Let's Learn From the Past: Super Bowl XL
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The Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls in six years in the 1970s, but it took the franchise another 26 years before capturing the elusive "one for the thumb."
After a mediocre 7-5 start to the 2005 season, the Steelers won their last four regular season games, earning a Wild Card spot in the playoffs as the sixth and final seed in the AFC.
The underdog Steelers opened the playoffs with a 31-17 win at division rival Cincinnati on Wild Card weekend.
The following Sunday, the Steelers traveled to Indianapolis to take on the top-ranked Colts. Pittsburgh held on to a two-touchdown first-quarter lead, winning the game 21-18, despite the Colts' 15 fourth-quarter points.
In the AFC Championship at Denver, the Steelers' winning ways continued as they topped the Broncos 34-17, earning a trip to Super Bowl XL and a match up against the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.
Although Detroit's Ford Field played host to the Super Bowl, the Steelers felt right at home. The Steelers Nation made its presence felt, as thousands of Steelers fans made the trip, and the game had the highest television ratings for a Super Bowl since the Steelers' previous appearance in 1996.
The highly anticipated game got off to a slow start, with the lone first quarter points coming from a Seattle field goal. The Steelers offense failed to gain a first down throughout the first quarter, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed just one pass for one yard.
But the Steelers took a 7-3 lead late in the second quarter when Roethlisberger faked a handoff on a third-and-goal situation and dove into the end zone.
Two plays into the second half, Steelers running back Willie Parker broke loose for a Super Bowl record 75-yard touchdown run, and Pittsburgh never looked back.
Each team scored once more, but the Steelers prevailed 21-10, becoming the first team in NFL history to win three road playoff games and win the Super Bowl.
Visitors can learn more about the Steelers' Super Bowl legacy as part of the Heinz History Center's blockbuster exhibition, "Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame." This weekend marks the last chance for visitors to see the exhibit, which features more than 200 football artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame collections, exclusive videos from the vaults of NFL Films and a special section on the Steelers and football in Western Pennsylvania.
-- By Brady Smith, History Center communications manager
First Published January 3, 2013 12:00 am