American Football: Pittsburgh deliver on Bettis' date with destiny

The result glossed over the fact that this was, by any standards, a disappointing contest between two teams who seemed to stumble on the grand stage. However, the compelling personal tale of Jerome Bettis did have its happy ending.

Bettis, Pittsburgh's elder statesman, was able to retire with a Super Bowl ring, after 13 seasons of hard graft, and in his own home town. The man nicknamed "The Bus" made his departure official before the Steelers had even returned to their locker room. His contribution, 43 yards on 14 carries, was hardly the stuff of legends, but like the game itself, the result meant more than the performance.

"It is truly an amazing feeling, I'm the happiest person in the world," he said, clutching the Vince Lombardi trophy to his chest. "It has been an incredible ride, but this is the ending. I decided to come back to win a championship, and it's mission accomplished."

Stevie Wonder entertained the crowd during the pre-game show, and Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin belted out a particularly soulful national anthem, but then the game started and the party went flat.

The only scoring of a dismal first half was Josh Brown's 47-yard field goal for Seattle, followed by a one-yard touchdown run from the Steelers' quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

Even the Rolling Stones seemed muted by the affair. The old rockers went through the motions at half-time, their lyrics carefully modified for sensitive American ears, but when Mick Jagger complained about his lack of satisfaction, he was probably speaking for most of the game's viewers too.

Perhaps Jagger inspired the two teams, because early in the second half, the match exploded into life. On the second play from scrimmage Willie Parker, Pittsburgh's speedy running back, broke a tackle and raced 75 yards untouched for Pittsburgh's second score of the night. It was also the longest run in Super Bowl history.

Another record was to follow shortly afterwards. The Steelers were driving again when Roethlisberger, having thrown one interception, tossed up another, Seattle's Kelly Herndon punishing him for a record 76-yard return.

The Seahawks duly scored their only touchdown, Matt Hasselbeck throwing a 16-yard pass to Jerramy Stevens, and the Seahawks, having been shut down, were in with a chance.

This, however, was not a day for quarterbacks to shine. Hasselbeck completed plenty of short passes, but rarely threatened to test Pittsburgh's supposedly suspect pass coverage.

Roethlisberger, the second-youngest quarterback ever to start a Super Bowl, fared even worse, completing just nine of 21 passes, including two interceptions.

Instead, it was left to a wide receiver to conjure up the game's big offensive play. Roethlisberger handed the ball off to Antwaan Randle El, who looked poised to run downfield. Instead he stopped, and hurled a 43-yard pass to Hines Ward.

A quarterback in college, Randle El's pass was perfect, Ward collecting it for a score, and the Seahawks were finished. Ward would end up with five catches for 123 yards, figures compelling enough for him to be named the game's Most Valuable Player, although a strong argument could have been made for the versatile Randle El.

Some may also have championed Parker. Overshadowed during the week by the Bettis story, Parker's tale is another tear-jerker. He was barely given a chance during his college career at North Carolina, and came to Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent.

Such players are usually considered little more than ballast during training camp, but Parker's speed caught the eye of the head coach, Bill Cowher, and he was given his chance. This season, Parker rewarded that faith with 1,200 rushing yards. He is Bettis's heir apparent. "I wouldn't have thought in a million years that I would be where I am today," he said afterwards.

"Don't let anybody ever tell you, you can't do something. I stuck with it, that's why I'm where I am today."

As the clock wound down, the Seahawks lamely surrendering, the team's owner, the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, stared bleakly from the sidelines, the billionaire unable to buy his team a title.

His coach, Mike Holmgren, had failed in his quest to become the first man to coach two different teams to a Super Bowl, having first achieved the feat with the Green Bay Packers nine years ago.

In contrast, Cowher finally laid to rest the charge that he was unable to win the big one. No coach has won more games over the last 14 seasons than the Pittsburgh native with the Desperate Dan jawline. Now his credentials have been stamped with his sport's ultimate seal of approval.

The city of Detroit belonged to Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Bettis, a hero in both towns, had retired a champion. The extra-large Super Bowl may not have lived up to expectations, but for Bettis and a noisy army of Steelers fans who celebrated long into the night, the only thing that seemed to matter was the result.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own