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american football

Clash of the titans

AN ESTIMATED worldwide TV audience in excess of one billion viewers followed the climax of the American Football season, Superbowl XL, last Sunday night.

Facing each other in Detroit were the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, the latter making their first ever appearance in a final. On all the evidence prior to the game, the Steelers were the overwhelming favourites. Formed in 1933, the team had previously taken the sport’s most coveted trophy on four occasions, in 1975, 76, 79 and 1980.

In addition, they saw off two of this season’s outstanding teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts, during the Wild Card and play-off deciders. In contrast, the Seahawks have only held a franchise since 1976, reaching the season-ending play-offs six times. They overcame the Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers to reach the final. The encounter promised a fascinating comparison between veteran Steelers running-back, Jerome Bettis, the NFL’s fifth all-time leading rusher, and the Seahawk’s Shaun Alexander.

A record 27 touchdowns during the regular season meant that Alexander was awarded player of the year. Defence dominated the game, with Pittsburgh coming out on top, winning 21-10. Wide receiver Hines Ward provided the highlight of the encounter with a burst down the flank, leading to the decisive touchdown.  

Stevie Wonder provided the principal entertainment before the game, while the Rolling Stones rocked the crowd during the interval. Such is the event’s stature, advertisers like Pepsi-Cola and Burger King paid in excess of two million euros for a 30-second TV add. A truly American extravaganza!