Ranking the Super Bowls
by Trevor Whenham - 1/27/2010
The Super Bowl isn't always a good game. Sometimes, in fact, it is a real stinker. I'm not anticipating a life-changing game that I will remember forever this year. There have been, though, some truly memorable games played. Here is my attempt, based on memory and what I have read, at ranking the Super Bowls, or at least the 10 best. I'm not going to worry about one specific element that made them so good, because each game had its own strengths.
I first did this in 2008, and though things obviously haven't changed that much, the last two games have caused a bit of a change to the rankings because they both definitely belong among the 10 best Super Bowls of all time. Let's look at where they slot in now:
10. Super Bowl XLIII - Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23. People didn't come into this game with high hopes, or with a lot of respect for the Cardinals. Many people were calling the Cards the worst playoff team in history, but they just never quit, and they almost pulled off the miracle. There are several moments in this game that will stick in my mind forever - James Harrison's 100-yard interception return at the end of the first half, Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard TD with less than three minutes left to take the lead, and Santonio Holmes' impossible TD catch for the win.
9. Super Bowl XXXVIII - New England 32, Carolina 29. This couldn't have been more exciting. Two years earlier the Panthers were 1-15. Maybe there is hope for the Rams after all. The game was a defensive battle that erupted in the fourth quarter when 37 points were scored. Ricky Proehl tied it up late, and Adam Vinatieri won it with a last second 41-yarder. This is also the game in which the world was introduced to Janet Jackson's nipple.
8. Super Bowl XXIII - San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16. This was just a game until the last three minutes. Then it became legendary. That's when Joe Montana drove his team 92 yards to take the lead for good. It would have been even better in the eyes of a lot of bettors if he had covered the seven-point spread. You may also remember the nightmare of a half-time show - some 3D mess with a bad Elvis impersonator. Thankfully, the 80's ended soon after this game.
7. Super Bowl XXIV - San Francisco 55, Denver 10. Everyone knew that this was going to be a blowout (the spread was 12 points), but that didn't make it any less fun to watch. Joe Montana was as good as a quarterback can be – 22-of-29 for 297 yards and five touchdowns. The Broncos looked shell-shocked by the end of the first quarter.
6. Super Bowl XXXIV - St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16. Bookmakers must cry about this game when they think of it - it ended as a push, so they had to give all the money back. The part of this game that will endure forever is 'The Tackle'. Kevin Dyson looked like he had the tying touchdown on the last play in regulation, but Mike Jones tackled him on the one-yard line. This was the year that Kurt Warner became sure he would never have to go back to stocking grocery store shelves again.
5. Super Bowl XXV - New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19. The closest game in Super Bowl History is defined for eternity by one name - Scott Norwood. Buffalo's kicker had a last second shot at glory, but he pushed the 47 yarder wide right. It was an impressive defensive display, though both sides had a 100-yard rusher. The defensive coordinator for the Giants was some guy you might have heard of - Bill Belichick.
4. Super Bowl XXXII - Denver 31, Green Bay 24. John Elway finally got a Super Bowl ring, but he needed a big upset to get it. Green Bay was favored by 11, and it looked justified when Brett Favre threw for a touchdown on the opening drive. The Broncos fought back, though, led by game MVP Terrell Davis. He ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns despite missing the second quarter with a migraine headache.
3. Super Bowl III - New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7. The biggest upset in Super Bowl History is my third best game. The Colts were favored by 18, but Jets' QB Joe Namath guaranteed a victory before the game, and backed it up with an MVP performance in the first game that was actually called the Super Bowl. The interesting thing about Namath's game is that he didn't actually have to throw a touchdown to be named MVP. Apparently, being incredibly cocky was enough.
2. Super Bowl XXXVI - New England 20, St. Louis 17. The Greatest Show on Turf was absolutely stunned in this massive upset. St. Louis was favored by two touchdowns, and few thought that some kid named Brady could even make a game of it for New England. The Patriots first turned heads when they refused to have individual player introductions and instead entered the stadium as a team. They shocked more people when they opened a 17-3 lead. Kurt Warner was valiant in defeat, throwing for 365 yards (the second highest total in game history behind his 414 two years earlier), but he threw two key interceptions to seal his team’s fate. Vinatieri again won it with a last second kick. The halftime show was also perhaps the best ever, with U2
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1. Super Bowl XLII - New York Giants 17, New England 14. There is nothing that makes for a better Super Bowl than an upset, and there has never been a bigger upset than this one. The Patriots were undefeated, and they had a historically potent offense. They were everyone's Super Bowl pick. The Giants were a wild card team that just snuck into the playoffs, and they seemed to be totally outclassed. Things rarely turn out like they are supposed to, and this was no exception. The Giants' defense was surprisingly effective in the first half, and then the second half really got crazy. David Tyree made the craziest catch in Super Bowl history, and Plaxico Burress used his size to make the winning catch. The Patriots haven't been the same since this soul-crushing loss.