Great players decided great Super Bowl

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

We've already discussed James Harrison's interception against Kurt Warner after Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin appeared to line up incorrectly on the final second-quarter play of Super Bowl XLIII.

Four great players made that play. Harrison, the defensive player of the year, decided to drop into coverage (that aspect of the play was not by design). Warner, the NFL's man of the year and an MVP candidate for much of the season, should have played it safer on first down. Fitzgerald, the most prolific receiver in the history of any one postseason, and Boldin, also a Pro Bowl player, should have lined up wider in the formation.

In looking at two other pivotal plays in this game -- Warner's 64-yard touchdown pass to take the lead and Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to win the game -- we see the game's brightest stars deciding the outcome.

On the 64-yard touchdown, Fitzgerald got open across the middle after the Steelers' Troy Polamalu, one of the NFL's most dynamic players, chose to defend Boldin near the sideline, vacating the deep middle. Harrison gave pursuit and came closer to catching Fitzgerald than anyone his size had a right to come.

And on Roethlisberger's winning throw, he found Santonio Holmes, who had been the offensive star for the Steelers throughout the game.

The NFL could not have drawn up more compelling drama. This wasn't the case of a kicker deciding the game or some lesser-known player emerging by surprise. The best players from the two best teams decided the game. I think that's what helped make this such a terrific and compelling Super Bowl.