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February 5, 2006
One For The Thumb

Why is this man smiling? Perhaps Hugh Hewitt understands that Pittsburgh had a date with destiny tonight, surviving a subpar performance by Ben Roethlisberger and its running game to eke out a Super Bowl championship over the surprisingly good Seattle Seahawks, 21-10 tonight:

The Pittsburgh Steelers finally gave coach Bill Cowher some Super Bowl satisfaction. Moments after the Rolling Stones rocked a Ford Field filled with Terrible Towels, Willie Parker broke a record 75-yard touchdown run, sparking Pittsburgh's 21-10 victory Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only did the Steelers earn that elusive fifth championship ring and their first since 1980, but they completed a magic Bus ride that made Jerome Bettis' homecoming and likely farewell a success.

And they provided sweet validation for Cowher with a title in his 14th season as their coach, the longest tenure in the NFL.

As a sixth seed, no less.

The Steelers won four successive road games in the playoffs, beating a third seed, a second seed, and two #1 seeds to win the championship. No team in NFL history ever had that kind of run to a championship, and none likely will ever do it again. Jerome Bettis won't do it again. He announced his retirement while holding up the Lombardi Trophy, saying, "I think the Bus ... will make its last stop in Detroit."

The Seahawks dominated the first half but could not put points on the board. The Steelers, meanwhile, looked tight and inept for much of the first half, not even getting a first down until midway through the second period. Roethlisberger never looked comfortable in the entire game, but he did get the Steeler offense in gear at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. He played just well enough to win his first championship in his second year, and hopefully the experience will allow the young phenom more opportunities to play better in future Super Bowls.

The Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck outplayed Roethlisberger but made one critical mistake late in the game. He had an opportunity to put Seattle in the lead, but instead threw a pick that took the air out of the Seahawks. It led to a reverse option for Antwaan Randle El to throw a TD pass to eventual MVP Hines Ward. If nothing else, he showed guts and determination, but he couldn't overcome a resilient Steelers defense that truly was the MVP for this game.

I suspect that Hugh will have plenty to say about this game, especially about the close calls from the referees. I'll be sure to call him Monday evening to get his reaction. Expect to hear a reminder about the spectacular run this team had over the last two months to even get into the playoffs, let alone win the championship.

Congratulations, Pittsburgh. Thanks for a great season, a great championship, and one of the greatest franchises in pro sports.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 5, 2006 9:56 PM

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