Super Bowl 40 will be played at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday and it is a battle of firsts. The American Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers are the first sixth-seed to ever play for the National Football League's top prize, while the National Conference's top-seeded Seattle Seahawks are making their first trip to the big game in franchise history.
The Steelers are the first team in more than 20 years to win three road games in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. They beat the three top seeds to give Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher the chance for his first victory at the big game, since his team lost to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 30.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren is making his third trip to the Super Bowl, after winning one and losing one when he coached the Green Bay Packers. He is trying to become the first coach to win a Super Bowl with two different teams.
Seattle advanced to its first Super Bowl appearance in the franchise's 30-year history by routing the Carolina Panthers 34-14 in the NFC title game. Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck says he is thrilled.
"This is obviously an exciting time for us," he said. "If you have looked around our roster, very few of us have had the opportunity to be a part of a Super Bowl and to be a part of this kind of international media attention. And we are soaking it all in. We are having fun and it has been very exciting."
Pittsburgh overwhelmed the Denver Broncos, 34-17, to win the AFC Championship. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wants to make the most of his first Super Bowl appearance.
"I am not going to take this for granted. This may be the only time I get to sit in front of you guys [for a Super Bowl]," he said. "So I am going to savor every moment of it. Hopefully I will get another chance, but I am really looking forward to this one right now."
But the deciding factor in what is expected to be a close Super Bowl game could be Pittsburgh's desire to win for running back and inspirational leader Jerome Bettis. He is expected to retire after finishing his 13th season in the Super Bowl, which is being played in his hometown of Detroit. Steelers coach Bill Cowher explains.
"He has been an inspiration for our football team and we want to send him off," he explained. "He came back for one more year and we talked about the Detroit thing, but that really had been put aside. But it is very fitting that we are going back to his hometown."
A Super Bowl ring in his hometown might be the perfect retirement gift for the man nicknamed "The Bus." And right now, the experts agree. Pittsburgh is a four-point favorite.