Steelers Return to Glory with Super Bowl Win

Joey Porter kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Super Bowl win. i i

Steelers' linebacker Joey Porter smooches the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Pittsburgh's win. Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters
Joey Porter kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Super Bowl win.

Steelers' linebacker Joey Porter smooches the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Pittsburgh's win.

Reuters

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the champions of the National Football League. Their 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday was the fifth Super Bowl victory for the franchise, but the first in a quarter-century.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Final score in the Super Bowl, if you haven't heard, Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10. It was the first Super Bowl win for Pittsburgh's long-time coach Bill Cowher, and it was the last game for the Steelers' star running back Jerome Bettis.

NPR's Luke Burbank reports from Detroit.

LUKE BURBANK reporting:

The game hadn't even ended when a certain phrase started popping up on laptop screens throughout the Ford Field press box. One for the thumb. The line was a reference to the five Super Bowl rings the Steelers now have. Of course, no one really stopped to think how silly that would look to actually wear all five rings at once. But then again, that wasn't the point.

The point was that Seattle had played just bad enough and Pittsburgh just well enough to be crowned Super Bowl champions. And Steelers linebacker Joey Porter was excited.

Mr. JOEY PORTER (Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker): I've got about a thousand of my family members here, some alcoholic beverages waiting on me, you know what I mean? I'm just trying to get off this podium, so I wish you all would hurry with your questions.

BURBANK: All this week Porter had been taunting Seahawk tight end Jeremy Stevens, calling him soft and saying he was going to tackle him really hard. The strategy seemed to work, as Stevens dropped a number of passes during the game that would have helped Seattle.

The gaffes typified the Seahawks' night. They could move the ball on offense, but kept finding ways not to score. Missed field goals, pass interference calls. After a first half where they dominated the Steelers in most categories, Seattle trailed 7-3.

(Soundbite of stadium announcer)

BURBANK: For the second year in a row, the halftime act of America's biggest sporting event was, well, British. And the smoke from the show's pyrotechnics was still hanging around when Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker got the ball on his team's 25 yard line.

Parker's 75-yard touchdown scamper was a Super Bowl record, and it put the Steelers ahead for good. After the game, Parker credited the coaches.

Mr. WILLIE PARKER (Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back): It was a good play call, and we kind of got them with their pants down. And it was just a good play call.

BURBANK: Seattle did get a glimmer of hope when cornerback Kelly Herndon intercepted a ball and returned it for a Super Bowl record 76-yards, but as in the first half, Seahawk errors were their undoing.

After the game, Seattle defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs did not like the feeling the loss left him with.

Mr. MARCUS TUBBS (Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle): This feeling, it's just, I mean, me personally, it's just eating me alive. But at the same time, we know, you know, we come back here next year or years to come, we don't want this feeling. We know, you know, what it feels like to lose. So it'll just be a building block for the future.

BURBANK: You wouldn't think running for 43-yards would make you the most popular guy at the Super Bowl, but that's exactly what happened to Jerome Bettis. The Steeler running back grew up here in Detroit, and after the game he announced his retirement.

Mr. JEROME BETTIS (Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back): I think the script right now, you know, if somebody sent it to Hollywood they would turn it down because they would say it couldn't happen. I think I am probably the luckiest football player probably to ever play, to be able to do it at home.

BURBANK: With Detroit about a five hour drive from Pittsburgh, the crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Steelers. Thousands of them waved yellow towels, making Ford field feel more like Heinz field, their usual digs in Pittsburgh.

The game's exclamation point came when the Steelers pulled off a play that looked like it could have been drawn up on a schoolyard playground. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger handed it off to receiver Antwaan Randle El, who then threw the ball 43-yards to receiver Hines Ward for a touchdown. Ward ended up as the game's MVP. Seattle's defense had practiced defending that exact play, but, as with other areas of the game, the Seahawks failed to execute.

Even though this wasn't the prettiest Super Bowl, Pittsburgh and their fans will definitely take it. After all, now they've got one for the thumb.

Luke Burbank, NPR News, Detroit.

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