Ranking the 10 Worst Super Bowl Winners in NFL History
The Super Bowl.
It is the pinnacle of professional football.
The ultimate game on the ultimate stage. The best against the best.
Except sometimes the teams involved are not actually that great. They are simply the best teams that season. The opponents they played may have been sub-par. Or maybe they were just playing their best football at the right time. Some of these teams were just at the beginning of what would be an amazing run. Others were at the end of one.
Either way, they are not viewed as the best of the best.
Here are the ten worst teams to have ever won the big game.
10. Super Bowl XXX Dallas Cowboys
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Some of you may be screaming that this Cowboys team was one of the most talented ever.
And you are exactly right.
But the 1995 Dallas Cowboys under new head coach Barry Switzer were an unfocused group that tended to play to the level of the competition.
Following the departure of Jimmy Johnson, a demanding taskmaster, Switzer came in and gave this group some freedom.
They just weren't capable of handling it. The Cowboys became distracted and their dynasty would soon end.
The evidence of this team taking a step back: the Cowboys were swept by the 6-10, Gus Frerotte-led Washington Redskins that year.
And if not for Larry Brown getting two gift-wrapped interceptions from Pittsburgh quarterback Neil O'Donnell, the Cowboys may have been upset.
For a Dallas team with four future Hall of Famers on the roster, that would have been humiliating.
9. Super Bowl IV Kansas City Chiefs
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The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in a snoozefest that's remembered more for sloppy play than great performances.
The Chiefs had a very good defense, allowing just 12.6 points per game, but the offense was unspectacular.
Super Bowl MVP Len Dawson threw for just nine touchdowns that season while throwing 13 interceptions.
Leading rusher Mike Garrett ran for 732 yards and just six touchdowns on the year.
The competition they saw that day was atrocious.
The Vikings committed five turnovers and were nearly shut out before scoring a late touchdown. They managed just 67 yards rushing.
8. Super Bowl XXII Washington Redskins
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The 1987 Washington Redskins were a team that had some struggles. They lost to the 3-12 Atlanta Falcons as well as the 6-9 Rams.
Super Bowl MVP quarterback Doug Williams only started two games during the regular season and the Redskins had lost them both.
Jay Schroeder started the majority of games. Heck, even third-stringer Ed Rubbert threw for a few touchdowns.
Williams was named the starter for the playoffs and he played well.
Most fans remember Timmy Smith running roughshod over Denver in the Super Bowl but the Redskins' leading rusher that season was actually George Rogers, with just 613 yards.
Smith had only 126 yards the entire season.
The Denver Broncos were the perfect opponent for the Redskins. They struggled to stop Smith, who ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns. That set up Williams to throw three deep balls for scores.
The Redskins scored 35 points in what was the hottest quarter in Super Bowl history.
Without that quarter? Maybe there would have been a different outcome.
7. Super Bowl IX Pittsburgh Steelers
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Sure, we all remember the Steeler dynasty of the late '70s and early '80s. And this Super Bowl is where it started.
But the Steelers weren't great in 1974.
Joe Gilliam took the starting quarterback position from Terry Bradshaw for the first six games of the season.
Bradshaw had been a turnover machine in his first few seasons.
Bradshaw still struggled in 1974, throwing just seven touchdowns to eight interceptions.
The Steelers had been smacked by the Raiders 17-0 in the regular season. They had also lost to the 7-7 Bengals and the 7-7 Oilers.
But the Steeler defense was beginning to hit their stride and they carried the Steelers to their first-ever Super Bowl.
As for the game itself, the Vikings once again played the role of patsy.
They managed to rush for a whopping 17 yards on the day and turned the ball over five times.
6. Super Bowl V Baltimore Colts
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This was a case of a team being on the backside of their prime.
The 1971 Colts had already won big games and championships.
But this team was aging and running out of steam. Johnny Unitas was 37 years old.
And Unitas was beginning to show his age, throwing 14 touchdowns to 18 interceptions.
Baltimore's leading rusher was Norm Bulaich, with just 426 yards and only three touchdowns.
The Colts tied the 3-10-1 Bills at home!
Super Bowl V was one of the oddest Super Bowls ever played. The Colts won the game on a 32-yard field goal in the first Super Bowl ever played on artificial turf.
The two teams combined for 11 turnovers and Chuck Howley was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Howley was a linebacker for the Cowboys.
5. Super Bowl XVII Washington Redskins
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This one isn't really the Redskins' fault. 1982 was a strike-shortened year and there were only nine regular season games played.
The Redskins went 8-1 but it's hard to say how strong they truly were in such a short year.
Quarterback Joe Theismann threw 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions and John Riggins led the team in rushing with 553 yards. The Redskins averaged just 3.1 yards per rushing attempt, which isn't putting fear into anyone.
The Redskins proved that they were not among the all-time greats the following season when the Los Angeles Raiders soundly beat them in Super Bowl XVIII.
Washington came back from a seven-point deficit to knock off the 7-2 Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII in what was an entertaining game with big plays.
It was just what the doctor ordered for a league that had angered some fans with it's shortened season.
4. Super Bowl III New York Jets
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This is going to be blasphemy for some of the old AFL fans.
This Jets team was not among the greats, though. Sorry.
While what the Jets did by beating a traditional NFL power was significant, they had some help along the way.
Keep in mind that this team lost to the 1-12 Bills and the 5-9 Broncos during the regular season.
Joe Namath made his famous guarantee, and the rest as they say is history, but few remember that Namath threw 15 touchdowns and 17 interceptions that season.
Their running game averaged just 3.4 yards per carry with Matt Snell leading the charge with 747 yards.
And perhaps one of the biggest keys to the Jets winning this game was in the fact that Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas did not play until late in the fourth quarter of the game. By that time the Jets led 16-0.
Sidelined with an injured elbow, Unitas came on for the struggling Earl Morrall and led the Colts down the field to a quick touchdown.
The Jets may have to thank Unitas' elbow for their victory.
3. Super Bowl XVI San Francisco 49ers
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The 1981 San Francisco 49ers were another team that was poised for greatness. And maybe Super Bowl XVI is what pushed them over the edge, but this team wasn't great yet.
The Niners beat the Bengals 26-21 in a game that is remembered as much for the Bengals failing to score as it is for anything San Francisco did.
With the ball on the 49ers' three-yard line the Bengals tried four straight plays to score and failed.
While quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana was coming into his own as a signal caller, the Niners' run game left much to be desired.
Roger Craig was still at the University of Nebraska and the leading rusher was Ricky Patton, who had only 543 yards on the year.
Losses to the 5-11 Browns and the 7-9 Falcons during the regular season prove further that this was not yet the team that they would become.
2. Super Bowl XL Pittsburgh Steelers
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Forget the fact that Pittsburgh needed help from the zebras to even win this game against a very average Seattle team.
The Steelers benefited from a weak playoff schedule and from opposing teams shooting themselves repeatedly in the foot.
Hey, better to be lucky than good, right?
The Steelers were 11-5 in 2005, including three losses in a row in the regular season.
They qualified for the playoffs as the fifth seed in the AFC.
They took to the road and knocked off the also 11-5 Cincinnati Bengals.
Then they went to Indianapolis to face the top-seeded Colts. This game will be remembered as the "Mike Vanderjagt meltdown" game to Indianapolis fans everywhere. With the game on the line Vanderjagt's 46-yard field goal came closer to the corner pylon than the goal posts. The Steelers managed to win 21-18.
The Steelers then beat an inferior Denver team on their way to Super Bowl XL.
The Super Bowl game itself of course is more remembered for it's questionable officiating than anything else.
That's not what great teams are remembered for.
1. Super Bowl XV Oakland Raiders
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The 1980 Oakland Raiders were the first Wild Card team to ever win the Super Bowl.
They almost didn't make it. They qualified as the fourth seed in the AFC back when there were just three divisions per conference.
In the Wild Card round they knocked off the Oilers even though Houston had more yards, more first downs and more time of possession.
In the Divisional playoff round the Raiders might have gone down but the Browns chose to run "Red Right 88" when they were already in field-goal range. The pass thrown by Brian Sipe was intercepted and the Raiders survived.
The Raiders faced the San Diego Chargers in the in the AFC Championship and withstood a late comeback effort by Dan Fouts and the Chargers offense and moved on to Super Bowl XV.
Oakland went on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl despite only outscoring opponents by a slim margin of 22.8 to 19.1 during the regular season.