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Super Bowl XLIII recap, quarter by quarter


Cards defer but don't defend

Every office pool in the country was sent into a tizzy when a coach's challenge reversed a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown run and the Steelers had to settle for a field goal on their first drive. The Steelers controlled the football for the entire period - they had 140 offensive yards compared with Arizona's 13 - but had just the 3-0 lead after the first 15 minutes. They had a second-and-goal when the quarter ended, though. Roethlisberger was 7-for-8 for 118 yards and Willie Parker had 26 yards. The Cardinals had just five offensive snaps in the first quarter.

Key stat: Passes thrown to Larry Fitzgerald: zero.



Harrison goes the distance

Gary Russell capped that second Steelers drive with a touchdown run to make it 10-0. Good thing "blowout" is a pretty long word because before it could be spelled out, the Cardinals found their offensive footing. It started with a 45-yard pass from Warner to Anquan Boldin and on the next play, Warner stumbled out from center but threw a soft fade to Ben Patrick to make it 10-7. The 83-yard drive lasted nine plays, eight of them passes. The Cardinals came up with the game's first takeaway when a Roethlisberger pass was tipped by Bryan Robinson and plucked by Karlos Dansby with two minutes remaining in the half. But James Harrison, the defensive player of the year, intercepted Warner's pass at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

Key stat: The Cardinals ran the ball three times out of 20 plays in the quarter.



Trouble with red zone, yellow flags

The Terrible Towels may have been spinning in the stands, but it was the yellow penalty flags on the field that nearly let the Steelers pull away in the third quarter. Three personal fouls against the Cardinals - a facemask, a roughing the passer, and a roughing the field goal holder - gave the Steelers first-and-goal with a chance to go up by three scores. But instead, the Cardinals held the Steelers to a short field goal for the second time in the game and trailed only 20-7 with 2:11 remaining in the period. The Cardinals punted on their only third-quarter possession, and they were lucky to do that as they had to challenge what was ruled a Warner fumble on the field but was ultimately ruled an incompletion.

Key stat: Steelers' 16-play field goal drive consisted of 44 offensive yards and 35 penalty yards.



A pair of comebacks

The Cardinals drove 87 yards in eight plays - all of them completed passes by Warner in a no-huddle offense - to close to 20-14 with 7:33 remaining. Larry Fitzgerald, who had one reception in the first three quarters, caught four on the drive, including the touchdown on a third-and-goal fade from the 1.

The Cardinals closed to 20-16 with a safety after Steelers center Justin Hartwig was called for holding in the end zone on a third-down play set up when Michael Adams downed a punt at the 2. Two plays later, Warner hit Fitzgerald on a short pass over the middle; when he turned it up the field, the result was a 64-yard touchdown with 2:37 left for a 23-20 lead.

But that left the Steelers with enough time, and after a 40-yard pass to Santonio Holmes set up first-and-goal with 48 seconds left, Roethlisberger hit Holmes for the toe-tapping 6-yard game-winner with 35 seconds left.

Key stat: The Steelers are the first franchise to win six Super Bowls.



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