26. Super Bowl XL, 2006: Pittsburgh 21—Seattle 10
After thirty years in the league the Seahawks made their first Super Bowl appearance, only to be beaten by one of the NFL’s long standing royals in Pittsburgh. Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won a championship in only his second season, while long time coach Bill Cowher shrugged off years of post-season frustration to finally earn a championship ring.
Competitiveness: 7 out of 10. In what was largely a hard-nosed, defensive struggle neither team appeared superior for any length of time. The Steelers led 7-3 at half and finally turned the game permanently in their favor with a wide receiver option pass by multi-threat wideout Antwaan Randle El. A few calls here and there and the result could certainly have been different.
Star Power: 5 out of 10. Roethlisberger has grown into semi-legendary status, but he was a young, unproven commodity at the time. Jerome Bettis was an excellent back playing in his final game but hardly a transcendent star. Cowher and Seahawks’ coach Mike Holmgren were both fine football men, but not exactly luminaries.
Controversy/Intrigue: 9 out of 10. Criticism was severe following what was arguably the most poorly officiated Super Bowl in history. The referees appeared to miss several calls, most of which impacted the Seahawks and may have cost them the game. Holmgren complained bitterly that his team was tasked with beating both the Steelers and the referees.
Aftermath: 8 out of 10. The Steelers restored the Pittsburgh dynasty and Jerome Bettis retired a champion in his hometown. Bill Cowher cemented his coaching legacy and lasted one more year before retiring and handing the reins over to the very able Mike Tomlin. Holmgren failed to win a championship in Seattle, but established the Seahawks as viable contenders, previewing their current run amongst the NFL’s elite.
Aggregate Score: 29 out of 40.
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