The Super Bowl is just 12 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 12 years ago to honor this not-so-significant occasion!
Detroit hosted Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006. The game pitted the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks against the Pittsburgh Steelers of the American Football Conference.
Seattle Seahawks 12 Years Ago
The Seahawks had reached a crossroads under head coach Mike Holmgren. Holmgren won the Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1996, but struggled to duplicate that success with the Hawks. In 2005, he put it altogether for one of the best seasons in franchise history. There were led on offense by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander. Seattle finished #1 in points scored. Alexander had one of the best seasons at the running back position in the history of football rushing for 1880 yards and scoring 28 total touchdowns.
After a week 4 overtime loss at Washington left the Seahawks at 2-2, they put together an 11-game winning streak. The defense featured an exciting young linebacker named Lofa Tatupu. Tatupu made the Pro Bowl, then played great in two playoff victories over the Redskins and Panthers respectively. Seattle overwhelmed Carolina limiting them to 18 minutes TOP, causing four turnovers and allowing only one third down conversion. The Seahawks qualified for their first ever Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers 12 Years Ago
Their opponent was no stranger to the Super Bowl. The Steelers won four World Championships in the 1970’s under Chuck Noll. They made another Super Bowl appearance in 1995 with Bill Cowher calling the shots.
The 2004 Steelers finished with a phenomenal 15-1 record but were defeated at home in the AFC championship game by the eventual Super Bowl winning Patriots. They came back in ’05 with high expectations but slumped during the midseason and fell behind the Bengals in the AFC North division. Pittsburgh’s strength was defense. Their most exciting player in ’05 was safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu combined tremendous range on the back end with excellent run stopping ability.
On offense, Pittsburgh featured #39 Willie Parker. Parker rushed for over 1200 yards and was supplemented by the power running game of veteran Jerome Bettis, otherwise known as “The Bus.” At wide receiver, the Steelers utilized possession men Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward.
Six Seed to Super Bowl
In the playoffs, Pittsburgh had to take the long route to the Super Bowl. As the #6 seed, they started by traveling to Cincinnati. The Bengals jumped out to a 17-7 lead. However, Carson Palmer got knocked out of the game with a knee injury. Consequently, the Steelers made the most of the opportunity knocking out their division rivals.
One week later, Pittsburgh was a big underdog against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. However, the Steelers dominated the first three quarters. The Colts woke up in the fourth and cut the lead to 21-18 with time running out. The Steelers were about to put the ball game away when Jerome Bettis fumbled at the Colts’ one. Nick Harper picked it up for Indy and had a great opportunity to return it all the way…until QB Ben Roethlisberger saved the day with a shoestring tackle. The Colts missed a game-tying field goal attempt and Pittsburgh dodged a huge bullet.
In the AFC championship game, the Steelers played a very good road playoff game at Denver. Roethlisberger threw for 275 yards and the Steelers were +4 in turnover differential. The almost perfect performance propelled Pittsburgh to their first Super Bowl in ten years.
Bad Night for Seahawks and Refs
The biggest news story heading into this game was: Jerome Bettis announced his retirement and would be playing his last game in his home town of Detroit. This was one Super Bowl game that lacked rhythm and overall excellence. Roethlisberger, for example, played terribly. But, he was saved by two long scoring plays. Parker dashed for a 75-yard run and Randle El hit Ward on a 43-yard touchdown pass.
Seattle was sloppy. Likewise, they committed a number of controversial penalties. Their only highlights came late in third quarter with a thrilling interception by Kelly Herndon followed by a touchdown reception by tight end Jerramy Stevens. Ironically, the lone touchdown-scorer Stevens dropped a bunch of passes on the evening.
So, the good news about this game was: Coach Cowher and future Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis each earned their only Super Bowl ring. Cowher coached one more year before giving way to Mike Tomlin. The Seahawks achieved their Super Bowl championship eight years later under Pete Carrol.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the great Peyton Manning’s first Super Bowl championship!
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills