Schematically, Santonio Holmes was the third read. In his mind, he was the primary receiver. Holmes’ Super Bowl catch to beat the Arizona Cardinals is one of football’s most iconic plays and during an Alumni weekend the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted last night, Holmes discussed what was going through his head before and during that play.
Holmes talked about the response in the huddle from the play before when he dropped the potential game-winning touchdown.
“I remember walking in the huddle and all the guys standing around,” he said via the Steelers’ YouTube channel. “Heath Miller tapped me on my hip, ‘man, don’t worry Tone he’s going to come to you next play.’ You got Hines Ward in the huddle, ‘it’s alright man, it’s alright, you’re going to be alright. He’ll get back to you’…7 comes in the huddle, just stares at me. The minute he called that play, I knew he was throwing that football to me.”
The play was 74 Scat Flasher Z Level with, as Bruce Arians once recalled, the ball designed to hit either the flat or a curl. It’s a spot/snag concept with Holmes running the corner route component of it. In the low red zone, that corner route doesn’t have much space to work with. But Ben Roethlisberger made an incredible throw and Holmes an equally amazing catch. That put a sixth Lombardi in the Steelers’ trophy case and to date, is the last Super Bowl the Steelers have one.
While all receivers are taught to look the ball in, Holmes says he briefly took his eyes off the throw for one very important reason.
“In that moment, I didn’t think I was open enough to have enough room to come down inbounds. When I saw the ball come out of his hands and release, before it got to my hands, my eyes went directly to the ground. I caught this ball and I gotta see where I landed.”
He got both toes inbounds and that’s all he needed to do. Catch. Touchdown. Win.
That play capped off one of the most thrilling Super Bowls in history. From James Harrison’s pick-six to the Cardinals’ comeback to the drive Roethlisberger led, and of course, his final pass and Holmes’ catch, it’s one of the greatest games of football ever to be played.
It’s always cool to hear about these moments from these players and there’s been plenty of spoken history about this playcall over the years. While it’s easy for a guy like Holmes to proclaim he *knew* he was getting the ball after the fact, his crystal ball is actually pretty good. Holmes is the one who had a Lombardi Trophy engraved with him being named MVP two weeks before the game was actually played. So I’ll take him at his word when he says he knew that pass was coming his direction.