The underdog New York Giants surprised the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, a memorable 17-14 decision to complete the 2007 season. Four years later, the two stalwart franchises will meet for NFL supremacy once again. This Sunday’s game will be the fifth time that two NFL clubs have battled in a second Super Bowl — while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys are the only two franchises to meet more than twice in the big game. Here’s an historical look at previous Super Bowl rematches:
1. Super Bowl X — Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 10 (January 1976)
Super Bowl XIII — Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 (Jan. 1979)
Super Bowl XXX — Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17 (Jan. 1996)
The first two games were classic confrontations as the Steelers and Cowboys battled to become of the decade. Pittsburgh won its second straight Super Bowl to finish the 1975 season, as a nasty defense carried the way against Dallas. Three years later, the rematch was one of the best Super Bowls in history. MVP Terry Bradshaw threw for four scores, and the Steelers held off a late Cowboys’ rally to win 35-31. Despite the great game, perhaps its most famous play was the dropped pass by wide open Dallas tight end Jackie Smith in the end zone. The two popular franchises met again 17 years later, as the Cowboys finally defeated the Steelers in football’s ultimate game. Cornerback Larry Brown won the MVP with his two interceptions, and Dallas won its third championship in four seasons.
2. Super Bowl VII — Miami 14, Washington 7 (Jan. 1973)
Super Bowl XVII — Washington 27, Miami 17 (Jan. 1983)
The undefeated 1972 Dolphins finished their perfect season by beating the Redskins in Super Bowl VII. Miami’s ferocious defense led the way, as safety Jake Scott won the MVP with his two interceptions. The ground game of Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick was very formidable in carrying the Dolphins to their first title. The Redskins would return the favor a decade later with their own physical running game. Bruising runner John Riggins won the MVP with a then Super Bowl-record 166 yards on the ground as Washington won its first NFL title since 1942.
3. Super Bowl XVI — San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21 (Jan. 1982)
Super Bowl XXIII — San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16 (Jan. 1989)
The legendary Bill Walsh carried the 49ers to their first Super Bowl victory to cap off the 1981 season, beating a gritty Bengals bunch 26-21. San Francisco built a 20-0 lead at halftime, but Cincinnati quarterback Jim Anderson rallied his club with two touchdown passes and another score on the ground in the second half. Ray Wersching's four field goals were huge for the Niners, while Joe Montana won the MVP with 157 yards passing. Seven years later, San Francisco would defeat Cincy again to win its third Super Bowl of the decade. MVP Jerry Rice had 11 catches for a Super Bowl-record 215 yards, but it was John Taylor’s touchdown catch with less than a minute to go that sealed the win.
4. Super Bowl XXVII — Dallas 52, Buffalo 17 (Jan. 1993)
Super Bowl XXVIII — Dallas 30, Buffalo 13 (Jan. 1994)
The only back-to-back rematch in Super Bowl history happened after the 1993 season, with Dallas blowing out Buffalo for a second-straight year. These were the third and fourth of the Bills’ four-straight title games, but they unfortunately ran into Jimmy Johnson’s juggernaut after losing closer games in Super Bowls XXV and XXVI. The Cowboys were led by the trio of Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, plus an athletic defense. Buffalo played a better game in the rematch, holding a 13-6 lead at halftime. However the Cowboys responded with 24 unanswered points in the second half to win going away.
5. Super Bowl XLII — New York Giants 17, New England 14 (February 2008)
Super Bowl XLVI — ??? (Feb. 2012)
Most pundits thought the unbeaten Patriots would easily beat wild card Giants and join the ’72 Dolphins with a perfect season. Instead, Eli Manning would toss two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead the G-men to the crown. The New York defense sacked Tom Brady five times in the victory, and that ability to pressure the quarterback will be a key in this year’s title game. The Giants beat the Pats, 24-20, earlier this season, so New England will enter the Super Bowl especially motivated. Not many Patriots playing Sunday were on the ’07 team, but the core of Brady, Wes Welker, Vince Wilfork, Matt Light and Logan Mankins would love to get revenge for ruining their perfect season four years ago. Hopefully, Sunday’s game will be as dramatic as the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII.