Friday, February 03, 2006

A By-The-Roman-Numerals Look At Super Bowl XL

I   Number of Super Bowl appearances Seattle will have made after Sunday, in its XXXth season.  Just III more decades until the next one!


II   Teams in this game who lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars this season.  Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio has denied reports that he will try to claim the Lombardi Trophy after the game.


III   NFC teams who have not reached the Super Bowl, now that the Seahawks have done so.  The others (Detroit, Arizona, New Orleans) have all hosted the big event, minimizing the threat of a participant having home-field advantage.


IV   Super Bowl championships won by the Steelers, including II during the Ford presidency.  No wonder Pittsburgh is favored to win at Ford Field.


V   Consecutive years in which the Steelers played the Raiders in the playoffs, from the MCMLXXII through MCMLXXVI seasons.  The first contest featured the Immaculate Reception, as the Virgin Mary scored the winning touchdown.


VI   Pittsburgh’s seed in the AFC playoffs.  The Steelers failed to make the Super Bowl as the I seed last year, so they wisely won IV fewer games this season.


VII   Pro Bowls for Hall of Fame Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent, who later represented Oklahoma for VIII years in Congress.  Ugly partisan politics on Capitol Hill were nothing compared to facing the Raiders twice a year.


VIII   Postseason touchdown receptions for Hall of Fame Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann.  Like Largent, Swann is entering the political field as a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.  He has publicly rebuked incumbent Ed Rendell for his stone hands and lack of breakaway speed.


IX   Completions for Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw in each of the Steelers’ first II Super Bowl victories.  The running game was more prominent back then, plus Bradshaw had to share snaps with James Brown, Howie Long, and Jimmy Johnson.


X   Home wins without a loss, including the playoffs, for the Seahawks this season.  Also the name of a popular Pearl Jam album.  By law, any column by a non-Seattle resident that discusses the city must include a reference to grunge music.


XI   Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s position in the first round of the MMIV NFL draft.  VII spots behind another quarterback, Philip Rivers, who has seen less action than Steve Carell’s character before the chest-waxing.


XII   “Man” represented by the Seahawks fans, drawing the wrath of Texas A&M.  The school has filed suit, claiming the rights to the “XIIth Man” phrase.  The Aggies sneaked that extra guy onto the field against Texas – the only way they could keep the score respectable.


XIII   Completions in Green Bay for Matt Hasselback during two seasons as Brett Favre’s backup.  The stress from knowing he had no chance to move up with the Packers caused his hair to fall out.


XIV   Seasons Bill Cowher has been the head coach of the Steelers – longest among active NFL coaches.  Clearly the front office is too lazy to conduct a search for a new guy.


XV   Finalists for this year’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Inductees will be announced in Detroit on Saturday.  Shockingly, the finalists include Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson.


XVI   Seahawks’ coach Mike Holmgren’s place on the NFL’s all-time regular season victories list.  Alphabetically among all-time coaches, Holmgren comes right behind Bob Hollway, whose career consisted of consecutive IV-IX-I campaigns with the St. Louis Cardinals.  The men who hired Hollway were looking for someone with consistency.


XVII   A guaranteed losing number for these teams.  Pittsburgh allowed this many points in playoff victories over Cincinnati and Denver, and scored this many in an earlier loss to Jacksonville.  Seattle tallied this number twice – in setbacks to Washington and Green Bay.  If either team has X points and scores a touchdown, expect a II-point conversion attempt.


XVIII   Years that Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has owned the Portland Trail Blazers.  Bail payments for players have dropped him a few spots on Forbes’ world’s richest people list.


XIX   Losses for North Carolina in the MMII and MMIII seasons.  Those were the junior and senior years for running back Willie Parker, who rarely saw action.  Now he’s starting for the Steelers in the Super Bowl.  Maybe, just maybe, he could have done okay against Duke.


XX   Ounces in a venti-sized Starbucks coffee.  The law regarding Seattle-related articles, noted in item X above, also holds for Starbucks references.


XXI   Years, before this season, since Seattle had won a playoff game.  The Seahawks faded away at about the same time as Wham! did.  Unlike Andrew Ridgeley, they have returned.


XXII   Consecutive wins for rookie Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu to finish his USC career.  Once they rid themselves of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, they could finally win national championships.


XXIII   Points for Seattle, to XVI for Pittsburgh, in the last matchup between these teams in MMIII.  The Steelers still have not recovered from the loss.


XXIV   Points scored by Pittsburgh running back Franco Harris, on IV touchdowns, in his Super Bowl appearances.  Franco played half a season in Seattle to finish his career, so it’s hard to know who he’ll pull for on Sunday.


XXV   Career passing attempts for backup Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace.  So if Hasselback goes down with an injury, you’ll never notice the difference.


XXVI   Points allowed by the Steelers in a regular season loss at Indianapolis.  Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt converted on all IV field goal attempts, proving that he’s totally money against Pittsburgh.


XXVII   All-time playoff wins for Pittsburgh.  But their first postseason game, in MCMXLVII, was a loss to the Eagles.  And for these Steelers, it still stings.


XXVIII   Record number of touchdowns scored by Seattle running back Shaun Alexander in the regular season.  As a result, Alexander received a record number of marriage proposals from fantasy football owners.


XXIX   Years since ABC commentator John Madden coached the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl title.  Sportswriters were up in arms, as the MVP was Fred Biletnikoff, years before the use of spell-check.


XXX   Seconds in a standard commercial.  When everyone at the party is actually paying attention to the screen – even the people who think that a slant pattern has something to do with draperies.


XXXI   NFL teams who will envy Sunday’s winner.  But at least they won’t be tied up with those parades, trips to Disney World, talk shows, etc.


XXXII   Team-record touchdowns thrown by Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg in MCMLXXXIV.  He only trailed Dan Marino by XVI that season.


XXXIII   Yards Dallas cornerback Larry Brown returned an interception to set up the clinching touchdown in a XXVII - XVII Cowboys victory in Super Bowl XXX – Pittsburgh’s last appearance in the big game.  Brown was named Super Bowl MVP and paid tribute to his NBA namesake by switching teams in the offseason.


XXXIV   Points scored by both Pittsburgh and Seattle in their conference championship games.  Adding in the XIV tallied by Carolina against the Seahawks, those III teams outscored Kobe Bryant by I point that day.


XXXV   Points scored by Pittsburgh in a playoff-clinching victory over Detroit in the season finale.  Although the game was in Pittsburgh, fans in the Motor City booing Lions president Matt Millen could still be heard.


XXXVI   Uniform number of Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis.  Rumor has it, Bettis is a Detroit native, but no one has mentioned it this week.


XXXVII   Age of Seattle punter Tom Rouen, the oldest player on either roster.  But since punters get so much media attention, you already knew that.


XXXVIII   Victories, against only VI losses, for the Detroit Pistons thus far.  So in addition to the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals will likely be contested in Motown this year.  Don’t hold your breath on the World Series.


XXXIX   Total points scored in Seattle’s first victory of the season – a XXI – XVIII triumph over Atlanta in Week II.  Michael Vick was distracted during the game by repeated calls from his brother’s attorney.


XL   Extra point attempts, without a miss, for Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed during last year’s regular season.  He was also perfect on XLV attempts this season.  So if he happens to miss one on Sunday, Steelers fans will surely let him slide.