Super Bowl XLIII
Super Bowl XLIII

SUPER POLL 50 | 6: Roethlisberger-to-Holmes was Ben's biggest Super Bowl moment

Our series on ASN's 50 greatest NFL championship competitors of the past 50 years continues with No. 6 Ben Roethlisberger, originally published on Feb. 7.

Though he’s made three Super Bowl appearances, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can quickly pinpoint his single most memorable moment.

“To have that opportunity, a two-minute drive and throwing the final touchdown to Santonio Holmes, that’s an amazing dream come true for me,” said the Miami (Ohio) graduate.

That touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLIII, when the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23, was Roethlisberger’s second Super Bowl victory and the franchise's record sixth Lombardi Trophy.

The game was a seesaw — Pittsburgh led, 20-7, entering the fourth quarter before Arizona scored 16 consecutive points to take a 23-20 lead with 2:37 to play.

But it was then that Roethlisberger engineered a 78-yard drive capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to Holmes to win the game.

In throwing that critical pass, Roethlisberger scrambled in the pocket before seeing Holmes open in the back right corner of the end zone. He then let loose a perfect spiral that Holmes leapt  and caught before falling out of the side of the end zone.

“When it came off my hand, I thought the defender (cornerback Ralph Brown) in front was going to turn around,” Roethlisberger said. “I really thought it was intercepted when I let go of it, but it ended up just over his hand and where (Holmes) could make a play.”

Roethlisberger appeared to connect with Holmes on a first-down pass in the left corner of the end zone but Holmes could not hang on.

“When I threw it and it looked like he had it, I was celebrating and I just remember, ‘Oh man,’ but coming back to the huddle I was encouraging. He wasn’t down at all,” Roethlisberger said in 2014. “He was disappointed he didn’t catch it, but there was no worry about going to him on the next play.”

Roethlisberger did with a winning result.

“We'd run that play from the first play of postseason practice up until the day before the Super Bowl,” Holmes told 24/7 Sports, “and we had never completed that pass, not one time. The catch was amazing. The throw was even better.”
That Super Bowl win was the second of Roethlisberger’s career — he led the Steelers to a 21-10 Super Bowl win against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL at 23, making him the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in NFL history. He was the 11th overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Steelers and won Rookie of the Year honors.

Roethlisberger, who has played his entire career in Pittsburgh, led the Steelers to AFC Championships in 2005, 2008 and 2010.

“I think any kid growing up who wants to play football has dreamt about playing a Super Bowl,” he said, “and throwing a touchdown pass to win the Super Bowl.”


Above and middle: Ben Roethlisberger, who was inducted in to the MAC Hall of Fame last year, still ranks first in Miami history in completion percentage (.655) and touchdowns, and is second in pass attempts, completions, yards and total offense (11,075).  (Photos courtesy of Miami University Athletics)

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