This year will bring us the 50th Super Bowl. Each of the previous games has brought its fair share of memories. Some have been boring. Some, especially in recent years, have been thrilling. Here is an unbiased ranking of the previous 49 Super Sundays.
49. Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10
Jan. 28, 1990 – Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans)
When recently retired 49er head coach Bill Walsh saw how open his former receiving corps was against the Broncos in the first series, he said the game would not be close. He was right.
48. Super Bowl XXVII: Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17
Jan. 31, 1993 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
America’s Team was reborn in this stomping of the Buffalo Bills, but Michael Jackson’s Houdini-esque halftime show produced more drama than the game.
47. Super Bowl II: Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14
Jan. 14, 1968 – Miami Orange Bowl (Miami)
At the time, most sportswriters considered the Packers’ win over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1967 NFL Championship Game aka “The Ice Bowl” to be the true world championship. The actual Super Bowl made it hard to disagree.
46. Super Bowl XX: Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10
Jan. 26, 1986 – Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans)
Pro football’s greatest defense. A wild-card, Cinderella team. A legendary beatdown.
45. Super Bowl I: Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10
Jan. 15, 1967 – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles)
“In my opinion, the Chiefs don’t rate with the top teams in the NFL. They’re a good football team, with fine speed, but I’d have to say NFL football is tougher.” – Vince Lombardi after his Packers beat the Chiefs in the first-ever Super Bowl.
44. Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
Feb. 2, 2014 – MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
A botched Denver snap on the first play from scrimmage gave Seattle a safety and set the tone for the rest of the game.
43. Super Bowl XXXV: Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7
Jan. 28, 2001 – Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
Baltimore led the Giants 10-0 at halftime. Then in the third quarter, the two teams scored three touchdowns in 36 seconds and Baltimore led 24-7, closing the curtains on the Giants.
42. Super Bowl XVIII: Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9
Jan. 22, 1984 – Tampa Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
At the time, the Raiders’ upset of the Redskins set Super Bowl records for most points by a team (38) and largest margin of victory (29 points). Oh and Marcus Allen set the single-game rushing record with 191 yards on 20 carries.
41. Super Bowl XXII: Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10
Jan. 31, 1988 – Jack Murphy Stadium (San Diego)
Denver led Washington 10-0 at the end of the first quarter. Redskins quarterback Doug Williams proceeded to throw four touchdown passes in the second quarter and the game was over.
40. Super Bowl VIII: Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7
Jan. 13, 1974 – Rice Stadium (Houston)
The Dolphins’ defense’s brutality that season was matched only by its running game. Both were on full display in this domination of the Vikings.
39. Super Bowl XXVI: Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24
Jan. 26, 1992 – Metrodome (Minneapolis, Minn.)
The Buffalo Bills generally consider the ’91 Redskins to be the best of the four Super Bowls teams that beat them. Only a furious Buffalo comeback in the second half prevented this game from being a full-fledged blowout.
38. Super Bowl VI: Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
Jan. 16, 1972 – Tulane Stadium (New Orleans)
This game still holds the record for the coldest Super Bowl ever played with the kickoff temperature being 39 °F at New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium. The Dolphins’ three points also is the Super Bowl record for the fewest ever scored by a team.
37. Super Bowl XXXIII: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
Jan. 31, 1999 – Pro Player Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
The final score does not indicate how lopsided this game was. Denver led Atlanta 31-6 in the fourth quarter.
36. Super Bowl XII: Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
Jan. 15, 1978 – Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans)
The first primetime Super Bowl audience saw Dallas dominate Denver en route to claiming its second Lombardi Trophy.
35. Super Bowl XXXVII: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21
Jan. 26, 2003 – Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego)
“From 0-26 to the World Champions.” – Al Michaels
34. Super Bowl XXIX: San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26
Jan. 29, 1995 – Joe Robbie Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
A monkey on the back. The best defense money can buy. Six touchdown passes.
33. Super Bowl XV: Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10
Jan. 25, 1981 – Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans)
Quarterback Jim Plunkett took over a 2-3 Raider team and led it to the first Super Bowl win for a wild card team. Few players have experienced a greater redemption.
32. Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16
Jan. 20, 1985 – Stanford Stadium (Stanford, Calif.)
This game was the ultimate proof that defense wins championships.
31. Super Bowl XXVIII: Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13
Jan. 30, 1994 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta)
Buffalo led Dallas 13-6 at halftime and then experienced one of the biggest second-half implosions in Super Bowl history.
30. Super Bowl IV: Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
Jan. 11, 1970 – Tulane Stadium (New Orleans)
Kansas City evened the AFL/NFL series record to 2-2, but never mind all that. Chiefs head coach Hank Stram was miked for sound!
29. Super Bowl XI: Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14
Jan. 9, 1977 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
After losing three straight AFC championships, the Oakland Raiders got over the hump and made it to the big game. They took care of business against the Vikings to capture their first Lombardi Trophy.
28. Super Bowl XXI: New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20
Jan. 25, 1987 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
The ’86 New York Giants are the most blue-collar Super Bowl Champion in history and their beating of the Broncos was a workman-like effort. Plus, they invented what is now an American tradition: the Gatorade shower.
27. Super Bowl XXXI: Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21
Jan. 26, 1997 – Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans)
With his team hanging onto a 27-21 lead over the Patriots, Packer Desmond Howard returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to seal the win and his MVP trophy.
26. Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17
Feb. 4, 2007 – Dolphin Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
The first rainy Super Bowl. An opening kickoff for a touchdown. A clutch performance.
25. Super Bowl IX: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
Jan. 12, 1975 – Tulane Stadium (New Orleans)
It’s hard to believe that Minnesota was the more storied franchise over Pittsburgh going into Super Bowl IX. That definitely wasn’t the case after this game and it was almost laughable five years later.
24. Super Bowl VII: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
Jan. 14, 1973 - Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles)
This game is best remembered for kicker Garo Yepremian’s blocked field goal in which he tried to pass the ball only to have it intercepted for a touchdown. However, the greatest folly in Super Bowl history still could not prevent the Dolphins from being perfect.
23. Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10
Feb. 5, 2006 – Ford Field (Detroit)
A hard-fought contest gave Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis their only Super Bowl rings. Sadly, it’s best remembered for controversial officiating.
22. Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
Feb. 7, 2010 – Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
The game marked the first time in 16 years that two No. 1 seeds had met in the Super Bowl. In the end, it all came down to an onside kick at the start of the second half.
21. Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
Jan. 12, 1969 - Maimi Orange Bowl (Miami)
A bold guarantee. A shocking upset. A redeemed league. A new era in pro football.
20. Super Bowl XVII: Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17
Jan. 30, 1983 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
The Redskins trailed the Dolphins 17-13 and faced fourth down and one yard to go with 10:10 left in the game. Washington quarterback Joe Theisman handed the ball to John Riggins and the rest is history.
19. Super Bowl XXX: Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Jan. 28, 1996 – Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.)
The Cowboys vs. the Steelers is still the greatest rivalry in Super Bowl history and this matchup brought a welcome reprieve during 13 years of NFC dominance. The Cowboys still won but it was touch and go with four minutes left.
18. Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Jan. 24, 1982 – Pontiac Silverdome (Pontiac, Mich.)
Bill Walsh’s 49ers jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead on the strength of the revolutionary West Coast offense. Then Walsh watched his protégé Ken Anderson lead the Bengals on a furious comeback. San Francisco hung on to win, but the sense of irony was not lost on the football world.
17. Super Bowl XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19
Jan. 20, 1980 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
The Rams were up 19-17 on the Steelers going into the fourth quarter, but two Pittsburgh touchdowns would cap the greatest dynastic run in NFL history.
16. Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25
Feb. 6, 2011 – Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Green Bay led the entire game, but Pittsburgh would not go quietly into the night. Ultimately, the Packers were able to stop the Steelers on downs.
15. Super Bowl X: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
Jan. 18, 1976 – Miami Orange Bowl (Miami)
This game is considered to be best of the first 10 Super Bowls, as an interception in the end zone prevented a Dallas comeback.
14. Super Bowl XXXIX: New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
Feb. 6, 2005 – ALLTEL Stadium (Jacksonville, Fla.)
T.O.’s finest hour. A complete team. A dynasty.
13. Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
Jan. 21, 1979 – Miami Orange Bowl (Miami)
Pittsburgh led 35-17 with about seven minutes to go, but defending champion Dallas would not quit in this matchup between the two best teams of the 1970s.
12. Super Bowl XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Feb. 1, 2004 – Reliant Stadium (Houston)
Both Tom Brady and Jake Delhomme threw for more than 300 yards in a contest that was decided by a field goal. Unfortunately, the game is best remembered for Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple at halftime.
11. Super Bowl XLVII: Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
Feb. 3, 2013 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)
The Ravens led the 49ers 28-6 in the third quarter when the lights went out in the Louisiana Superdome. When they came back on, San Francisco was reenergized and things got interesting.
10. Super Bowl V: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
Jan. 17, 1971 – Miami Orange Bowl (Miami)
The “Blunder Bowl” had 11 turnovers, a missed PAT and a thrilling finish.
9. Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17
Feb. 5, 2012 – Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
New York became the first 9-7 team to win a Super Bowl and New England became the first team to let its opponent score to get the back in this war of attrition.
8. Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Jan. 30, 2000 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta)
Only one yard (and a PAT) separated this Super Bowl from being the first to go into overtime.
7. Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
Jan. 25, 1998 – Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego)
“This one’s for John.” – Broncos owner Pat Bowlen
6. Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
Feb. 3, 2002 – Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans)
The best franchise of the 21st century was born in this shocking upset of the Greatest Show on Turf.
5. Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
Jan. 22, 1989 – Joe Robbie Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
“Hey, isn’t that John Candy?” – Joe Montana in the huddle before leading the 49ers on a 92-yard, game-winning drive over the Bengals.
4. Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
Jan. 27, 1991 – Tampa Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
New York’s ball-control counterattack against Buffalo’s no-huddle offense was good enough to win… by one point.
3. Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
Feb. 3, 2008 – University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
An undefeated team. An unbelievable catch. An upset for the ages.
2. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Feb. 1, 2009 – Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
Arizona erased a 20-7 fourth quarter deficit to lead Pittsburgh 23-20 with a little more than two minutes left in the game. The Steelers then drove down the field and won the game with a picture-perfect touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes.
1. Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Feb. 1, 2015 – University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
This game had all the drama of a classic contest, but like all great thrillers, it had a shocking twist at the very end.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.