TAMPA, Fla. – As the ball slipped out of his hand and to the plush turf with 7 seconds to play, the chance for history was lost for Kurt Warner.
The chance to become the first quarterback to lead two teams to a Super Bowl victory disappeared. The chance to lead the Cardinals to their first NFL championship was gone.
And for Warner the 27-23 loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday was a reminder of how close he has been to athletic immortality in an out-of-nowhere career and how far the emotions can fall.
Warner’s first Super Bowl ended with his St. Louis teammate Mike Jones tackling Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line on the game’s final play in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Two years later, he was standing on the sideline as Adam Vinatieri’s field goal sailed through the goal posts with seconds left in New England’s upset of the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
And on Sunday, Warner was 35 seconds from victory when Pittsburgh’s Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger connected for a 6-yard go-ahead score. Any chance for his comeback was wiped away when LaMarr Woodley swiped the ball from his hands, allowing Brett Kiesel to come up with the ball.
“When you’re in this game, you want to be part of the best games,” Warner said. “I’ve been fortunate to play in three Super Bowls and three great football games. Do I wish we would’ve won one or two more? No question.”
A free agent, Warner has talked about retirement, but that decision will be made in a few weeks.
“I don’t want to make any emotional decisions on anything,” Warner said.
As he answered the questions, Warner seemed at peace, but his offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, knew better.
“I know Kurt Warner as a football player, and I can say as fact the only thing he cares about is winning a Super Bowl,” Haley said.
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