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Super Bowl hero stepped up

Steelers 13, Tennessee Titans 10
September 10, 2009
Heinz Field

The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers opened the 2009 season at home on a Thursday night, and right off the bat the hero from Super Bowl XLIII made his presence felt.

Santonio Holmes, who scored the game-winning touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII and went on to win MVP honors, caught a 34-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

"Santonio, you can't say enough about the way the guy plays," said Roethlisberger. "He finds holes and gets open. He makes plays, I missed him a couple of times. Everybody really played well and that includes Santonio."

There wouldn't be much more from the offense, though, as they struggled to get their rhythm going. Roethlisberger put up big numbers, throwing for 363 yards, and had two 100-yard receivers in Holmes and Hines Ward, but he was also sacked four times and they struggled to find the end zone.

The Titans tied the game just before halftime on a Kerry Collins touchdown pass, and Rob Bironas put them ahead with a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The Steelers answered, with Jeff Reed sending it through the uprights to tie the game at 10-10, with just under three minutes to play.

In 2009 the Steelers defeated the Titans in a regular season game 13-10.

The defense held the Titans, and Roethlisberger got the ball back with 1:50 to play from the Steelers 42-yard line. Completions to Holmes, Ward and Mewelde Moore had the Steelers in good position at the Titans' 34-yard line. Roethlisberger hit Ward over the middle, and as he was running the Titans forced a fumble and recovered at the four-yard line. Tennessee ran out the clock, sending the game into overtime.

"When he caught it, I thought ok we'll kick the field goal, game over," said Roethlisberger. "When he started running I thought he's going to score. Hines doesn't ever get stopped inside the five-yard line. I saw the ball come out and I was almost in disbelief. I came up to him and said listen you been around, you're a veteran, just let this go we'll get the ball back and we'll go do it again. I'll come back to you and you'll be fine."

And just fine they were. Roethlisberger went back to Ward several times in overtime, and the Steelers took the ball down the field and won it with Reed's 33-yard field goal.

"I liked the way the guys stayed together," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We were not a perfect team by any stretch, but it was good to maybe learn some lessons with a 'W.'"

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