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Super Bowl XL

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Super Bowl XL
Super Bowl XL.svg
1 2 3 4 Total
SEA 3 0 7 0 10
PIT 0 7 7 7 21
Date 5 February 2006 (2006-02-05)
Stadium Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
MVP Hines Ward, wide receiver
Favorite Steelers by 4
Referee Bill Leavy
Attendance 68,206
National anthem Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin and Dr. John, ASL performed by Angela LaGuardia
Coin toss Tom Brady representing previous Super Bowl MVPs
Halftime show The Rolling Stones
TV in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya and Suzy Kolber
Nielsen ratings 41.6
(est. 90.7 million viewers)
Market share 62
Cost of 30-second commercial US$2.5 million
 < XXXIX Super Bowl XLI > 

Super Bowl XL was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Seattle Seahawks and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2005 season. The Steelers defeated the Seahawks by the score of 21–10. The game was played on February 5, 2006, at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

With the win, the Steelers joined the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys as the only franchises to have won five Super Bowls. Pittsburgh, who finished the regular season with an 11–5 record, also became the fourth wild card team, the third in nine years, and the first ever #6 seed in the NFL playoffs, to win a Super Bowl. The Seahawks, on the other hand, were making their first ever Super Bowl appearance after posting an NFC-best 13–3 regular season record.

The Steelers jumped to a 14–3 lead early in the third quarter with running back Willie Parker's Super Bowl record 75-yard touchdown run. Seahawks defensive back Kelly Herndon's Super Bowl record 76-yard interception return set up a Seattle touchdown to cut the lead 14–10. But Pittsburgh responded with Antwaan Randle El's 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward, the first time a wide receiver threw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl, to clinch the game in the fourth quarter. Ward, who caught 5 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 18 yards, was named Super Bowl MVP.


Looking toward the stadium

Ford Field was selected to host Super Bowl XL on November 1, 2000, two years before the stadium opened in 2002; the only previous Super Bowl held in the Detroit area, Super Bowl XVI, had been played at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982 (also between teams from the AFC North and NFC West divisions, though the AFC North was called the Central at that time).

The NFL promoted this Super Bowl under the slogan "The Road to Forty." The slogan not only honored the 40-year history of the game, but was a nod to Detroit's traditional role as the centre of the U.S. automotive industry. In a related note, Roger Penske, owner of car dealerships, racing teams, and other related companies, headed the Super Bowl XL host committee.

This was the first Super Bowl to be played on the FieldTurf surface; each of the previous Super Bowls had been played either on natural grass or on AstroTurf.

The Seahawks became the first team to have their city/state location painted in their end zone for a Super Bowl, as their end zone read Seattle Seahawks. In Super Bowl XLIII, the Arizona Cardinals became the second team to have this, as their end zone read Arizona Cardinals. For all other Super Bowl teams, end zones have featured only the team nickname.


Pittsburgh Steelers

After stumbling to a 7-5 start, the Steelers rebounded and entered Super Bowl XL finishing the regular season with an 11-5 record. (Although the team finished tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for the division lead, the Bengals won the tiebreaker for the AFC North championship based on better divisional record.) They also became the first team ever to defeat the top three seeded teams on the road in the playoffs (#3 Cincinnati, #1 Indianapolis and #2 Denver). In addition, the team became the first sixth-seeded team to reach both a conference championship game and the Super Bowl since the NFL expanded to a 12-team playoff format in 1990.

Under Bill Cowher's reign as head coach since 1992, the Steelers had been one of the top teams in the NFL, making the playoffs in 10 out of his 14 seasons, advancing to the AFC Championship Game six times, and making an appearance in Super Bowl XXX, losing to the Dallas Cowboys 27-17. After having finished the 2003 season with a 6-10 record and after splitting its first two games to open 2004, Pittsburgh lost starting quarterback Tommy Maddox to injury. Maddox was replaced by rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was drafted with the 11th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft but was not expected to play during his rookie season. Nevertheless, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to victory in all of the team's 14 remaining regular season games, giving Pittsburgh a 15-1 record and making the Steelers the first AFC team ever to win 15 games. However, the Steelers lost to eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Pittsburgh began the 2005 season by winning seven of its first nine games, but suffered a major setback when both Roethlisberger and his backup, Charlie Batch, went down with injuries. With Maddox back as the starter, the team was upset by Baltimore and dropped two more games after Roethlisberger's return, falling to then-undefeated Indianapolis, and division rival Cincinnati. The postseason hopes of the Steelers were in peril, but the team recovered to win its final four regular season games and to claim the sixth—and final—seed in the AFC playoffs.

Roethlisberger was efficient in his 12 regular season games, throwing for 2,385 yards and seventeen touchdowns with nine interceptions, while adding three rushing touchdowns. The Steelers' main receiving threat was wide receiver Hines Ward, who led the team with 69 receptions for 975 yards and eleven touchdowns. His 69 catches gave him a career total of 574, surpassing a franchise record for receptions previously held by Hall of Famer John Stallworth. On the other side of the field, speedy wide receiver Antwaan Randle El was a constant breakaway threat, catching 35 passes for 558 yards, while gaining 448 yards and two touchdowns on punt returns. Rookie tight end Heath Miller also recorded 39 receptions for 459 yards and six touchdowns.

Pittsburgh's main strength on offense, however, was its running game. Running back Willie Parker was the team's leading rusher with 1,202 yards, while also recording 18 catches for 218 yards and scoring five touchdowns. In short-yardage situations, the team relied on 255-pound running back Jerome Bettis, who rushed for 368 yards and scored nine touchdowns. The 33-year-old Bettis finished his 13th NFL season as the league's fifth all-time leading rusher (13,662 yards and 91 touchdowns), but until this point he had never played in a Super Bowl. The Steelers rushing attack was powered by an offensive line led by Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca and Pro Bowl reserve centre Jeff Hartings.

The Steelers defense ranked fourth in the NFL, giving up 284.0 total yards per game. The Pittsburgh defense was led by its linebacking corps: Joey Porter, James Farrior, Clark Haggans, and Larry Foote. Porter led all NFL linebackers with 10.5 quarterback sacks and also recorded two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Haggans tallied nine sacks and 40 tackles, while Farrior added a team-high 119 tackles to go with his two sacks and one fumble recovery. In the secondary, free safety Chris Hope led the team with three interceptions, while Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, the team's top threat in the defensive backfield, notched 91 tackles, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.

The Steelers became just the third team to win the Super Bowl despite not playing a single home game in the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers, who won Super Bowl I (against the Kansas City Chiefs), and the Kansas City Chiefs, who won Super Bowl IV (against the Minnesota Vikings), also accomplished the feat. The Steelers, however, had to win four games to accomplish the feat, while the Chiefs won three and Packers won only two games.

Of a "bridging the eras" moment, Steelers cornerback Willie Williams was the last remaining player to have been on the Steelers last Super Bowl team, their Super Bowl XXX loss to the Dallas Cowboys following the 1995 season. (Defensive backs coach Darren Perry was also a player on the Super Bowl XXX team. Both were starters in that game.) Ironically, Williams, who was in his second stint with the Steelers at the time, played with Seattle from 1997-2003. He would be inactive for Super Bowl XL, which like Bettis would turn out to be his final NFL game before retiring that offseason.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks entered Super Bowl XL after finishing the regular season with an NFC-best 13-3 record. After a rocky 2-2 start, they won 11 consecutive games before losing to the Green Bay Packers to finish the season. The 13-3 record and 11-game winning streak set new team records.

This was Seattle's first Super Bowl appearance in the team's 30-year history. The Seahawks had been mediocre for much of the 1990s, recording eight consecutive non-winning seasons from 1991 through 1998. The team hit a low point in 1996, when then-owner Ken Behring announced his intention to move the team to the Los Angeles area. The team's fortunes began to turn in 1997, when Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bought the team and brokered a deal to build a new football stadium, Qwest Field, to replace the aging Kingdome. Mike Holmgren, who had led the Green Bay Packers to Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII, became head coach in 1999. He became the fifth coach to take two different teams to the Super Bowl. Joe Jurevicius became the sixth player to play in a Super Bowl with three different teams.

Behind running back Shaun Alexander, Seattle finished the 2005 season as the league's top offense, scoring 452 points. Meanwhile, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed 65.5% of his passes for 3,455 yards and 24 touchdowns (against just nine interceptions) and added 124 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Alexander, who had scored at least sixteen touchdowns in each of the previous four seasons, had the best campaign of his career, leading the league with 1,880 rushing yards and scoring an NFL-record 28 touchdowns, for which he was rewarded with the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. Although the Seahawks suffered injuries to starting wide receivers Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram throughout the season, the passing game proved potent, as Engram managed 67 receptions for 778 yards. Joe Jurevicius, a backup when the season began, started eleven games and made 55 catches for 694 yards and ten touchdowns; tight end Jerramy Stevens also emerged as a Hasselbeck target, catching 45 passes for 554 yards and scoring five touchdowns. Hasselbeck was protected and Alexander was given time to run by a stout offensive line, led by Pro Bowl offensive tackle Walter Jones, guard Steve Hutchinson, and centre Robbie Tobeck, and by bruising Pro Bowl fullback Mack Strong.

Though unheralded rookie middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu was the Seahawks' only defensive Pro Bowler, the Seahawks' defense recorded 50 quarterback sacks, leading the NFL in that category; defensive end Bryce Fisher led the Seahawks with nine sacks, while defensive tackle Rocky Bernard added 8.5 and veteran defensive end Grant Wistrom recorded four. Despite starting two rookies at linebacker for most of the year, the Seattle linebacking corps played well, led by Tatupu, who topped the team with 104 tackles and added four sacks, three interceptions, and one fumble recovery. From his strong safety position, Michael Boulware led the team with four interceptions and also tallied two sacks and one fumble recovery. The Seattle secondary suffered injuries throughout the year, notably to free safety Ken Hamlin; second-year cornerback Jordan Babineaux played well as he appeared in all sixteen games for Seattle, intercepting three passes and making 61 tackles. For the year, the defense surrendered just 271 points, 181 fewer than the Seahawks offense scored.

Statistical comparison

The chart below provides a comparison of regular season statistics in key categories (overall rank amongst 32 teams in parentheses).

Statistic Pittsburgh Steelers Seattle Seahawks
Points scored per game 24.3 (9th) 28.2 (1st)
Points allowed per game 16.1 (3rd, tied) 16.9 (7th)
Rushing yards gained per game 138.9 (5th) 153.6 (3rd)
Rushing yards allowed per game 86.0 (3rd) 94.4 (5th)
Passing yards gained per game 182.9 (24th) 216.1 (13th)
Passing yards allowed per game 198.0 (16th) 222.4 (25th)
Yards gained per play 5.4 (10th) 5.8 (2nd)
Yards allowed per play 4.6 (3rd) 4.9 (10th)
Time of possession per game 31:16 (8th) 29:17 (21st)
Third-down conversion percentage 35.4 (23rd) 39.6 (13th, tied)
Third-down conversion percentage allowed 39.7 (20th) 38.0 (16th)
Fourth-down conversion percentage 41.7 (20th) 87.5 (1st)
Fourth-down conversion percentage allowed 35.3 (8th) 63.2 (26th)
Red zone touchdown conversion percentage 60.7 (4th, tied) 71.7 (1st)
Red zone touchdown conversion percentage allowed 40.4 (2nd) 47.9 (10th, tied)
Total turnover differential +7 (9th, tied) +10 (7th)


The Steelers became the second team after the 1985 New England Patriots to win three road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh defeated the third-seeded Bengals, 31-17; the top-seeded Colts, 21-18 in the Immaculate Redemption/Tackle II game; and the second-seeded Denver Broncos, 34-17, in the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers also became the eighth wild-card team to go to the Super Bowl and the fourth in nine seasons. The Steelers' catchphrase for the playoffs was "One for the Thumb."

Meanwhile, the Seahawks became the first team to advance to the Super Bowl without playing a division champion in the playoffs. Off a first-round bye, Seattle defeated the sixth-seeded Washington Redskins, 20-10, before eliminating the fifth-seeded Carolina Panthers, 34-14, in the NFC Championship Game. These were Seattle's first playoff victories since the 1984 season when they defeated the Los Angeles Raiders 13-7.



ABC Sports

The Renaissance Centre decorated for Super Bowl XL.
Ford Field on Super Bowl XL Sunday, countdown to kickoff on Comerica Park's score board.

The game was televised in the United States by ABC with play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, colour commentator John Madden, who was named the day before to the Class of 2006 by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and sideline reporters Michele Tafoya (Steelers sideline) and Suzy Kolber (Seahawks sideline). This was the sixth Super Bowl telecast for Michaels, and the tenth for Madden (whose first was Super Bowl XVI, also played in Michigan). The opening theme was sung by Hank Williams Jr., who was later spotted in the stands wearing Steelers regalia.

Although the Super Bowl had largely been presented in high definition since Super Bowl XXXIV, Super Bowl XL would be the first Super Bowl where all aspects of the game itself were aired in HD.

With the expiration of the current television contracts among ABC, CBS, ESPN and FOX following the 2005 season, this game served as the final telecast for ABC after 36 seasons with the NFL, at least for the foreseeable future. It was the second (after Super Bowl XXXVII) Super Bowl telecast, and final ABC telecast, for the broadcast team of Michaels and Madden, who would call Sunday night NFL games on NBC beginning with the 2006 season.

With the Steelers win, they became the fourth team to win Super Bowls on three different networks (NBC- IX and XIII, CBS- X and XIV, and ABC). Before this game, the NFC was 6-0 in Super Bowls broadcasted on ABC.

Renaissance Centre Wintergarden turned into an ESPN studio for Super Bowl XL.
Studio show

Chris Berman, from Disney-owned corporate sibling ESPN, returned to host ABC's pregame show, as he had done for the network's coverage of Super Bowls XXXIV and XXXVII. Berman was joined by his fellow analysts from ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown pregame show: Michael Irvin, Tom Jackson, and Steve Young, along with co-host Mike Tirico and New England Patriots head coach (and three-time Super Bowl winner) Bill Belichick. Also contributing to the pre-game show were Michele Tafoya, Suzy Kolber, Sam Ryan, Andrea Kremer, Kenny Mayne and Chris Mortensen.


Since the game was being played close to the U.S.-Canada border, Canadian television rights holders Global broadcast portions of an NFL-sponsored "Passport To The Super Bowl" event in nearby Windsor, Ontario, featuring a performance by the newly-revived 1980s rock group INXS with Canadian native lead singer J.D. Fortune, though the network limited coverage of the Windsor event to short segments immediately prior to commercial breaks.

The game was also televised in Australia ( SBS), Austria ( ORF and TW1), Brazil (ESPN International), Denmark ( TV 2), Finland ( MTV3), France ( France 2), Germany ( ARD), Hungary ( Sport 1), Iceland ( SÝN), Ireland ( Sky Sports), Italy ( Sky Sports 3 and Italia 1), Japan ( NHK BS-1, NTV), Mexico ( TV Azteca), the Netherlands ( SBS6), New Zealand (ESPN International/ SKY TV), Portugal (SportTV), Slovenia ( Prva TV), Spain ( Canal +), Sweden ( ZTV), and UK (ITV/ Sky Sports). According to the NFL, the game was available worldwide in 32 languages.

The main NFL international feed of the game featured FOX broadcasters Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnston providing commentary tailored to those largely unfamiliar with the rules of American football.


Westwood One/ CBS Radio provided radio coverage in the United States, with the broadcasting team of Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason.

Sirius Satellite Radio and carried international local-language broadcasts from the United Kingdom ( BBC Radio Five Live), Spain ( Canal Plus Spain), Russia ( NTV), Belgium ( BeTV, in French), China ( SMG), and Japan ( NTV), in addition to the press box intercom and the public address announcer feeds.


Pre-game ceremonies

During the pre-game ceremonies, Stevie Wonder, along with Joss Stone, India.Arie, and John Legend, performed a medley of Wonder's hits. The Four Tops also performed during the pregame ceremonies, though the performance was not televised. In honour of the fortieth Super Bowl, the pre-game ceremony featured the on-field introduction of 30 of the previous 34 Super Bowl Most Valuable Players (with the exception of Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Jake Scott, and the late Harvey Martin). The absences of Montana and Bradshaw were originally reported to have been due to disagreements over appearance funds to be paid by the NFL, but each later rebutted such reports, suggesting that they had prior family commitments; Scott was reported to have been traveling through Australia.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of the two civil rights activists who had died during the months prior to the game: Coretta Scott King (six days earlier) and Rosa Parks (on October 24, 2005), the latter a long-time Detroit resident.

Singers Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville, along with pianist Dr. John and a 150-member choir, performed the national anthem as part of a pre-game tribute to New Orleans, a nine-time Super Bowl host city then in the midst of efforts to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The national anthem was performed in American Sign Language by Angela LaGuardia, a teacher at Michigan School for the Deaf.

Tom Brady, MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII, became the first active player to participate in a Super Bowl coin toss, the result of which toss was tails, as selected by Seattle.

The Steelers became only the third franchise to wear white jerseys, (which they had worn for each of their three road playoff victories) despite being the "home" team; the Cowboys ( Super Bowls XIII and XXVII) and the Redskins ( Super Bowl XVII), both of whom traditionally wear white at home, are the other two. Bill Cowher stated that the Steelers were playing in Detroit, not Pittsburgh, and therefore it wasn't a "home" game (although 10 years earlier Cowher's Steelers did wear their black home jerseys as the "home" team in Super Bowl XXX at Tempe, Arizona away from Pittsburgh, where they had won both their playoff games to reach that Super Bowl). The Steelers became the first AFC club to don their white jerseys as "home" team; having been the Cowboys' opponent in Super Bowl XIII, they became the first (and so far only) team to have worn white jerseys for a "home" Super Bowl and colored jerseys for an "away" one.

Although the participating teams each entered as a team for their introduction, the Steelers insisted on sending Jerome Bettis out ahead of the rest of the team in front of his hometown crowd.

The Steelers entered Ford Field to " Right Here, Right Now" by Fatboy Slim. The Seahawks entered to " Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve.

Halftime show

The Rolling Stones performed during the halftime show, which was sponsored by the American telecommunications company Sprint. The group performed three songs: " Start Me Up", " Rough Justice", and " (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". In the wake of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy with Janet Jackson, ABC and the NFL imposed a five-second delay and censored lyrics considered too sexually explicit in the first two songs by briefly turning off Mick Jagger's microphone; the group had previously agreed to the censoring.

However, the choice of The Rolling Stones sparked controversy in the Detroit community because the band did not represent the music of Detroit and no other artist from the area was included.

Post-game ceremonies

The post-game presentation saw Bart Starr, the MVP of Super Bowls I and II, take the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the podium, whence it was presented to Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

Game summary

After the first four possessions of the game ended with punts, Seahawks punt returner Peter Warrick gave his team good field position by returning Chris Gardocki's 37-yard punt 12 yards to Seattle's 49-yard line. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck then started off the drive with a pair of completions to receivers Darrell Jackson and Joe Jurevicius for gains of 20 and 11 yards, respectively. On the third play of the drive, Jackson caught a pass in the end-zone, apparently for a touchdown, but the play was nullified as Jackson was called for pass interference. Running back Shaun Alexander ran the ball the next two plays, but gained only three yards. Hasselbeck's third-down pass attempt fell incomplete, and the Seahawks were forced to settle for a 47-yard field goal by kicker Josh Brown. By the end of the first quarter, the Steelers had failed to gain a first down, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had completed one of five pass attempts for one yard. On their first second-quarter possession, Pittsburgh once more was forced to punt after three plays, but benefited from another Seahawks penalty, a holding call that nullified Warrick's 34-yard punt return. The Steelers forced a Seattle punt, but Seattle safety Michael Boulware intercepted a Roethlisberger pass at the Seattle 17-yard line on the ensuing drive. The Seahawks, though, were once more forced to punt after three plays, and Pittsburgh drove into Seattle territory on the following drive.

An offensive pass interference call against tight end Heath Miller and a sack for an eight-yard loss by Seahawks defensive end Grant Wistrom, though, backed the Steelers to the 40-yard line, and left the team facing a third-down-and-28. However, Roethlisberger hit receiver Hines Ward out of a scramble and extremely unorthodox, against the grain pass for a 37-yard gain to keep the drive going. Jerome Bettis carried the ball on the next two plays, taking his team to the one-yard line but not into the end-zone. On the third-down play, after the two-minute warning, Roethlisberger faked a handoff and dove into the end-zone himself. There was some confusion as to whether or not he had scored, since the referee hesitated for a bit after the play ended, but he eventually signalled a touchdown, and it was upheld after a replay challenge.

On the strength of a 19-yard Jurevicius reception, Seattle advanced the ball to the Pittsburgh 36-yard line, but, after the drive stalled, Brown missed a 54-yard field goal attempt to the right and the Steelers ran out the clock to end the first half.

The Steelers took the ball to begin the second half, and just two plays in, running back Willie Parker broke through for a 75-yard touchdown run, giving his team a 14-3 lead and setting a record for the longest run in Super Bowl history, beating Marcus Allen's Super Bowl XVIII mark by one yard.

The Seahawks drove into Pittsburgh territory on the next drive, sparked by a 21-yard run by Alexander, but Brown again missed a field-goal attempt, this one from 50 yards, as Seattle was unable to close the 11-point deficit.

Pittsburgh drove 54 yards to the Seattle six-yard line to put themselves in position to take a large lead, but Seahawks defensive back Kelly Herndon intercepted a pass from Roethlisberger and returned it a Super Bowl record 76 yards to the Steelers 20-yard line. From there, the Seahawks required just two plays to score on Hasselbeck's 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jerramy Stevens, cutting their deficit to 14-10.

The teams exchanged punts (two from Pittsburgh, one from Seattle) to fill out most of the third quarter, but the Seahawks ended the quarter having driven from their own two-yard line to near midfield. The drive continued in the fourth quarter, as the Seahawks reached the Pittsburgh 19-yard line. An 18-yard pass to Stevens, though, was negated on a penalty call against Seattle tackle Sean Locklear for holding, denying the Seahawks an opportunity for a first-down-and-goal from the 1-yard-line. Three plays later, Pittsburgh defensive back Ike Taylor intercepted a Hasselbeck pass at the 5-yard line and returned it 24 yards. While tackling Taylor, Hasselbeck dove low and was flagged for blocking below the waist. The penalty added 15 yards to the return and gave the Steelers the ball on their own 44-yard line.

Four plays later, Pittsburgh ran a wide receiver reverse, but the play turned out to be a pass play by wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who played quarterback while in college. Parker took a pitch from Roethlisberger and handed off to Randle El, who was running in the opposite direction. Randle El then pulled up and threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Ward, giving the Steelers a 21-10 lead and also marking the first time a wide receiver threw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl.

On the ensuing possession, Hasselbeck ran the ball for eighteen yards and was briefly touched by Steelers linebacker Larry Foote as the former fell to the ground. Though the play was initially ruled a fumble, with the ball recovered by the Steelers, a Seahawks challenge proved successful, as officials ruled Hasselbeck to have been down prior to his having lost the ball; Seattle, aided by a 13-yard Jurevicius reception, drove to the Pittsburgh 48-yard line but could go no further; a Tom Rouen punt entered the end zone, giving the Steelers possession on their own 20-yard line.

Pittsburgh possessed the ball on for nearly four-and-one-half minutes on the ensuing drive, as Bettis carried seven times; Seattle was forced to use all of its three timeouts to stop the clock, but nevertheless had only 1:51 left when it took the ball from its own 20-yard line following a Gardocki punt. A 35-yard reception by Jurevicius took the Seahawks into Pittsburgh territory, and a 13-yard Bobby Engram reception took the team to within field-goal range, but dubious clock-management and play-calling left the team with just 35 seconds remaining; an incompletion and a three-yard pass to Stevens over the middle over the field consumed 26 seconds, and Hasselbeck threw incomplete near Stevens on fourth down, giving the Steelers the ball on downs with just three seconds left, after which a Roethlisberger kneel-down ended the game.

Box score

1 2 3 4 Total
Seahawks 3 0 7 0 10
Steelers 0 7 7 7 21

at Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan

  • Date: February 5, 2006
  • Game time: 6:27 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: Played indoors, domed stadium
  • TV announcers: Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya and Suzy Kolber
  • Recap
Game information
  • 1st Quarter
    • SEA — FG: Josh Brown 47 yards 3-0 SEA
      Drive: Seven Plays, 22 yds, 3:31
  • 2nd Quarter
    • PIT — TD: Ben Roethlisberger 1-yard run (Jeff Reed kick), 7-3 PIT
      Drive: 11 Plays, 59 yds, 6:20
  • 3rd Quarter
    • PIT — TD: Willie Parker 75-yard run (Jeff Reed kick), 14-3 PIT
      Drive: Two plays, 75 yds, 22 seconds
    • SEA — TD: Jerramy Stevens 16-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck (Josh Brown kick), 14-10 PIT
      Drive: Three plays, 20 yds, 53 seconds
  • 4th Quarter
    • PIT — TD: Hines Ward 43-yard pass from Antwaan Randle El (Jeff Reed kick), 21-10 PIT
      Drive: Four plays, 56 yards, 1:50

Final statistics


The Steelers became just the third team to win the Super Bowl despite not playing a single home game in the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers, who won Super Bowl I, and the Kansas City Chiefs, who won Super Bowl IV, also accomplished the feat. The Steelers, however, had to win four games to accomplish the feat, while the Chiefs won three and Packers won only two games.

Roethlisberger finished the game having completed just 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards and having also thrown two interceptions; his 22.6 quarterback rating was the lowest ever of any by a Super Bowl winning quarterback. He also rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown. He became the second youngest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl and the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl at 23 years, 11 months.

The Pittsburgh rushing game was paced by Willie Parker, who gained 93 yards and one touchdown on ten carries; Bettis rushed 14 times for 43 yards, converted a key first down, and allowing his team to run time off the clock late in the fourth quarter. Ward caught five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his 43-yard touchdown pass, Randle El caught three passes for 22 yards and returned two punts for 32 yards. In defeat for the Seahawks, Hasselbeck completed 26 of 49 pass attempts for 273 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. Jurevicius caught 5 passes for 93 yards. Engram and Jackson also played roles, combining to gain 120 yards on eleven receptions. Alexander led all rushers in the game, accumulating 95 yards on 20 carries while also catching two passes for two yards. The Steelers were the third team to lose the turnover battle and win the game, after the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V and the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV.

Defensively, Taylor led the Steelers, making seven tackles, defensing two passes, and intercepting Hasselbeck; for the Seahawks, linebacker Lofa Tatupu recorded nine tackles.

Statistical comparison

Seattle Seahawks Pittsburgh Steelers
Score 10 21
First downs 20 14
Third down efficiency 5-17 8-15
Fourth down efficiency 1-2 0-0
Total yards 396 339
Passing yards 259 158
Passing – Completions-attempts 26-49 10-22
Passing – Yards per pass 5.0 6.9
Rushing yards 137 181
Rushing attempts 25 33
Yards per rush 5.5 5.5
Penalties-yards 7-70 3-20
Sacks against 3-14 1-8
Turnovers 1 2
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Interceptions thrown 1 2
Time of possession 33:02 26:58

Individual leaders

Seahawks Passing
Matt Hasselbeck 26/49 273 1 1
Seahawks Rushing
Cara Yds TD LGb
Shaun Alexander 20 95 0 21
Matt Hasselbeck 3 35 0 18
Mack Strong 2 7 0 7
Seahawks Receiving
Recc Yds TD LGb
Bobby Engram 6 70 0 21
Joe Jurevicius 5 93 0 35
Darrell Jackson 5 50 0 20
Jerramy Stevens 3 25 1 16t
Mack Strong 2 15 0 13
Ryan Hannam 2 12 0 9
Maurice Morris 1 6 0 6
Shaun Alexander 2 2 0 4
Steelers Passing
Ben Roethlisberger 9/21 123 0 2
Antwaan Randle El 1/1 43 1 0
Steelers Rushing
Cara Yds TD LGb
Willie Parker 10 93 1 75t
Jerome Bettis 14 43 0 12
Ben Roethlisberger 7 25 1 10
Hines Ward 1 18 0 18
Verron Haynes 1 2 0 2
Steelers Receiving
Recc Yds TD LGb
Hines Ward 5 123 1 43t
Antwaan Randle El 3 22 0 8
Cedrick Wilson 1 20 0 20
Willie Parker 1 1 0 1

*Completions/Attempts aCarries bLong play cReceptions

Starting lineups

Pittsburgh Position Position Seattle
Antwaan Randle El WR Bobby Engram
Marvel Smith LT Walter Jones
Alan Faneca LG Steve Hutchinson
Jeff Hartings C Robbie Tobeck
Kendall Simmons RG Chris Gray
Max Starks RT Sean Locklear
Heath Miller TE Jerramy Stevens
Hines Ward WR Darrell Jackson
Ben Roethlisberger QB Matt Hasselbeck
Willie Parker RB Shaun Alexander
Dan Kreider FB Mack Strong
Aaron Smith LE Bryce Fisher
Casey Hampton NT LDT Chartric Darby
Kimo von Oelhoffen RE RDT Rocky Bernard
Clark Haggans LOLB RE Grant Wistrom
James Farrior LILB LOLB Leroy Hill
Larry Foote RILB MLB Lofa Tatupu
Joey Porter ROLB D.D. Lewis
Ike Taylor LCB Andre Dyson
Deshea Townsend RCB Marcus Trufant
Troy Polamalu SS Michael Boulware
Chris Hope FS Marquand Manuel


  • Referee: Bill Leavy (#127)
  • Umpire: Garth DeFelice (#53)
  • Head Linesman: Mark Hittner (#28)
  • Line Judge: Mark Perlman (#9)
  • Field Judge: Steve Zimmer (#33)
  • Side Judge: Tom Hill (#97)
  • Back Judge: Bob Waggoner (#25)
  • Alternate Referee: Tony Corrente (#99)
  • Alternate Umpire: Undrey Wash (#96)
  • Alternate Head Linesman: Tom Stabile (#24)

Reaction to officiating

The officiating in Super Bowl XL was met with harsh criticism from some of the media soon after the game, with some columnists saying that the officiating cost the Seahawks the game. One call that was complained about was an offensive pass interference on wide receiver Darrell Jackson for a push-off against Steelers safety Chris Hope that nullified his 16-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Another complaint had to do with a questionable penalty in the fourth quarter against Seattle right tackle Sean Locklear for holding Steelers linebacker Clark Haggans that nullified a deep pass. Also disputed was the penalty on Hasselbeck for an illegal block while simply making a tackle during Ike Taylor's interception return.

Kansas City Star writer Jason Whitlock encapsulated some views when he wrote the day after the game, " Bill Leavy and his crew ruined Super Bowl XL. Am I the only one who would like to hear them defend their incompetence?" Initially, some fans reacted negatively as well. A February 7 online ESPN poll found that, with 103,167 votes cast, 61.7% of those votes were cast for the choice of "officiating mistakes affected the outcome of Super Bowl XL." Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren himself took issue with the officiating at a celebration for his team on February 6 at Qwest Field, saying, "We knew it was going to be tough going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well." Holmgren was not fined for the remarks.

In response to the criticisms leveled at the officials, the NFL, just two days after the game, released a statement defending the officials' performance. "The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls made by the officials," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement.

High-profile referee Ed Hochuli said "the league felt, actually, that the Super Bowl was well officiated. Now, that doesn't mean there were no mistakes. There are always mistakes, but it was a well-officiated game."

On August 6, 2010, while visiting the Seahawks' preseason training camp for an annual rules interpretation session with the Seattle media, Leavy brought up Super Bowl XL without being asked, and admitted to having blown calls:

It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better ... I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough ... When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult.


As usual, the American television broadcast of the Super Bowl showcased top commercials and commanded high prices, estimated at $2.6 million (US) for a 30-second spot. According to Advertising Age, Anheuser-Busch was the top advertiser during the game, having purchased 10 30-second spots. The magazine reported that other companies having purchased multiple commercial segments included Ameriquest (two), (two), Pepsi-Cola (four), Pizza Hut (ten, though most ran prior to kickoff), Sprint (three), Procter & Gamble (four, three for Gillette's new Fusion razor), Warner Bros. (three), Disney (two) and (two). Three companies aired 60-second advertisements: General Motors (for the Cadillac brand), Burger King, and Mobile ESPN (the Sports Heaven ad). Agency BBDO was the biggest single producer of commercials, creating 19. ABC also aired several 60-second commercials for some of its shows, including Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy. Notably, this was the first Super Bowl during which commercials, in addition to the game itself, were broadcast in HDTV. During typical HDTV broadcasts at the time, commercials themselves were broadcast in standard definition.

Google Video and America Online each catalogued ads for later viewing. The USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter and ADBOWL, which both measure viewer online reaction to all Super Bowl ads, found the Bud Light “Magic refrigerator” spot ranked as the top spot.


  • According to Las Vegas oddsmakers, the Steelers opened betting as a four-point favorite. As the Steelers won by eleven points, they covered this spread.
  • The over-under, or expected points total, for the game, opened at 47. As the total combined score of this game was only 31 points, the under bet won.
  • The money line was set at roughly +160 for the Seahawks and -180 for the Steelers.

This was just the fifth time in Super Bowl history when a lower-seeded team opened as the favorite to win; the previous occurrences were Super Bowls XXXIX (AFC second-seeded New England Patriots were favored by seven points over NFC top-seed Philadelphia Eagles), XXXV (AFC fourth-seeded Baltimore Ravens were favored by three points over NFC top-seed New York Giants), XXIII (NFC second-seeded San Francisco 49ers were favored by seven points over AFC first-seed Cincinnati Bengals), and XVII (AFC second-seeded Miami Dolphins were favored by three points over Washington Redskins). In each but the last iteration, the lower-seeded and favored team won.

This was also the second time in Super Bowl history when the favorite was a wild card team; the first was before Super Bowl XXXV, when the Ravens were favored. It also marked the first time since that game the favorite won against the spread.

Members of the winning team each received a payment of $73,000 for playing in the game, while players on the losing team were paid $38,000. The Green Bay Packers received $15,000 each for winning Super Bowl I in 1967; adjusted for inflation in 2006 dollars, that sum is roughly $86,000.

After having held constant at $600 for three years, the face value of the costliest Super Bowl ticket rose to $700 for the game. On eBay, the least-desirable seats—those behind each end zone in the upper level—fetched more than $2000 each, while top seats around the 50-yard line sold for more than $6000.


The Steelers Super Bowl XL ring

The ring for the Pittsburgh Steelers was designed by Steelers owner Dan Rooney with Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger. It is crowned by five Vince Lombardi trophies, all topped with football-shaped diamond settings to represent their five Super Bowl victories; Rooney would've preferred the ring to focus exclusively on this team's win, but Bettis and Roethlisberger, cognizant of a tradition they couldn't help but be reminded of, insisted that it acknowledge the legacy of those teams (indeed, during the pre-game MVP introductions, Franco Harris, winner of the award in the Steelers' first Super Bowl victory, had waved a Terrible Towel as he walked onto the field). The base of each trophy has the Roman numeral for their victories, with Super Bowl XL front and centre. In front of the trophies is the Steelers logo set with colored jewels to mimic the colors of the logo. On the top of the crown is "PITTSBURGH", and on the bottom is "WORLD CHAMPIONS". One side of the ring has the Super Bowl XL logo and the score of the game.

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