Greatest Super Bowls: Ranking the Top 5 Matchups
The Super Bowl is one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. If not for the actual game itself, the hoopla surrounding the spectacle including the commercials, the performances, the long lead up to kick off, the food, the drinks and everything in between is enough to pique even the non-football fans interest.
From a betting perspective, only the World Cup could lay claim to be a more wagered upon sporting event in the world. It's estimated that in 2017, sportsbooks in Nevada took in close to $4.7 billion, with $158.6 million of it brought in on Super Bowl LII when the Philadelphia Eagles shocked the world and beat the New England Patriots.
However, just because you can bet on the game in a myriad of different ways, it doesn't necessarily mean the game will be good entertainment. Just ask those who sat through Super Bowl XXVII and witnessed the Dallas Cowboys destroy the Buffalo Bills 52-17, or those who sat through the four hours of watching Peyton Manning constantly get bombarded by the Seattle defense in their 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII loss.
Some Super Bowls will live in infamy for what happened on the field, and some will be remembered for what happened during half time (hello, Janet Jackson). To get you in the right frame of mind for the big game, let's take a stroll down memory lane and recount the five greatest Super Bowls of all time - in my opinion.
No. 5 - Super Bowl III - New York Jets 16 - Baltimore Colts 7
I am not trying to date myself here, but I wasn't around for this game. From a greatest Super Bowl perspective, however, this was the inaugural "Super Bowl" that pitted the AFL vs the NFL. The Jets, led by Joe Namath, were listed as 18-point underdogs. This game is famous for Namath's proclamation that the Jets would in fact shock the world and pull off the upset. From a game perspective, Namath backed up his talk, throwing for 17 completions and 206 yards, as his team led 16-0 entering the fourth quarter. The Jets, to this day, remain the only team in Super Bowl history to win while recording just one touchdown (offensive, defensive or special teams).
From a bigger picture perspective, this game put the AFL on the map just one year before the big AFL/NFL merger. Many "experts" deemed the AFL to be teams filled with "lesser" players and "lesser" talent, so when the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL followed up the Jets win with one of their own the following Super Bowl, the AFL leveled the series at two Super Bowls a piece. This is the only Super Bowl victory the Jets franchise has celebrated.
No. 4 - Super Bowl XXXIV - St. Louis Rams 23 - Tennessee Titans 16
Depending on which side you were rooting for, this game could be known as "One Yard Short" or "The Tackle". From a Rams perspective, they rode the MVP-caliber play of Kurt Warner throughout the regular season and in the Super Bowl to capture the city of St. Louis their first NFL title. For the Rams' fan base, this game will be known as "The Tackle" as on the final play of the game, quarterback Steve McNair completed a slant pass to Kevin Dyson, who had to go just 10 yards to break the plane of the goaline. Instead, he was wrapped up around the legs by Mike Jones at the five-yard line, and as Dyson reached the ball towards the goaline his efforts fell a yard short. He was ultimately marked down at the one-yard line as time expired. This play was included among the greatest moments in sports in the last 25 years.
No.3 - Super Bowl XXXVIII - New England 32 - Carolina 29
Hello, Janet Jackson.
Super Bowl 38 is highly regarded as one of the most well played Super Bowls in history. I remember where I was for this Super Bowl, as the infamous half time show generated more buzz than the game itself. This game was essentially a game of two quarters. The first quarter was moot because the score was 0-0. The second quarter produced 24 points, with the Patriots taking a 14-10 lead into the break. Once again, the teams were held scoreless in the third quarter, before 27 points were scored in the fourth, including Adam Vinatieri's 41-yard game-winning field goal. This game was somewhat of an enigma, because despite being held without points in two full quarters, the two teams still combined to put up 868 total yards and 61 points. That's absurd. This Super Bowl win was also part of that Patriots dynasty of three titles in four seasons.
No.2 - Super Bowl XLIII - Pittsburgh 27 - Arizona 23
There are two lasting moments that can be remembered from this game, and both of them belong to the winning Pittsburgh Steelers. The first came just before half time, at the 18-second mark to be exact, as James Harrison faked a blitz before dropping into coverage and picking off a Kurt Warner pass. Harrison then proceeded down the sideline, and before you knew it (16 seconds later) he was in for the score. This 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was the longest touchdown in Super Bowl history until Jacoby Jones took it 108 yards on a kick-off return in Super Bowl XLVII.
The second lasting image from this Super Bowl lives long in Steelers' hearts as the second coming of the "Immaculate Reception". With just 35 seconds left in the game, down by three and on the Arizona six-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone for one of the greatest touchdowns catches in Super Bowl history. Holmes used all 5'11" of his frame to snag the ball out of the air and have enough presence of mine to get his tip-toes down in bounds before tumbling out of bounds. It was a moment of brilliance by both QB and WR, but it's one that earned Holmes Super Bowl MVP honors, making him just the sixth receiver all time (and third Steeler) and last WR to win MVP honors.
And lastly, the best Super Bowl I've ever witnessed;
No.1 - Super Bowl LI - New England 34 - Atlanta 28 (OT)
What didn't this game have? This game was the first Super Bowl to go beyond 60 minutes of play. This game produced the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. And it cemented Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the best coach/QB duo in the history of the game.
We all remember how this game went down. Atlanta led 28-3 midway through the third quarter before the Patriots caught a few breaks and completely flipped the game plan around in order to move the ball and put up points. Tom Brady was his usual masterful self, tossing two touchdown passes to go along with 43 completions (Super Bowl record) and 466 yards. He also won his fourth (a record) Super Bowl MVP honors.
The Falcons essentially pissed the game away by not milking the clock down enough to the point where they would leave little time for the Patriots to mount a comeback. Toward the end of the third quarter the Falcons had a 99.8 percent chance of winning, which is why the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time is also the greatest Super Bowl of all time - in my opinion.
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