Cards and Steelers advance to Super Bowl

January 19, 2009 7:42:45 AM PST
For the seventh time in their storied history, the Pittsburgh Steelers are heading to the Super Bowl. In typical Steel Curtain fashion, the Steelers defense stifled Baltimore and intercepted rookie quarterback Joe Flacco three times in a 23-14 victory over the Ravens in the AFC championship.

Santonio Holmes scored on an electrifying 65-yard catch-and-run in the first half. Hard-hitting safety Troy Polamalu returned an interception 40 yards for a clinching TD with 4:24 remaining for the Steelers. Jeff Reed kicked three field goals.

But the star of the day collectively was the Steelers defense. It held the Ravens to 198 total yards. Pittsburgh harassed Flacco into a 13-for-30 passing day. The Steelers nullified Baltimore's running game, holding the Ravens to just 73 yards rushing on 25 carries.

"We didn't start this journey to get to Tampa," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said afterward. "We have some business to do there."

The Steelers are trying to become the first franchise to win six Super Bowls. They are 5-and-1 in previous Super Bowls. They will play the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa in Super Bowl 43 on Feb. 1. The Cardinals beat Philadelphia 32-25 in the NFC championship.

And from the NFC, Kurt Warner is going back to the Super Bowl, a sweet journey for a 37-year-old quarterback considered washed up not so long ago. Warner engineered Arizona's 32-25 victory over Philadelphia in the NFC championship game by connecting on four touchdown passes. Three of the scoring passes were caught by All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald.

The biggest was his fourth, an 8-yard middle screen to rookie Tim Hightower, as it put the Cardinals on top to stay with 2:53 left.

Warner completed 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards with no interceptions.

In leading the Cardinals to the NFC West title and their first home playoff game since 1947, Warner ranked second in the NFL in completions (401), completion percentage (67.1), yards passing (4,583) and passing touchdowns (30).

After the Cardinals jumped out to a 24-6 halftime, the Eagles rallied for a 25-24 lead early in the fourth quarter. But Arizona marched calmly down the field with Warner's fourth touchdown pass winning it.

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