Days Until Super Bowl LIII From December 22: 43
The tension was palpable inside Detroit’s Ford Field as the Pittsburgh Steelers were desperately protecting a 14-10 lead over the Seattle Seahawks at Super Bowl XL. Nails were bitten to the quick as the Seahawks closed in on the Pittsburgh end zone, but Ike Taylor’s interception on the 5-yard line allowed fans to breathe a sigh of relief. Four plays later, the Steelers ran a wide receiver reverse and Antwaaan Randle El found himself in possession of the football with 8:56 remaining on the clock.
Everyone expected him to run with it, but Randle El had other ideas. He played as a quarterback while in college and he surprised the Seahawks by launching a 43-yard pass up to Hines Ward, who caught it in the end zone to seal the game for the Steelers. Cue pandemonium across Pittsburgh.
Ward walked off with the MVP award after catching five passes for 123 yards as the Steelers justified their status as 4-point favorites. Randle El also went down in history as it was the first time a wide receiver threw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl. It saw the Steelers tie the 49ers and Cowboys as the most successful team in Super Bowl history, with five wins, and they won a sixth in the 2008 season to move out in front.
However, Super Bowl XL will also be remembered for one an officiating controversy that saw several big decisions go against the Seahawks. Referee Bill Leavy and his crew were accused of ruining the game with their incompetence, and Seattle head coach said: “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.’
In a visit to the Seahawks’ pre-season camp three years later, Leavy admitted the game still gives him sleepless nights and said he will go to his grave wishing he had been better. Yet anyone that backed the Steelers to cover the spread would have toasted Leavy and his team after they cashed in following Hines’ historic reception.