Main event

Mon, Jan 30, 2006, 00:00

SUPER BOWL XL: What is it? The 40th running of the biggest annual sporting event in the United States.

When and where? The NFL season is all over bar the final game - plus the hype, parties and razzmatazz that invariably accompany it. After a 16-game season - followed by play-off rounds - all eyes (or, at least, all American eyes) will be on Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, next Sunday night (February 5th) for the meeting of the NFC and AFC champions.

So who's playing? Last week the Seattle Seahawks forced four turnovers - including three interceptions - on their way to a 34-14 win over the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game, earning their first trip to the Super Bowl. Earlier the same day, the Pittsburgh Steelers won a third straight play-off game on the road by defeating the Denver Broncos 34-17 in the AFC Championship tie, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for two touchdowns and running in another himself. The Steelers are hot favourites to secure their fifth Super Bowl - with the Seahawks surprising everyone, including most of their own fans, by reaching the final weekend.

Watching? The annual scramble for Super Bowl tickets is incredible - not even the race for All-Ireland tickets can compare. The lure of monopoly money for tickets must be tempting even for hard-core fans - the cheapest tickets we found online for next weekend's finale was $2,500, with a suite being offered for $204,000 (though we reckon you might be able to get them down to an even $200,000). Alternatively, and in the realm of reality, Kevin Cadle will present Sky Sports' live coverage from Michigan next weekend. Gabby Logan and Gary Imlach - with analysis by Martin Johnson - will host UTV's live show.

Recent Champions

XXXIX (2005)

New England 24 Philadelphia 21

XXXVIII (2004)

New England 32 Carolina 29

XXXVII (2003)

Tampa Bay 48 Oakland 21

XXXVI (2002)

New England 20 St Louis 17

XXXV (2001)

Baltimore 34 NY Giants 7

XXXIV (2000)

St Louis 23 Tennessee 16