Super Bowl loss still stings DRC

"Anytime the Super Bowl comes back around, they tend to show that play," Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. AP Photo/Scott Boehm

It's on Super Bowl commercials and highlight reels played endlessly this time of year.

A beautifully thrown pass from Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lofted over the outstretched hands of Arizona Cardinals defensive back Ralph Brown to Santonio Holmes who toed the side of the end zone as then-rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Aaron Francisco helplessly watched.

That play -- called ironically by current Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, then Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator -- won Super Bowl XLIII for the Steelers. And even though it's been three years since Rodgers-Cromartie, now a Denver Broncos defensive back who'll play in Sunday's Super Bowl, last donned a Cardinals' jersey, watching that play still eats at him.

"Not to the point where it beats me up, but just to the point that we were that close to getting a ring," Rodgers-Cromartie said during the Denver's media availability on Monday. "I do tend to think about it a lot. Anytime the Super Bowl comes back around, they tend to show that play to this day. You sit there, look at it and think, ‘I was almost there.' You can't dwell on it. [That was] the main thing I learned from that game, and I am looking forward to playing in this one."

Rodgers-Cromartie's comments about his last Super Bowl were overshadowed by his declaration that he may retire if the Broncos top the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium.

He's only 27. But if Denver does return to the Rocky Mountains with the Lombardi Trophy in tow, Rodgers-Cromartie will be the 16th player in NFL history to have played in a Super Bowl in their first and last seasons.

Rodgers-Cromartie has learned a lot in his six seasons and with his second Super Bowl six days away, his most important lesson may have come as a 22-year-old in Tampa Bay, Fla.

"I was a rookie," he said. "I was young. I was still grasping the concept of being in the NFL. I was just happy-go-lucky. I was happy to be there, very excited and really enjoyed it. Now being a little older, I can keep my mind back and understand that we are here to play a game, and after we get a victory, we can really enjoy it."