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Steelers Notes: Randle El gets more than a passing grade
Times staff reporters
DETROIT — Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randle El always dreamed of playing quarterback in the Super Bowl during his days as a quarterback at Indiana University.
He was moved to receiver once he hit the NFL. But he got a glimpse of playing quarterback in the Super Bowl in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XL, throwing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward on a reverse-option play.
Randle El said it was the same play that resulted in a 51-yard touchdown pass to Ward in a regular-season game against Cleveland.
"It's got to work perfectly, and it did," he said. "I got a clean handoff [from running back Willie Parker], Ben [Roethlisberger] made a great block on the backside and Hines was running free. I knew it was going to be a score."
Randle El said the key was that Ward — who started on the left side of the field and then ran right — kept running to the pylon and away from the Seahawks' defense so the ball couldn't get tipped.
The score put Pittsburgh ahead 21-10 with 8:56 remaining in the game.
Randle El finished the game with a passer rating of 158.3, vastly superior to the 22.6 for Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger's passer rating won't get him into the Hall of Fame, but he emerged as the winning quarterback with the lowest such rating in history.
"He tests your patience," said Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher. "But I go with him because he's a gamer."
Roethlisberger floated a pass to the right flat for Cedrick Wilson but Seattle's Kelly Herndon intercepted and wove 76 yards, setting up a score that made it 14-10.
"He [Roethlisberger] got on the phone," offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt related, "and said, 'Look, I'm OK.' He didn't see that guy. If he'd put a little more air under it, it would have been a touchdown."
A Steelers crowd
That it often felt like a home game for the Steelers due to the overwhelming percentage of Pittsburgh fans in the stands was little surprise to many of the team's players.
"I remember the last time we went to Seattle [in 2003], we had louder fans than they did so we didn't think it would be an issue," said Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu.
That's what Parker was doing as he finished his Super Bowl-record 75-yard run that opened up a double-digit lead for Pittsburgh early in the third quarter. Left guard Alan Faneca pulled and put a crunching block on a Seahawk, and the fleet Parker — who said he's been timed in 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash — was gone.
"I looked up at the scoreboard," Parker said, "and saw there was nobody behind me."
• Whisenhunt is rumored to be a leading candidate to become the new coach of the Oakland Raiders. But he avoided the topic after the game, saying only he would be "honored" if the Raiders wanted to interview him.
• The Steelers victory finally tied them with the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers for the most Super Bowl championships with five. Pittsburgh had a quick four in the 1970s, spawning a campaign to get "One for the Thumb." It took 26 years.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company