What if the Cardinals beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII?
A touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes changed the fates of two teams ... but what if it never happened?
Football, like any other sport, hinges on moments that can go either way. If the receiver catches the pass, he's a hero -- if he drops it he's a scrub.
That's what makes plays like Santonio Holmes' catch in the corner of the end zone to win Super Bowl XLIII so special. He hauled it in, was named Super Bowl MVP and helped earn quarterback Ben Roethlisberger elite status as a two-time champion.
But what if he dropped the pass? What if his feet were just an inch out of bounds? What if Roethlisberger threw the ball a few inches too short and it was intercepted? What if the Steelers lost the game?
Let's take a look at some of the scenarios that would have unfolded if Holmes never makes that catch and the Steelers lose the Super Bowl.
1. Kurt Warner joins the NFL quarterback elite
Lots of quarterbacks have one Super Bowl win, but the list shrinks dramatically when you raise the number to two. Only 12 quarterbacks in the history of the NFL have multiple Super Bowl wins and, if Roethlisberger never found Holmes in the end zone, he would be off the list and Warner would be on it. Warner, who was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams, has been passed up twice for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Adding a second Lombardi Trophy would have undoubtedly gotten him in the first time around.
2. Larry Fitzgerald is a Super Bowl legend
With just over two minutes left in the game, the Cardinals trailed 20-16 with the ball on their 36-yard line, needing a score on the drive to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive. The Cardinals needed a big play, and they knew exactly where to go. Larry Fitzgerald ran a slant over the middle, Warner hit him in stride and Fitzgerald turned on the afterburners to outrun the entire Steelers defense. The 64-yard touchdown would have been an all-time Super Bowl moment -- if the Steelers hadn't won the game on the ensuing drive. Fitzgerald would have gone down as a Super Bowl hero, and the championship added to his stellar resume would bump him up on the list of all-time great receivers.
3. The Cardinals win their first Super Bowl
The Arizona Cardinals may seem like a relatively young franchise because they moved to Phoenix in 1988. But the team actually dates all the way back to 1920, when it was first formed in Chicago. In all that time they only have two titles to their name (1925 and 1947), both of which occurred before the 1970 merger between the AFL and NFL. That means the Cardinals have never won a Super Bowl, and have gone 68 consecutive seasons without a title of any kind -- the longest drought in the NFL. All of that changes if Holmes doesn't come up with that pass and the Cardinals win Super Bowl XLIII.
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