Ryan remains one of the best quarterbacks in history without a Super Bowl ring. The former NFL MVP played in 2017 against the Patriots in one of the most infamous games ever. Atlanta suffered a massive meltdown as they dropped a record lead. But Ryan was one of the losing players who emerged with credit.
The quarterback didn’t throw a single interception in the legacy-defining defeat. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 284 yards and a pair of touchdown passes as he drove his team forward. Lots went wrong for Atlanta that day but Ryan did his best and deserved more from his teammates (via Sports Illustrated).
Fitzgerald was one of the best players who never won a Super Bowl. The 11-time Pro Bowler played in the showpiece event in 2009 against the Steelers. Fitzgerald and his quarterback, Kurt Warner, had excellent games. They were two of the top losing players in the event’s history but it’s easy to forget this (via AZCentral).
The wideout had 127 receiving yards with seven catches and two touchdowns. Arizona fell cruelly short of a momentous victory. Fitzgerald or Warner would likely have won the game’s MVP award but they ran out of time. Fitzgerald joined the likes of Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino as legends who retired without rings.
The Bills lost four straight Super Bowls as they turned it into an art form. But Thomas gave everything in 1991 against the Giants. He managed to achieve lethal productivity even though the Bills underutilized him. Thomas set the standard for losing players with this heroic display (via Bleacher Report).
Thurman rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Everything he did was brilliant but the Bills failed to get over the line. This was agonizing for Thurman because he deserved more. It remains shocking that Thomas didn’t get a ring but he won the league’s MVP award. The running back was one of the best players of his generation.
Owens is on this list because he had no right to even play in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles star broke his leg in December and also tore a ligament. Everybody wrote him off and assumed there would be a long road to recovery. But Owens belied expectations and started for the Eagles against the Patriots.
He caught nine passes for 122 yards as he showed no ill effects. Indeed, it’s not the greatest stat line ever but the context improves this story. We often forget losing players’ stories but Owens went through so much. He didn’t win a ring but he won the respect of every NFL fan in the country (via SBNation).
Hurts had the game of his life for Philadelphia in Super Bowl LVII. He made history with Patrick Mahomes because it was the first time a pair of African-American quarterbacks started for both teams in the showpiece event. Hurts exploded for three touchdowns as the Eagles pulled off multiple QB sneaks. This was also a Super Bowl record (via CBS Sports).
The Philly star threw for 300 yards but had one costly fumble that handed Kansas City a touchdown. This was cruel because the Chiefs won by three points. But many people thought that Hurts deserved MVP recognition. Losing players don’t win this award and Mahomes overshadowed him. Nonetheless, Hurts had an exceptional performance for his franchise.