The Super Bowl has produced classics and clunkers and just about everything else in between. Which was the best game? Which was the worst?
Here’s a look back at the first 50 Super Bowls, ranked from best to worst:
1. Super Bowl XXV
Giants 20, Bills 19; Jan. 27, 1990 – Tampa
Wide Right. Two words are synonymous with the Giants second Super Bowl victory. It’s the only game in Super Bowl history that was decided on the final play — not counting the final kneel down that followed — without a chance for overtime: Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt with four seconds remaining sailed wide right in what turned out to be Bill Parcells’ last game as the Giants coach.
It’s fitting that the colors of the Giants and Bills were red, white and blue. The Gulf War had just begun, Whitney Houston sang a stirring rendition of the national anthem and patriotism swept through Tampa Stadium. Once the game started, the Giants had to figure out a way to stop Jim Kelly’s explosive K-Gun offense. One week earlier, the Bills scored 51 points against the Raiders in the AFC title game. One week earlier in the NFC title game, the Giants prevented the 49ers from going for the three-peat with a compelling 15-13 victory at Candlestick Park, forcing the presumptuous Niners to move their computers out of the offices set up at the NFC hotel in Tampa.
Jeff Hostetler played well for the injured Phil Simms but it was defensive coordinator Bill Belichick’s game plan, which featured only two down linemen and dropped nine into coverage to stop Kelly and his quick receivers, that won the game. Belichick basically mandated that Thurman Thomas get 100 yards on the ground. His game plan is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In the end, it all came down to Norwood’s kick after Everson Walls had made a Super Bowl-saving tackle on Thomas in the open field. It was not an easy kick, especially on grass.
Months later, I visited Norwood at his home in Virginia. I brought a tape of the game to play in his VCR — remember those? — and we watched the kick together. He was gracious about explaining what was going through his mind and what went wrong.
He has not let one kick define his life nor does he wonder how things would have been different if his kick made it through the uprights. “Why bother doing that?” he said. “It’s fruitless to do that. As with any experience in life, sometimes bad times happen to good people. Life is not fair. It made me better in a lot of ways.”
The competition was intense for best Super Bowl game of all time: Super Bowl XXV gets my vote.
2. Super Bowl XLIX
Patriots 28, Seahawks 24; Feb. 1, 2015 — Glendale, Ariz.
This was a very close second: Tom Brady put together two perfect fourth-quarter drives to bring the Patriots from 10 points down to take the lead. Jermaine Kearse makes an acrobatic catch in the final two minutes and New England is experiencing David Tyree nightmares. Then Bill Belichick doesn’t call a timeout to save time for Brady with the Seahawks at the Pats 1 in the final seconds, but Pete Carroll bails him out by giving the OK for Russell Wilson to throw the ball instead of giving it to the unstoppable Marshawn Lynch. It was an unsightly coaching display by ex-Jets Belichick and Carroll, Malcolm Butler went from unknown to Super Bowl hero by jumping Ricardo Lockette’s route in the end zone and picking it off, which prompted Brady to start jumping around like a 5-year old.
3. Super Bowl XLII
Giants 17, Patriots 14; Feb. 3, 2008 — Glendale, Ariz.
Really, flip a coin, just not the one used to start overtime in the Packer-Cardinals divisional round game a few weeks ago, and it’s hard to distinguish between how great the first three games are on this list. The Patriots were going for the first 19-0 season in NFL history until Eli Manning broke free from the New England pass rush, heaved a desperation pass down the middle that stuck to David Tyree’s helmet and then Manning finished off the drive and the Patriots’ dream season with a TD to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left. The ’72 Dolphins popped the champagne again.
4. Super Bowl XLIII
Steelers 27, Cardinals 23; Feb. 1, 2009 — Tampa
Just a great back-and-forth game with big plays. James Harrison picked off Kurt Warner on the final play of the first half and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 17-7 lead. Arizona went ahead 23-20 on Warner’s 64-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald with 2:37 remaining. But then Big Ben took the Steelers down the field and Santonio Holmes made an amazing sideline catch in the end zone of a six-yard pass with 35 seconds remaining to win it.
5. Super Bowl XXXVI
Patriots 20, Rams 17; Feb. 3, 2002 — New Orleans
Who’s Tom Brady? The Brady legend began with 1:21 remaining and the Patriots on their own 17-yard line after the Rams had just scored their second fourth-quarter touchdown to come back from a 17-3 deficit. John Madden insisted on TV that the Pats should take a knee and send the game into overtime. Instead, Brady completed five passes to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 47-yard field goal on the final play. Who’s Tom Brady? He’s Joe Montana. There was an emotional tribute to the victims of 9/11 at halftime of the game that added to the significance of the game.
6. Super Bowl XXXIV
Rams 23, Titans 16; Jan. 30, 2000 — Atlanta
The Longest Yard. What an incredible finish and what an incredible year for Kurt Warner, the regular season and Super Bowl MVP and former grocery store clerk. He hooked up with Isaac Bruce on a 73-yard TD with 1:54 remaining to give the Greatest Show on Turf a 23-16 lead. But then Steve McNair was unstoppable bringing the Titans down the field, setting up first down at the Rams 10 with five seconds remaining. He hit Kevin Dyson on a slant — the play was called Z Sliver — and as Mike Jones tackled him, Dyson reached out for the goal line but was one painful yard short. “It’s just a sick feeling,” Dyson said.
7. Super Bowl XLVI
Giants 21, Patriots 17; Feb. 5, 2012 — Indianapolis
This was nearly as dramatic as the first Giants-Patriots Super Bowl and although it wasn’t quite the same upset and the Pats were not undefeated, the Giants’ 9-7 regular-season record was the worst for a Super Bowl champion. Eli Manning got the final drive going with a perfect 38-yard pass down the left sideline to Mario Manningham, who made a beautiful catch to get the Giants to midfield. Ahmad Bradshaw scored the winning TD with 57 seconds left even as Manning was telling him to fall down to kill time. The Giants had to survive a Hail Mary attempt from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski on the final play to win their fourth Super Bowl.
8. Super Bowl III
Jets 16, Colts 7; Jan. 12, 1969 — Miami
Not a great game. Not a lot of action. Joe Namath didn’t even throw a touchdown. But he did back up the most famous guarantee in sports history with what is still the greatest upset in pro football history. This game did not force the merger. It had already been agreed upon in 1966, but it validated the AFL as a legitimate league two seasons before the NFL and AFL combined to become just the NFL in 1970. The Jets were 17-point underdogs against the seemingly unbeatable Colts. Not even a mid-game switch from Earl Morrall to the legendary Johnny U could save the Colts. Matt Snell scored the Jets’ only touchdown, Jim Turner kicked three field goals and Joe Willie jogged off the field with his right index finger in the air.
9. Super Bowl XIII
Steelers 35, Cowboys 31; Jan. 21, 1979 — Miami
Three years after beating the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, the Steelers prevented Dallas from repeating as champions. Terry Bradshaw threw for 318 yards and four TDs. One of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history: Jackie Smith, a Hall of Fame tight end who was finishing up his career with the Cowboys, was wide open in the end zone with the ’Boys down 21-14 late in the third quarter. Roger Staubach threw him a perfect pass. Smith dropped it. Instead of being tied at 21, the Cowboys settled for a field goal and the four points were the margin of defeat. “Bless his heart,” Cowboys announcer Verne Lundquist said on the radio. “He’s got to be the sickest man in America.”
10. Super Bowl XXIII
49ers 20, Bengals 16; Jan. 22, 1989 — Miami
The John Candy Game. Down 16-13 and on their own 8-yard line late in the game, Joe Montana calmed everybody down in the huddle by pointing out comedian John Candy in the stands. If Joe Cool could be that cool under pressure, there was nothing to worry about. He later hit John Taylor with a 10-yard TD pass to win it with 34 seconds left. His only incompletion on the drive was a throwaway out of bounds when he felt himself hyperventilating at the line of scrimmage.
11. Super Bowl XXI
Giants 39, Broncos 20; Jan. 25, 1987 — Pasadena
Phil Simms nearly pitched a perfect game: He was 22-of-25 and his 88% completion percentage remains a Super Bowl record. It was the Giants’ first championship in 30 years. The Giants trailed 10-9 at the half — they had a great goal-line stand in the first half and then Denver missed a short field goal — and took control in the third quarter. Bill Parcells called for a fake punt, with Jeff Rutledge going under center and picking up the one yard, leading to a touchdown that changed the momentum. This was the best of the Giants’ four Super Bowl championship teams.
12. Super Bowl X
Steelers 21, Cowboys 17; Jan. 18, 1976 — Miami
Pittsburgh won back-to-back titles for the first of two times thanks to wide receiver Lynn Swann. Swann had four catches for 161 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown his famous acrobatic, juggling catch at midfield. Cowboys QB Roger Staubach had the ball with a chance to win at the end, but Captain Comeback was intercepted by Glen Edwards. The Steelers were on their way to establishing a dynasty.
13. Super Bowl XXXII
Broncos 31, Packers 24; Jan. 25, 1998 — San Diego
John Elway had lost his first three Super Bowls to the Giants, Washington and the 49ers by a combined 136-40. There was no reason to think they could beat the Packers. Elway threw for just 123 yards against Green Bay, but his Helicopter Ride eight-yard run for a first down, featuring him getting flipped in the air by LeRoy Butler and Mike Prior, set up a touchdown in the third quarter and inspired the Broncos. Terrell Davis rushed for 157 yards and Mike Holmgren lost track of downs at the end of the game.
14. Super Bowl XLVII
Ravens 34, 49ers 31; Feb. 3, 2013 — New Orleans
It was an electric matchup in the Harbaugh Bowl — and then half the lights went out in the Superdome in the third quarter, causing a 34-minute delay, which allowed the 49ers to regroup. They trailed by 22 at the time and nearly won the game with Colin Kaepernick throwing into the end zone from the Ravens 7 with a chance to win it. It was only the second Super Bowl that saw both teams score at least 30 points. The Harbaughs met at midfield after the game with winner John consoling his younger brother. “It’s very painful,” John said. And he’s the Harbaugh who won.
15. Super Bowl XLV
Packers 31, Steelers 25; Feb. 6, 2011 — Arlington, Tex.
Aaron Rodgers became the third generation of Packers quarterbacks, following Bart Starr and Brett Favre, to win the Super Bowl. He threw for 304 yards and three TDs and was named Super Bowl MVP. The bigger story: The case of the missing seats at Jerry Jones Stadium, which created quite a few lawsuits.
16. Super Bowl XXXVIII
Patriots 32, Panthers 29; Feb. 1, 2004 — Houston
Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at halftime, courtesy of Justin Timberlake undoing her top after singing “Let’s do something, let’s make a bet, ’cause I gotta have you naked by the end of this song,” revealed her right boob before millions on TV and became a national crisis. Not to mention the streaker that ran on the field at the start of the second half. By the way, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left to win it.
17. Super Bowl XXXIX
Patriots 24, Eagles 21; Feb. 6, 2005 — Jacksonville
Terrell Owens, after sitting out six weeks with a broken leg, was the Eagles’ best player with nine catches for 122 yards, but couldn’t overcome Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb showing no sense of urgency in the closing minutes with Philly down two scores. Maybe it’s because McNabb lost his lunch on the sidelines in the final minutes or Reid is a bad game-day coach. Deion Branch was the MVP with 11 catches for 133 yards as the Patriots won their third Super Bowl, each by three points.
18. Super Bowl XVI
49ers 26, Bengals 21; Jan. 24, 1982 — Pontiac, Mich.
Two weeks after beating the Cowboys on Dwight Clark’s famous catch, the 49ers won the first of their five Super Bowl titles. Vice President George Bush’s motorcade caused a huge traffic jam near the Silverdome and a big bus fire also clogged up traffic. The bus carrying head coach Bill Walsh and half the 49ers team got stuck one mile from the stadium. Too far to walk: The temperature was near single digits. But the most important thing is Joe Montana showed up.
19. Super Bowl V
Colts 16, Cowboys 13; Jan. 17, 1971 — Miami
Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley remains the only player from a losing team to be named Super Bowl MVP. Rookie kicker Jim O’Brien kicked a 32-yard field goal with five seconds remaining, preventing the game from going into OT. This time, Johnny U started and was relieved by Earl Morrall. Unitas had the only Colts TD pass — a 75-yarder that bounced off receiver Eddie Hinton to Mel Renfro to John Mackey, who took it the last 45 yards. The ’Boys and Colts combined for a ridiculous 11 turnovers. Sloppy but exciting game.
20. Super Bowl XIX
49ers 38, Dolphins 16; Jan. 20, 1985 — Palo Alto, Calif.
One of the most anticipated quarterback matchups: Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino. In just his second season, Marino threw for a record 48 touchdowns, which stood for 20 years until Peyton Manning broke it. It was also Bill Walsh vs. Don Shula. This was the best defense the 49ers ever had and it shut out Marino in the second half. He finished with 318 yards, one TD and two INTs. Montana had 331 yards and three TDs.
21. Super Bowl XLIV
Saints 31, Colts 17; Feb. 7, 2010 — Miami
Sean Payton’s daring decision to go for an onside kick to open the second half led to a TD after the Saints barely recovered. It created an extra possession for Drew Brees. The Saints had trailed 10-6 at the half. Then, with Peyton Manning driving for the tying score late in the game, Tracy Porter jumped a route to Reggie Wayne and returned the INT 74 yards for a TD.
22. Super Bowl VII
Dolphins 14, Washington 7; Jan. 14, 1973 — Los Angeles
Garo Yepremian nearly threw away Miami’s undefeated season when a botched field goal attempt ended up with the ball in his hands. For some reason, he tried to throw it, but was intercepted by Mike Bass, who went 49 yards to get Washington within seven points with 2:07 remaining. If the Dolphins lost because of Yepremian, returning to Miami would not have been a good idea. Miami finished 17-0, still the only perfect season.
23. Super Bowl IV
Chiefs 23, Vikings 7; Jan. 11, 1970 — New Orleans
Little did we know then that the Vikings would be the forefathers to the Bills. At least Minnesota’s four Super Bowl losses were not all in consecutive years. They were spread over eight seasons, although their second and third losses were back-to-back. The legend of Lenny “The Cool” Dawson was established as he iced the game with a 46-yard TD pass to Otis Taylor. The Vikings committed five turnovers and CFL graduate Joe Kapp was picked off twice. Much to the pleasure of coach Hank Stram, the Chiefs kept “matriculating the ball down the field.”
24. Super Bowl VI
Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3; Jan. 16, 1972 — New Orleans
Next Year’s Champions, the Cowboys’ unflattering nickname, was put to rest as they became America’s Team, finally winning their first Super Bowl after twice losing to the Packers in the NFL title game and losing the previous Super Bowl to the Colts. Duane Thomas rushed for 95 yards but didn’t say a word to Roger Staubach all season. CBS’ Tom Brookshier conducted an awkward interview with Thomas after the game. “Are you that fast, are you quick, would you say?” Brookshier said to finish up a long question. “Evidently,” Thomas said.
25. Super Bowl I
Packers 35, Chiefs 10; Jan. 15, 1967 — Los Angeles
The Super Bowl didn’t become the Super Bowl until Super Bowl III. The first two games were the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The Packers led only 14-10 at the half, but they established their superiority in the second half. “I think the Kansas City team is a real top football team, but doesn’t compare with the National Football League teams,” Packers coach Vince Lombardi said. “That’s what you want me to say. I said it.” Footnote: Packers receiver Max McGee caught just four passes all year, so sensing he would not be a key player, he was out until 6:30 the morning of the game. Boyd Dowler separated his shoulder on the third play, which meant McGee was the next man up. He caught seven passes for 134 yards and a TD and was proud that he became known “for doing something other than sneaking out the night before the big game.” Only 61,946 showed up at the Los Angeles Coliseum (93,607 capacity).
No. 26. Super Bowl 50
Broncos 24, Panthers 10; Feb. 7, 2016 – Santa Clara, Calif.
Denver’s Von Miller was the star with two strip sacks of Cam Newton. — one was recovered for a TD, the other set up a TD — but Peyton Manning was the story. Manning played one of the worst games ever for a Super Bowl QB — he threw for just 141 yards — but it was the last game of his career. He went out a winner. He retired six weeks after the game.
27. Super Bowl II
Packers 33, Raiders 14; Jan. 14, 1968 — Miami
Another strong performance by the Packers as the NFL once again exhibited its superiority over the AFL. But that would last just another year until Joe Willie and the Jets came along. This was not a really memorable game except it was the final one in Green Bay for Vince Lombardi. In his nine seasons with the Packers, he won five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls. Bart Starr was the Super Bowl MVP for the second year in a row.
28. Super Bowl XIV
Steelers 31, Rams 19; Jan. 20, 1980 — Pasadena
Terry Bradshaw threw for 309 yards with two TDs and three INTs and came up big in the fourth quarter, tossing a 73-yard TD to John Stallworth to put the Steelers ahead. Then he threw a 45-yard pass to Stallworth to set up Franco Harris’ 1-yard run to seal the game. Pittsburgh had four Super Bowl victories, at the time twice as many as any other team.
29. Super Bowl XV
Raiders 27, Eagles 10; Jan. 25, 1981 — New Orleans
Dick Vermeil had the Eagles tucked into bed with a curfew while Tooz and the Raiders were tearing up Bourbon Street until the sun came out. Score one for having fun. The Raiders became the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl. Journeyman quarterback Jim Plunkett, the 1970 Heisman Trophy winner and first overall pick by the Patriots in 1971, threw for three touchdowns and was named Super Bowl MVP. Well, at least the Eagles slept well.
30. Super Bowl XLI
Colts 29, Bears 17; Feb. 4, 2007 — Miami
Peyton Manning gets to his first Super Bowl and wins it in the pouring rain, the worst weather ever for a Super Bowl. He was named MVP but threw for just 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Fortunately for the Colts, they were facing Rex Grossman, the worst QB to ever start a Super Bowl. Chicago stayed in the game because Devin Hester got things rolling by returning the opening kickoff 92 yards for a TD.
31. Super Bowl VIII
Dolphins 24, Vikings 7; Jan. 13, 1974 — Houston
The Dolphins, coming off their perfect season, became the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs since the Packers won the first two. Miami scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and the game was over. The Vikings became the first team to lose two Super Bowls and they were not done. Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who came to the Giants from Minnesota and then was later traded back, was now the Minnesota quarterback, but the result was not any different than in the Vikings’ first trip to the Super Bowl four years earlier with Joe Kapp playing quarterback.
32. Super Bowl XXXI
Packers 35, Patriots 21; Jan. 26, 1997 — New Orleans
This was the last of the NFC’s 13 straight victories, many of them blowouts. Bill Parcells was halfway out the door to the Jets while coaching the Patriots and didn’t even fly back to New England with the team the morning after the game. The Packers, meanwhile, won their first Super Bowl since winning the first two. Curtis Martin brought the Pats to within 27-21 on an 18-yard run late in the third quarter, but Desmond Howard put the game away by returning the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a TD and was named Super Bowl MVP.
33. Super Bowl XL
Steelers 21, Seahawks 10; Feb. 5, 2006 — Detroit
Mike Holmgren was enraged over the officiating and he was not wrong. There still has not been a coach to win the Super Bowl with two different teams. Ben Roethlisberger won the Super Bowl in just his second season, but might have played the worst game ever for a winning QB: 9-of-21 for 123 yards, no TDs, 2 INTs.
34. Super Bowl IX
Steelers 16, Vikings 6; Jan. 12, 1975 — New Orleans
One year after the Vikings became the first team to lose two Super Bowls, they became the first team to lose back-to-back Super Bowls. This was the first of Pittsburgh’s four championships in the ’70s, but the Steelers didn’t get off to a great start. They led just 2-0 at the half after Dwight White tackled Fran Tarkenton for a safety. Minnesota fumbled the second half kickoff setting up the Steelers’ first TD and after the Vikings scored on a blocked punt, Terry Bradshaw’s 4-yard TD pass to Larry Brown clinched Pittsburgh’s first title.
35. Super Bowl XXXVII
Bucs 48, Raiders 21; Jan. 26, 2003 — San Diego
The Gruden Bowl wasn’t much of a game. In the first season after he was acquired from the Raiders for two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million, Jon Gruden had all the answers against Rich Gannon, whom he helped make into an elite QB late in his career. It’s almost as if Gruden put the Bucs defense in the Raiders huddle — they intercepted Gannon five times and returned three of the picks for TDs.
36. Super Bowl XI
Raiders 32, Vikings 14; Jan. 9, 1977 — Pasadena
How do you ruin the Super Bowl? Just bring back the Vikings. This was their fourth loss and none of them were really close. Think about it: This was just the 11th Super Bowl and Minnesota lost four of them to four different teams. The Vikings have not been back. Fran Tarkenton threw two fourth quarter interceptions, one setting up a touchdown and the other returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Willie Brown.
37. Super Bowl XXX
Cowboys 27, Steelers 17; Jan. 28, 1996 — Tempe
What can Brown do for you? Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown picked off two passes that Neil O’Donnell tossed right to him and Dallas won its third Super Bowl in four years. They also proved Jerry Jones right; in the days before his divorce from Jimmy Johnson, he had declared that the ’Boys had so much talent that 500 coaches could have won the two Super Bowls that Johnson won. If the aloof Barry Switzer could win a Super Bowl with the Triple Threat of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, then surely there were 499 other coaches in the country who could have done it, too.
38. Super Bowl XVII
Washington 27, Dolphins 17; Jan. 30, 1983 — Pasadena
John Riggins, the ex-Jet, ran through the Dolphins for 166 yards on 38 carries. Washington rushed for 276 yards. It was Washington’s first title since 1942. Riggins’ 43-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter gave Washington its first lead. Joe Gibbs won the first of his three Super Bowls. It was the first of Gibbs’ two titles that came in a strike season.
39. Super Bowl XXVIII
Cowboys 30, Bills 13; Jan. 30, 1994 — Atlanta
After getting blown out by five touchdowns the year before by the Cowboys, at least the Bills kept this close for most of the game before losing their fourth Super Bowl in four years. Buffalo led 13-6 at the half but was outscored 24-0 in the second half. Troy Aikman played one week after suffering a severe concussion against the 49ers. Emmitt Smith had his back with 132 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
40. Super Bowl XXVI
Washington 37, Bills 24; Jan. 26, 1992 — Minneapolis
Joe Gibbs won his third Super Bowl with three different quarterbacks: Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and this time Mark Rypien, who was the MVP after throwing for 292 yards and two TDs. Washington had a 27-point lead in the fourth quarter before Buffalo showed some pride by scoring two touchdowns in the final six minutes. The game had early intrigue with Thurman Thomas on the bench for the first two plays after misplacing his helmet. It was the second straight Super Bowl loss for the Bills, who would then lose to the Cowboys the next two years.
41. Super Bowl XII
Cowboys 27, Broncos 10; Jan. 15, 1978 — New Orleans
Tom Landry couldn’t decide who to start in a 1971 game at Chicago: Roger Staubach or Craig Morton? So, he had them alternate by play. Dallas lost, Landry settled on Staubach and the Cowboys went on to win the Super Bowl the next year. Morton was later traded to the Giants — the Cowboys used Big Blue’s first-round pick to take Randy White — and he eventually wound up in Denver facing Staubach in the Super Bowl. If Morton was trying to prove to Landry he made the wrong choice, he was not convincing: He was benched afer completing 4 of 15 passes for 39 yards with four INTs. Staubach’s 45-yard TD to Butch Johnson in the third quarter put the game away.
42. Super Bowl XXXV
Ravens 34, Giants 7; Jan. 28, 2001 — Tampa
The Giants were not competitive against one of the great defenses of all time. Kerry Collins was intercepted four times and the Ravens held the Giants to 152 yards of offense. The Giants’ only score came on Ron Dixon’s 97-yard kickoff return to bring them within 17-7 in the third quarter. But Jermaine Lewis immediately answered with an 84-yard kickoff return for a TD to put the game out of reach. The Super Bowl week was all about Ray Lewis, who one year earlier was charged with double murder in Atlanta in the hours after the Rams-Titans Super Bowl. He spent 15 days in jail but the charges were later dropped after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of obstruction of justice. Lewis was named Super Bowl MVP, but breaking from tradition the NFL did not put him on the cover of the following season’s Record and Fact book, a place usually reserved for Super Bowl MVPs.
43. Super Bowl XXXIII
Broncos 34, Falcons 19; Jan. 31, 1999 — Miami
John Elway and Mike Shanahan vs. Dan Reeves was a mismatch as Elway finished up his career with back-to-back championships. But the story of the game was Falcons safety Eugene Robinson. On the morning of the day before the game, he received the Bart Starr award for high moral character. That night, with his family in town, he left the hotel and was arrested for solicitation of an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute. Robinson was offering $40. He was beat by Rod Smith for a TD in the second quarter on an 80-yard pass from Elway. Clearly, he had other things on his mind.
44. Super Bowl XXIX
49ers 49, Chargers 26; Jan. 29, 1995 — Miami
Steve Young was on the sideline in the final minutes asking teammates to take the monkey off his back. Why? He had finally emerged from the shadow of Joe Montana by throwing for 325 yards and a Super Bowl record six TDs. Jerry Rice caught 10 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. It was the 49ers’ fifth Super Bowl title, but they have been back just once since and lost. The Chargers have not been asked to return.
45. Super Bowl XXVII
Cowboys 52, Bills 17; Jan. 31, 1993 — Pasadena
How ’bout them Cowboys? It took 16 years for the Cowboys to get back to the Super Bowl, but they made up for lost time. Troy Aikman threw four TDs, Emmitt Smith ran for 108 yards and the Bills turned it over nine times. But the most memorable play came when Leon Lett was showboating on his way toward the end zone with a fumble recovery. Don Beebe chased him down and knocked the ball out of his hands after Lett had run 64 yards.
46. Super Bowl XXII
Washington 42, Broncos 10; Jan. 31, 1988 — San Diego
Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback to start the Super Bowl. It came following a week in which he was asked at a media session, “How long have you been a black quarterback?” The night before the game, Williams required emergency dental work, but it clearly didn’t impact him in the game. After trailing 10-0, Washington exploded in the second quarter, scoring five TDs on 18 plays in just 5:47. Williams finished with 340 yards passing and four TDs. But the Super Bowl MVP was running back Timmy Smith, who had 204 yards rushing, still a Super Bowl record, with two TDs, including a 58-yard score.
47. Super Bowl XVIII
Raiders 38, Washington 9; Jan. 22, 1984 — Tampa
This game produced the play that was the most glaring error of Joe Gibbs’ coaching career. Washington trailed 14-3 in the final seconds of the first half. Instead of having Joe Theismann take a knee deep in his own end of the field and head into the locker room still in the game, Theismann made Jack Squirek a Super Bowl hero. He lofted a pass in the flat that Squirek picked off and returned five yards for a touchdown. Marcus Allen, who ran for 191 yards, had TD runs of five and 74 yards in the second half and was named Super Bowl MVP. The Raiders have been holding steady at three Super Bowl victories for the last 32 years.
48. Super Bowl XX
Bears 46, Patriots 10; Jan. 26, 1986 — New Orleans
The Bears were a wild team and spent more time on Bourbon Street than the practice field. Even before they won the game, they taped the “Super Bowl Shuffle,” which became a hit video. Jim McMahon mooned a local TV news crew to show them where he had acupuncture, the Bears defense overwhelmed the Patriots and Mike Ditka angered Walter Payton by giving the ball to Refrigerator Perry to score at the goal line instead of him.
49. Super Bowl XLVIII
Seahawks 43, Broncos 8; Feb. 2, 2014 — East Rutherford, N.J.
The fear was this was going to be a terrible game if snow and cold weather showed up. The weather was almost spring-like. The problem was the Broncos didn’t show up. The game was over as soon as the first snap of the game sailed over Peyton Manning’s right shoulder and was recovered in the end zone by the Broncos for a safety. The Seahawks led 22-0 at the half and any thoughts of a Broncos comeback ended when Percy Harvin returned the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
50. Super Bowl XXIV
49ers 55, Broncos 10; Jan. 28, 1990 — New Orleans
In a four-year period, the Broncos were outscored by 96 points in three Super Bowls. Joe Montana threw for 297 yards and five TDs, bringing his four-game Super Bowl total to 11 TDs and 0 INTs and three MVPs.
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