Super Bowl LI had everything you want in a championship game: thrilling catches, lots of scoring and a miraculous comeback that was one for the record books. But was it the most exciting? The Washington Post charted all 51 “Big Games” based on their competitiveness and dramatic swings to see which stood out the most.
The Super Bowl has thrilled us in recent years with some of the most memorable finishes in its history, and Super Bowl LI easily ranks among them. The New England Patriots trailed the Atlanta Falcons 28-9 entering the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady led a historic comeback, earning a fifth ring and fourth most valuable player award despite facing the single biggest deficit ever for a Super Bowl victor (25 points in the third quarter).
As you can see from the chart, the Patriots have produced some of the best Super Bowls in history, but the game doesn’t always live up to the hype. Some years, the commercials were more memorable than the game itself. So how does each Super Bowl compare from an excitement standpoint?
The Post measured each Super Bowl’s “enjoyment level” by examining two factors, each on a scale from 0 to 100, where a higher number represents a more entertaining game. The first factor was the game’s competitiveness and tension, measured by how close the score was at the end of each quarter. The second was how much fun the game was to watch, measured by the overall win probability swing of the game — the steeper the dips and climbs, the better.
With the Falcons leading for three quarters, there wasn't much back-and-forth to inflate the tension Sunday, but the massive swing in total win probability made Super Bowl LI an instant classic.
Correction: A previous version of this graphic displayed incorrect scores for the first four Super Bowls.