(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Former Cardinals free safety Antrel Rolle was recently on CBS Sports' All Things Covered podcast with Bryant McFadden and Patrick Peterson. And being that McFadden is a former Steelers cornerback and was a part of the 2008 team that beat Rolle's Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, it was only natural for him to ask Rolle about his memories from the game.
Rolle is infamously known for being in Larry Fitzgerald's way on the sidelines on James Harrison's 100-yard pick-six off Kurt Warner right before halftime that gave the Steelers a 17-7 lead. Harrison barely got into the end zone on the play, as he fell on Fitzgerald's body as he went in for the score. But to this day, Cardinals fans believe Fitzgerald would have tackled Harrison before he got to the end zone if he didn't run into Rolle on the sidelines.
“It was a crazy turn of events. Right before the halftime, I don't know if it was just instincts, I don't know what it was, and I just had a bad feeling that something was going to go down," Rolle said about how he felt right before Harrison's 100-yard pick-six. "And when I saw him drop back in coverage and get the interception, I was honestly in shock. It felt like my body went numb. Cause I'm like, 'Damn did I speak this into existence?'"
Rolle also said that he felt helpless on the sidelines, as Steelers defenders rallied and blocked for Harrison on the interception return.
“When I think about it now, I honestly felt like I was going to trip this dude!” Rolle said about Harrison. “That’s what I felt in my body and I’m stopping myself but I didn’t realize how close I was to that boundary line. ... If he hadn’t run into me, (Fitzgerald) definitely would have caught Deebo (Harrison).”
Besides the impressive return by Harrison, Rolle says that the blocking by the Steelers' defensive players impressed him even more on the play.
"The blocking y'all had for him, oh my goodness," Rolle told McFadden. "Y'all beat our players up. Y'all literally manhandled them. Everybody who was trying to get (Harrison), they literally got manhandled."
McFadden pointed out that Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau were harping on the defensive players in the week leading up to Super Bowl XLIII to rally after making interceptions at practice.
"Late in the season you catch an interception against the scout team, you might not go hard to return it, you might get a little lazy throw the ball back, get ready for the next play," McFadden said. "So, we were doing that, we were catching the ball and it was in the rain, but we (weren't) returning. Mike T, Dick LeBeau they called us, 'Listen, man, when y'all catch an interception, I need the cavalry in front of the man with the ball and y'all run to score because if y'all do it now, y'all are going to do it on Sunday.' And you know we hear those things from coaches, we hear it, and it kinda doesn't really resonate like that, like OK we're going to do what coach says do. After that speech, every time someone caught an interception, it didn't matter if it was the first group, second group, or the third group, whoever was on the football field, you caught an interception, you better go find someone to block and you return it all the way to the house.
"And literally when that (Harrison) play happened, we got into halftime, we (were) like, 'Yo, that's why great coaches coach great teams. They put you in positions to be successful, you just got to listen.'"