NFL: The 13 Worst Super Bowl Winners in History
Not all Super Bowl winning teams are necessarily great teams. They were good enough that year to win based on circumstance, but over the years and upon closer inspection, we come to appreciate which teams got by with smoke and mirrors and which ones were for real.
We are going to identify the 13 worst Super Bowl winning teams in history. Being named to this list could be the result of a weaker regular season or coming up with an inferior performance in the Super Bowl. The team played well enough to win, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was a great performance.
On with the presentation.
Green Bay Packers Super Bowl II
How on earth could we put a classic Green Bay Packers team under Vince Lombardi on this list? It is pretty simple really.
For starters you watch players like Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung retire. Then you see your new starters Elijah Pitts and Jim Grabowski go down with injuries, leaving you with Donny Anderson and Travis Williams.
Then you look at your quarterback Bart Starr who wound up the 1967 season by throwing many more interceptions (17) than he did touchdowns (nine). How did they guys even get in the Super Bowl?
What is worse is that they ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in categories like points scored and yards gained. Maybe they won due to the Lombardi mystique, but it could have also been done with smoke and mirrors.
You might say they sneaked their way in, referring to the NFL Championship game when Bart Starr scored in the Ice Bowl.
New York Jets Super Bowl III
Joe Namath delivered on his famous guarantee of a Super Bowl victory, but how did the Jets even get to the Super Bowl in the first place?
During the 1968 season, Joe Namath completed an abysmal 49.2 percent of his passes. His season TD to interception ratio is laughable, with 15 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. No two ways about it, this just wasn't that great of a team, but somehow they managed to win the game.
The Jets passing attack went to sleep in the fourth quarter of the game, as the Jets simply ran the ball every play on offense.
This game will be remembered for the Colts offense being inept than the Jets being great. The Colts were intercepted twice in the red zone and missed two field goals, all in the first half.
Pittsburgh Steelers : Super Bowl XL
The Pittsburgh Steelers of 2005 were a better team in the playoffs than they were in the regular season. The Steelers became the first sixth seeded team to win a conference title and then go on and win the Super Bowl as well.
The Steelers finished 2005 with a regular season record of 11-5. After 12 games, the Steelers were an average team, with a record of 7-5. They had to go on a four game winning streak at the end of the regular season to even qualify for the playoffs.
For the season, only Hines Ward was able to contribute more than 35 catches. Willie Parker rushed for 1,202 yards, but the Steelers offense was only ranked as 15th best in the NFL.
New England Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI
This was the Patriots team that started out the year with Drew Bledsoe and ended up with Tom Brady. For his part, Brady did okay for his first major test, throwing 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, which is a much better ratio that we mentioned in the first few slides.
But really, how good was this Patriots team. After 10 games in the 2001 season, they were only a .500 team, sitting there with a 5-5 record. Their defense wound up being ranked 24th in the NFL that year, hardly what you consider to be a NFL Championship level unit.
The Patriots were outgained by their opposition, but they were able to get by in the playoffs with a little luck (the Tuck Rule play). There was a reason they were 14 point underdogs in the Super Bowl, they really weren't that good.
Baltimore Colts Super Bowl V
The Baltimore Colts played such an uninspired game, that the MVP award went to a member of the losing team, linebacker Chuck Howley of the Dallas Cowboys. Howley refused to accept the award because it was meaningless to him after his team lost.
This game is often referred to as the "Blunder Bowl" or the "Stupor Bowl" because it was filled with poor play, penalties, turnovers and officiating miscues. The two teams committed a Super Bowl record 11 combined turnovers in the game, and the Colts' seven turnovers are currently the most ever committed by a winning team in a Super Bowl.
Dallas also set a Super Bowl record with 10 penalties, costing them 133 yards.
San Francisco 49ers: Super Bowl XXIII
In 1985, 1986 and 1987 the San Francisco 49ers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, all three years. The 1988 team looked like they might not even qualify for the playoffs, as they began the year with a 6-5 record.
Joe Montana and Steve Young were fighting it out to take over the offense. Even with Jerry Rice on the team, the leading receiver for 1988 was running back Roger Craig.
The 49ers ended the regular season with a 10-6 record, which was not overly impressive. In fact, the six losses by San Francisco is tied for the Super Bowl record for most losses by a Super Bowl winning team.
In the Super Bowl game, the 49ers lost Steve Wallace to a broken ankle. They missed a 19-yard field goal, which was the shortest miss in the history of the Super Bowl. With weapons like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig and John Taylor, the 49ers only scored three points in the first half.
Lucky for them, that was the same amount that Boomer Esiason led the Cincinnati Bengals to. Ugh.
In the second half, the 49ers gave up a 93-yard kickoff return touchdown to Stanford Jennings. Also in the second half, Mike Cofer missed another field goal and John Taylor fumbled a punt return. It is a wonder that the 49ers won this game, but the classic drive by Joe Montana and the game winning catch by John Taylor saved the day.
Washington Redskins: Super Bowl XVII
In 1982, the NFL was playing a scaled back regular season due to a strike. Instead of 16 games, there was only a nine-game schedule.
The Washington Redskins finished with the best regular season record in the NFC with a 8-1 record. They had to play in the postseason without Ark Monk due to an injury. Even though they had the best record in the NFL, the Dolphins were the favored team in this game.
The Redskins featured Joe Theismann, John Riggins and MVP Mark Moseley and The Hogs.
During the Super Bowl, the Redskins gave up a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown by Fulton Walker and a 76-yard pass from David Woodley to Jimmy Cefalo. Even with the big plays, the Dolphins still lost 27-17.
Kansas City Chiefs: Super Bowl IV
The Kansas City Chiefs wound up following the New York Jets as the second AFL team to win the Super Bowl. The funny thing is that the Chiefs didn't win their own division that season, as they finished behind the Oakland Raiders.
Quarterback Lenny Dawson finished the regular season with only nine touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.
With a 11-3 regular season record, the Chiefs wound up emerging from the AFL as a wild card team so to speak, since they did not win their division outright.
In the Super Bowl, the Chiefs won despite Dawson passing for only 142 yards and Mike Garrett was the leading rusher with just 39 yards. Luckily the Chiefs defense was too much for Minnesota to deal with.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers : Super Bowl XXXVII
This Super Bowl was remembered for Jon Gruden's new team (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) beating Jon Gruden's old team (Oakland Raiders). The Bucs surrendered two first-round picks and two second-round picks, plus cash to acquire Gruden to become their head coach.
The Bucs could have really used those draft picks to shore up their offense which was pretty weak. The Bucs finished the 2002 season with the 24th ranked offense and the 27th ranked rushing attack. Their leading running back, Michael Pittman, scored one rushing touchdown for the year. They were 18th in scoring and averaged 21.6 points per game.
Luckily the Bucs had a very strong defense, which easily handled the number offense in the NFL that year, the Oakland Raiders. This was not a very well balanced team, but they still won it all anyway.
Oakland Raiders : Super Bowl XV
The 1980 Oakland Raiders finished the regular season at 11-5, qualifying for the playoffs as a wild-card team. They began with Dan Pastorini at quarterback and wound up with Jim Plunkett finishing up the year as their starter due to injury.
Plunkett was rusty at the time and threw 15 interceptions and 18 touchdowns, which is not the greatest of ratios.
The Raiders had also sued the NFL that year over their ability to relocate the franchise to Los Angeles, which is a suit that they later won. The Raiders probably felt it was them against the world, but when you are the first wild-card playoff team to win a Super Bowl, you know that there is a certain amount of destiny on your side.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Super Bowl IX
A great defense, a strong running game and a passing attack that was missing in action describes this Pittsburgh Steeler's Super Bowl team. The Steelers regular season wound up 10-3-1, and Terry Bradshaw wound up taking over the offense from Joe Gilliam.
Bradshaw was hardly that effective however, as he completed only 67 out of 148 passes for 785 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, which is a pretty rotten ratio.
The leading receiver on this team was Frank Lewis who managed all of 30 receptions, further evidence that the passing attack was not very good.
Luckily for the Steelers, they faced a Minnesota defense that wasn't able to stop their running game, and the Steelers won 16-6. The Steelers throttled the Vikings offense the whole game, but in spite of great field position, could only manage 16 points.
Maybe that was all the points they needed, but this was not the Steelers best Super Bowl team.
New York Giants: Super Bowl XXV
The New York Giants get the award for squeaking by in the 1990 playoffs to become Super Bowl Champions. Winning the NFC Championship game against San Francisco 15-13 and then by beating the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl 20-19, by one point, is really the ultimate definition of squeaking by.
The Giants were mostly known for their defense, led by Lawrence Taylor. They did not have any wide receivers with at least 30 catches for the season. They were without injured quarterback Phil Simms for the playoffs.
The Giants took care of the ball, drove the field in long, time-consuming drives and hoped Scott Norwood would miss the kick. The Giants won the game, but this was not a great Super Bowl team.
New England Patriots: Super Bowl XXXVIII
The Patriots started off the year going 2-2, and then reeled off 12 straight wins. That was due to a dominating defense because the offense that year was nothing special.
The Patriots did not have a single wide receiver ranked in the top 30 of the league, nor did they have any running backs ranked in the top 25. They had Tom Brady, but that was about it. The Patriots offense was ranked 17th in the league, and their running game was ranked 27th.
The Carolina Panthers were not a great team, but even with a weaker opponent, the Patriots narrowly got by 32-29. The fact that Carolina stayed in the game as long as they did, shows that this was not the best Patriots' Super Bowl team by a long shot.
The best cover job of this game was Justin Timberlake on Janet Jackson.