The Super Bowl is the biggest event on the U.S. sports calendar. Every year millions of people around the world tune in and pretend they understand what’s happening. Meanwhile, half of the nation drinks too much, eats too much chicken, and calls in sick the next day. But Super Bowls are special so this is acceptable behavior in much of the United States.
Let’s get into the spirit of the Vince Lombardi Trophy by ranking the top 25 Super Bowls ever. These games were great for many reasons. We had historic comebacks, late drama, and iconic quarterback duels. Check out the list below via CBS Sports.
25. Patriots vs. Eagles (2004)
The Patriots met the Eagles in one of the wackiest Super Bowls ever. Many people have an enduring memory of Donavon McNabb vomiting during the game. The quarterback had a bad day, throwing three interceptions and tarnishing his reputation. Meanwhile, Terrell Davis later accused him of drinking heavily the night before. However, Davis wasn’t faultless either.
Despite the Eagles’ dysfunctional nature, the game was still close. The Patriots led by 10 points late on but allowed Philly back into contention. However, McNabb’s final interception proved costly and enabled New England to retain control. Finally, the Pats won their third Super Bowl in four years and sealed their dynasty (via SBNation).
This wasn’t the greatest Super Bowl in terms of overall competitiveness. Tampa Bay blew out the Chiefs but it was all about Tom Brady. He won his seventh ring which was more than any franchise in NFL history. If there were any doubts about his status as the greatest of all time, he erased them. Furthermore, he won the Super Bowl MVP award an unprecedented fifth time.
Brady stole the show but this was also a great day for Tampa Bay. First, they became the first franchise to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Bruce Arians also became the oldest head coach ever to win a ring (via Arizona Sports). Meanwhile, Kansas City was underwhelming and their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes failed to score like usual. It was a strange but epic game in Florida.
Defenses win titles but an elite quarterback can make a difference too. Unfortunately, Miami has traditionally struggled to find a balance. The former helped them to Super Bowl XVII but David Woodley wasn’t up to the job. When they signed Dan Marino the following season, the balance tipped in the opposite direction. In the end, this was the John Riggins show (via L.A. Times).
Many Super Bowls see great individual performances but this was electrifying. He broke several records for rushing yards on his way to the game’s MVP award. Meanwhile, Joe Theismann also had a good game, unlike Woodley whose display was costly. Washington did it the hard way because they trailed 17-10 at one point. It’s a painful memory for Miami but they’re used to them.
These days it’s very unusual for a cornerback to win a Super Bowl MVP award. But that’s exactly what Larry Brown achieved in the 30th installment of the iconic event. The Steelers and Cowboys have an iconic rivalry and it all came to a head again here. Brown’s pair of interceptions were crucial as he returned them for touchdowns. There was also 13 future Hall of Famers involved in this game.
After the game, Troy Aikman admitted that he was glad it was all over (via Dallas Morning News). That’s because it was a grueling campaign for the Cowboys with a tough December. Finally, they exorcised their teams and got back on track. They won three Super Bowls in four years. This one finished 27-17, as they inflicted the Steelers’ first Super Bowl defeat.
The Patriots were out for revenge in this Super Bowl game. New York ended their dreams of an undefeated season in the 2009 Super Bowl game. Everybody expected New England to put the Giants to the sword and inflict payback. However, Eli Manning was the bane of Tom Brady’s existence in those years. After an 88-yard drive, the Giants got the winning score.
They broke Patriots’ hearts again as Manning earned his second MVP award. This one didn’t hurt quite as much as the previous defeat. That’s because the same legacy wasn’t at stake. But it was still a bitter defeat because the Patriots expected to win Super Bowls now. To lose twice to an inferior team on paper was terrible (via New York Times).
Pittsburgh and Dallas have contested many great Super Bowls. This was the tenth installment of the game and it was amazing. The Steelers hoped to become back-to-back champions but Dallas planned to ruin the party. It was a classic clash of defense versus offense. Pittsburgh had the famous ‘Steel Curtain’ while Dallas passed a dynamic and exciting attack.
However, the Pittsburgh offense stood up when it counted. They trailed in the fourth quarter but Lynn Swann produced a moment of magic. The wideout caught a 64-yard pass as the Steelers blitzed ‘America’s Team.’ Swann was phenomenal on his way to the Super Bowl MVP award. In the end, Pittsburgh held on and won the game 21-17 (via WTAE.com).
It’s easy to forget the short-term impact that Drew Bledsoe had on the Patriots. He turned them into a playoff team in one season and a contender inside three. However, New England’s history before Tom Brady is traumatic. This was no exception as they faced the Packers in their second Super Bowl appearance. It was a great game of football but Bill Parcell’s team came up just short.
The Patriots trailed throughout the entirety of the game but always kept things interesting. It didn’t help that Bledsoe had a poor display. His four interceptions were costly while Green Bay sacked him five times. In the end, it was the Packers’ day as they won their third Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Brett Favre won his only ring as a starter for Green Bay (via Mercury News).
The Kansas City Chiefs ended 50 years of heartache when they defeated the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Their inspirational quarterback Patrick Mahomes was crucial to their development into contenders. Mahomes didn’t start the game well as San Francisco took an early lead. However, Andy Reid’s team regrouped and created history for the franchise (via Kansas City.com).
After throwing the first two interceptions of his postseason career, Mahomes got it together. He inspired Kansas City to a couple of key scores and they took the lead with less than three minutes left. Then, a Kendall Fuller interception won them the game as they played the clock perfectly. It was a heartbreaking defeat for San Francisco as they failed to add to their five Super Bowls.
Most Super Bowl fairytales turn into nightmares. But the Saints came off on the right side of one when they overcame the Colts. Indy were five-point favorites and had the great Peyton Manning at their disposal. Most analysts believed that they would have too much for Sean Peyton’s Saints. However, Drew Brees was calmness personified as he led his franchise to their first Super Bowl win.
This was a major missed opportunity for the Steelers. They were slight underdogs against the Packers in Super Bowl XLV. It’s not often that two of the most legendary franchises in NFL history clash like this. Green Bay dominated throughout the first half as Pittsburgh struggled to cope with their offense. But the Steelers managed to bring the game closer before The Black Eyed Peas came out.
Then, a reinvigorated Pittsburgh scored another touchdown. Suddenly, the score was 28-25 and the comeback was on. But the Packers stayed calm and put some daylight between the teams with a field goal. Pittsburgh still had a chance to win but the Packers’ defense was just too good. Aaron Rodgers won the MVP award and the only Super Bowl ring of his career (via Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).
San Francisco had a 100% Super Bowl success rate before this game. However, a staunch Baltimore side ended their winning streak. Joe Flacco had the game of his life as the quarterback threw three touchdown passes. He finished the contest with 287 yards and no interceptions. Meanwhile, the Niners’ QB Colin Kaepernick didn’t have such a fine day at the office.
A controversial pass interference no-call hung over the game, but the Ravens were good value for their win. It was also noteworthy for another reason because a power outage caused a 30-minute delay. This never even happened in the early Super Bowls so it was a bizarre twist. Flacco came into this one with a lot of critics but he silenced them (via Bleacher Report).
This was the Rams’ first Super Bowl appearance but it wasn’t a happy one. They played Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl and lost a heartbreaking game. However, it sealed the Steelers’ status as the greatest team of their era. They became the first franchise to win four Super Bowls. Nolan Cromwell had one of the worst chokes in the game’s history when he dropped the ball late on (via OCRegister).
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was ruthless in possession. In the fourth quarter, they scored 14 unanswered points to put the prize beyond the Rams’ reach. Terry Bradshaw won the MVP award for his pair of touchdown passes and his general calm passing. In the end, the game finished 31-19 but it was closer than the scoreline suggests. It was a classic Super Bowl final.
Terrell Davis was outstanding in this game on his way to the Super Bowl MVP award. The Packers were unable to contain him because he scored a record three rushing touchdowns. Amazingly, he wasn’t even in good health because he played with a severe headache. But he delivered when it mattered most and helped Denver to their first-ever title (via SBNation).
This game was very close until the end. Green Bay found themselves chasing the game after losing their early lead. In the dying moments, Favre threw an incomplete pass and the Broncos were able to run the clock down. It was an exciting game of football and one of the best Super Bowls ever. John Elway also sealed his Denver immortality after a great day.
This was the beginning of a dynasty for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Nobody even really knew who the sixth-round draft pick was before Drew Bledsoe’s injury. However, he stepped up in style and inspired his team to the AFC East title. Bledsoe returned for the Championship Game after Brady sprained his ankle. But Belichick threw his young star back in when it counted (via Boston Globe).
St. Louis were 14-point favorites before this game. However, Brady showed calmness beyond his experience as he inspired his team to victory. This culminated in Adam Vinatieri’s field goal in the dying moments. As Super Bowls go, this was one of the most important because it kicked off the Patriots’ dominance for two decades. Believe it or not, this was a fairytale at the time.
Some Super Bowls throw up fairytales but others serve up agony. Luckily, this was the former for Kurt Warner. His rise in St. Louis is well-documented because he followed an unorthodox path. The Greatest Show on Earth took on the Titans as seven-point favorites. Yes, they won in the end, but they didn’t do it the easy way. It appeared as though were in cruise control after taking a 16-0 lead (via Bleacher Report).
However, Tennessee deserves credit because they didn’t give up. They came back to tie the score late. But this amazing game had more twists. Warner found Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown before the Titans came back down the other end. They were inches from equalizing it again and sending the game to overtime. But Mike Jones took out Kevin Dyson and made history for the Rams.
The New York Jets haven’t had a lot to celebrate in recent history. But they do have a Super Bowl win to their name. Their quarterback Joe Namath was bullish before this game. He insisted Gang Green would win despite being underdogs. However, his prediction came through as the Jets won the game 16-7. This was a major embarrassment for Baltimore.
This wasn’t a fluke either. The Jets shut Baltimore out for three quarters as they led 16-0 at one point. Several Super Bowls have produced upsets but this was one of the most notorious. ‘Broadway’ Joe outshone Johnny Unitas and entered NFL folklore. It’s also unlikely that Namath would be a Hall of Famer if it wasn’t for this famous victory (via Baltimore Sun).
Cincinnati met the 49ers in Super Bowl XVI. San Francisco came into this game on a high after ‘The Catch’ against the Dallas Cowboys. This was a magnificent season for the franchise but the Bengals pushed them close on the final level. Joe Montana didn’t play particularly well in this game as he went just 14-for-22 for 157 yards. However, it was enough to win the game (via ESPN).
Ray Wersching scored a record four field goals as the 49ers recorded a narrow win. The Bengals were unexpected title contenders and were extremely unlucky in this game. In the end, an onside kick cost Cincinnati the game. That’s because San Francisco was able to hang on until time expired. They clashed again in 1989 but the Bengals couldn’t get revenge.
It was remarkable that the Panthers even made it to the Super Bowl. That’s because this was an average team that scraped its way through games. Yes, they came up clutch as they won multiple times in overtime. However, they were exciting. Meanwhile, the Patriots had a remarkably efficient defense. They were also looking for their second title in just three years (via WCNC).
In the end, the Panthers came up just short but they pushed the Pats all the way. They had a chance to push downfield and put the game to rest. It was down to John Kasay to handle kickoff duties and ignite the drive. Unfortunately, he kicked the ball out of bounds and incurred a penalty. Finally, the Patriots went up to the other end and scored the winning field goal.
This was a brutal moment for Scott Norwood. The Bills kicker had the chance to become a franchise icon. Instead, he sealed his place in NFL folklore after committing one of the worst chokes ever. Buffalo defeated the Giants several weeks earlier before they met again in Super Bowl XXV. Norwood had a 47-yard field goal attempt with eight seconds left but sent it wide.
It was a harrowing moment because it rested entirely on his shoulders. Or rather his foot. Meanwhile, the Bills played in four consecutive Super Bowls but lost them all. Norwood also deserved better because he was a loyal Bills servant. Unfortunately, the NFL is a cruel place and fans have short memories. The All-Pro star even scored a decisive field goal in the AFC Championship game (via Sportscasting).
Some Super Bowls have more dramatic endings than others, but this one is certainly up there with the best. The Seahawks were inches away from securing the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Russell Wilson had two options as he stood four yards from the Patriots’ end zone. Most people expected him to offload the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch.
However, he attempted to pass to Ricardo Lockette. Then, Pats’ rookie Malcolm Butler pulled off one of the most memorable interceptions in NFL history (via Houston Chronicle). This killed off the game and saw the Patriots secure a 28-24 victory. Many people consider this one of the worst choke-jobs ever. But statistically, Seattle made the right call.
Super Bowls should be exciting and this one certainly was. It contained some of the most entertaining players fans ever saw. Of course, Santonio Holmes stole the headlines because of his gravity-defying catch. The Steelers became the first franchise to win six titles after this victory. However, it looked like they were about to choke as the Cardinals almost produced a glorious comeback (via The Guardian).
Arizona came from behind to lead 23-20 late in the fourth quarter. Then, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on an epic 78-yard drive before finding Holmes in the end zone. Finally, an unfortunate Kurt Warner interception saw his team lose the game. It was a case of so close but so far for the Cardinals. James Harrison also returned an interception for an incredible 100-yard touchdown.
The Patriots were a game away from being the greatest football team ever. After they went through the entire regular season unbeaten, they reached the Super Bowl with an 18-0 record. They came up against Eli Manning’s Giants who were major underdogs. But they belied their status to seal one of the most unlikely wins in the big game’s history.
A lot of fans like to disparage Manning but he’s a two-time Super Bowl MVP award winner for a reason. He came up clutch in this game as the Patriots choked badly. Viewers witnessed the iconic ‘helmet catch’ as David Tyree secured the ball against his headgear. Furthermore, New York put Brady under intense pressure and made life very uncomfortable for him (via Boston Globe).
The Steelers vs. Cowboys rivalry continued into the 1978 season. It culminated in an epic game that many analysts still consider one of the best Super Bowls ever. Interestingly, it was the first rematch in the showpiece event’s history. Dallas were defending champions but they came in as underdogs. In the end, the Steelers justified their status as favorites because they won in epic style.
Incredibly, 19 future Hall of Famers were involved in this game. Terry Bradshaw was brilliant because he threw four touchdown passes, including a 75-yard touchdown. The quarterback set multiple records in his awesome display. Meanwhile, Roger Staubach was excellent on the other side with three touchdown passes. But Lynn Swann’s four catches earned him the MVP award and a Pittsburgh win (via 247 Sports).
The main reason why this game didn’t get the top spot is that the Patriots won. However, it was still one of the most dramatic and entertaining Super Bowls ever. Atlanta soared into an amazing 28-3 lead. Dont’a Hightower forced a key fumble on Matt Ryan and the momentum shifted. This was the beginning of arguably the greatest comeback of all time.
It was like an erupting dam. Atlanta was unable to stop the Patriots’ relentless comeback. Finally, they sent the game to overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history. Tom Brady won the toss and was ice-cold as he sent James White into the end zone. This was a traumatic day for the Falcons because they should have won. But they threw it away (via Sporting News).
Nick Foles had the greatest day of his life when the Eagles won Super Bowl LII. He wasn’t even the team’s first-choice starter before Carson Wentz’s injury. However, he found himself in the hot seat and led Philly through the postseason. Everybody wrote him before he performed well enough to win the game’s MVP award. This came after he threw for 373 yards with three touchdowns.
The greatest moment of this game was when the Eagles pulled off the Philly Special. In short, Foles caught a touchdown after a tremendous trick play. Tom Brady was excellent in this game and set a Super bowl record for passing yards but wasn’t able to finish the Eagles. This was a major underdog story but one of the best Super Bowls. In the end, it finished 41-33 in favor of the Patriots (via Business Insider).