Super Bowl XLV preview in numbers

The Super Bowl in general

9 – Between them, the Pittsburgh Steelers (six) and Green Bay Packers (three) have won nine of the previous 44 Super Bowls. Pittsburgh have won more than any other team.

2 – Combined number of Super Bowl losses for the Steelers and Packers – one each.

4 – Super Bowl XLV marks only the fourth time that the top two teams in terms of fewest points allowed have met in the championship game, and the first time this has occurred for 28 years (also Super Bowls IV, VIII and XVII). Pittsburgh allowed a league-low 232 points; Green Bay 240.

0 – Number of times the Super Bowl has required an overtime period.

83,000 – Every member of the winning team will receive an individual prize of $83,000 per player. (Each player on the losing squad will receive $42,000.)

23 – The Super Bowl MVP award is most likely to be won by a quarterback, having been awarded to the passer on the winning team 23 times.

14 – The fastest touchdown in Super Bowl history was scored by the Chicago BearsDevin Hester, who returned the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown after just 14 seconds.

10 – Something to watch out for: the winner of all ten games so far this postseason has had more rushing attempts and more rushing yards than its opponent.

90 – Something else to watch out for: turnovers win Super Bowls. The combined turnover differential for the previous 44 Super Bowl-winning teams is +90 (141-51).

Green Bay and the Super Bowl

3-1 – Green Bay’s record in Super Bowls.

2 – The Packers won the first two Super Bowls, after which the trophy awarded to the winning team was named after their head coach, Vince Lombardi.

0.900Bart Starr, the Packers’ starting quarterback in Super Bowls I and II, has the highest winning percentage of any quarterback in NFL history, with a record of 9-1 (0.900).

31 – The Packers’ last NFL championship came in Super Bowl XXXI, when they defeated the New England Patriots 35-21. (They lost the following year’s Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos.)

98.4 – Quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ career passer rating – the highest in NFL history. (Steelers counterpart Ben Roethlisberger ranks eighth all-time.)

10 – The Packers are the tenth different team to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in the last ten seasons.

Pittsburgh Steelers and the Super Bowl

6-1 – Pittsburgh’s record in Super Bowls.

0.833 – Wuarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a career postseason record of 10-2 (0.833) as a starter, trailing only Bart Starr in terms of playoff win-loss percentage.

43 – The Steelers’ last NFL championship came in Super Bowl XLIII two years ago, when they defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.

36 – Age of head coach Mike Tomlin when he led Pittsburgh to victory in Super Bowl XLIII, making him the youngest Super Bowl-winning coach in NFL history. If the Steelers win tomorrow, Tomlin will also (at 38) become the youngest ever double Super Bowl-winning coach.

3 – The Steelers have a perfect 3-0 record when wearing their change uniform of white in Super Bowls.

For every winner there is a loser

14 – 14 of the NFL’s 32 teams have never won a Super Bowl.

4 – And four teams have never even played in a Super Bowl (Cleveland BrownsDetroit LionsHouston TexansJacksonville Jaguars).

4 – The Buffalo Bills are the only team to have reached four consecutive Super Bowls (XXV, XXVI, XXVII and XXVIII). They lost all four.

4 – The Minnesota Vikings have played in four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX and XI). Not only did they lose all four games, but they never held the lead at any point of any of those games.

The Super Bowl on TV

232 – This year’s Super Bowl will be broadcast in 232 countries and territories, in 34 different languages.

14 – Super Bowls account for 14 of the top 20 most watched television broadcasts of all time in the USA (in terms of number of households). Last year, 53.6 million US households watched the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts.

106.5 – In millions, the number of people who watched last year’s Super Bowl in the US alone, beating the previous record of 106 million who watched the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983.

3,000,000 – Cost in dollars of a prime 30-second advertising spot during the Super Bowl. This compares with a typical cost of up to $500,000 on any other night of the year

200,000 – Adjusted to today’s prices, the estimated cost of a similar 30-second ad spot during Super Bowl I.

104 – Last year’s Super Bowl featured 104 adverts combining for a total of 47 minutes and 50 seconds.

And finally …

10.1 – Estimated spending (in billions of dollars) in the US on Super Bowl-related merchandise, apparel and snacks – an average of $59.33 per consumer, according to a survey by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association.

2 – Americans consume more food on Super Bowl Sunday than on any day of the year other than Thanksgiving.

8,000,000 – Weight (in pounds) of popcorn consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.

28,000,000 – Weight (in pounds) of potato chips consumed.

10,000,000 – Number of man-hours spent preparing food for Super Bowl parties.

10,000,000 – Number of man-hours spent producing the movie Avatar.

7,000,000 – Estimated number of Americans who will fail to show up for work the day after the Super Bowl.

(Some statistics courtesy of and

Previous 2010 NFL playoff articles

NFL wild-card playoffs: Manning shows why he isn’t the greatest ever

NFL divisional playoffs: Quarterbacks and defenses key to Conference finalists

NFC Championship: ‘Freezer’ puts Bears on ice, Packers head for Super Bowl

AFC Championship: Steelers’ goalline stand denies Jets’ fightback

England’s World Cup: A statistical analysis

Since England‘s exit from the World Cup in the round-of-16, much has been written and said by journalists, pundits and the players themselves about what went wrong. Much of this has been based on observation and opinion, and informed by a tabloid feeding frenzy which has been as much about sensationalist headlines and selling newspapers as it has been about any kind of truth or accuracy.

Now that the dust has settled, I have done a statistical analysis of England’s performances at the tournament, with the aid of the statistics section of the FIFA website. So here is my analysis of England’s 2010 World Cup, based purely on the numbers. (Any numerical errors are strictly my fault!)


Played 4. Won 1, drew 2, lost 1. Goals for 3 (Gerrard, Defoe, Upson), Goals against 5.

Group phase: USA 1-1, Algeria 0-0, Slovenia 1-0.

Round-of-16: Germany 1-4.

England’s group stage results exactly mirrored their games in 1990, when they opened with a 1-1 draw against Ireland, then drew 0-0 against Holland before finally beating Egypt 1-0. Crucially, though, their results in 1990 were sufficient to win their group; this time around, Landon Donovan‘s last-gasp goal against Algeria meant the USA pipped England to top spot.

The less said about England’s second round exit, the better.


In attack, England struggled to score late in games, and particularly from distance. All three of their goals were scored from inside the penalty area – they were one of only 12 teams not to score a goal from outside the box – and all came in the first half of games (between the 4th and 36th minute).

Until the Germany game, they had not conceded a goal in the second half of their matches either, so you could have been forgiven for switching off all the group games at half-time – you wouldn’t have missed anything. Switching the TV off at half-time against Germany would probably have saved some pain too.

None of the other teams who reached the last 16 scored fewer goals than England.

Only one of England’s three goals came from open play: Steven Gerrard‘s 4th-minute goal in the opening game against the USA. After that, they went 356 minutes without another goal from open play. (Or, at least, none that was allowed …)


England did not have a problem creating chances. They had 65 shots in their four games, good enough for 9th overall. Their average of 16.25 shots per game was higher than all but six teams.

Frank Lampard - 16 shots, no goals

However, their goalscoring threat (such as it was) revolved primarily around three players. Frank Lampard (16), Gerrard (13) and Wayne Rooney (13) mustered 42 of England’s 65 shots between them – but only one goal. No other player had more than four efforts.

Their shooting accuracy was also excellent. Their 31 shots on target was joint-7th overall, and only Argentina achieved more shots on target per game. And they hit the target with 48% of their efforts – only Japan, Slovenia and Holland were more accurate.

Mind you, a few inches can make all the difference. England hit the woodwork three times – yes, one of them was that Lampard shot – the joint-highest total in the entire tournament.

In possession

English footballers are often accused of lacking technique compared to even relative minnows, but England were generally slightly better than average statistically. They were ninth overall in terms of passes attempted, passes successfully completed and completion percentage (73%).

Frank Lampard in particular was criticised for perceived poor performances, and the stats suggest there is some truth in that. From the centre of midfield, he attempted more passes (254) than any other England player and completed a decent 78% of his passes, but his passes were generally short and either sideways or backwards – he passed more to midfield colleagues Gerrard (36 times) and Gareth Barry (28) than any other, but notably also targeted Glen Johnson (23) more often than Wayne Rooney (20).

Steven Gerrard completed just 64% of his passes

By contrast, Gerrard made a similar number of passes (250), but completed only 64%, a poor ratio at first sight. But more of his passes were aimed forwards than Lampard’s – for instance, he passed to Rooney 29 times,versus just 17 for Ashley Cole. He also attempted more long passes (66) than anyone else, which helps explain his lower completion rate.

The highest pass completion rate for a non-defender belonged to Aaron Lennon (79%). By contrast Joe Cole, widely considered to be England’s most skilful user of the ball, completed just 50% of his 28 passes, the lowest rate in the team. By comparison, Spain’s average pass completion rate was 80%.

When in possession, they also averaged 14.8 solo runs per game to rank 13th (Spain led the way with 25.4 per game) and lost the ball 3.25 times per game in tackles, slightly worse than average (22nd). Arguably, this last number should be higher rather than lower, as teams which lost the ball more frequently than England tended to be among the most ambitious attacking sides: Spain, Brazil, Portugal and Chile, for instance. Both Lampard (12) and Gerrard (nine) made plenty of solo runs, with both full backs also offering support (Johnson six, Cole five).

Surprisingly, while England were the tournament leaders in terms of corners per game (8.75), they were only 10th-highest in terms of crosses per game (16.8). Whether this is a good or a bad thing is unclear – Spain and Germany were more prolific crossers of the ball, but so too were Italy, France, Greece and Algeria.

Our players were also proficient at getting the ball into the box, with 6.75 deliveries into the penalty area per game, the 7th-highest average. However, only one of the eight quarter-finalists (Spain) provided more penalty box deliveries per game, so perhaps patience rather than the direct approach is the way forward.

For a striker who leads the line, someone needs to teach Emile Heskey the offside rule. He was caught offside five times, versus just three for Rooney. Perhaps indicative of a lack of movement and ambition behind the strikers, no England midfielder or defender was caught offside during the tournament.

Overall, England mustered 62 attacks in their four games – at an average of 15.5 per game, only Spain and Italy were more prolific in this respect. Their attacks came from all over the pitch too: 19 from the left, 20 from the right and 23 centrally.

So the problem is not getting forward, or even creating chances, or even getting shots on target. It is about converting quantity into quality, turning attacks into goals.


England seemed to specialise in last-ditch defending, or at the very least an over-reliance on booting the ball clear from the back. As a team, they made 56 clearances, the 3rd-highest total in the entire tournament and the 5th-highest per game average behind four teams (Algeria, Slovenia, Nigeria and Switzerland), all of whom tellingly failed to survive the group phase.

Jamie Carragher won none of his five tackles

They are indisputably a much poorer team when they are not in possession. Despite a reputation for hard work and physicality, they were among the least effective tacklers at the World Cup. They attempted 30 tackles (joint-10th overall) but won the ball only seven times (joint-26th, and 15th among the 16 teams in the knockout stage).

Jamie Carragher attempted more tackles (five) than any other England player, but did not win possession once. Ashley Cole was the only player to win possession in a tackle more than once.

Overall, this suggests that England need to focus more on better positional and team defending and rely less on the blood-and-thunder glory of spectacular tackles.


England were not particularly ill-disciplined. Their six yellow cards ranked below the tournament average, and they were one of 20 teams not to have a man sent off.

They also committed just 51 fouls, which at an average of 12.75 per game was bettered by only four teams.

However, the perception that Glen Johnson has poor positional sense and tactical judgement seems justified. The right back committed 11 fouls – no one else had more than five – and was booked twice (Carragher was the only other player to see yellow twice).

Emile Heskey, the 335th-best player at the World Cup

Overall performance

According to the Castrol Index used to quantify overall player performance, Steven Gerrard was England’s best individual, ranking 39th. Only two others – Lampard (64th) and Johnson (78th) – featured in the top 100. Wayne Rooney was 130th; Emile Heskey 335th.

It is clear that England under-performed at the World Cup, both individually and collectively. But the fact they ranked as average or above average in many key statistical categories suggests that maybe things are not quite as bad as they seem. The challenge Fabio Capello and his coaching staff face is how to convert these largely encouraging – or, at least, not discouraging – stats into improvements in the only numbers that matter: the ones on the scoreboard. Over to you, Fabio.

The week in numbers: w/e 4/7/10

Roger Federer

2002 – The last year in which the Wimbledon men’s singles final did not feature Roger Federer.

148 – In mph, the fastest serve recorded in the men’s tournament, by American Taylor Dent. Venus Williams had the fastest serve in the women’s competition, at 128 mph.

75% – Exactly three-quarters (93) of the 124 completed matches in the ladies’ singles were won in straight sets.

129Serena Williams required a total of 129 games to win the ladies’ singles tournament, nine fewer than were played in the fifth set of the match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut alone.

516 – Williams spent a total of 516 minutes on court in her seven singles matches, which was just 25 minutes longer of the final set of Isner v Mahut, and 2 hours and 29 minutes less than that match in total.

100.1 – According to Sky TV’s speed gun, the speed of the fastest ball (in mph) bowled by Australia‘s Shaun Tait in Saturday’s one-day international against England.(Hawk-Eye measured the same ball at 97 mph, though.)

Fabian Cancellara

53.4 – In kph, the average speed of Fabian Cancellara, winner of the 8.9 km prologue time trial at the Tour de France on Saturday.

4 – It is the fourth time the time trial specialist Cancellara has won the opening stage of the Tour, and his third win in a row when the initial stage has been a short time trial (2007, 2009, 2010).

133 – There have been 133 goals in 60 games so far in the football World Cup, an average of 2.22 per game. If there are eight or fewer goals in the last four games of the tournament, it will be the lowest scoring World Cup in history in terms of average goals per game – currently the 1990 edition in Italy, which saw 142 goals at an average of 2.21 per game.

30.8% – Just 520 of 1689 shots so far in the World Cup have been on target, underlining the difficulties faced by attacking sides this summer.

(Some statistics courtesy of @optajim and Castrol Live Tracker.)

Tour de France preview, part 2: The Tour in numbers

Cycling, and the Tour de France in particular, is all about numbers. Body weight. Power output. VO2 max. Many of these numbers are irrelevant to all but the geekiest of fans, but they are all important in their own way – although none more so than the most critical number-keeper of them all: the clock.

At the end of 21 days of gruelling racing, the winner can expect to have spent over 80 hours racing at an average speed of around 41 kph (and a maximum of at least twice that on the fastest descents). At this pace, you would run the 100 metres nearly a second faster than Usain Bolt. (Slow-coach.)

Three weeks. Two wheels. One living hell. Welcome to Le Tour. Here are a few numbers to convey a brief history of this most challenging of races.

This year’s race

97 – This year sees the 97th running of the Tour de France.

3,642 – Total race distance (in kilometres).

21 – Days of racing, consisting of one prologue and twenty stages. There are also two rest days.

23 – There are 23 high mountain passes to negotiate (category two, one and hors catégorie).

2 – Number of times the Col du Tourmalet will be climbed, as part of a route which celebrates 100 years of racing in the Pyrenees.

2,115 – In metres, the height of the Tourmalet, the highest point on this year’s course.

227.5 – In kilometres, the longest stage on this year’s route, stage six from Montargis to Gueugnon.

13.15 – In kilometres, the total length of the seven cobbled sections which will provide the peloton with a unique and potentially hazardous challenge on stage three from Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut.

History of the race

Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong

1903 – The year of the first Tour de France.

56 – Number of different riders who have won the race, 20 of whom are multiple winners.

7 – Lance Armstrong holds the record for the most wins, winning seven consecutive races from 1999 to 2005.

8 – In seconds, the narrowest margin of victory, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon in 1989.

36 France has produced more race winners (36) than any other country, but none since Bernard Hinault‘s fifth win in 1985.

6 Erik Zabel has the most wins in the green jersey points competition, winning six times in a row from 1996 to 2001.

34 – Five-time winner Eddy Merckx holds the record for individual stage wins, with 34.

1 – Merckx is also the only man to win the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys in the same year (1969).

4 – Total number of deaths during the race. (1910: Adolphe Helière, drowned. 1935: Francisco Cepeda, plunged down a ravine. 1967: Tom Simpson, heart failure related to amphetamines. 1995: Fabio Casartelli, crashed on a descent.)

16Joop Zoetemelk holds the record for most race starts, with 16 starts. He won one Tour de France, was runner-up six times and – equally impressively – finished each of his 16 races.

3 – Only three times in the race’s history has a single rider led the race from start to finish, the last occasion being in 1935.

Runners and riders

Defending champion Alberto Contador

198 – The number of riders who will start the race, in 22 teams of nine.

35 – France is the most-represented country, with 35 starters. (Spain is just behind, with 32).

31 – In total, 31 countries are represented at this year’s Tour, including participants from Japan (Yukiya Arashiro), Lithuania (Ignatas Konovalovas) and New Zealand (Julian Dean).

1 – The race number which will be worn by defending champion Alberto Contador.

156 – The number of riders who finished the 2009 race (42 retirements).

10 – The winners of ten of the last eleven Tours – Armstrong (1999-2005), Contador (2007 and 2009) and Carlos Sastre (2008) – will line up on the start ramp in Rotterdam. (2006 winner Oscar Pereiro has been left out of Contador’s Astana squad.)

39Christophe Moreau, the oldest man in this year’s race, is nearly twice the age of Fabio Felline, who at 20 is the youngest.

Brits in the Tour

Mark Cavendish, seen here winning the final stage of the 2009 Tour

8 – Number of British riders competing in this year’s Tour, the most since 1968. (The Brits are David Millar, Jeremy Hunt, Daniel Lloyd, Charlie Wegelius, Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas.)

4 – Bradley Wiggins finished fourth in last year’s race, the joint-highest ever finish by a British rider (Robert Millar also finished fourth in 1984).

124 – Wiggins’s only other Tour finish came in 2006, when he finished a lowly 124th.

0 – Wiggins has never won a stage at the Tour.

10Mark Cavendish set a new record for Tour stage wins by a British rider (ten) last year, adding six victories to his four in 2008. He is among the favourites for this year’s green jersey.

4 – Four Brits have worn the yellow jersey at some stage during the Tour (although none have won): Tom Simpson (1962), Chris Boardman (1994, 1997, 1998), Sean Yates (1994) and David Millar (2000).

3 – The Tour has visited Britain three times: 1974, 1994 and 2007.

Watch out for my preview of the key riders (tomorrow) and the stages which will most likely determine the outcome of the race (Saturday), and keep reading here for regular race analysis as the Tour progresses. For the first part of my Tour preview, click on the link below:

Part 1: Who to support?

For full coverage of the Tour de France, I would recommend either the official website or alternatively as your one-stop shop for race reports, photos and videos.

World Cup second round: in numbers

Uruguay v South Korea

5South Korea are yet to beat a South American side at the World Cup in five attempts.

4Uruguay have had less than 45% of ball possession in all four of their games so far in this World Cup, but have nonetheless won three and drawn the other.

22Luis Suarez has been on the winning side in the last 22 games for club and country in which he has scored.

390 – Total minutes Uruguay had gone without conceding a World Cup goal until Lee Chung-Yong scored in Port Elizabeth. Before that, the last goal they had conceded was scored by Senegal‘s Papa Bouba Diop in 2002.

USA v Ghana

0 – Neither the USA nor Ghana had ever played extra time in a World Cup game before this match.

433Kevin Prince Boateng‘s fifth-minute goal brought to an end Ghana’s run of 433 minutes without a goal from open play at the World Cup. Their previous four goals in four games before that had come via the penalty spot.

3 – Ghana became only the third African side ever to reach the quarter-finals after Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002).

4Asamoah Gyan is only the second African player to score four goals at the World Cup after Cameroon’s Roger Milla (five).

206 – Despite winning Group C, the USA only led in games for a total of 206 seconds at this World Cup.

5Landon Donovan is now the all-time leading goalscorer for the USA at the World Cup, with five.

3 – Donovan had three shots on target at this World Cup – and scored from all three.

England v Germany

12Miroslav Klose scored his 12th World Cup goal, equalling Pelé.

3Germany ensured that David James‘s streak of never having kept three consecutive clean sheets for England continued.

2Matthew Upson’s two England goals have both come against Germany.

9Wayne Rooney has now failed to score in any of his last nine England games.

3 – England scored just three goals in South Africa, their lowest-scoring World Cup since 1950 (two).

43 – Yet again, on his 43rd cap, Jermain Defoe maintained the unenviable record of never having completed a full 90 minutes for England.

1966 – The last World Cup in which Germany failed to progress further in the competition than England.

1966 – The last time England won a game in which their opponent scored first was the 1966 World Cup final – against West Germany.

1990 – England have not come from behind to win a World Cup game since the 1990 quarter-final against Cameroon.

Argentina v Mexico

1Carlos Tevez scored Argentina‘s first goal from outside the box at the World Cup since Maxi Rodriguez‘s strike in 2006. That goal also came against Mexico.

24 – Mexico have lost a total of 24 World Cup games, more than any other country.

0 – Argentina have yet to draw a game under Diego Maradona.

8 – This game broke a run of eight World Cup knockout games in which Argentina had not won in the regulation 90 minutes (previously round-of-16 against Brazil, 1990).

10 – Argentina are currently on a run of 10 World Cup games without defeat, excluding penalty shootouts (seven wins, three draws).

Holland v Slovakia

4Holland have won four games in a row at the World Cup, equalling their best ever streak (in 1974).

23 – Holland are now unbeaten in 23 games, the longest run in their history.

4 – With four goals, Slovakia‘s Robert Vittek is tied for the lead in the Golden Boot competition.

Brazil v Chile

4.00 – Brazil’s 3-0 win means they have scored 28 goals in their last seven games against Chile in all competitions, an average of exactly four per game.

8Robinho has scored eight goals in six games against Chile.

Paraguay v Japan

0 – Before this game, neither Paraguay nor Japan had ever reached the quarter-finals.

0 – No Asian team has ever beaten a South American team at the World Cup.

750Roque Santa Cruz has now gone 750 minutes without scoring at the World Cup. His last goal was against South Africa in 2002.

7 – Paraguay are now unbeaten in their last seven World Cup games against non-European sides.

4 – Paraguay have failed to score on all four occasions they have reached the second round of the World Cup.

6 – Paraguay are the sixth successive team who have taken the first penalty in a World Cup shootout and gone on to win.

1 – This was the first time a World Cup game going to penalties had not involved at least one European team.

Spain v Portugal

51 – Tonight was Iker Casillas‘ 51st game as captain of his country, a Spanish record.

80% – Prior to tonight’s game, Portugal had kept 20 clean sheets in 25 games since the return of coach Carlos Queiroz.

8Xavi created eight goalscoring chances for Spain,  the joint-highest single game total in the tournament.

16 – It took 16 shots on target before Eduardo was finally beaten to concede Portugal’s first goal of the competition.

General statistics

7 – Seven of the eight group winners have qualified for the quarter-finals. The USA were the only ones to miss out.

3 – There are only three European teams in the last eight, the fewest ever.

2 – Number of teams who have won all four games so far during this tournament (Argentina, Holland).

2 – Number of knockout games (out of eight played so far) which have gone to extra time.

10 – Argentina are currently the top goalscorers in the competition, with 10 goals in four games.

75 – Argentina have recorded the most shots on target (75), one more than Brazil.

31 – Shots on target by England, more than any team other than Argentina (36).

67 – Of the eight quarter-finalists, Ghana have committed the most fouls, with 67.

113 – Total goals in the 48 matches comprising the group phase (an average of 2.35 per game). The tournament has picked up pace distinctly since the cagey opening round of games: a meagre 25 goals were scored in the first round, 42 in the second, and 46 in the final round.

13 – Lionel Messi has had 13 shots on target, more than any other player.

(Some stats courtesy of FIFA statisticsCastrol Live Tracker@optajoe@optajean,@StatManJohn and @castrolfootball.)

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