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Second-half plays worth another look in Super Bowl XLIII

. The Cardinals were on the move. They had pulled within 20-14 with 7:41 to play on Kurt Warner's 1-yard touchdown pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald. And on their next series, they moved to first and 10 at the Steelers 36. But they went nowhere in three plays and were forced to punt. Ben Graham sent a perfect punt to the Pittsburgh 2, and a unnecessary roughness call against LB James Harrison moved the ball to the 1. That set the stage for an Arizona revival. Ben Roethlisberger's first-down pass was incomplete and RB Willie Parker was stopped for no gain on second down. On third down, Roethlisberger appeared to have gotten the Steelers out of the hole when he completed a 19-yard pass to WR Santonio Holmes. C Justin Hartwig was called for holding in the end zone, negating the play and resulting in a safety. With that, the Cardinals had cut their deficit to 20-16 with 3:04 left — setting the stage for Fitzgerald's go-ahead 64-yard touchdown reception. "We had the momentum, and we were making some plays," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We were making some plays, and I felt good about where we were."

Saved by the booth

. The Cardinals came out in the second half still reeling from the 100-yard interception return by LB James Harrison on the final play before halftime. But after starting at their 24, they began to get in gear, fueled by three Edgerrin James runs for 19 yards and several short passes from Kurt Warner to WR Anquan Boldin. Then, on third and 6 from his 49, Warner took the snap in shotgun formation and — just as he began to raise his arm to pass — was promptly slammed to the ground by LB James Farrior. The ball was jarred loose and recovered by the man of the hour, Harrison. The play was ruled a fumble and the Steelers prepared to take over at Arizona's 43 — ready to build on their 17-7 lead. But Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt challenged the call and the replay official agreed, saying Warner had control of the ball as his arm came forward — resulting in an incompletion. That made Whisenhunt 2-for-2 in challenges and kept Arizona from falling deeper into a hole. "He wasn't holding onto the ball long," said Harrison of Warner. "When he did hold it, it seemed like we were just a step away every time. He did a great job getting the ball out." But it was a temporary reprieve. Pittsburgh made the Cardinals pay on its next possession as Ben Roethlisberger engineered a 16-play drive that culminated with a 21-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. With 2:16 left in the third quarter, the Steelers were pulling away at 20-7.

Second-half plays worth another look in Super Bowl XLIII 02/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 2, 2009 12:24am]

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