Holmes, Big Ben headed for Disney World
While it’s customary for the Super Bowl MVP to head to the amusement park for a celebratory parade the day after the NFL championship game, both Holmes and Roethlisberger were invited after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-23 victory on Sunday night.
The players filmed their “I’m going to Disney World” commercial on the field following the game and will head to Disney, about 80 miles east of Raymond James Stadium, on Monday morning.
Holmes was voted the game’s MVP with nine receptions for 131 yards, including the winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining. Roethlisberger engineered the decisive drive, moving the Steelers 78 yards in eight plays and finishing 21-of-30 for 256 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
“I told the guys, ’It’s now or never, guys. You’ll live forever if we do this and all the film study, all the hard work, all the stuff that everyone talked bad about us about is all going to be for nothing,”’ Roethlisberger said. “We got off to a little bit of a rocky start there, but we pulled through it and we found a way.”
For the record
Twelve Super Bowl records were broken and three more were tied Sunday night.
The Steelers set the mark for most wins by a franchise (six), and James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was the longest play in Super Bowl history. At 36, Mike Tomlin becoming the youngest head coach to win.
Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner had his third 300-yard passing performance in an NFL title game, while the Steelers (58) and Cardinals (33) combined for the fewest rushing yards in a Super Bowl.
Arizona star Larry Fitzgerald finished with the most prolific statistics for a receiver in one postseason with 30 receptions for 546 yards and seven touchdowns, records in all three categories.
Steelers fans have a reputation for taking over stadiums wherever Pittsburgh plays, and it was no different with Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Black and gold jerseys and Terrible Towels dominated the stands, and some of the early arrivers lined railings overlooking the area where the team buses pulled into Raymond James Stadium more than three hours before the game.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin led the AFC champions off the bus and many of the players carried video cameras and taped teammates as they walked to the locker room.
Inside, Steelers kicker Jeff Reed was among the first players on the field, practicing field goals with the Pittsburgh faithful cheering every time he split the uprights. Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner entered to applause from Cardinals fans, and a few minutes later Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made his entrance to a louder ovation.
The quarterbacks, both previous Super Bowl winners, exchanged waves and later chatted briefly.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor routinely drew the assignment of providing primary coverage on the opposing team’s top receiver this season, faring well against the likes of Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne and Terrell Owens.
Taylor was on his way to another strong performance against Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald until the Cardinals star broke loose for six of his seven receptions in the fourth quarter, including a pair of touchdowns.
Fitzgerald, who had 96 receptions for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season and three 100-yard games and five TDs in Arizona’s three playoff wins, was limited to one catch for 12 yards in the first half, none in the first 29 minutes of the game.
He didn’t have any receptions in the third quarter.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated,” Fitzgerald said. “But I knew I had to keep my composure.”
Fitzgerald finished with seven catches for 127 yards.
Man of the Year
Warner was presented with the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award during pregame festivities that included the honoring of US Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the crew from Flight 1549.
Warner was selected over Minnesota center Matt Birk and Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins, the other finalists for the award that recognizes players for charitable contributions and community involvement off the field.
The Cardinals quarterback formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity after visiting regions affected by flooding last year and has raised more than $650,000 to help build homes in the Midwest.
Warner made a $100,000 personal contribution and another $100,000 was donated by his foundation.
Since creating the First Things First Foundation in 2001, the quarterback has made more than $1.5 million in donations to help sponsor trips for Make-A-Wish families and several other charitable causes.
Defensive end Jason Taylor won last year. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Payton’s widow, Connie, made the presentation.
Taste of sunshine
With the Super Bowl being played in Tampa for the fourth time and 15 players who either attended college or grew up in Florida, Sunday’s title game had a distinct Sunshine State flavor.
The Steelers had eight players with Florida ties: receivers Santonio Holmes and Dallas Baker, cornerbacks Bryant McFadden and William Gay, safety Tyrone Carter, offensive lineman Max Starks, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and defensive end Orpheus Rolle.
The Cardinals had seven: receiver Anquan Boldin, defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, running back Edgerrin James, safety Antrel Rolle and cornerbacks Eric Green and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who came closest to being a hometown product. He’s from Bradenton, about 45 minutes south of Tampa.
The Super Bowl has been played 13 times in Florida, including once in Jacksonville and eight times in Miami, the site of next year’s game.