February 2009

Not quite overlooked, but perhaps unappreciated, was the performance of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Superbowl XLIII. Due to his subpar performance in Superbowl XL, Ben came into the big game with something to prove. In the intervening years between the Steelers appearance in the Roman numeral classics, Ben has matured as a passer and as a team leader. This season alone, he drove the Steelers to victories in the fourth quarter or overtime five times. In the Superbowl, he completed 21 of 30 for 256 yards, with an interception off a deflection and the winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds to go.

Ben stayed composed during the entire game, even when drives were ending in field goals instead of touchdowns. Resisting the temptation to make a risky throw, he kept scrambling to extend the play and grind out first downs. Even with Hines Ward operating at less than peak efficiency due to a knee injury, Ben managed to find Miller, Washington, and Holmes to keep drives alive and keep the sticks moving.

No more were Ben’s talents and maturity demonstrated than on the final drive following the stunning 64 yard touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald that gave the Cardinals the lead with less than four minutes remaining. Despite a holding penalty on the first play that made the distance to go 88 yards, Ben calmly directed the Steelers down the field, hitting Holmes again and again, scrambling, picking up a first down throwing to Nate Washingtin, finally setting up for a do or die series at the Arizona 6 yard line. On the first play his pass was a little high, but probably could have been caught by Holmes in the left corner. On second down, Ben exhausted virtually all options before lasering a pass into the leflt corner over the outstretched arms of the Cardinal defender into the waiting hands of Holmes, who made an all-time great catch to secure the Steelers’ sixth Superbowl victory.

Drawing Notes

Pencils on Strathmore 300 vellum finish bristol…

Inks of Strathmore 300 smooth finish bristol…

Santonio Holmes’ TD catch of a Ben Roethlisberger pass with 35 seconds to go gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals and gave the Steelers their sixth Lombardi Trophy, setting them apart as the team with the most championships of the Superbowl era. In what will be considered one of, if not the most, exciting Superbowls in history, the Steelers took an early 20-7 lead (in a large part due to the incredible 100 yard interception return by James Harrison) and watched as the Cardinals, behind the passing of Kurt Warner and the acrobatic receiving of Larry Fitzgerald went ahead 23-20 following a 64 yard Fitzgerald reception that saw him outrace the entire Steeler defense.

The Steelers started their do-or-die drive 78 yards from the Cardinal endzone, that distance quickly increased to 88 yards on a holding penalty. Ben continually found Holmes open and hit him repeatedly, the penultimate completion a 40 yarder down to the Arizona 6 yard line. As Steelers fans held their collective breaths, Ben dropped back, rolled left and lofted a pass to Holmes. Holmes leaped into the air, but the ball went right through his outstretched hands. Lining up to try again, Ben took the snap, looked at the running back, covered…looked at Heath Miller, covered, Hines Ward, covered, then threw an amazing pass to the right corner of the endzone where Holmes extended himself, grabbed the ball, and tapped his toes in on the turf, falling like a tree out of bounds. Steeler fans rejoiced as the official signaled touchdown and rejoiced again as it was upheld after review. The Steeler defense had the last word as Lamar Woodley sacked Warner causing a fumble.

Holmes was named MVP, finishing with 7 receptions for 131 yards and that incredible winning touchdown. Mike Tomlin became the youngest coach (at 36) to win a Superbowl. And to top it all off, it was watched by more people than any other television program in American history.

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Drawing Notes

Pencils on 11×14 Strathmore 300 smooth bristol:

Printed out the pencil drawing after lightening it in Photoshop a bit on 11×14 Strathmore watercolor paper. Colored using watercolor paints and some colored pencils.