In preparing for Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4, we’ve done our homework, ranking all 51 previous Super Bowls on how enjoyable they were to watch. Arriving at these conclusions was actually pretty simple. Ask yourself a few questions: Was there exciting drama? A legendary performance? A moment that we still can’t forget? Or were they just all hype and no substance?
Here’s our complete list. Agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments.
1. LI: New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28 (OT)
It’s the best Super Bowl of all-time for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it marked the first time the NFL’s championship game went to overtime. That happened due to the Patriots’ historic comeback after trailing 28-3 at the end of the third quarter. James White’s one-yard TD run and a subsequent two-point conversion pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola with 57 seconds left in regulation tied the game and set the stage for New England’s fifth title.
That tying score came at the end of a 10-play, 91-yard drive over just 2:33, and, given the momentum of the fourth quarter, when the Patriots won the overtime coin toss it pretty much spelled game over. Brady set a multitude of records while engineering five straight unanswered scoring drives, among them yards passing (446), pass attempts (62), completions (43), MVP awards (4) and career wins (5). And the Falcons, who looked completely unbeatable for nearly three full quarters, were left wondering what just hit them at the end of the most watchable Super Bowl ever played.
2. XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Among all the incredible finishes throughout Super Bowl history, not many of them have been fortified by a weaving, 100-yard interception return by a linebacker known primarily for his pass rushing ability for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. But that’s what we got out of this off-the-charts game courtesy of Pittsburgh’s James Harrison. That Arizona came back to take the lead late in the fourth quarter with a safety followed by a 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown two snaps later by one of the best wide receivers of the past 20 years only added to the thrills. And when Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 78 yards in 1:48 to find Santonio Holmes in the back corner of the end zone … and that Roethlisberger’s throw was utterly perfect, just millimeters over the heads and/or outstretched hands of two defensive backs … and that Holmes’s catch was one of the most difficult, meticulous and simultaneously amazing as any you will ever see, well then, this game, which gave the Steelers franchise its sixth Super Bowl win, had earned the top spot on the list before the new No. 1 happened. Special bonus points for this being the final broadcast of John Madden’s career. You may not have always liked him, he may have been the ultimate Master of the Obvious (“When two people wind up at the same spot at the same time, there’s gonna be a collision!”) but he was the most famous, most relatable, recognizable sports TV commentator ever. He got himself quite a game to go out on.
3. XLIX: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Another Patriots Super Bowl appearance, another instant classic that came down to the wire. One could argue whether Malcolm Butler’s end zone interception of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was the best defensive play in Super Bowl history (if it wasn’t, what was?) but aside from that, the game got to that point with pulsating drama. The Patriots trailed by 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter but Brady led two consecutive scoring drives, tossing his third and fourth touchdown passes to put the Pats on top. The defense, which had forced two straight three-and-outs, watched another fluke play — on the same field as the Helmet Catch — when Jermaine Kearse somehow came up with a deep, sideline throw that had been deflected twice while on his back to put Seattle in position to win. Butler wasn’t having it though and regardless of the fact that the play call by Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll and their offensive coordinator wasn’t all that bright, he still made the play of his life, and perhaps of Super Bowl history.
4. XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
The final stage in the Patriots’ march toward immortality wound up derailed in a swarm of pressure on Brady and a couple of the flukiest plays you’ll ever see. The Giants, who entered the playoffs as a wild card but on fire, fed off their near miss against the Pats in Week 17, the game that made New England 16-0. A ferocious pass rush courtesy of the Giants’ front four combined with a tight group of Pats (wide receiver Troy Brown is on record as saying that Super Bowl week was the Patriots’ worst week of practice all year) and No. 5 wide receiver/special-teamer David Tyree catching a virtual Hail Mary off his helmet all came together to send the Pats to their first loss of the season and an 18-1 record. It didn’t help the heart health of Patriots fans that Giants quarterback Eli Manning avoided being sacked at least twice before unleashing the prayer to Tyree. Or that a couple plays earlier, with the Pats up 14-10 on the strength of a Brady-to-Randy Moss touchdown with 2:45 left to play and needing one stop for perfection, Manning threw a pass right to New England’s best corner, Asante Samuel (who had 10 interceptions that year) and the ball went right through his hands. In the end, the Giants outplayed the Pats for the majority of the game and deserved to win it. That didn’t make the outcome, and the fourth quarter in particular, any less thrilling.
5. XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
One prominent Boston football writer picked the Patriots to lose 66-3. The Rams were 14-point favorites. But the Patriots came in with a game plan it took St. Louis too long to figure out and the Pats, who blew a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter, got just enough from Brady to get Adam Vinatieri in range for the winner and the New England dynasty was born. Vinatieri’s field goal has become so iconic, it’s not difficult to forget Ty Law’s pick-six of Warner, when the Rams QB was forced to throw early thanks to a perfectly timed blitz by Mike Vrabel and Law took advantage. Bonus watchability points for the 97-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Tebucky Jones that would have rendered Vinatieri’s heroics unnecessary if not for a penalty on Willie McGinest, followed two plays later by the Rams’ first TD.
6. XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Kurt Warner’s storybook season and the Greatest Show on Turf ruled but only by one yard. Thanks to a tremendous tackle by linebacker Mike Jones on Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson on the last play of the game, St. Louis’s win was preserved, with Warner and head coach Dick Vermeil entering the record books. Jones’s tackle of Dyson was so monumentally important that it nearly blots out the fact that the Titans came from 16-0 down to tie the game with 2:12 left to play. Or that Warner found the great Isaac Bruce streaking down the sideline on the very next play from scrimmage for a 76-yard touchdown. The late Steve McNair marched the Titans right down the field following Warner’s strike to Bruce but that last pass came up just that one yard short. As fantastic a finish as it gets.
7. XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
No one scored a single point in this Super Bowl until just 3:05 remained in the first half. After that, starting with 24 points altogether from that point until halftime, things got a little nuts. The Pats and Panthers combined for 868 total yards and a combined 37 fourth quarter points, a Super Bowl record. Carolina led by 1 with 7:06 left, the Patriots surged ahead on a Tom Brady-to-Mike Vrabel TD pass followed by a direct shotgun snap to Kevin Faulk for a two-point conversion at the 2:55 mark. Panthers QB Jake Delhomme (!!!) then shredded the New England defense for an 80-yard drive in a minute and a half to tie things up. But John Kasay’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving Brady and the Pats the ball back at the Carolina 40. Fifty-nine seconds later, Adam Vinatieri booted his second game-winning field goal in as many Super Bowl tries and New England was the champ once again. That fourth quarter was as exciting a stretch of play in any Super Bowl ever. And bonus watchability points for one of the biggest halftime show trainwrecks in history courtesy of Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and her “wardrobe malfunction.”
8. XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
If anyone doubted Joe Montana’s credentials as the greatest quarterback of all time at this point, this game cemented his status as such. With his team trailing 16-13, Montana led the Niners 92 yards in 11 plays culminating in a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left to give San Francisco its third Super Bowl championship. Jerry Rice won the MVP thanks to his amazing 11 catches and record 215 receiving yards. But Montana, who finished with 357 yards passing and two scores, stole the show.
9. XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
It took Scott Norwood missing wide right but this right here was the game that made Bill Parcells a legend and elevated Bill Belichick to his career’s highest level at that point. The Bills came in having scored 95 points in their two playoff wins yet had the ball for barely eight minutes in the second half and just 19:27 for the game. Meanwhile, the Giants, led by Jeff Hostetler at quarterback and the punishing style of MVP Ottis Anderson on the ground, controlled the clock. Still, Buffalo led 12-3 in the second quarter and 19-17 early in the fourth after a 31-yard touchdown run by Thurman Thomas. The Giants then calmly drove 74 yards over 6:43 to reclaim the lead on a chippy field goal by Matt Bahr, setting the stage for what the Bills thought would be their first Super Bowl win but instead wound up one of the biggest missed kicks in Super Bowl history and leading to four years of heartbreak. Parcells retried for the first time after the game while Belichick moved on to his mostly underwhelming tenure as the head coach of the Browns.
10. XLVII: Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
The Brother Bowl. The Blackout Bowl. The Ray Lewis Deer Antler Spray Bowl. All of these subtitles work for Super Bowl XLVII, in which John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens raced out to a 22-point lead, the lights in the Superdome went out causing a 34-minute delay and afterward, Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers roared all the way back to within three points with the ball at the Ravens 5-yard line. A controversial non-call wound up saving the Ravens from a complete collapse, giving them their second championship and the Niners their first Super Bowl defeat in six trips.
11. XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
John Elway finally gets his ring. The Broncos upset the heavily favored Packers out in San Diego thanks mostly to the explosive running of Terrell Davis (157 yards, three TDs), who would be named MVP of the game. But it was Elway’s “helicopter” run on scramble in the third quarter to set up a touchdown that gave Denver a 24-17 lead that is probably the most easily remembered play of this particular contest. Brett Favre would lead Green Bay on a game-tying march shortly afterward and it would take Elway engineering a fourth quarter scoring drive to provide the final margin. But that play, with Elway spinning through the air as he crosses inside the Packers’ 10-yard line, highlighted this back-and-forth, highly entertaining Super Bowl.
12. XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
A close, high-scoring game between these two interconference rivals got out of hand via two quick Terry Bradshaw TD passes in the fourth quarter but not before some drama unfolded. One of the most infamous drops in Super Bowl history came when Staubach found veteran tight end Jackie Smith in the end zone in the third quarter with the Cowboys trailing 21-14 for what would have been the game-tying score. Smith, who couldn’t possibly have been more wide open, lost his footing and the ball bounced off his hands and chest before falling to the turf. Dallas kicked a field goal but would soon find itself down 35-17 before managing a couple late touchdowns to make the final score look more respectable. The Steelers became the first team to win three Super Bowls and Bradshaw’s four TD passes set a record at the time. But this game is arguably remembered more for the Smith drop than anything else.
13. III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
The guarantee. Broadway Joe. The AFL. The New York Jets. Not much more to be said about this game, which is still one of the greatest upsets in both Super Bowl and NFL history.
14. XLVI: New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17
Twice the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl over a four-year span and while this was the less dramatic one by a mile, it still featured a pulse-pounding fourth quarter. As in 2007, the Pats were victimized by an unfathomable deep throw and catch that likely wouldn’t be completed 99 out of 100 times. Mario Manningham’s sideline grab wasn’t quite on the level of David Tyree’s Helmet Catch, but it had a similar impact in that it directly led to the Giants’ go-ahead score with just 1:04 remaining. Wes Welker’s massive drop stalled a late Patriots drive that looked like it would salt the game away just seconds before Manningham’s catch and the Giants, who scored the game’s final 12 points, had New England’s number once again.
15. XLIV: New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
Before this particular Saints team was carpetbombed by Roger Goodell in BountyGate, it won the first championship in New Orleans sports history by taking down Peyton Manning and Indianapolis on one of the most thrilling second halves in Super Bowl history. Saints Coach Sean Payton displayed some serious guts with an onside kick to open the third quarter and his team trailing 10-6 and the gamble paid off in the form of a touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Pierre Thomas. After Manning and the Colts moved back in front, New Orleans scored the game’s final 18 points, the cap being a 74-yard pick-six by cornerback Tracy Porter with the Colts driving for a potential tie with just over three minutes left.
16. XLV: Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25
This battle of historic NFL titans looked like it would be a blowout before Ben Roethlisberger, going for his third Super Bowl win in six seasons, led Pittsburgh roaring back from a 21-3 halftime deficit to down just a field goal midway through the fourth quarter. But Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who did what Roethlisberger and the Steelers did in 2005 by winning three road playoff games in a row as a six-seed just to get to the Super Bowl, squeezed out a field goal at the two-minute mark and the defense held for the victory, the franchise’s fourth.
17. XVII: Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17
Joe Gibbs’s first Super Bowl win and the Redskins’ too, this one turned on the running of a D.C. sports legend. John Riggins’s iconic, 43-yard jaunt off left tackle while dragging desperate Miami defenders put the Redskins in the lead for good with 10:01 left in the final frame. Riggo finished with 166 yards on the ground — his fourth straight playoff game with over a C-note, and won the MVP.
18. X: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
The Steelers’ finished off their set of back-to-back Super Bowls. The defense was typically excellent and sealed the game with an interception in the end zone with under a minute to play. Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach was very good in defeat. But Lynn Swann. Lynn Swann, Lynn Swann, Lynn Swann.
19. V: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
The first tight, could-go-either-way Super Bowl and also the first to come down to the final play. The Colts won their pride back two years after their humiliating loss to Joe Namath and the Jets. Johnny Unitas couldn’t finish the game but still threw his team’s only TD pass and rookie kicker Jim O’Brien became the answer to a trivia question with his last-second, game-winning field goal. This one was also notable for being the first Super Bowl to feature an MVP from the losing team, Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley, who had two interceptions.
20. XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19
Another underdog taking the lead into the final quarter. Another favorite casually taking control in the later stages and pulling off the win. This was the fourth and final Super Bowl win for the Terry Bradshaw/Chuck Noll Steelers and Bradshaw, despite throwing three picks to the unheralded L.A. Rams, still managed to win his second straight MVP on the strength of two long touchdown passes, a 47-yarder to Lynn Swann and a 73-yarder to John Stallworth in the fourth quarter that put Pittsburgh in front to stay.
21. XXXIX: New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
The fist Super Bowl showdown between these two teams, and probably the least exciting of the Patriots’ six Super Bowls in the Brady/Belichick era, it was still just a three-point win and one messed up, Donovan McNabb vomit-soaked drive from either the first overtime in Super Bowl history or a Philly win. The Pats didn’t take the lead for good until the fourth quarter but couldn’t quite close it out, giving the Eagles multiple chances to tie or move ahead. But between McNabb’s weak stomach and Eagles Coach Andy Reid’s notorious inability to properly manage the clock, the game ended with the Pats going back-to-back and winning their third title in four years.
22. XXX: Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Dallas avenges its two Super Bowl losses to Pittsburgh in the ‘70s and proves that even a guy like Barry Switzer can win a championship. The Cowboys tried several times to run away with this one but the Steelers did just enough to hang in there until quarterback Neil O’Donnell decided to give the game away with two killer interceptions in the second half. Pittsburgh had the ball at its own 32 down three points with just over four minutes to play before O’Donnell tossed his second pick to eventual MVP Larry Brown, who ran it back to the Steelers 6-yard line. The Dallas win was the 12th straight at the time for the NFC.
23. XL: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10
Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis finally get their Super Bowls. Two big-time plays gave this particular game most of its oomph: a 75-yard touchdown scamper by Willie Parker and a perfectly executed reverse option pass from Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward for the first TD thrown by a receiver in Super Bowl history. The Steelers won their fifth title despite being a six-seed in the AFC and having to win three road games just to get this far.
24. XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17
Peyton Manning’s first Super Bowl win came at the end of a postseason in which he threw just three touchdowns while being picked off seven times. The Colts’ defense (and the ineptitude of Bears quarterback Rex Grossman) saved him in a game in which he was named MVP almost by default. Major watchability points here for this being the first (and so far only) Super Bowl to be played in the rain, Bears kick return extraordinaire Devin Hester running back the opening kick 92 yards for a TD and Prince’s epic halftime show.
25. XVI: San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Joe Montana, Bill Walsh and the 49ers’ first Super Bowl win. It was nearly a blowout thanks to a 20-0 halftime lead for San Francisco but Cincinnati QB Ken Anderson directed his team to enough offense to make things far more competitive and even a bit suspenseful.
26. XXXI: Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21
Folks tuned in not only to see Brett Favre finally play in a Super Bowl but to see whether Pats Coach Bill Parcells would even show up after reports the week leading up to the game had him with one foot already out the door, en route to the division rival New York Jets. In the end, a fairly competitive game was busted open by a sensational, 99-yard kick return for a touchdown in the third quarter by Green Bay’s Desmond Howard, who would win MVP honors. Favre lived up to his billing too, with two long TD passes, one to Andre Rison (on the second Packers play of the game) and another to Antonio Freeman. Hall of Famer Reggie White also secured his only ring here, setting a Super Bowl record with three sacks of Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
27. VII: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
The Dolphins solidified their position as the only undefeated team in NFL history with this mostly boring win. But the fact that it contains arguably the funniest play not only in Super Bowl history but perhaps of all time, lends many layers to the watchability quotient. Thanks, Garo Yepremian.
28. 50: Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10
The one-loss Panthers were no match for Denver’s defense, which set the tone in the first quarter when a rampaging Von Miller sacked quarterback Cam Newton and separated him from the ball in the process, resulting in a Malik Jackson touchdown and a 10-0 Broncos lead. A diminished Manning (13 of 23, 141 yards, no TDs, one pick) rode the back of his defense to pick up his second ring, a nice career-capper. As for Newton, his MVP season ended with complaints and criticism not just of a mediocre performance in the game (18 of 41, 265 yards, no TDs, one pick), but a somewhat recalcitrant one during his postgame news conference.
29. I: Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10
Pretty much only this high up by virtue of being the first. It was close until the third quarter when Green Bay ran off three unanswered touchdowns to put the game out of reach. Also notable thanks to Packers wide receiver Max McGee, who caught seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs after catching four all season, being famously, completely hungover for the game.
30. XXI: New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20
Bill Parcells took his first major step toward the pantheon of all-time coaches with the Giants’ first Super Bowl victory. Phil Simms played arguably the best game of his career in going 22-of-25 for 268 yards and three scores while leading the G-men to 30 second half points and winning MVP honors. But what made this game most memorable was the show put on by the Giants’ defense, which was coached by a guy named Bill Belichick. A safety, a goal-line stand that led to a missed 23-yard field goal by Denver’s barefooted kicker Rich Karlis, and one garbage time touchdown in the second half were all Belichick’s D would give up.
31. XV: Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10
The ascension of Jim Plunkett officially turned real in this game, in which the Raiders became the first wild card team to win a Super Bowl. Plunkett, a former No. 1 overall pick who flamed out but was reborn as a Raider, won the first of his two Super Bowls on the strength of an 80-yard touchdown pass to Kenny King. Linebacker Rod Martin added three interceptions but it was Plunkett who earned MVP honors thanks to a 13-of-21, 261-yard, three-TD performance.
32. XXVIII: Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13
The Cowboys’ second straight (and the game that sent Jerry Jones over the edge and Jimmy Johnson into TV) but also the Bills’ fourth straight … loss. The poor Bills actually led at halftime but a Thurman Thomas fumble just 55 seconds into the third quarter was run back for a touchdown by Dallas’s James Washington to tie the game at 13 and perhaps sensing the inevitable, the Bills promptly rolled over to the tune of 17 more Cowboys points and another Super Bowl defeat. Woe is the Bills.
33. XLVIII: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
There was Peyton Manning. Back in the Bowl with his new team. And there went the ball, soaring past him and into his own end zone on the first snap of the game for a safety and a 2-0 Seattle lead. Things got no better for Manning and Denver, with Seattle rolling up a 32-point lead before the Broncos even got on the board. The safety, a 69-yard pick-six by MVP Malcolm Smith and Percy Harvin’s TD return on the opening kick of the second half, which immediately snuffed any hope of a Broncos comeback, added enough explosiveness to make this game more watchable than your average blowout.
34. XXXIII: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
After years of disappointment, John Elway and the Broncos finally broke through the year before this thanks in large part to Terrell Davis. This particular game sent Elway out on top, a back-to-back champ and with a Super Bowl MVP award in his back pocket. Elway passed for 336 yards, including a picture-perfect, 80-yard TD bomb to Rod Smith (beating Atlanta’s Eugene Robinson, who had just received the Bart Starr award for being a player of “high moral character” the morning before the game then was arrested for solicitation in Miami that night) and watching him wind his career down in this fashion was pretty cool no matter whether you liked him or not.
35. XXII: Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10
The Doug Williams game. Williams threw four touchdown passes as part of Washington’s five-TD explosion in the second quarter to become the first African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl and earn MVP honors while he was at it. Add to that the out-of-nowhere/never-to-be-heard-from-again performance by running back Timmy Smith, who rushed for a Super Bowl record 204 yards and this game becomes more watchable than your average 32-point stomping.
36. IV: Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
You may not believe it but the Vikings were crushed in this, the first of their four Super Bowl losses. More importantly though, the Chiefs bounced back from their loss in the first Super Bowl thanks to a nearly flawless performance by quarterback and future TV star Len Dawson. What made this game more watchable — in retrospect — was the NFL Films performance of Chiefs Coach Hank Stram, who was wearing a mic on the sideline and introduced millions of football nuts to the beauty and intricacy of the 65 Toss Power Trap.
37. XXVI: Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24
ESPN recently ranked the best team in every NFL franchise’s history and this Redskins squad won the prize for Washington. The most memorable moment from this beatdown was that of Buffalo star running back Thurman Thomas unable to start the game because he lost his helmet. The Redskins ran out to a 24-0 lead and picked off Bills quarterback Jim Kelly four times as Joe Gibbs became the first coach to win three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks.
38. XI: Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14
Did you know … this was John Madden’s Super Bowl win? Yep, before he became the most famous and popular NFL TV commentator in history, he coached the Raiders and won a championship. That lends a little oomph to this selection which, because it featured the Vikings, naturally wound up a mostly uninteresting blowout.
39. XII: Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
Denver’s first appearance on the sport’s biggest stage was mostly forgettable (Sports On Earth’s Will Leitch ranked Coach Red Miller 51st on his list of the top 51 Super Bowl coaches). The Cowboys evened their Super Bowl record at two apiece with this win of which the most memorable aspects are, 1) it was the first Super Bowl to be played at the Superdome in New Orleans, and 2) Broncos quarterback Craig Morton became the first quarterback to start a Super Bowl for multiple teams (he lost both, the first one being for — ding ding — the Cowboys).
40. XXVII: Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17
The Leon Lett play alone bumps this complete destruction of poor Buffalo up the list. Dallas forced nine, count ‘em, nine turnovers in running away with its first of back-to-back titles. Coach Jimmy Johnson got his hair mussed up in front of 100 million people, too.
41. XXXV: Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7
The Ravens’ defense was so good, it made a Super Bowl champ out of Trent Dilfer. The game was a total blowout (the Giants were never in it for a second) but the combo of Baltimore’s ferocity on D and back-to-back kick returns for touchdowns by the Giants’ Ron Dixon and the Ravens’ Jermaine Lewis in the third quarter lends a little weight.
42. XVIII: Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9
Washington’s bid for back-to-back titles was spoiled by the then-Los Angeles Raiders, who rolled up what was at the time the biggest margin of victory in Super Bowl history. A blocked punt for a touchdown, Joe Theismann tossing a pick-six from his 5-yard line to close out the first half and Marcus Allen’s popping one of the most famous touchdown runs in NFL history highlighted this otherwise mostly boring rout.
43. IX: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
Pittsburgh’s dynasty began with this defensive domination of poor Minnesota, which turned into a complete puddle in each of its four Super Bowls. The score of this game was 2-0 at the half before Franco Harris took over. Extra watchability points for the Vikings registering a blocked punt for a touchdown, their only points of the game.
44. VIII: Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7
If you like watching running backs run and quarterbacks not really pass, this was the game for you. Miami’s Bob Griese threw just seven times (completing six) while the Dolphins ran it down the Vikings’ throat over 50 times in a game that had to be about as exciting as a tractor pull.
45. II: Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14
Most notable for being Vince Lombardi’s final game as Green Bay’s head coach, the Packers steamrolled the Raiders, turning a 16-7 halftime lead into a 30-7 advantage through three quarters.
46. XIX: San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16
Amazingly, the only Super Bowl appearance of Dan Marino’s career in just his second season. Miami led 10-7 after one quarter before Montana engineered three straight TD drives in the second to effectively end the only Super Bowl ever played at Stanford Stadium.
47. XXIX: San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26
Only three plays and 1:24 into the game, Steve Young tossed the first of his record six touchdown passes, a 44-yarder to Jerry Rice. The 11th of the NFC’s 14 consecutive Super Bowl wins and the 49ers’ fifth championship as well as San Diego’s only appearance in the big game.
48. XX: Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10
The Pats scored first then allowed 44 straight points in one of the most lopsided Super Bowls ever played. Tony Eason was 0 for 6 before getting yanked in the worst performance by a starting QB in Super Bowl history and the Patriots gained just seven yards on the ground on 11 attempts against the Bears’ 46 defense. Also, this was both the game in which William “The Refrigerator” Perry scored a rushing touchdown but Hall of Famer and all-time great back Walter Payton did not and also spawned “The Super Bowl Shuffle.”
49. VI: Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
Miami gained just 185 total yards and eked out their one field goal just before the half in this mostly noncompetitive contest. The first of Dallas’ five championships.
50. XXXVII: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21
Another blowout; Tampa Bay ran off 34 straight points from halfway through the first quarter until the waning stages of the third. The most notable aspect of this game was that three of the five interceptions tossed by Oakland quarterback/league MVP Rich Gannon were pick-sixes.
51. XXIV: San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10
If this game wasn’t over at halftime when the Niners led 27-3, it was most definitely over roughly five minutes into the third quarter when they led 44-3. The largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history ensured Joe Montana’s fourth and final Super Bowl win and third MVP award.
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