Super Bowl I To XLIII: Ranking All 43 of the NFL's Biggest Games

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Super Bowl I To XLIII: Ranking All 43 of the NFL's Biggest Games

The Super Bowl. Easily the best sporting event of the entire year. It's the time when the two remaining teams in the National Football League compete for the most cherished prize of all: the Lombardi Trophy.

Just about every Super Bowl has provided at least one memorable play for fans to remember. Marcus Allen's 74 yard touchdown run. Max McGee's one handed touchdown grab. John Riggins' 4th and 1 touchdown gallop.

Since the conclusion of the 1966 season, the National Football League has held 43 Super Bowls, with the 44th coming on February 7th. The following is a ranking of every Super Bowl ever played, from worst to best.

43. Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10 (Feb. 2006)

The Steelers used Willie Parker's record-setting 75 yard touchdown run and a 43-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward, the game's MVP, to win 21-10. However, the game is remembered for many controversial calls by the officials, possibly enough to change the outcome of the game. The Steelers became the first number six seed to win a Super Bowl, and their fifth Lombardi Trophy tied them with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys for the most in history.

 

42. Super Bowl VI: Dallas 24, Miami 3 (Jan. 1972)

The Doomsday Defense forced two turnovers and became the only team in Super Bowl history to not allow a touchdown. The Cowboys set a record with 252 rushing yards, and quarterback Roger Staubach added two touchdown passes.

 

41. Super Bowl VIII: Miami 24, Minnesota 7 (Jan. 1974)

The Dolphins' became the first AFC team to win consecutive Super Bowls. Running back Larry Csonka rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Dolphins' quarterback Bob Griese threw just seven passes, completing six, for 73 yards. His seven passes are a record-low for a starting quarterback.

 

40. Super Bowl XI: Oakland 32, Minnesota 14 (Jan. 1977)

Future Hall of Fame defensive back Willie Brown returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown and safety Jack Tatum delivered a massive hit on Vikings' receiver Sammy White that is still considered the hardest hit in Super Bowl history. Raiders' running back Clarence Davis rushed for 137 yards on just 16 carries and receiver Fred Biletnikoff became one of just six receivers to win MVP honors.

 

39. Super Bowl XV: Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10 (Jan. 1981)

The Raiders became the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl, as quarterback Jim Plunkett threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns on just 21 pass attempts, including a then-record 80-yard touchdown pass to running back Kenny King. Raiders' linebacker Rod Martin intercepted quarterback Ron Jaworski three times.

 

38. Super Bowl IV: Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7 (Jan. 1970 )

Despite entering the game as 13-point underdogs, Len Dawson and the Chiefs dominated, forcing five turnovers and limiting the Vikings to just 239 total yards. This began a long stretch of terrible Super Bowl performances by the Vikings and their famed "Purple People Eaters" defense. Dawson tossed a touchdown and earned MVP honors, the fourth straight quarterback to do so.

 

37. Super Bowl II: Green Bay 33, Oakland 14 (Jan. 1968)

Vince Lombardi's last game as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers couldn't have gone any better, as the Packers dominated the Raiders on offense and defense. Packers' quarterback Bart Starr was named MVP of the game for the second consecutive year, throwing for 202 yards and a touchdown. Future Hall of Fame defensive back Herb Adderley returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown.

 

36. Super Bowl XVIII: Oakland 38, Washington 9 (Jan. 1984)

The Raiders stopped the Redskins' record-setting offense, becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl in two different cities (Oakland, Los Angeles). Raiders' running back Marcus Allen rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns, including a 74-yard gallop, which was the longest run in Super Bowl history.

 

35. Super Bowl XII: Dallas 27, Denver 10 (Jan. 1978)

The Cowboys turned in a memorable defensive performance, forcing eight turnovers and holding a pair of Broncos quarterbacks to just 61 yards passing. Craig Morton completed eight passes, four to the wrong team, before giving way to the inept Norris Weese, who threw for just 22 yards on 10 pass attempts.

 

34. Super Bowl XXXIII: Denver 34, Atlanta 19 (Jan. 1999)

John Elway closed out a Hall of Fame career by winning the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season. This time, he earned MVP honors after throwing for 336 yards and a touchdown. Regular season MVP Terrell Davis rushed for over 100 yards for the seventh consecutive postseason game. Falcons' coach Dan Reeves became the fourth head coach to lose four Super Bowls.

 

33. Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17 (Feb. 2007)

Peyton Manning finally earned a Super Bowl ring, throwing for 247 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' 29-17 victory over the NFL's top ranked defense. Bears' quarterback Rex Grossman concluded his roller-coaster season by throwing two picks and losing a fumble. Defensive back Kelvin Hayden sealed the victory for the Colts with a 56-yard interception touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and Tony Dungy became the first black head coach to win the Super Bowl.

 

32. Super Bowl IX: Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6 (Jan. 1975)

The Steel Curtain allowed a Super Bowl record-low 119 yards of total offense, recorded the game's first-ever safety, and intercepted future Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton three times. Steelers' running back Franco Harris rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries.

 

31. Super Bowl XXVI: Washington 37, Buffalo 24 (Jan. 1992)

Joe Gibbs became the third head coach to win three Super Bowls, all led by a different quarterback. This time it was Mark Rypien, who threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Bills' quarterback Jim Kelly threw a Super Bowl record 58 passes, for 273 yards and two touchdowns, but threw four backbreaking interceptions.

 

30. Super Bowl I: Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10 (Jan. 1967)

The Packers rolled to an easy win in the first Super Bowl, thanks to 250 yards passing and two touchdowns by quarterback Bart Starr, the game's MVP. Little-used wide receiver Max McGee caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive back Fred "The Hammer" Williamson boasted before the game that he would knock out both Packers receivers, yet ironically it was Williamson who was knocked out with a head injury. He returned, only to suffer a broken arm in the fourth quarter.

 

29. Super Bowl VII: Miami 14, Washington 7 (Jan. 1973)

The Dolphins' completed the first perfect season in the Super Bowl era in NFL history, holding the Redskins scoreless until cornerback Mike Bass returned a blocked field goal 49 yards for a touchdown with just 2:07 left in the game. Dolphins' running back Larry Csonka rushed for 112 yards on just 15 carries, and safety Jake Scott intercepted two passes, becoming the first defensive player to win MVP honors.

 

28. Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 55, Denver 10 (Jan. 1990)

Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and the 49ers turned in arguably the single most dominant performance in Super Bowl history, scoring two touchdowns in all four quarters of a 55-10 romp. Montana threw for 297 yards and five touchdowns, three of them to All-Pro receiver Jerry Rice, while Broncos' quarterback John Elway threw for just 108 yards and was intercepted twice.

 

27. Super Bowl XXVII: Dallas 52, Buffalo 17 (Jan. 1993)

The Buffalo Bills lost their third straight Super Bowl, thanks to an unbelievable nine turnovers (four interceptions and five lost fumbles). The game is best remembered for the fumble by Cowboys' defensive lineman on the 1-yard line, a play that would have given the Cowboys an NFL record three fumble returns for touchdowns. Cowboys' quarterback Troy Aikman threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns, earning MVP honors.

 

26. Super Bowl V: Baltimore 16, Dallas 13 (Jan. 1971)

In a game featuring eleven turnovers, the Colts won on a 32-yard field goal by rookie kicker Jim O'Brien with just five seconds left in the game. The Cowboys turned the ball over four times and committed a record ten penalties, while the Colts somehow won despite seven turnovers. Proving the sloppiness of the game, Cowboys' linebacker Chuck Howley was named MVP, the only player on a losing team ever given the award.

 

25. Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 38, Miami 16 (Jan. 1985)

The greatest quarterback combination in Super Bowl history didn't disappoint, as both Joe Montana and Dan Marino threw for over 300 yards. Montana threw for three touchdowns, rushed for a fourth, and earned MVP honors. Running back Roger Craig became the first player to score three touchdowns in a single Super Bowl.

 

24. Super Bowl XXVIII: Dallas 30, Buffalo 13 (Jan. 1994 ) The Buffalo Bills' embarrassing streak of consecutive Super Bowl losses reached four as the Cowboys overcame a 13-6 deficit to win 30-13. Cowboys' running back Emmitt Smith rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first running back to win regular season MVP and Super Bowl MVP.

 

23. Super Bowl XX: Chicago 46, New England 10 (Jan. 1986) Maybe never before or since has one Super Bowl team been more inferior than its opponent. The Bears throttled the surprising Patriots, setting Super Bowl records by tallying seven sacks and allowing just seven rushing yards. The Patriots registered -19 yards of offense in the first half and quarterback Tony Eason failed to complete a single pass (0 for 6) before Steve Grogan took over. The game is best remembered for defensive tackle William "Refrigerator" Perry rushing for a late touchdown instead of the great Walter Payton.

 

22. Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore 7 (Jan. 1969)

Despite the Jets entering the game as a record 18-point underdog, Joe Namath guaranteed a Jets' victory, and then delivered, throwing for 206 yards and zero interceptions. Fullback Matt Snell rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries, while George Sauer caught eight Namath passes for 133 yards. The quarterback combination of MVP Earl Morrall and future Hall of Fame great Johnny Unitas proved to be virtually ineffective, throwing for four interceptions.

 

21. Super Bowl XXII: Washington 42, Denver 10 (Jan. 1988)

The Redskins entered the second quarter trailing 10-0 and entered halftime leading 35-10. In between, Redskins' quarterback Doug Williams tossed four touchdown passes, two to Ricky Sanders. Williams finished the game with 340 yards passing, 193 to Sanders. Forgotten is the incredible game by Redskins' running back Timmy Smith: 204 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 22 carries.

 

20. Super Bowl XXXV: Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7 (Jan. 2001)

The greatest defense in NFL history allowed just 152 yards of total offense, recorded four sacks, and forced five turnovers. Ray Lewis earned MVP honors with 11 tackles and four defensed passes, while rookie Jamal Lewis rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown. After Baltimore's Duane Starks intercepted Kerry Collins and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown, Ron Dixon gave the Giants their only touchdown by taking the kick by 97 yards. But Jermaine Lewis followed with an 84-yard kick return touchdown, a record third consecutive play resulting in a touchdown.

 

19. Super Bowl XXI: New York Giants 39, Denver 20 (Jan. 1987)

Giants' quarterback Phil Simms looked like Joe Montana in the Super Bowl, completing 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Linebacker Harry Carson turned in a phenomenal game, recording 14 tackles, including four for a loss.

 

18. Super Bowl XXIX: San Francisco 49, San Diego 26 (Jan. 1995)

Steve Young finally emerged from Joe Montana's shadow, capping off his record-setting MVP season by throwing for a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes in the 49ers' 49-26 blowout win. Running back Ricky Watters and wide receiver Jerry Rice each scored three touchdowns for the 49ers, and linebacker Ken Norton became the first player to win a Super Bowl in three straight seasons.

 

17. Super Bowl XXXVII: Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21 (Jan. 2003)

The Buccaneers dominated the "Gruden Bowl", intercepting MVP Rich Gannon five times, and returning three for scores. After the Raiders cut a 34-3 Bucs lead into 34-21 with just six minutes remaining, the Buccaneers returned two interceptions for touchdowns to seal a 48-21 victory. The Bucs' defense outscored the entire Raiders' offense in the first-ever Super Bowl between a top-ranked offense and a top-ranked defense.

 

16. Super Bowl XXXIX: New England 24, Philadelphia 21 (Feb. 2005)

Tied at the end of each of the first three quarters, the Patriots scored 10 points early in the fourth quarter and All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison intercepted Donovan McNabb with nine seconds remaining to secure a Patriots' victory and establish a Patriots' dynasty. Tom Brady became the fourth quarterback to win three Super Bowls and Patriots' receiver Deion Branch tied a Super Bowl record with 11 catches, earning MVP honors.

 

15. Super Bowl XXXI: Green Bay 35, New England 21 (Jan. 1997)

Brett Favre, the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the second straight season, threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns, including a then-record 81-yard pass to Antonio Freeman. Packers' return man Desmond Howard earned MVP honors with 244 total return yards, including a 99-yard kick return touchdown to give the Packers a 35-21 lead late in the third quarter.

 

14. Super Bowl XXX: Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17 (Jan. 1996)

The Cowboys cemented themselves as a dynasty by becoming the third NFL team to win three Super Bowls in four seasons. Cornerback Larry Brown earned MVP honors by intercepting two Neil O'Donnell passes, while regular season MVP Emmitt Smith rushed for two touchdowns, the last clinching the Cowboys' 27-17 win.

 

13. Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21 (Jan. 1982)

The legend was born, as Joe Montana led the 49ers to their first Super Bowl victory by throwing for a score and rushing for another. The 49ers took a 20-0 halftime lead and a great goal-line stand in the third quarter helped them hold on for a 26-21 victory.

 

12. Super Bowl XVII: Washington 27, Miami 17 (Jan. 1983)

34-year-old Redskins' running back John Riggins outgained the entire Dolphins' team, including Super Bowl records of 38 carries and 166 yards. His fourth quarter touchdown run on 4th and 1 proved to be the game-winner. Dolphins' quarterback David Woodley completed just four of 14 passes for 97 yards, which incredibly included a 76-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. Woodley didn't complete a single pass in the second half.

 

11. Super Bowl XIV: Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles Rams 19 (Jan. 1980)

The Steelers became the first team to win four Super Bowls in a six-year span. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 pass attempts. John Stallworth caught a game-winning 73-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, the game's record seventh lead change.

 

10. Super Bowl XXXII: Denver 31, Green Bay 24 (Jan. 1998)

Broncos' quarterback John Elway finally won a Super Bowl in his 15th season in the NFL, thanks to a 157-yard, three-touchdown performance by All-Pro running back Terrell Davis, who missed most of the second quarter due to a severe migraine. Davis's third touchdown, with 1:45 to play, gave Denver a 31-24 lead, and after the defense stopped Brett Favre and the Packers, the Broncos became just the second wild-card team to win the Super Bowl.

 

9. Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19 (Jan. 1991)

On the final play of the game, Bills' kicker Scott Norwood hooked a 47-yard field goal wide right and Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, and the Giants were world champions. Although Bills' running back Thurman Thomas produced 190 yards of offense and scored a touchdown, he was overshadowed by MVP Ottis Anderson of the Giants, who rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown.

 

8. Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16 (Jan. 1989)

Joe Montana led the 49ers on a classic game-winning 92-yard drive (the John Candy drive), culminating in a 10-yard touchdown strike to Pro Bowl receiver John Taylor with just 34 seconds remaining. Jerry Rice was named Super Bowl MVP, catching 11 passes for an incredible 215 yards and a touchdown.

 

7. Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 (Jan. 1979)

Terry Bradshaw became the first quarterback to win three Super Bowls, throwing for 318 yards and four touchdowns. A memorable third quarter touchdown drop by future Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith proved to be the difference for the Cowboys, who used a late rally to cut into a 35-17 deficit, but fell short at the end.

 

6. Super Bowl XXXVI: New England 20, St Louis 17 (Feb. 2002)

The Patriots officially ended the Greatest Show on Turf, as kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a walkoff 48 yard field goal to win 20-17. Ty Law returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown, and although the Rams fought back from a 17-3 deficit to tie the game at 17 with under two minutes remaining, first-year starter Tom Brady marched the Patriots on a classic nine-play, 53-yard drive in just 90 seconds. Vinatieri's kick led to the beginning of the Patriots' dynasty.

 

5. Super Bowl X: Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17 (Jan. 1976)

Steelers' receiver Lynn Swann turned in the most memorable performance by a wide receiver in Super Bowl history, catching four passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, including a 53-yard grab many still regard as the greatest catch in Super Bowl history. Unofficially, L.C. Greenwood recorded four sacks, and defensive back Glen Edwards intercepted a Roger Staubach pass in the end zone on the game's final play to preserve the win.

 

4. Super Bowl XXXIV: St Louis 23, Tennessee 16 (Jan. 2000)

After the Steve McNair and the Titans completed a 16-point comeback to tie the game with 2:12 remaining, Kurt Warner completed the greatest storybook season in NFL history by throwing a 73-yard touchdown to Isaac Bruce to give the Rams a 23-16 lead. Linebacker Mike Jones' tackle of Kevin Dyson on the one-yard line on the game's final play sealed the first world championship for the Rams. Kurt Warner earned MVP honors with a record 414 passing yards and two touchdowns.

 

3. Super Bowl XXXVIII: New England 32, Carolina 29 (Feb. 2004 )

The Patriots won their second Super Bowl in three seasons, thanks to a 41-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri with just four seconds remaining. A 14-10 Patriots lead entering the fourth quarter turned into a shootout, highlighted by a record 85-yard touchdown reception by Panthers' receiver Muhsin Muhammad. After Panthers' receiver Ricky Proehl's touchdown tied the game at 29 with 1:08 remaining, Brady executed his second last second game-winning drive in three years.

 

2. Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England 14 (Feb. 2008)

The streaking New York Giants successfully stopped the 14-point favorite New England Patriots from completing the first 19-0 season in NFL history. A defensive battle entering the fourth quarter turned into a mini shootout, as both teams traded touchdowns before Giants' wide receiver David Tyree caught a 32-yard pass against his helmet with under one minute remaining. Plaxico Burress scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 35 seconds remaining, officially ending the Patriots' dynasty.

 

1. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23 (Feb. 2009)

The Steelers won their record sixth Super Bowl title, thanks to two key defensive plays: a 100 yard interception touchdown by Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison on the final play of the first half, and a fumble recovery by defensive end Brett Keisel with five seconds remaining. After two Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald touchdown receptions gave the Cardinals a 23-20 lead with under three minutes remaining, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a 78-yard drive, capped off with a phenomenal six-yard touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds remaining.

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