By Teresa Varley
After finishing last season as the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, wide receiver Santonio Holmes wanted nothing more than to pick up where he left off.
He did exactly that against the Titans in the season-opener.
Holmes finished Super Bowl XLIII with nine receptions for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds. Against the Titans, he had the exact same numbers, nine receptions, 131 yards, and a touchdown – although a little less dramatic than the one last February.
"My confidence is sky-high," said Holmes. "I have no fear of anyone or anything on the field. I'm on fire right now."
That confidence is something that can do nothing but help the team as they relied heavily on the passing game to defeat the Titans.
"Santonio, you can't say enough about the way the guy plays," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "He finds holes and gets open. He makes plays,"
Roethlisberger loves having Holmes as a weapon alongside Hines Ward, who had eight receptions for 103 yards against the Titans.
"He's my guy and I'm his guy," said Holmes of Roethlisberger. "He always comes to me and says, 'You've got to make plays for me. I'm going to keep coming to you.' "
Holmes' nine receptions were the most catches a reigning Super Bowl MVP had kickoff weekend the following year. His 131 yards ranks second only to Jerry Rice, who had six receptions for 163 yards against Indianapolis in 1989 after winning MVP honors in Super Bowl XXIII.
Rookie Mike Wallace had three receptions for 32 yards, not a bad start considering the two starters both had 100-yard games.
The most important of those catches was a 22-yard reception in overtime to give the Steelers the ball at the Titans 15-yard line, bringing on Jeff Reed for the game-winning field goal.
"I was real nervous," said Wallace. "It was my first game, so I was just focused on the ball anytime it came, trying to make sure if it touched my hands, I came down with it.
"Ben always tells me to keep running, that it's either my ball or nobody's ball. That was my focus going in: If I can't catch it, to knock it down. Ben put the ball right there in my hands. All I had to do was come down with the catch."