The Most Surprising Super Bowl Winners Ever
Harry How/Getty Images
The Giants weren't expected to be in the Super Bowl, but it will not be a surprise if they win.
However, there have been a few surprise winners in the past.
Not just those who pulled off an upset in the Super Bowl, but those who no one expected to even be there.
Here are a few that came from out of nowhere to reach the NFL's highest mountain.
1968 New York Jets
The 1968 Jets are honored for their Super Bowl III win in 2008.
Jarrett Baker/Getty Images
While that upset remains among the most legendary upsets to this day, not many would have expected the Jets to even have had that chance.
Prior to the 1968 season, the Jets had never played a postseason game.
They had never recorded a winning record until 1967, and no one expected them to beat the Oakland Raiders in the AFL Championship Game.
That makes their victory over an NFL franchise even more remarkable.
1980 Oakland Raiders
Jim Plunkett led the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XV.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Prior to the 1980 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers made a swap of starting quarterbacks.
Ken Stabler was traded from Oakland to Houston for Dan Pastorini. In those days trades like that weren't generally made. The Raiders were coming off consecutive 9-7 seasons, and had not been to the playoffs in three years.
Pastorini suffered a season-ending injury and was replaced by 33-year-old Jim Plunkett.
After a 2-3 start, Plunkett rallied the team to a 9-2 finish. They made it to the playoffs as a wild-card team.
They beat Houston in the wild-card game 27-7, before winning in frigid Cleveland 14-12.
Jim Plunkett was the MVP.
1981 San Francisco 49ers
Joe Montana and the 49ers won their first Super Bowl in the 1981 season.
George Rose/Getty Images
When the 49ers hired Bill Walsh as head coach following a 2-14 season in 1978, they were at a low point in franchise history.
They had not made a playoff appearance since 1972, and had never been in a Super Bowl.
His first two teams went 8-24. There was no reason to suspect that the 1981 season would be any different.
After a 1-2 start, the team won 12 of 13 to end the season at 13-3.
Even though they were the home team in the NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, not many expected them to win.
That game became famous for "The Catch," which was the winning TD pass from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark.
They would go on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI and continue on their way to becoming the dominant NFL power of the 1980's.
1982 Washington Redskins
John Riggins was the hero for Washington in Super Bowl XVII.
Getty Images/Getty Images
The Redskins had not won a championship since 1942.
Besides a few good years under George Allen in the 1970's, they were mostly dismal.
In 1981 they had hired Joe Gibbs as head coach.
In his second year he took the Redskins to an 8-1 record in the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Because of the strike, the NFL—for the only time—allowed eight teams from each conference into the playoffs.
Then the young coach—Gibbs—beat the master—Shula—to win Super Bowl XVII over the Miami Dolphins 27-17.
1999 St. Louis Rams
The Rams celebrate their incredible Super Bowl win.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Things had gotten so bad in Los Angeles that the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.
From 1995 to 1998 they grew steadily worse. They were 7-9 in 1995, 6-10 in 1996, 5-11 in 1997, and 4-12 in 1998.
In the 1999 preseason they lost quarterback Trent Green for the year.
In stepped a former grocery bagger and Arena player named Kurt Warner.
Warner had an Arena mindset to try to score on every play.
The Rams went 13-3, winning most games by huge margins, before beating the Tennessee Titans in one of the best Super Bowls ever.
2000 Baltimore Ravens
Ray Lewis and the Ravens got a ring in Super Bowl XXXV.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The Baltimore Ravens were the old, transplanted Cleveland Browns.
Since moving to Baltimore and changing their name, they had done nothing.
Their offense was led by Trent Dilfer, who had been cast aside by Tampa Bay.
However, their defense is still considered one of the best ever.
Entering the playoffs as a wild-card team, they beat Denver, top-seeded Tennessee and Oakland to win the AFC.
Then they dominated the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV to give Baltimore its first championship since the Colts won Super Bowl V thirty years before.
2001 New England Patriots
Adam Vinatieri rejoices after his winning kick.
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Patriots had gone 5-11, and finished last in the AFC East in 2000. It was the second consecutive year that they were last in the division.
In 2001 franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured and replaced by a 2000 sixth-round draft pick named Tom Brady.
Brady played well enough to lead the team to a division title and a first-round bye.
They beat Oakland in a snowstorm best remembered as the "Tuck Rule" game. Then it was a road win over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game.
Next was one of the biggest upsets ever.
They beat Kurt Warner and The Greatest Show on Turf—the St.Louis Rams—on a last-second Adam Vinatieri field goal after Tom Brady's greatest drive.
2007 New York Giants
Eli Manning led one of the greatest playoff runs ever.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin both arrived in New York in 2004.
They had made the playoffs in 2005 and 2006, but failed to win a game each time.
What they did in 2007 was nothing short of amazing.
As a fifth seed they beat Tampa Bay on the road 24-14.
Then they beat No. 1 Dallas 21-17. At that time, no NFC No. 1 seed had ever lost a divisional playoff game since the NFL went to the current format of 12 playoff teams in 1990.
However, it was the next game that has permanently etched the 2007 Giants in the memories of NFL fans.
They beat the undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 in the best Super Bowl ever.