Staff Writer: Colton Almeida
Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles is set for Sunday, February 12th. As the sports world prepares for what should be an excellent matchup, let’s take a look back and rank 10 of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.
10. Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16 – Baltimore Colts 7
One of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history took place very early on in the game’s history. This game was actually the first to be named the “Super Bowl.”
The New York Jets came in as heavy underdogs versus the Johnny Unitas-led Colts. Just days before the championship game, Jets quarterback Joe Namath famously guaranteed a victory.
As for the game itself, it wasn’t filled with fireworks but provided a close, entertaining game.
The 19.5-point underdog Jets led 13-0 entering the fourth and would end up holding on to secure the shocking upset.
What makes this game deserving of a spot on this list is its aftermath.
The league was currently split in two, with the “NFL” being separate from the “AFL.” This game served as an important step towards the AFL-NFL merger, which would occur just one year later after Super Bowl IV.
9. Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants 20 – Buffalo Bills 19
Look away, Bills fans. The first of a staggering four straight Super Bowl losses for Buffalo came at the hands of the New York Giants.
The Giants possessed a strong defense led by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. A tremendous coaching staff included head coach Bill Parcels and a young Bill Belichick as defensive coordinator.
On the other side, the Bills sported a ridiculous amount of talent, with names like Reggie White and Thurmon Thomas forefronting the roster.
The game finished on an iconic missed 47-yard field goal by Scott Norwood, one that would haunt Bills fans for decades to come.
8. Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35 – Dallas Cowboys 31
A vintage display of offense between two legendary franchises falls to number eight on my list.
While I was certainly not around to witness this one firsthand, there is little doubt in my mind that it deserves a spot on this list.
Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach went back and forth until the Steelers eventually pulled ahead 35-17. The defending champs would rally back, but by late in the fourth, it was too little too late for America’s Team, and the Steelers held on.
This would mark the third of the Steelers’ four eventual titles in the 1970s.
7. Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23 – Tennessee Titans 16
The Rams-Titans Super Bowl 34 battle delivered as fantastic of a finish as one could hope for.
With less than two minutes to go, the Titans took the ball at their own 12-yard line. Quarterback Steve McNair marched the offense down the field, setting up one final play from the Rams 10.
A pass over the middle was completed, but Rams’ linebacker Mike Jones made a play so famous it would end up being known simply as “The Tackle.” The Titans were stopped one yard shy, and the image of Titans receiver Kevin Dyson’s outstretched arm coming up just short became immortalized in NFL lore.
6. Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles 4 – New England Patriots 33
Backup quarterback Nick Foles completed this improbable Eagles Cinderella run with a thrilling eight-point victory over the favored New England Patriots.
The game featured an offensive explosion, as the teams combined for a record-setting 1,151 yards. Both defenses showed little resistance throughout, and punts were at a premium.
This game saw one of the greatest trick plays in Super Bowl history, as the “Philly Special” executed by the Eagles cashed in a much-needed touchdown before the half.
In the end, Tom Brady had a chance to tie it up, but a strip sack by Brandon Graham ended the Patriots’ rally and delivered the city of Philadelphia their first Super Bowl title.
5. Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20 – Cincinnati Bengals 16
Another iconic franchise in the San Francisco 49ers, earn a spot in the top 10.
That being said, it was the 7-point underdog Bengals who led 13-6 into the final quarter of play.
That’s when Joe Montana calmly led a 14-point quarter en route to a comeback victory. Montana won four Super Bowls in his time as a Niner, and this might’ve been his best.
The game-winning drive orchestrated by Montana went 92 yards on 11 plays. Jerry Rice would be named Super Bowl MVP, but Joe Cool delivered another vintage performance.
4. Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17 – New England Patriots 14
Ah, Super Bowl 42. I can’t lie, this game brings a smile to my face, and I’m not going to try to hide that. The undefeated 18-0 Patriots came into the Super Bowl favored by 12 points against the 10-6 Giants.
No one was giving New York a shot.
That whole idea of everyone counting a team out is carelessly thrown around a lot in the sports world, but this game encapsulated what it truly meant to be written off entirely.
The Giants proceeded to pull off one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
The Giants executed the formula that always gave Tom Brady trouble throughout his career, which of course, was pressure. Their ferocious defensive line included Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.
Despite playing the Patriots as well as they could have hoped, the Giants still found themselves down 14-10 late in the game.
Enter Eli Manning and David Tyree. The “Helmet Catch” might well be the most recognizable play in NFL history. The image of Manning nearly getting sacked, somehow escaping, then delivering a fantastic ball that is miraculously caught by Tyree against his helmet is pure art.
The Giants would then score a go-ahead touchdown moments later to seal the deal and finish the shocking upset.
3. Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots 34 – Atlanta Falcons 28 (OT)
The greatest Super Bowl collapse of all time finds itself at number three on my list.
The Falcons jumped out to a now infamous 28-3 lead, but mistakes snowballed out of control in the second half. The Patriots capitalized on nearly every Falcon hiccup and were able to send the game to overtime.
This game also serves as the only overtime game in Super Bowl history to date.
Again, one of the major criteria of what makes a game great are iconic moments. This game absolutely delivered in that category.
Julian Edelman made a truly absurd catch surrounded by three Atlanta defenders. Julio Jones made a clutch toe tap catch that looked to seal the Falcons’ victory until dumb play calling and a boneheaded holding penalty negated the terrific play.
Then, of course, Tom Brady orchestrated a methodical overtime touchdown drive, ensuring the Falcons never even got a chance to possess the ball.
2. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – Arizona Cardinals 23
I may have this game higher on the list than most, but I can live with that. I’m not sure why this game isn’t routinely discussed in the top three because it absolutely delivers in every aspect.
James Harrison’s 100-yard pick-six of Kurt Warner was historic.
Then you have Cardinals’ legend Larry Fitzgerlad seemingly willing his team toward a win.
They, of course, come up short because of an unbelievable throw and catch from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes for a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds.
This game is also so unique because of the dynamic between the franchises.
On one side, you have arguably the most historic franchise in the Pittsburgh Steelers, seeking a record 6th Super Bowl title.
On the other, the Arizona Cardinals were a ringless, underdog franchise that had never even been to the Super Bowl.
The David versus Goliath matchup ended up as one of the best games in the NFL’s history, and I reward it with number two on my list.
1. Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots 28 – Seattle Seahawks 24
As much as it pains me to say it, this is the greatest Super Bowl ever played. A wire-to-wire battle featuring a dominant defense in the Seattle Seahawks and a high-powered offense in the New England Patriots.
The Seahawks were also seeking back-to-back titles, having won the year prior 43-8 over the Denver Broncos.
In this one, the Seahawks led 24-14 into the final quarter of play. Tom Brady orchestrated what at the time was the largest 4th quarter Super Bowl comeback.
The second half of this game rattled off one memorable moment after another.
After the Patriots took the late 28-24 lead, the Seahawks drove down the field looking for the win. Jermaine Kearse made one of the most fantastic, improbable catches that would end up being forgotten in history due to what happened next.
With under 30 seconds to go at the Patriots’ 1-yard line, Russell Wilson threw a game-sealing interception to Malcolm Butler to secure a 4th title for New England.
A game that had it all, Super Bowl 49 deserves no other spot than number one on this list.