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Published: Monday, 2/6/2006

Steelers take the 5th: Relentless Pittsburgh puts away Seahawks

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT - It was closing in on 10 p.m. in the East before the Pittsburgh Steelers finally got to ride "The Bus" for what was likely the final time.

Jerome Bettis, the round mound of Motown and the emotional engine of the Steelers, helped his team win Super Bowl XL 21-10 over Seattle.

The Steelers' super-sized running back pounded the Sea-

hawks into submission with a series of clock-killing runs as Pittsburgh sat on a lead late in the game - an advantage that it had earlier tried to squander.

"It feels incredible," Bettis said moments after the win - a fifth Super Bowl title for the Steelers. He celebrated the championship, and then said he would end his 13-year career on top.

"My teammates put me on their backs and made sure they wouldn't let me down," Bettis said. "I played this game to win a championship, and now I'm a champion. I think the last stop for 'The Bus' is here in Detroit."

Before he could bask in the spotlight late last night, Bettis, whose size and hard-

charging style earned him that nickname, had to help bring his team back from the brink of self-destruction a couple of times. But his will to win the NFL title that had eluded Pittsburgh for a quarter of a century proved vital.

"I started on this quest 13 years ago, and I amassed a lot of yards and played in some Pro Bowls, but that wasn't enough because it wasn't the ultimate team goal," Bettis said. "They wanted me to bring them in, and I brought them in. They gave me a moment I'll never forget."

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose two interceptions in the game both came deep in Seattle territory and cost his team scoring opportunities, was relieved that the Steelers overcame the errors and got Bettis the title Roethlisberger had promised him a year ago.

"It is so amazing to be able to win this for Jerome in his home town," the second-year quarterback from Findlay said.

The Steelers appeared to stick a dagger in Seattle right out of the gate to start the third quarter.

After gaining just 11 yards on six carries in the first half, Pittsburgh's "Fast" Willie Parker got a block from Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, then made safety Michael Boulware whiff as Parker broke free on a 75-yard touchdown run. The longest run in Super Bowl history gave Pittsburgh a 14-3 lead.

When Seattle's Josh Brown missed a 50-yard field goal try, the Steelers got the ball at their 40 and three strong carries by Bettis and a couple Roethlisberger connections with Hines Ward put the ball at the Sea-

hawks 6-yard line.

On third down, with a chance to open an 18-point advantage, Roethlisberger's lob to Cedrick Wilson was severely under-thrown, and former University of Toledo defensive back Kelly Herndon easily picked it off and returned it a Super Bowl-record 76 yards to the Pittsburgh 20.

Three plays later Hasselbeck hit tight end Jerramy Stevens for a 16-yard touchdown that cut the Pittsburgh lead to 14-10. Early in the fourth quarter, Seattle was threatening to score again as Hasselbeck fired a bullet to Stevens that put the ball at the Steelers' 2, but a holding penalty, followed by a sack, pushed Seattle back to the 29.

"We can't make the mistakes we made and expect to win the game," Hasselbeck said. "I think the Steelers played well enough to win tonight, and we didn't. It is disappointing and it is hard, but what can you do."

A few plays after the penalty nullified the Stevens catch, Ike Taylor picked off a Hasselbeck pass inside the 10, and his return, followed by a personal foul penalty on Seattle, moved the Steelers to the 43. Roethlisberger got a critical first down on a third-down run near midfield, and then the Steelers got some breathing room.

Roethlisberger pitched the ball to running back Parker, who handed off to wide receiver and former college quarterback Antwaan Randle El on a reverse. Randle El stopped and threw a strike to Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward behind the Seattle defense for a 21-10 advantage with nine minutes left in the game.

"I was hoping the coaches would call the play, and they called it," Randle El said. "It was satisfying, especially the way it happened. It was right over his shoulder and the defender tried to reach it, and he couldn't get there, and it gave us six."

Seattle did its best in the first half to keep the floundering Steelers in the contest, taking four penalties in the most untimely fashion. Pittsburgh had one yard passing and 17 total yards in the first quarter, but trailed only 3-0.

The Seahawks picked their way right down the field on the opening series, with Hasselbeck hitting wide receiver Darrell Jackson on three of the first four plays. A sack by Pittsburgh linebacker Clark Haggans stopped the drive near midfield.

With the Steelers mounting little semblance of an offense, Seattle went right back to work and an 18-yard Hasselbeck scramble followed by four straight completions moved the Seahawks to Pittsburgh's 41, but a holding penalty squelched that progress.

After a Peter Warrick punt return set up Seattle at midfield, Hasselbeck hit three straight completions, with the final one nailing Jackson in the middle of the end zone for an apparent touchdown. A pass interference call on Jackson forced the Seahawks to settle for a 47-yard Brown field goal and 3-0 lead near the end of the first quarter.

The self-inflicted wounds con-

tinued into the second period for Seattle as a 32-yard punt return by Warrick was wiped out by a holding penalty. The next blunder came on a punt from the 47 when Josh Scobey arrived plenty early to down it at the 1, but had the ball hit behind him and roll into the end zone for a touchback.

Pittsburgh's best defensive stand of the half came after a Roethlisberger pass was picked off by Boulware at the Seattle 17 with about 10 minutes left in the half. A three-and-out set the Steelers up near midfield, and Roethlisberger used a hurried shovel pass to Ward to get a first down at the Seattle 43, and then hit Wilson for 21 yards.

After a penalty and a sack pushed the Steelers into a seem-

ingly impossible third-and-28 at the 40, Roethlisberger scrambled out of the pocket all the way to the Seattle sideline, then threw a dart to Ward at the 3-yard line across the field.

Two Bettis carries produced one yard, then Roethlisberger rolled left and just got the nose of the ball over the goal line as he was hit by Seattle's D.D. Lewis. A review gave Pittsburgh the touchdown and a 7-3 lead with just under two minutes left in the half.

"They won the game, so give them credit, but I feel there were a lot of things we did to hurt our chances," Seattle run-

ning back Shaun Alexander said.



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