Super Bowl XL

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Sports events

Super Bowl XL
Quarter 1 2 3 4 Tot
Seahawks 3 0 7 0 10
Steelers 0 7 7 7 21
Date February 5, 2006
Stadium Ford Field
City Detroit, Michigan
MVP Hines Ward, wide receiver
Favorite Steelers by 4
National anthem Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin and Dr. John, ASL performed by Angela LaGuardia
Coin toss Tom Brady
Referee Bill Leavy
Halftime show The Rolling Stones
Attendance 68,206
TV in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Al Michaels and John Madden
Nielsen Ratings 41.6 (preliminary)
Market share 62
Cost of 30-second commercial US$2.5 million

Super Bowl XL was the 40th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on February 5, 2006 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, following the 2005 regular season.

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Seattle Seahawks, 21–10. Although the Seahawks won the turnover battle 2-1 and gained 57 more yards, Pittsburgh won on the strength of three big plays converted into touchdowns. Seattle, on the other hand, was plagued by controversial penalties, dropped balls, and poor clock management in the final minutes of each half. With the victory, the Steelers tied the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers for the most Super Bowl wins by a team (five).

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who had five receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 18 yards, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player. Running back Jerome Bettis, playing in his hometown of Detroit, announced his retirement after the game, saying "I think the Bus' last stop is here in Detroit." The Steelers finished the season on an eight game winning streak counting down each game to the championship for Bettis.

According to Nielsen Ratings, the telecast of Super Bowl XL drew an estimated average 90.7 million viewers in the USA, making it the most-watched Super Bowl since 1996 - the last time the Steelers appeared in the Super Bowl. The game was watched in 45.85 million homes - the second-highest in television history, trailing only the series finale of M*A*S*H in 1983. However, the game garnered a 41.6 rating placing it 61st on Neilsen's top-rated programs behind the M*A*S*H finale and various other Super Bowls.


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 Silverdome in 1982.

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.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers entered Super Bowl XL after finishing the regular season with an 11-5 record and becoming the first team ever to defeat the top three seeded teams on the road in the playoffs. 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. It was the sixth Super Bowl in team history.

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 division rival Cincinnati and then-undefeated Indianapolis. 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.

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.

Behind Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle finished the 2005 season as the league's top offense, scoring 452 points. 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. Shaun 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 nevertheless proved potent, as Engram managed 67 receptions for 778 yards. and 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—the unit had no players elected to the Pro Bowl—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 corp played well, led by rookie middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who topped the team with 104 tackles and added four sacks, three interceptions, and one fumble recovery. Tatupu would later be rewarded with a selection to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement. 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 Super Bowl team to win three road playoff games (joining the 1985 Patriots). Pittsburgh defeated the third-seeded Bengals, 31-17; the top-seeded Colts, 21-18; and the second-seeded Denver Broncos, 34-17, in the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers also became the ninth wild-card team to go to the Super Bowl and the fourth in nine seasons.

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 Center decorated for Super Bowl XL.
The Renaissance Centre decorated for Super Bowl XL.

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 and Suzy Kolber. 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.

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.

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.


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 ( Sport1), Iceland ( SÝN), Ireland ( Sky Sports), Italy ( Sky Sports 3), Japan ( NHK BS-1, NTV), Mexico ( TV Azteca), the Netherlands ( SBS6), New Zealand (ESPN International/ SKY TV), Portugal (SportTV), 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 anniversary of the Super Bowl, the pre-game ceremony featured the on-field introduction of all former 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 he 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 and Rosa Parks, 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.

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, to which censoring the group had previously agreed.

However, the choice of The Rolling Stones sparked controversy in the Detroit community because the band did not represent Motown Sound 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 on a controversial pass interference penalty on Jackson for pushing off his defender. 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 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 toward the end-zone himself. The play was ruled a touchdown, and the call was upheld after an official review.

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 another dubious 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. Whilst making the tackle on Taylor, Hasselbeck dove low and brushed another Steelers player, causing him to get flagged for blocking below the waist while trying to make a legal tackle. 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.

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. The Pittsburgh rushing game was paced by Willie Parker, who gained 93 yards and one touchdown on just 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.

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

Scoring summary

  • 1st Quarter
    • SEA — FG Brown 47, Sea 3-0 :27 remaining Drive: Seven Plays, 22 yd, 3:31
  • 2nd Quarter
    • PIT — Roethlisberger 1 run (Reed kick), Pit 7-3 1:55 remaining Drive: 11 Plays, 59 yd, 6:20
  • 3rd Quarter
    • PIT — Parker 75 run (Reed kick), Pit 14-3 14:38 remaining Drive: Two plays, 75 yd, 22 seconds
    • SEA — Stevens 16 pass from Hasselbeck (Brown kick), Pit 14-10 6:45 remaining Drive: Three plays, 20 yd, 53 seconds
  • 4th Quarter
    • PIT — Ward 43 pass from Randle El (Reed kick), Pit 21-10 8:56 remaining Drive: Four plays, 56 yards, 1:50

Game statistics

Statistic Seattle Seahawks Pittsburgh Steelers
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


  • Referee: Bill Leavy
  • Umpire: Garth DeFelice
  • Head Linesman: Mark Hittner
  • Line Judge: Mark Perlman
  • Field Judge: Steve Zimmer
  • Side Judge: Tom Hill
  • Back Judge: Bob Waggoner
  • Alternate Referee: Tony Corrente
  • Alternate Umpire: Undrey Walsh
  • Alternate Head Linesman: Tom Stabile

Reaction to officiating

Some calls made during Super Bowl XL were met with criticism from both fans and members of the media, as many suggested that referee Bill Leavy's crew had wrongly nullified some key plays made by the Seattle offense. Jason Whitlock, writing for the Kansas City Star, encapsulated many views when he wrote the day after the game, "Leavy and his crew ruined Super Bowl XL. Am I the only one who would like to hear them defend their incompetence?"

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.

The game ended a playoffs season that was plagued by complaints about officiating, most notably during the divisional playoff games between the Steelers and Colts, the Broncos and Patriots, and the Bears and Panthers.


As usual, the American television broadcast of the Super Bowl showcased top commercials and commanded high prices, estimated at $2.4 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; on typical HDTV broadcasts, the commercials themselves are broadcast in standard definition.

Google Video and America Online each catalogued ads for later viewing. The USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter, which measures 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 before 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.


  • Instead of via the traditional player introductions, both teams were introduced as a unit, with Pittsburgh being led onto the field by Jerome Bettis, a Detroit native playing in what would be his last NFL game ever; Bettis sprinted out of the Steelers' tunnel by himself and was then followed by his teammates a few moments later.
  • This marked the eighth time in the ten Super Bowls when the team which won the coin toss lost the game and also the fourth time in five when the team scoring first lost the game.
  • This was the second year in a row that a team from Pennsylvania (the Steelers) had played in a Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Eagles went to Super Bowl XXXIX the previous year but lost.
  • 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 and Packers each won two games.
  • The Steelers became just 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.
  • Roethlisberger became the second youngest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl, behind only Dan Marino, who led the Dolphins to Super Bowl XIX at age 23. He also became the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl (23 years, 11 months).
  • Hines Ward became only the second game MVP to have been born outside of the United States. Born in South Korea, he joins Canadian born Mark Rypien, MVP of Super Bowl XXVI.
  • Darrell Jackson tied Andre Reed's record for most receptions in the first quarter of a Super Bowl (five), though he did not catch any more passes in the rest of the game.
  • Mike Holmgren became the fifth coach to have taken two different teams to the Super Bowl, joining Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, and Dick Vermeil; none won the Super Bowl with each team.
  • The Steelers joined the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos as the only franchises to have qualified for six Super Bowls; the Broncos also have six appearances, while the Cowboys have eight.
  • The Steelers became only the third franchise to wear white jerseys 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. There have been several reasons stated as to why Pittsburgh decided to wear white, ranging from superstition (the Steelers had worn their white uniforms in each of their playoff wins since they were on the road in all three games) to an assertion attibuted to Cowher that the Steelers were playing in Detroit, not Pittsburgh, and therefore were not a "home" team.
  • The Steelers' catchphrase for the playoffs was "One for the Thumb," a reference to Pittsburgh's having four previous rings for their metaphorical fingers, and needing only one to fill out the hand (it was also season in which quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seriously hurt his thumb).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This was the first victory for an AFC team when the Super Bowl was on ABC. Previously, the NFC was 6-0 in such games, dating back to Super Bowl XIX in 1985.

Retrieved from ""