It’s officially Super Bowl week and Super Bowl LVIII figures to be an instant classic between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. However, in the previous 57 Super Bowls, we have truly seen it all: miraculous comebacks, heart-wrenching defeats, unwatchable blow-outs and A LOT of Tom Brady. Let’s take a trip down memory lane as we rank all 57 Super Bowls from worst to best.
57. Super Bowl XLVIII — Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos
Result: Seattle 43, Denver 8
Entering Super Bowl XLVIII, one question was on everybody’s mind — which unit will prevail, Seattle’s defense or Denver’s offense?
Seattle boasted the league’s top defense in 2013. The Seahawks allowed less than 275 yards per game and surrendered 14.4 PPG, and finished with 39 takeaways — pacing the league in all three categories. Offensively, Denver led the NFL in yards per game (457.3) and PPG (37.9). Seattle destroyed Denver from the opening moments of the game. The Seahawks raced out to a 22-0 lead at halftime, and extended their lead to 36-0 in the third quarter. Peyton Manning’s offense had zero answers for Seattle’s historic defense. The result? The worst Super Bowl of all-time.
56. Super Bowl IV — Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings
Result: Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7
Fun fact, Super Bowl IV was the final championship game played between an NFL team (Minnesota) and a team from the AFL (Kansas City). Both teams entered the contest on a high. Minnesota handled Cleveland 27-7 to reach the Super Bowl, while Kansas City upended the vaunted Raiders 17-7 in the AFL Championship. The Vikings entered the heavy favorite, but the Chiefs quickly asserted their dominance over the NFL’s best team. The Chiefs led 16-0 at halftime and never let the Vikings back in the game. The 12-point underdogs won without breaking a sweat.
55. Super Bowl LIII — New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams
Result: New England 13, Los Angeles 3
For the most part, teams led by Tom Brady played in very entertaining Super Bowls. However, Brady’s final Super Bowl appearance with the Patriots was an absolute snoozer. To reach the big game, New England scored 41 and 37 points in its two previous wins. Los Angeles’ offense was second in the NFL in PPG and YPG. However, both offenses were shutdown in this matchup. LA’s Todd Gurley was slowed by a balky knee and was held to 35 rushing yards. Tom Brady and Jared Goff combined to throw zero touchdowns and two interceptions (one apiece). It wasn’t until the 7:00 mark that New England scored the game’s only touchdown. Disappointing, underwhelming, boring…dreadful.
54. Super Bowl XXIV — San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos
Result: San Francisco 55, Denver 10
Joe Montana’s fourth and final Super Bowl with the Niners sure was special. San Francisco entered the 1989 season as the defending champion, and Montana and Co. weren’t going to let anyone take over the top spot. The Niners finished the regular season 14-2 and dismantled its two NFC opponents to reach the Super Bowl — beating Minnesota 41-13 and the Rams 30-3. Led by John Elway, the Broncos were in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years. In this lopsided affair, Elway went 10-of-26 for 108 yards and threw two interceptions. Meanwhile, Montana was unstoppable — tossing five TD passes, three of which were caught by Jerry Rice. San Francisco also won the turnover battle 4-to-0. Denver never had a chance.
53. Super Bowl LV — Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Result: Tampa Bay 31, Kansas City 9
Tom Brady’s first year in Tampa Bay ended with the QB winning his seventh Super Bowl. The showdown could have been epic. The game’s greatest QB of all-time (Brady) squaring off against the reigning Super Bowl champs and its MVP QB — Patrick Mahomes. While Tampa Bay had to win three road games to reach the Super Bowl, Kansas City took care of business at home following a 14-2 regular season. Unfortunately, the matchup failed to live up to the hype. Tampa Bay’s defense stifled Mahomes and the Chiefs — forcing two interceptions and holding KC to just three field goals. A historic showdown, sure. A massive letdown, absolutely.
52. Super Bowl XI — Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings
Result: Oakland 32, Minnesota 14
Between 1967-1975, the Raiders reached the AFL/AFC Championship seven times. In those seven appearances, the Raiders went 1-6 — and would go on to lose the Super Bowl following their one triumph. After years of failing on the biggest stage, the Raiders reached the mountain top in ’76. Led by All-Pros Ken Stabler, Cliff Branch and Dave Casper, the Raiders finished the year 16-1 and pulverized the Vikings in the Super Bowl. Leading 26-7 in the fourth quarter, Hall of Famer Willie Brown put the final nail in Minnesota’s coffin when he returned an interception 75 yards to the house.
51. Super Bowl VIII — Miami Dolphins vs. Minnesota Vikings
Result: Miami 24, Minnesota 7
On the previous slide, we looked at Minnesota’s loss in Super Bowl XI. Unfortunately, the Vikings ran into another juggernaut three years earlier, in 1973 — the Miami Dolphins. One year prior, the Dolphins completed the NFL’s first and only undefeated season. In ’73, Miami went 12-2 in the regular season and cruised to the Super Bowl. The Vikings also finished 12-2 and toppled Washington and Dallas to reach the Super Bowl. In the big game, Miami ran all over the Vikings. Hall of Famer Larry Csonka rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, while QB Bob Griese attempted a mere seven passes. The Dolphins led 24-0 in the fourth quarter — Minnesota’s Fran Tarkenton scrambled for the team’s lone score.
50. Super Bowl XXXV — Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Giants
Result: Baltimore 34, New York 7
After the NFC Championship, fans of the New York Giants had to be feeling pretty good. New York obliterated the Vikings 41-0 — extending its winning streak to seven games — to book its ticket to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Giants had the script flipped on them in the Super Bowl. Facing a Baltimore defense that allowed 10.3 PPG, the Giants struggled to move the ball all night. Baltimore’s historic defense, featuring Ray Lewis, held the Giants to 152 total yards and forced five turnovers. The Ravens scored on a pick-six and a kickoff return. Poor Giants.
49. Super Bowl IX — Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Result: Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6
A hat trick for the Minnesota Vikings — this is already the third time we have talked about the Vikes losing in the Super Bowl. A year after losing to the fantastic Dolphins, Minnesota went 10-4 in the regular season and outlasted the Cardinals and Rams to return to the Super Bowl. Naturally, the Vikings were met by a budding dynasty. Led on offense by Franco Harris and an emerging Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers finished with the league’s sixth-best offense. Pittsburgh was even better on defense (13.5 PPG), and it showed in the Super Bowl.
The Steelers led 2-0 at halftime and ultimately put the game away late in the fourth on a Bradshaw TD pass. Overall, Harris rushed for 158 yards and a score. Defensively, Pittsburgh intercepted three passes and held the Vikings to just 119 yards. A dynasty was born on this night — the Steelers would go on to win a total of four rings in six years.
48. Super Bowl XXIX — San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers
Result: San Francisco 49, San Diego 26
How do you replace a Hall of Fame quarterback (Joe Montana) who led your franchise to four Super Bowl victories in the 1980s? If you are the 49ers, you simply insert another Hall of Fame QB. In 1994, Steve Young won his second MVP in three years — he finished second the other year — and led San Francisco to a 13-3 regular season. In the postseason, Young’s offense scored 44, 38, and 49 points in the Niners’ three wins. In the Super Bowl, Young torched the Chargers…to put it lightly. Young finished with 325 yards and six touchdowns. Jerry Rice put together another historic Super Bowl performance of his own — hauling in 10 catches for 149 yards and three TDs. Thanks for showing up, Chargers.
47. Super Bowl XII — Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos
Result: Dallas 27, Denver 10
The two top seeds from each conference matched up in Super Bowl XII when the NFC representative Dallas Cowboys faced off with the AFC champion Denver Broncos. Both teams entered the matchup 14-2 on the season (including playoffs). However, the odds were starkly in Dallas’ favor. The Cowboys boasted one of the most stacked rosters in NFL history. It included seven future Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame coach.
The Cowboys took a 13-0 lead into the second half and never relented. Dallas made it especially difficult for Denver’s passing game to get going. Broncos QB Craig Morton posted arguably the worst performance in Super Bowl history. Morton went 4-for-15 for 39 yards and four interceptions while recording a staggering 0.0 QB rating.
46. Super Bowl XLI — Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears
Result: Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17
Super Bowl XLI started off with a bang. All-time great return man Devin Hester took the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score. The favored Colts quickly responded when Peyton Manning delivered a 53-yard strike to Reggie Wayne. Game on…or so we thought. After all, there are only so many fireworks to be had when one team is quarterbacked by Rex Grossman.
The Bears offense predictably stalled as Manning marched to his first career Super Bowl victory. Chicago had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Grossman tossed a pick-six to Colts defensive back Kelvin Hayden. Hester, Grossman, and a whole lot of field goals were the highlights of this convincing Colts win.
45. Super Bowl XVIII — Los Angeles Raiders vs. Washington Redskins
Result: Los Angeles 38, Washington 9
It’s difficult to get excited about a blowout, especially when one offense looks completely lifeless. This was the case in Super Bowl XVIII — which featured a dominant Raiders defense completely blanketing a Joe Theismann-led attack. Theismann ended the game 16-for-35 for 243 yards and two INTs. Washington managed to reach the end zone just once all game.
The Raiders held a 21-3 lead going into the second half while having scored just one offensive touchdown. The other two scores included a blocked punt and an interception return. Marcus Allen’s dazzling 74-yard scamper in the third quarter provided a jolt of excitement in an otherwise ho-hum affair.
44. Super Bowl XXVII — Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills
Result: Dallas 52, Buffalo 17
The Bills stooped to an all-time low with their third consecutive Super Bowl defeat. Their first two trips to the Super Bowl didn’t go as planned, but the Bills were at least competitive in those matchups. After Buffalo took a 7-0 lead with a Thurman Thomas run in Super Bowl XXVII, it was all Cowboys from then on. Dallas took an 18-point lead into half, and never took their foot off the gas pedal.
Dallas scored 21 fourth quarter points in less than three minutes to seal the deal. Buffalo’s collapse was unsettling to watch. Bills QB Jim Kelly was lost for the game in the second quarter and was replaced by Frank Reich. The pair of Buffalo QB’s each tossed two interceptions to go along with five lost fumbles for a total of nine turnovers forced by Dallas’ defense.
43. Super Bowl XX — Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots
Result: Chicago 46, New England 10
In one of the more famous lopsided outcomes in Super Bowl history, the 1985 Chicago Bears put an exclamation mark at the end of a magical season with a 46-10 rout of the New England Patriots. Chicago was locked in on both sides of the ball. There aren’t a lot of teams in NFL history that could have competed with the Bears’ roster from top-to-bottom. The Pats actually jumped out to a 3-0 lead in this one after Walter Payton fumbled on the second play of the game. Chicago quickly responded by putting up 44 in a row. Patriots’ quarterbacks Steve Grogan and Tony Eason were sacked a total of seven times, while the Bears defense forced six turnovers.
42. Super Bowl XXII — Washington Redskins vs. Denver Broncos
Result: Washington 42, Denver 10
For a moment, it looked like the favored Broncos were well on their way to an emphatic victory in Super Bowl XXII. Then, the second quarter happened. The Washington offense, led by QB Doug Williams, erupted for 35 points (and 356 total yards) in the second frame.
Williams tossed four touchdowns in that quarter alone, while running back Timmy Smith added in a 58-yard TD run of his own. While the second quarter may have been worth the price of admission (for Washington fans, at least), the excitement of the game had been neutralized. The outcome of the game had been sealed. John Elway tossed three picks in a dismal performance.
41. Super Bowl VI — Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
Result: Dallas 24, Miami 3
Not a whole lot of offense to speak of in Super Bowl VI. The Cowboys dominated this game from start to finish as Dallas secured its first title in team history. By holding the Dolphins to just 3 points, Dallas became the first team to hold its opponent to zero touchdowns in a Super Bowl. That feat would not be matched for another 47 years.
Cowboys QB Roger Staubach wasn’t asked to do much, but his 119 yards and two touchdowns were enough to earn himself the Super Bowl MVP. A devastating loss for a Miami team making its first Super Bowl appearance in team history, but it wouldn’t take them too long to make a return…
40. Super Bowl VII — Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins
Result: Miami 14, Washington 7
It wasn’t pretty, but the Dolphins put a stamp on the only undefeated season in NFL history with a 14-7 win over Washington in the Super Bowl. Just as they did all year, Miami leaned on its stable of rushers to lead the offense. Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Mercury Morris combined for 184 yards while QB Bob Griese was asked to throw the ball just 11 times. The only score for Washington came on the defensive side of the ball in the form of a fumble return touchdown. It remains the only game in Super Bowl history in which the team that won the time of possession margin managed to not score a single point on offense.
39. Super Bowl XIX — San Francisco 49ers vs. Miami Dolphins
Result: San Francisco 38, Miami 16
It doesn’t get much better than Montana versus Marino. Billed as one of the great QB battles in Super Bowl history, XIX failed to live up to the hype. After a tightly-contested first quarter which saw both quarterbacks toss a touchdown pass, the game titled vastly in San Francisco’s favor. The Dolphins fought back to make it a 12-point game by halftime, but the second half was all 49ers.
San Francisco’s stout defense blanked Marino and Miami’s offense for the final 30 minutes of the game. With all of the pregame talk concerning the two Hall of Fame gunslingers, it was the rushing attack that ended up being the difference. The 49ers outrushed the Dolphins 211 to 25.
38. Super Bowl XXX — Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Result: Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17
For all Cowboys fans who are old enough to remember, cherish this memory fondly. Super Bowl XXX was the last time America’s Team made it to the big game. A third Super Bowl appearance in four years, the Cowboys were unofficially deemed a dynasty by this point. The team’s third victory didn’t come as easily as the first two. The Steelers cut the deficit to just three points with 6:36 remaining. Throughout the game, Pittsburgh moved the ball seamlessly, but it was Dallas’ defense that came up with a few big plays that turned the tide. Following Neil O’Donnell’s third interception of the night, Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith iced the contest with a game-clinching touchdown.
37. Super Bowl LVI — Los Angeles Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Result: Los Angeles 23, Cincinnati 20
Super Bowl LVI featured Matthew Stafford in his debut year with the Los Angeles Rams taking on Joe Burrow and the upstart Bengals. Much like the Bucs the previous season, the Rams had the fortune of this game taking place at their home stadium (SoFi Stadium), and for the second year in a row, the home-field advantage proved to be enough. It wasn’t the prettiest game by any means, featuring some disjointed offense on both sides, with the Bengals turning it over on downs twice and two Stafford interceptions.
Down 20-16 with six minutes left, the defining drive culminated with Stafford connecting with wide receiver Cooper Kupp for a touchdown with 90 seconds left. Kupp, who had an outstanding season, continued his season-long dominance with 8 receptions for 92 yards and the crucial touchdown, earning him the Super Bowl MVP honors.
36. Super Bowl II — Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders
Result: Green Bay 33, Oakland 14
The Green Bay Packers returned to the Super Bowl in 1968. Waiting for them was a different foe from the AFL. The 13-1 Oakland Raiders were coming off a dominant 40-7 victory over the Houston Oilers in the AFL Championship. While the Raiders boasted an impressive resume, the Packers showed why they were still atop the football world. Green Bay kicked a field goal in the first quarter, and never relinquished the lead. It was a 33-7 Packers advantage before Raiders QB Daryle Lamonica threw a late touchdown to cut the lead to 19. Green Bay became back-to-back Super Bowl champions, and QB Bart Starr was named the game’s MVP for the second consecutive season.
35. Super Bowl XV — Oakland Raiders vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Result: Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10
Things can change in a hurry in the NFL. The Eagles found that to be true in Super Bowl XV. Entering the game as a heavy favorite, Philadelphia quickly dug themselves into a hole versus the underdog Raiders. Led by veteran QB Jim Plunkett, the Raiders boasted a highflying offense which featured speedster wideout Cliff Branch. The Oakland duo connected on a pair of touchdown passes as the Raiders notched 27 points versus the Eagles No. 1 ranked scoring defense. Eagles QB Ron Jaworski aided the Raiders’ efforts by tossing three interceptions. Oakland won the turnover battle 4-0, and dominated the game from start to finish.
34. Super Bowl XXI — New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos
Result: New York 39, Denver 20
Giants QB Phil Simms had one of the great quarterback performances in Super Bowl history. Going up against a Broncos defense which featured two Pro Bowl cornerbacks, Simms was nearly perfect in Super Bowl XXI. The now-broadcaster completed 22-of-25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns (and zero turnovers). After entering halftime facing a 10-9 deficit, the Giants rallied off 24 unanswered points to fuel the victory. On the other side, John Elway threw for 300 yards — but would have to endure his first of three Super Bowl defeats.
33. Super Bowl III — New York Jets vs. Baltimore Colts
Result: New York 16, Baltimore 7
Super Bowl III is remembered for Jets QB Joe Namath famously (and accurately) guaranteeing a win over the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts. What often gets left out of the conversation is how dull the game ended up being. A four-yard touchdown run by Jets RB Matt Snell would be the only score for either team in the first half. Namath played a pedestrian — albeit, mistake-free game — as he threw for 206 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
After starting QB Earl Morrall tossed three picks, Colts coach Don Shula turned to an aging Johnny Unitas to provide a spark. Unitas led the Colts on their only touchdown drive of the game, but it was too late. Namath followed through with his guarantee and forever imprinted himself within football lore.
32. Super Bowl XIV — Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Result: Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles 19
Super Bowl LIV marked the first time a participant played on their home field. Super Bowl XIV featured the first time a team played the game in their home market. The 1979 Los Angeles Rams played their home games at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 14 miles away from the Super Bowl XIV site of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Turns out, playing a pseudo-home game wasn’t enough to carry the Rams to a victory. Despite tossing three interceptions, Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw (309 yards and two touchdowns) collected his fourth Super Bowl victory and was named the game’s MVP. The Steelers outscored the Rams 14-0 in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
31. Super Bowl XLIV — New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts
Result: New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17
Peyton Manning’s final Super Bowl appearance as a member of the Colts started off strong. Indianapolis jumped to a 10-0 lead, and were still ahead when the fourth quarter began. However, Super Bowl XLIV would be defined by a pair of big plays from the Saints. The first came during the second half kickoff when the Saints recovered an onside kick. Drew Brees linked up with RB Pierre Thomas for a 16-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive. The second game-changing play came late in the fourth when Saints defensive back Tracy Porter intercepted a Manning pass and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown. This play locked up Brees’ one and only Super Bowl win.
30. Super Bowl XXXVII — Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Oakland Raiders
Result: Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21
The Jon Gruden bowl. In 2002, Gruden led a veteran Buccaneers squad to an NFC South title. He followed that up with two emphatic victories over the 49ers and Eagles to reach the Super Bowl. Waiting for him on the AFC side was his former team, the Oakland Raiders. Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay in the previous offseason after leading the Raiders to back-to-back playoff appearances. Utilizing the knowledge he gathered from working with the organization, Gruden devised a perfect game plan. It was a one-sided affair from the opening whistle. Raiders QB Rich Gannon was intercepted five times — three of which were returned for touchdowns.
29. Super Bowl XL — Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Result: Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10
The 40th Super Bowl featured a dominant Pittsburgh Steelers defense facing off against the Seattle Seahawks and their MVP running back Shaun Alexander. Playing the game in Detroit didn’t seem to have a negative effect on a Steelers team which didn’t play a single home game throughout its memorable postseason run. Both offenses struggled mightily in this one. The most efficient passer on the day was Steelers WR Antwaan Randle-El — who went 1-for-1 for 43 yards and a touchdown pass to Hines Ward. Ben Roethlisberger was sloppy in his Super Bowl debut (9-for-21 for 123 yards and two interceptions), but the team made enough big plays to get the job done. Willie Parker’s 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter remains the longest run from scrimmage in Super Bowl history.
28. Super Bowl XXVI — Washington Redskins vs. Buffalo Bills
Result: Washington 37, Buffalo 24
The Bills returned to the Super Bowl in ’91, but entered the game as an underdog versus a dominant team that had just run roughshod through the NFC. Going into the contest, Washington had outscored its previous two postseason opponents by the score of 65-17. Despite the final score being within two touchdowns, this was a majorly lopsided contest. Washington jumped out to a 24-0 lead and were up 37-10 in the fourth quarter before Bills QB Jim Kelly tossed a pair of meaningless touchdowns. Washington QB Mark Rypien was named MVP as the team secured its third Super Bowl (and fifth league championship). 1991 marks the last time Washington has made it past the divisional round.
27. Super Bowl XXXIII — Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons
Result: Denver 34, Atlanta 19
John Elway’s second title didn’t come in as dramatic fashion as the first. Denver held a 31-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter versus the Falcons. Atlanta, fresh off a shocking upset victory over the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC Championship game, looked outmatched on both sides of the ball in this one. Elway threw for 336 yards while regular season MVP Terrell Davis gained 102 yards on the ground. Falcons QB Chris Chandler tossed three picks to a Broncos defense that was dominant during the postseason run. In three playoff games, Denver’s defense surrendered less than 12 PPG.
26. Super Bowl XLV — Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Result: Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25
Aesthetically, Pittsburgh versus Green Bay was a fun matchup to behold. Both are among the cornerstones within the league’s vast history. From there, you had two future Hall of Famers at the quarterback position duking it out for the world to see.
Green Bay improbably made the Super Bowl despite being a wildcard team. No one really gave them a chance against a defense featuring numerous All-Pros. The game was a tug-of-war affair — with the Packers’ defense ultimately holding on for the victory.
25. Super Bowl XLIII — Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Result: Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23
Pittsburgh has a very impressive and illustrious history within the NFL. The Cardinals do not — which made this ‘David vs Goliath’ matchup quite intriguing. Adding to the theatre, Arizona boasted former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner at quarterback. The Steelers had upstart Ben Roethlisberger manning the position.
As the game wore on, fans suddenly realized that Arizona was for real, and that the Steelers were not going to enjoy a cakewalk of a game. After being down multiple scores, Arizona improbably took the lead with less than three minutes remaining in the contest. However, the Steelers bombed down the field — where Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes in the end zone with less than 40 seconds remaining for the eventual win.
24. Super Bowl I — Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Result: Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10
Though the game itself wasn’t highly competitive, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the first iteration of the Super Bowl within the top 25 of this list. Of course, you had Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, and the vaunted Green Bay Packers taking on Hank Stram, Len Dawson, and the Kansas City Chiefs. This was also an intriguing matchup based upon the histories of each team. The Packers game from the NFL — whereas the Chiefs were an AFL team.
23. Super Bowl X — Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Result: Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17
Lynn Swann’s Hall of Fame career essentially began here. The former USC great torched the Dallas secondary — hauling in four passes for 161 yards and a score. The most noteworthy play Swann made was in the fourth quarter. He nabbed a 64-yard pass which ended up being a touchdown. In the process, he broke the hearts of many Dallas fans watching from home.
The game went back-and-forth, and was ultimately decided in the fourth quarterback. Without naming every single participant, this contest featured a boatload of future Hall of Famers. It’s actually stunning to think about the talent both teams possessed. In total between players, coaches and front office personnel, the game had 23 future Canton members.
22. Super Bowl XVII — Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins
Result: Washington 27, Miami 17
This was a unique Super Bowl from a couple of standpoints. For one, it was played at the Rose Bowl (traditionally a college-based facility). Secondly, the season was cut short due to a strike. As such, both teams played only nine regular season games before entering the playoffs.
Despite the coaching prowess of Don Shula, Washington’s Joe Gibbs proved to be superior from a schematic standpoint. Washington torched Miami on the ground — compiling a whopping 276 yards rushing. Super Bowl MVP John Riggins rushed for a game-high 166 yards on 38 carries.
21. Super Bowl LIV — Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Result: Kansas City 31, San Francisco 20
A star was officially born, and his name was Patrick Mahomes. This was the first Super Bowl win the Chiefs enjoyed dating back to Super Bowl IV. San Francisco’s vaunted defense did pose some problems for Mahomes and the Andy Reid-led offense.
With that said, the Chiefs’ talent on offense was far too great to be denied. San Francisco actually possessed a 10-point lead late in the third quarter. However, a Jimmy Garoppolo interception started the entire chain of events in which KC took the game over (and eventually won) by scoring 21 unanswered points to win the event.
20. Super Bowl 50 — Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers
Result: Denver 24, Carolina 10
Reigning MVP Cam Newton was supposed to bring the Panthers an NFL title. After all, the Panthers lost only one regular season game all year long. Newton was the best player in football at the time, and an often-injured Peyton Manning could barely throw the ball 10 yards with any semblance of velocity.
Naturally, being sizable underdogs, the Broncos’ defense — led by Von Miller — tormented Newton and the Panthers’ offense. Denver’s pass rush was lethal to the point that the Panthers could barely muster 10 points. Denver won, giving Peyton Manning the Super Bowl ring he’d been pining for. He retired shortly after the contest concluded.
19. Super Bowl XXXII — Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay Packers
Result: Denver 31, Green Bay 24
You couldn’t write a script like this. Favre vs Elway — two of the best to ever do it. Competitive, hungry, talented, and brazen, both wanted nothing more than to beat the other in such a hotly-contested game. You had further star power on both sides — from Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, and Steve Atwater to Reggie White, Antonio Freeman, and Dorsey Levens.
When one team scored, the other one answered. It was a seesaw of a contest for essentially the entire game. Ultimately, Denver struck when it mattered most. Terrell Davis rushed for 157 yards in the game — including the go-ahead/game-winning TD with less than two minutes on the clock.
18. Super Bowl XXXI — Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots
Result: Green Bay 35, New England 21
The passing of the proverbial torch occurred in this game without many of us even realizing it. Brett Favre was among the biggest stars in the entire league. His gun-slinging, swashbuckling style of resonated with the little kid in everyone. There was a time when you threw the ball all over the lot as a child. Favre was getting to do this in real life as a professional athlete.
Drew Bledsoe was the QB in this game for the Pats, and he struggled (throwing four interceptions). When we say passing the torch, we’re talking about the Patriots’ future. Tom Brady got a chance to take over the Bledsoe not too long after this game. From there, he not only became New England’s guy — but also the best QB in the league (taking the mantle from Favre).
17. Super Bowl XXXVIII — New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers
Result: New England 32, Carolina 29
This was a crazy game from a statistical standpoint. Both Tom Brady and Jake Delhomme threw for over 320 yards. No. 1 receivers Mushin Muhammad and Deion Branch each hauled in 140 yards receiving/1 touchdown reception. In the fourth quarter alone, the lead changed five times! Inexplicably, 37 points (an NFL record) were scored in the fourth quarter alone.
Carolina thought it was about to secure overtime after scoring the game-tying touchdown with about a minute remaining in regulation. It was plenty of time for Brady — as he marched down the field before Adam Vinatieri booted the game-winning 41-yard field goal with four seconds remaining. Talk about a wild ride!
16. Super Bowl XXVIII — Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills
Result: Dallas 30, Buffalo 13
This marked the second-straight year in which these teams met in the Super Bowl. The Bills were looking for obvious revenge — whereas the Cowboys were aiming to further their dominance as a iconic franchise within the NFL. While it was a competitive game in the first half, Dallas dominated the run of play in the second half (scoring 24-straight points). Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith ended up leading the Cowboys with 132 yards on the ground. Unsurprisingly, he was named as the game’s MVP.
15. Super Bowl XLVI — New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
Result: New York 21, New England 17
This was the second of two fantastic Super Bowl tilts between the Giants and Patriots. In the first installment, New York famously upended New England’s undefeated season. With this matchup occurring yet again, the hype surrounding it leading up to the game was immense.
Unfortunately for the Patriots and Tom Brady, Eli Manning simply had their number. Manning earned a second Super Bowl MVP award en route to the four-point victory.
14. Super Bowl XVI — San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Result: San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21
This was the matchup we all wanted to see. Both No. 1 seeds went unscathed during their conference playoff slates. There was also some real intrigue over the game from the standpoint that neither franchise had ever been in a Super Bowl before. As you can see in the image above, a frisky yet physically-underwhelming young QB named Joe Montana led the 49ers to glory.
Montana won the game’s MVP award despite throwing for only 157 yards. However, despite the relatively middling numbers, Montana paved the way for San Francisco to become one of the NFL’s most successful franchises.
13. Super Bowl XLVII — Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers
Result: Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31
Ah…the famous blackout game. There were a number of fascinating narratives littered throughout the game. A second-year signal-caller out of Nevada (Colin Kaepernick) was emerging as a real force within the league. Both teams featured head coaches with the last name ‘Harbaugh’ (yes, brothers Jim and John were coaching against one another).
Aside from the elite talents on both teams, we also saw something utterly bizarre. Play was suspended for over a half an hour due to a stadium-wide blackout. Baltimore jumped out to a large lead, and needed to hold on at the very end for the victory.
12. Super Bowl XXXVI — New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams
Result: New England 20, St. Louis 17
The Rams were two-touchdown favorites (14 points) heading into this contest. No one thought New England had any chance in stopping St. Louis’ vaunted offense. Well, the Rams didn’t realize they’d be going up against the guy who’d one day be considered to be the best player in the history of the NFL.
Tied at 17, Brady led the Pats down the field for an eventual game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Only a second-year player, Brady was masterful in carving up the Rams with pinpoint throws and heady decision-making. This result remains the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.
11. Super Bowl XXXIV — St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans
Result: St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16
The picture above says it all. Kevin Dyson is reaching as far as he can to break the plane of the end zone. However, Rams’ linebacker Mike Jones prevented that from happening — thus securing the Super Bowl Victory for St. Louis.
“The Greatest Show on Turf” remains to be one of the more exciting offensive groups in NFL history. The likes of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Orlando Pace were integral in helping the Rams reach the summit of the sport. Elite players Steve McNair and Eddie George had to watch as the Rams celebrated in the Georgia Dome.
10. Super Bowl XXIII — San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Result: San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16
Whenever you’ve got Joe Montana behind center, you’ve got a chance to win at an extremely high level. This game featured two very evenly-matched squads. It wasn’t a game which relied on scoring — but rather on the drama surrounding each and every play.
There was a palpable energy which was exacerbated further by third-down plays, battles at the line of scrimmage, and the 49ers’ eventual game-winning drive. Unsurprisingly, Jerry Rice was the star of the show — catching 11 passes for a ridiculous 215 yards.
9. Super Bowl XXV — New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills
Result: New York 20, Buffalo 19
Poor Buffalo. This narrow Super Bowl defeat came during their infamous run in losing ‘the big one’ for four-straight seasons. This game featured a total contrast in styles — as the Giants were rooted in ball control/hard-nosed defense. On the other end of the spectrum sat the Bills. Led by Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, Buffalo put up massive offensive numbers throughout the season.
New York’s scheme worked perfectly, and it possessed the ball for a great deal of the game. However, the Bills still had a chance to win. Kicker Scott Norwood set up for a 47-yard field goal to win the Bills the Super Bowl. With seconds left, the kick missed — thus ensuring New York the win. In the process, this miss set off a period of real futility for the Bills (which still exists today).
8. Super Bowl LVII — Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Result: Kansas City 38, Philadelphia 35
This matchup pitting Jalen Hurts against Patrick Mahomes proved to be as good as advertised. The game was a roller-coaster, as the Chiefs managed to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit. Despite a Herculean effort from Jalen Hurts (308 passing yards, 70 rushing yards and 4 total touchdowns), Mahomes and the Chiefs proved to be too much. Mahomes, battling through an ankle injury, delivered a performance for the ages, throwing for three touchdowns while adding 44 yards rushing. A sensational Kadarius Toney fourth quarter punt return and a questionable defensive holding call ultimately sealed the Eagles’ fate, as Mahomes’ second Lombardi Trophy (and Super Bowl MVP) at the age of 27 suddenly has Tom Brady fans at least a bit worried.
7. Super Bowl LII — Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots
Result: Philadelphia 41, New England 33
This was a night Nick Foles will remember for the rest of his life. Once MVP candidate Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury, second-string QB Nick Foles was tasked with taking the reins of this Philadelphia offense. All he did was lead the Eagles to a stunning Super Bowl victory over Tom Brady and the heavily-favored New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick and his defense simply had zero answers for Foles — who threw for a whopping 373 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a touchdown (as shown above). In a losing effort, Brady threw for 505 (!) yards and three touchdowns. Ultimately, the offensive fireworks between both teams made this a highly entertaining contest.
6. Super Bowl V — Baltimore Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys
Result: Baltimore 16, Dallas 13
There’s nothing aesthetically pleasing about this matchup. However, it is noteworthy for a number of reasons. For one, it marks the first Super Bowl after the merger of the NFL and the AFL. Secondly, the two teams combined for 11 turnovers in this contest. For that reason alone, the zaniness stemming from this game is off the charts.
Lastly, it marked a Super Bowl win for the Colts’ dynamic duo of Johnny Unitas and famed pass-catching threat John Mackey.
5. Super Bowl XIII — Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Result: Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31
What a classic matchup this was. You had two of the NFL’s most iconic franchises going head-to-head. In terms of figures, the chess match between Hall of Fame coaches Chuck Noll (Steelers) and Tom Landry (Cowboys) was fantastic. From there, you had a plethora of elite talents — including Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Tony Dorsett, Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Jack Lambert, and Mel Blount (among others).
Ultimately, the prolific passing attack of Bradshaw and the Steelers proved to be too much. Bradshaw set multiple Super Bowl records during the game (which since have been broken). Also most notably is the fact that the two teams combined to showcase 25 Hall of Famers. We aren’t sure if that’s a record — though we’d be hard-pressed to think that another Super Bowl featured such a tremendous collection of players.
4. Super Bowl XXXIX — New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Result: New England 24, Philadelphia 21
Get ready for your run on Pats’ Super Bowl appearances. In 2005, the Patriots took on the Philadelphia Eagles in what turned out to be a whale of a game. Philly was the NFC Champs, and the Patriots were among the best teams in the AFC that calendar year.
It was a back-and-forth affair — with the Eagles making it a close contest late in the fourth quarter. However, the opportunistic Patriots’ defense forced four turnovers on the day. Unfortunately for those in the City of Brotherly Love, Donovan McNabb and company couldn’t get over the proverbial hump.
3. Super Bowl XLII — New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
Result: New York 17, New England 14
Two words: David Tyree
No one gave the Giants even a puncher’s chance in this contest. The vaunted Patriots were aiming for a perfect 19-0 record (a mark which has never been set). Ultimately, the Giants’ pass rush greatly hindered the efforts of Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense. Down four late in the game, New York orchestrated perhaps the most memorable play in Super Bowl history.
Eli Manning launched a pass down the middle of the field. In contested traffic, receiver David Tyree managed to literally pin the ball against the side of his helmet (thus resulting in a catch). Later in the drive, Manning connected with Plaxico Burress for the game-winning score.
2. Super Bowl LI — New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
Result: New England 34, Atlanta 28
This contest — as many in both New England and Atlanta will remember — featured the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. The Falcons zoomed out to a 21-3 halftime lead. The millions watching this game were astonished at how dominant Atlanta was versus Tom Brady and the Pats. After halftime, the game made a complete reversal — as New England outscored the Falcons 31-7 in the second half to complete the improbable comeback. Making the game even more special was the fact that it was the first Super Bowl in league history to go to overtime.
1. Super Bowl XLIX — New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
Result: New England 28, Seattle 24
Cover your eyes, Seattle fans. We remember this massive game which pitted Tom Brady and the dynastic New England Patriots against the new bully on the block in the form of the Seattle Seahawks. You had narratives galore in this contest — which featured mostly on Brady, Russell Wilson, and Skittles-loving running back Marshawn Lynch.
As the game seesawed back and forth, the Seahawks had a chance to win the game. Sitting at the 1-yard line with 0:26 remaining, Seattle inexplicably decided to throw the ball as opposed to running it with Lynch. The rest, as they say, is history. Malcolm Butler came up with the biggest play of his life, and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will forever be haunted by the decision to throw rather than run the football.