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10 Biggest Conference Title Game Blowouts of the Last 30 Years

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

History says the New England Patriots might want to save some of Sunday’s good fortune for the Super Bowl against the Seahawks.

New England’s 45-7 rout of Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game Sunday was the biggest blowout in a conference title game since the 2000 season and one of the biggest of the last 30 years.

What could that mean for the Super Bowl? Four of the last five teams to win an AFC or NFL championship game in blowout fashion ended up losing in the Super Bowl.

But as great teams from San Francisco and Chicago in the 1980s can vouch, that kind of momentum can carry over into the Super Bowl.

Here’s a look at the biggest AFC/NFC title game blowouts since 1984 and how the winners fared in the Super Bowl.

2014: New England 45, Indianapolis 7

Patriots’ Super Bowl result: TBD

This was New England’s biggest AFC title win by far but not a huge surprise given the opponent; it marked the Pats sixth straight win over the Colts. And the average score of the last four — all since Andrew Luck joined the Colts — is 47-18.

2006: Chicago 39, New Orleans 14

Bears’ Super Bowl result: Lost to Indianapolis, 29-17.

This was actually a two-point game in the third quarter (16-14) before a Bears safety and three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Chicago used a familiar script, wearing down New Orleans (46 rushes for 196 yards) and taking advantage of turnovers (three fumbles, one interception).

In Super Bowl XLI, the script was flipped on the Bears. The Colts ran it 42 times for 191 yards, held the ball for more than 38 minutes and forced five Chicago turnovers to give Peyton Manning his only championship.

2005: Seattle 34, Carolina 14

Seahawks’ Super Bowl result: Lost to Pittsburgh, 21-10.

This one was never in doubt as Seattle was up 17-0 one play into the second quarter and never let the Panthers into the game. The Seahawks rushed 51 times for 190 yards (132 by Shaun Alexander) and held the ball for almost 42 minutes.

The officials became the story of Super Bowl XL as Seattle fans still wonder what could have been if not for a questionable holding call that turned first-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 1 into first-and-20 at the 29 in a 14-10 game.

2000: N.Y. Giants 41, Minnesota 0

Giants’ Super Bowl result: Lost to Baltimore, 34-7.

The Giants scored two touchdowns in the first 2:07 and never looked back in one of the most dominating postseason performances ever. Kerry Collins threw for 381 yards and five TDs as New York outgained Minnesota 518-114. The Vikings had the ball for less than 18 minutes, which will happen when you turn it over five times and pick up only nine first downs.

It all came crashing down for Collins and the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.  They did not score an offensive touchdown against the Ravens’ dominant defense, avoiding a shutout only thanks to a kickoff return score. New York gained just 152 yards and turned the ball over five times in the loss.

1991: Washington 41, Detroit 10

Redskins’ Super Bowl result: Beat Buffalo, 37-24.

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Washington forced turnovers on Detroit’s first two possessions but led just 17-10 at halftime. The second half was all Redskins as Mark Rypien threw two touchdowns and Darrell Green returned an interception for another score. Barry Sanders carried just 11 times for 44 yards for the Lions, who have not won a playoff game since.

Despite the smaller margin, Washington’s win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XVI got out of hand much more quickly thanks in part to five Buffalo turnovers. The Redskins led 24-0 and 37-10 before two late touchdowns set the final. 

1990: Buffalo 51, L.A. Raiders 3

Bills’ Super Bowl result: Lost to N.Y. Giants, 20-19.

This one was over early as Buffalo led 21-3 after one quarter on its way to an NFL playoff record 41 points in the first half. Jim Kelly threw for 300 yards, and Thurman Thomas racked up 138 of the Bills’ 202 yards rushing. Buffalo forced seven turnovers, including five Jay Schroeder interceptions.

Buffalo’s no-huddle offense watched most of Super Bowl XXV from the sidelines as the Giants rushed for 172 yards and held the ball for more than 40 minutes. Still, thanks in large part to Thomas’ 190 yards from scrimmage, the game wasn’t decided until Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds to play.

1989: San Francisco 30, L.A. Rams 3

49ers’ Super Bowl result: Beat Denver, 55-10.

The 27-point win in the NFC title game was actually the closest contest among the 49ers’ three postseason wins. After routing Minnesota (41-13), San Francisco avenged one of its two regular season losses by reeling off 30 unanswered points after falling behind 3-0 to the Rams. Joe Montana completed 26 of 30 passes for 262 yards, and the defense intercepted Jim Everett three times.

Montana earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXIV as he threw five touchdowns in a 55-10 rout of Denver. The 49ers led 27-3 and the half and stretched the lead to 41-3 at one point. The defense held John Elway to 10-of-26 passing for 108 yards and two interceptions in handing him his third Super Bowl loss.

1988: San Francisco 28, Chicago 3

49ers’ Super Bowl result: Beat Cincinnati, 20-16.

Chicago got this far on the strength of a top-five defense and a top-five running game. When Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice twice for touchdowns early, the Bears had little hope of digging out of that hole. Rice finished with 133 yards receiving, and he was just warming up.

In Super Bowl XXIII, Rice earned MVP honors with 11 catches for 215 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that tied the game at 13. Cincinnati took a 16-13 lead, but Montana hit John Taylor for the winning score with 34 seconds left.

1985: Chicago 24, L.A. Rams 0

Bears’ Super Bowl result: Beat New England, 46-10

The only suspense in this one was whether or not Dieter Brock and the Rams’ 26th-ranked offense could score on the Bears. They couldn’t, and Chicago had its second shutout in as many weeks. Linebacker Wilbur Marshall’s 52-yard interception return TD was the finishing touch.

The Bears actually fell behind New England, 3-0, in Super Bowl XX, but the Pats would not score again until the fourth quarter when it was 44-3. Chicago’s defense forced six turnovers, the sixth time it forced at least five on the season.

1984: San Francisco 23, Chicago 0

49ers’ Super Bowl result: Beat Miami, 38-16.

The 49ers were second in the league in scoring, but the defense held the Bears in check until the offense got going after a 6-0 first half. San Francisco held Chicago to 37 net passing yards on the day as it sacked Steve Fuller nine times, including two each by Fred Dean, Michael Carter and Gary Johnson.

The Niners offense was more than ready for a Super Bowl matchup with the only team that out-scored it in the regular season. Joe Montana threw for 331 yards and three scores, and San Francisco rushed for 211 yards to hand Miami a 38-16 defeat in Dan Marino’s only Super Bowl.

-By John Gworek