DETROIT - There was nothing particularly super about Pittsburgh's offense in the first half of Super Bowl XL last night at Ford Field.
The Steelers had a 7-3 lead thanks to one big play by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
But he had just five completions and a paltry passer rating and the Steelers vaunted running game was about as bad. Speed back Willie Parker had six carries for 11 of Pittsburgh's 43 total rushing yards.
It all changed in the blink of an eye, though, on the second play of the second half as Parker set a Super Bowl record with a 75-yard run for a touchdown that propelled the Steelers to a 21-10 victory.
"We couldn't get anything going early on, but we came back out and the offensive line did a great job of opening up a hole for Willie," Roethlisberger said. "From there, we made some plays.
"Once Willie gets through a hole like that, no way is anybody going to catch him. He broke loose and there was no one even close to him."
The Steelers showed a three-wide receiver set on a second-down play and Seattle countered with its nickel defense.
But the Seahawks kept eight men tight to the line, giving the Steelers a chance to pop a big play.
With an offensive tackle like Alan Faneca, it can happen on any snap.
Faneca was at his normal left tackle slot, but pulled right on the play, a quick counter where Parker followed Faneca between right tackle and right guard.
The right-side blockers, guard Kendall Simmons and tackle Max Starks, sealed the Seattle lineman and Faneca picked off linebacker Leroy Hill.
That loosed Parker into space and when Seattle strong safety Michael Boulware fanned trying to grab at him, the Steelers' back was off to the races and nobody had a chance to catch him.
"We wanted to come out and score right away and get some momentum," Parker said. "Alan paved the hole and then it was just me and the safeties. I had the easy part."
His run was one yard longer than the previous Super Bowl record, a 74-yarder by Marcus Allen of the Los Angeles Raiders, whose famous run in Super Bowl XVIII against Washington included an assortment of changes in direction.
"Records? I don't really care about that record," Parker said. "The biggest record is that we were the sixth seed and we came in and shocked the world."
Before Parker's run, the biggest moment in the game was a rather remarkable play by Roethlisberger on a third-and-28 play from the Seattle 40.
Seattle defensive end Grant Wistrom brought pressure from Roethlisberger's left, so the Steelers' quarterback stepped up in front of the rush and started to scramble to the left and toward the line of scrimmage.
Just before crossing it, Roethlisberger stopped, scanned his receivers, and found Hines Ward slashing across the middle from left to right about one yard into the end zone.
Roethlisberger let it fly and Ward came back to the ball, catching it despite decent coverage by Boulware at the Seattle 3.
"I was trying to buy as much time as I could on third-and-long," Roethlisberger said. "I saw Hines make a move and cut it to the right side. He made a great play coming back for it."
Three plays and a replay challenge later, the Steelers had a 7-3 lead on a one-yard run by Roethlisberger, who faked a handoff to Jerome Bettis and then followed the big running back and dived over him into the end zone.
Later, the Steelers would clinch the win with one of their patented gimmick plays. Antwaan Randle El, a one-time college quarterback at Indiana, took a reverse, pulled up and threw to Hines Ward for a 43-yard play that produced the game's final points with fewer than nine minutes to play.
Contact Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.
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