3. Super Bowl XLIII, 2009: Pittsburgh 27—Arizona 23
A white-knuckle thriller featuring two future Hall Of Fame quarterbacks and a rollicking second half, marked by two late lead changes and some remarkable individual performances.
Competitiveness: 10 out of 10. The Steelers jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead, abetted by James Harrison’s amazing last second 100-yard interception return that represented a potential 14-point swing. Arizona rallied to take the lead on two touchdown passes from the aging great Kurt Warner to the stalwart Larry Fitzgerald, but Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers the length of the field and threw the winning touchdown pass with 35 seconds left.
Star Power: 9 out of 10. Roethlisberger and Warner staged an epic duel and will both go the Hall Of Fame. Several other candidates for Canton contributed, including Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Hines Ward, Edgerrin James, Troy Polamalu and James Harrison.
Intrigue/Controversy: 9 out of 10. Warner’s remarkable post-season run and brilliant performance in a losing effort cemented his status as a great of the game. Roethlisberger’s second Super Bowl victory vaulted him into the conversation as one of the game’s greats.
Aftermath: 9 out of 10: Pittsburgh’s young head coach Mike Tomlin validated the team’s decision to make him only their third headman over the span of an astonishing forty-seven years. After decades of being amongst the league’s doormats, the Cardinals made their first Super Bowl and began the long climb towards respectability.
Aggregate Score: 37 out of 40.
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