemar Marshall recovered it. After that, the two teams were forced to punt on all their possessions in first quarter, and with 5:28 remaining, Alexander was knocked out of the game.

Washington scored first in the second quarter after a muffed punt set up John Hall's 26-yard field goal. Seattle responded by driving 74 yards in 12 plays and scoring with Hasselbeck's 29-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson.

After forcing the Redskins to punt on the opening drive of the third quarter, Hasslebeck led the Seahawks on an 81-yard scoring drive, completing four passes for 54 yards and finishing it with a 9-yard touchdown run to give his team a 14-3 lead. Washington responded with a drive to the Seahawks 33-yard line, but on a fourth down conversion attempt, quarterback Mark Brunell lost a fumble while being sacked by Bryce Fisher, and defensive lineman Grant Wistrom recovered it. One play later, Hasslebeck's 37-yard comepltion to Jackson set up a 33-yard field goal by Josh Brown on the second play of the fourth quarter, making the score 17-3.

After the ensuing kickoff, Brunell's 52-yard completion to Chris Cooley moved the ball to Seattle's 24-yard line. Three plays later, he threw a 20-yard touchdown pass Santana Moss, a throw that bounced off the shoulder of Seattle cornerback Andre Dyson into Moss' arms. Washington got the ball back when Hall recovered a fumble from Josh Scobey at the Seahawks 40-yard line on the ensuing kickoff. But the Redskins drive stalled at the 18-yard line and ended with no points when Hall missed a 36-yard field goal attempt.

Seattle then drove to the game-clinching field goal, led by fullback Mack Strong's career-long 32-yard run. The Seahawks' win was their first since a 1984 AFC Wild Card playoff win over the then-Los Angeles Raiders.

The Broncos converted four out of five turnovers into 24 points as they eliminated the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, 27-13, and won their first playoff game since defeating the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. This game also ended New England's league-record ten-game postseason winning streak and gave quarterback Tom Brady his first ever postseason loss.

Early in the second quarter, the Broncos drove to the Patriots 3-yard line, only to turn the ball over on downs after failing to convert a fourth down and 1 on New England's 3-yard line. Then after forcing a punt, Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer threw a pass that was intercepted by Asante Samuel. On the next play, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw a 51-yard completion to Andre Davis setting up Adam Vinatieri's 40-yard field goal to give New England a 3-0 lead.

With New England leading 3-0 with less than two minutes left in the first half, Broncos linebacker Ian Gold recovered a fumble from Kevin Faulk on the Patriots 40-yard line. After that, a pass interference penalty on Samuel moved the ball to the 1-yard line, and then Mike Anderson scored a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play. On the ensuing kickoff, Ellis Hobbs fumbled and kicker Todd Sauerbrun recovered the ball on the Patriots 39-yard line, setting up kicker Jason Elam's 50-yard field goal to give Denver a 10-3 halftime lead.

Early in the third quarter, the Patriots drove 58 yards in 11 plays and scored with a 32-yard field goal from Vinatieri, cutting their deficit to 10-6. With less than a minute to go in the third quarter, New England reached the Denver 5-yard line. However, Brady was intercepted for the first time in the playoffs since Super Bowl XXXVIII. The interception was returned by Champ Bailey for 101 yards before New England tight end Benjamin Watson knocked the ball out of bounds at the New England 1-yard line. The Patriots challenged whether the ball was actually knocked through and out of the end zone (which would have been a touchback and given the Patriots the ball at their own 20-yard line), but the original call stood. Mike Anderson then ran for another one-yard touchdown on the next play to increase Denver's lead, 17-6. Then on New England's next drive, the usually accurate Vinatieri missed a 42-yard field goal, his first in 21 field goal attempts in the playoffs. Later in the fourth quarter, Troy Brown muffed a Denver punt and the Broncos recovered it on New England's 15-yard line, setting up Rod Smith's four-yard touchdown pass from Plummer.

With 8:33 left in the game, Brady completed a 73-yard pass to Deion Branch and then followed it up with a 4-yard touchdown pass to David Givens, cutting the score to 24-13. But on the Broncos ensuing possession, Plummer's 42-yard completion to Smith set up another Elam field goal. Denver then all but clinched the game when safety John Lynch intercepted a Brady pass with less than 3 minutes remaining.

The Steelers became the first #6 playoff seed (since the league expanded to a 12-team playoff format in 1990) to defeat a #1 seed, and also the first #6 seed to reach a conference championship game. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 290 passing yards and a touchdown, but it wasn't enough to win.

The Steelers stunned the Colts home crowd at the RCA dome by driving 84 yards and scoring on their opening possession. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed six consecutive passes for 76 yards, including a 36-yard completion to tight end Heath Miller and a 6-yard touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El. Later in the first quarter, Roethlisberger's 45-yard completion to Hines Ward moved the ball to the Colts 8-yard line, and they scored another touchdown with his 7-yard pass to Miller, increasing the Steelers lead to 14-0.

Five minutes into the second quarter, Indianapolis managed to get a good drive going, advancing the ball 96 yards to the Steelers 2-yard line and taking 9:39 off the clock, but were forced to settle for a field goal from Mike Vanderjagt, cutting their deficit to 14-3.

Late in the third quarter, Steelers linebacker James Farrior (who finished the game with 8 tackles and 2.5 sacks) sacked quarterback Peyton Manning at the Colts 1-yard line on third down, and Randle El returned Hunter Smith's ensuing punt 20 yards to the Indianapolis 30. Five plays later, Jerome Bettis scored a 1-yard touchdown run, making the score 21-3. But this time, Indianapolis struck back, driving 72 yards in six plays and scoring with Manning's 50-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark. The Steelers were forced to punt on their ensuing drive, but only after taking over 7 minutes off the clock, leaving just 6:03 left in the game by the time Indianapolis got the ball back.

One play after the punt, an interception by Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu was overturned by instant replay (a reversal that the league would later admit was a mistake.) Taking advantage of his second chance, Manning completed a 9-yard pass to Clark, a 20-yard pass to Marvin Harrison, and a 24-yard pass to Reggie Wayne, moving the ball to the Steelers 3-yard line. Running back Edgerrin James finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, and then Manning threw a pass to Wayne for a successful 2-point conversion, cutting the Colts deficit to 21-18. The Steelers were forced to punt on their ensuing drive. But with 1:20 left in the game, Manning was sacked on fourth and 16 at the Colts' 2-yard line, and the ball was turned over to the Steelers on downs.

At this point, the game appeared to be over. However, the Steelers were forced to advance the ball towards another score instead of taking a quarterback kneel because the Colts still had three timeouts remaining. But on Pittsburgh's first play, in which Bettis tried to punch it in for an insurance touchdown, he fumbled for the first time all season when linebacker Gary Brackett popped it from Bettis' hands with his helmet. Indianapolis defensive back Nick Harper recovered the ball and appeared to be on his way for an Indy touchdown that would have given the Colts the lead when Roethlisberger made a season saving tackle at the Colts' 42-yard line, spinning around and grabbing his ankle. Eventually, the Colts then advanced to the Pittsburgh 28-yard line, but Vanderjagt, who had been perfect at home in the playoffs, missed a 46-yard game-tying field goal attempt wide right with 17 seconds remaining, and the Steelers ran out the clock.

The Panthers recorded 434 yards of total offense, and avenged a 13-3 regular season defeat by the Bears, to advance to their third NFC Championship Game in their eleven-year existence. Carolina receiver Steve Smith caught 12 passes for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns, the first coming 55 seconds into the contest, and rushed for 26 yards. Panthers kicker John Kasay contributed three second-quarter field goals, while quarterback Jake Delhomme threw for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. Although the Panthers lost key running back DeShaun Foster to a broken ankle in the third quarter, the team managed to hold off the Bears.

The Panthers got the ball first and scored quickly. Jamal Robertson returned the opening kickoff 34 yards to the 40-yard line, and one play later, Delhomme threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Smith. Later on, Smith's 46-yard reception set up a 20-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter, increasing their lead to 10-0. On their next drive, Carolina had a chance to increase their lead even more after Delhomme completed passes to Drew Carter for gains of 14 and 29 yards, moving the ball to the Bears 23-yard line. But linebacker Brian Urlacher ended the drive by intercepting a pass from Delhomme at the 10. However, the Pathers forced another punt and scored with a second field goal from Kasay. Bears quarterback Rex Grossman completed 5 passes for 62 yards on a 67-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson cutting the score to 13-7. But Carolina stormed right back, driving 51 yards and scoring with Kasay's third field goal on the last play of the first half.

After the second half kickoff, a 24-yard run by Bears halfback Thomas Jones moved the ball to the Panthers 41-yard line. Then Grossman went to work, completing two passes to Bernard Berrian for 29 yards before finishing the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Desmond Clark. But after an exchange of punts, Delhomme threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Smith, and the Panthers retook their 9-point lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, Chicago's Jason McKie scored a 3-yard touchdown run to cut their deficit to 23-21. But Delhomme led the Panthers right back, completing five passes for 45 yards and scoring with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kris Mangum. After an exchange of punts, the Bears drove into Carolina territory, but defensive back Ken Lucas put the game away by intercepting a pass from Grossman on the Panthers 22-yard line.

This was the first time since the 1989-90 playoffs that neither conference championship game took place in the Eastern or Central time zones. During that season, the Conference Championship Games were changed from the then-traditional starting times of 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST respectively. This was to accommodate the fact that the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers hosted the 1989-90 AFC and NFC championship games in the Mountain Standard Time Zone and Pacific Standard Time Zone, respectively — thus avoiding a locally played game at 9:30 a.m. PST / 10:30 a.m. MST, but also forcing the networks to change or move their prime time lineups in a moment's notice. When the league changed the traditional starting times for the 2002-03 playoffs to 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST, it eliminated the future possibility of having to reschedule.

The Steelers forced four turnovers and went into halftime with a 24–3 lead en route to advancing to their sixth Super Bowl appearance in team history. In doing so, Pittsburgh became the first #6 playoff seed (since the league expanded to a 12-team playoff format in 1990) to advance to the Super Bowl. Second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, already in his fifth career playoff game, completed 21 of 29 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns (one each to Cedrick Wilson and Hines Ward) and ran for a third. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis rushed for the other touchdown.

Pittsburgh scored on their opening drive, moving the ball 62 yards in 12 plays and ending it with a Jeff Reed field goal. Three plays after the kickoff, Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer lost a fumble while being sacked by Joey Porter and Steelers lineman Casey Hampton recovered it at the Denver 39-yard line. Four plays later, Roethlisberger's 12-yard touchdown pass to Wilson increased the Steelers lead to 10-0 on the first play of the second quarter. The Broncos responded by driving 55 yards and scoring with a field goal from Jason Elam. But Pittsburgh stormed right back, marching 80 yards in 14 plays and scoring with Bettis' 3-yard touchdown run to take a 17-3 lead. Then on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, defensive back Ike Taylor intercepted a pass from Plummer on the Broncos 39-yard line. Four plays later, a Bettis touchdown run was called back because a penalty on Ward. But Ward made up for his mistake by catching a touchdown pass on the next play, giving the Steelers a 24-3 lead with 7 seconds left in the half.

In the third quarter, Plummer finally got the Broncos moving by completing four consecutive passes for 80 yards, the last one a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ashley Lelie. But Wilson caught 2 passes for 45 yards on Pittsburgh's next possession, setting up Reed's second field goal to make the score 27-10.

In the fourth quarter, a 38-yard reception by Lelie and a 22-yard pass interference penalty on Taylor set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Mike Anderson, cutting Denver's deficit to 27-17. But after a Steelers punt, defensive end Brett Keisel forced a fumble on fourth down from Plummer and his teammate Travis Kirschke recovered it at the Broncos 17-yard line. Four plays later, Roethlisberger ended any chance of a Denver comeback with a 4-yard touchdown run.

The Seahawks forced four turnovers, and allowed only 36 rushing yards and 14 points, as they advanced to their first Super Bowl trip in the team's 30-year history. Meanwhile, running back Shaun Alexander, coming off his divisional round injury, rushed for a franchise playoff record 134 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Midway through the first quarter, the Seahawks drove 57 yards in five plays, featuring a 28-yard reception by Seneca Wallace, and scored with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's 17-yard touchdown pass to Jerramy Stevens. Then three plays after the ensuing kickoff, linebacker Lofa Tatupu intercepted a pass from Jake Delhomme and returned it 22 yards to the Panthers 20-yard line, setting up a field goal from Josh Brown. The next time Carolina got the ball, Delhomme was intercepted again, this time by Marquand Manuel, who returned it 32 yards to the Panthers 17-yard line, setting up Alexander's 1-yard touchdown run that increased Seattle's lead to 17-0 on the first play of the second quarter. The Panthers eventually cut the score to 17-7 on Steve Smith's 59-yard punt return for a touchdown with 9:56 left in the first half.

The Seahawks scored another 17 unanswered points. On their first drive after the punt return touchdown, that moved the ball 57 yards and scored with a 39-yard field goal from Brown. Brown missed a field goal on the Seahawks next possession, but on the first drive of the second half, they score with Hasslebeck's 20-yard touchdown pass Darrell Jackson. Then in the fourth quarter, they put the game completely out of reach with a 53-yard drive that ended with Alexander's second touchdown. Carolina responded with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Delhomme to receiver Drew Carter, cutting the score to 34-14, but by then there was only 5 minutes left in the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 21, Seattle Seahawks (NFC) 10 at Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan.

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Jeff Judkins

Jeffrey (Jeff) Reed Judkins (born March 23, 1956, in Salt Lake City, Utah) is a retired American professional basketball player and current head women's basketball coach of the Brigham Young University Cougars, a position he has held since summer 2001 after serving as their assistant coach in 2000-01. A 6'6" 185 lb shooting guard, he played college basketball at the University of Utah from 1974–78 and had a career in the NBA from 1978–83. He was all-state in football, baseball as well as basketball.

Judkins played competitive basketball at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, where his jersey No. 34 was retired in February 2006. After high school, he played with the University of Utah under Utes head coach Jerry Pimm.

Judkins was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 8th pick in the 2nd round of the 1978 NBA Draft. As well as playing for the Celtics, he spent time with the Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers. He holds career averages of 5.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game.

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Source : Wikipedia