The current NFL season is heating up very nicely now as we reach the later playoff rounds. Last year saw the LA Rams go all in on winning a second Super Bowl for the franchise, with the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller brought in to great effect. The Rams won Super Bowl LVI on home turf but those starring players have now either left the team or have not performed this season.
The parity levels of the NFL have been highlighted this year in particular, with some shock scores and surprising performances making everyone even more excited to wonder what Super Bowl LVII will bring us. But while we settled back to enjoy the postseason, we thought we would take a trip back to some of the best Super Bowls of all time – in no particular order, of course!
Super Bowl LI – New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
This game was a perfect lesson in not counting your chickens – and never betting against Tom Brady to pull something out of his arsenal to crush opposing teams’ dreams. This was also the first Super Bowl to ever go into overtime. But it was something of a miracle that the Pats even made it that far.
Trailing 28-3 after Atlanta had made three consecutive touchdowns to lead by 18 points at halftime, New England looked dead and buried. But Tom Brady and this Pats team knew otherwise. They scored 25 unanswered points – including 19 in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send it into overtime.
After receiving the kickoff, Brady then drove his team down the field and ended up winning the game thanks to a run from James White. More than 30 records were matched or broken as the Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl and crushed the hopes of all Atlanta Falcons fans.
Super Bowl XXV – New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills
OK Bills fans, look away now as we utter two words that you will never want to hear again… ‘wide right’. That was the famous commentary as Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed the chance to win a first ever Super Bowl for Buffalo. They would have three more chances to get over that heartbreak – and they failed in all of them.
This was actually a very evenly balanced game, with neither team committing a single turnover. The Bills were big favorites to win and had racked up 51 points in the AFC Championship game against the Raiders the week before. The Giants defense was not expected to be able to contain Jim Kelly and his offensive line.
A Matt Bahr field goal had given the Giants the lead late on in the fourth quarter before the Bills attempted one last drive to win the game. Runs from Thurman Thomas helped Buffalo inch up the field before Norwood was given a chance for glory with four seconds left on the clock. But then… wide right.
Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
There must be something about these two teams and Super Bowls. New York came into this game as massive underdogs, thanks largely to the fact that the Pats were 18-0 and looking to be the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to go through an entire season undefeated and win the Super Bowl.
That was the pre-story of Super Bowl XLII but the game didn’t really spark into life until the fourth quarter. In fact, only one touchdown had been scored in the first half, with the Pats leading 7-3. After Randy Moss scored yet another TD with 2:42 to go, New England led 14-10 and looked like they had a date with destiny.
But Eli Manning and David Tyree had other ideas. Under immense pressure – on 3rd and 5 – Manning threw deep and Tyree caught the “helmet pass” to win the first down. Manning then composed himself and found Plaxico Burress in the end zone a few plays later to grab an improbable win.
Super Bowl XXXIV – St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans
This was another Super Bowl that didn’t really get going until the final quarter. St. Louis, led by Kurt Warner, had what was considered the best offense in the league and went by the frankly incredible nickname of “The Greatest Show on Turf”. It was the first postseason for the team since relocating from Los Angeles.
The Rams were on top from the start and went into a 16-point lead in the third quarter when Warner completed a 73-yard pass to Isaac Bruce. It looked all over for Tennessee – but it had an impressive QB of its own in Steve McNair. He brought the Titans back to 16-16. But another Rams TD gave him one last chance to win the game.
McNair pulled out all the stops as he took Tennessee down the field in pursuit of a first-ever Super Bowl victory for the franchise. With the seconds ticking away, McNair connected with Kevin Dyson close to the goal line. But he couldn’t escape the clutches of Rams linebacker Mike Jones. He was stopped at the 1-yard line and that was the difference between a championship and going home with nothing.
Super Bowl XXIII – San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
It feels like football fans really like their fourth-quarter winning drives. Joe Montana was the superstar of the NFL at the time and had already won the big game with the Niners twice in the early years of the 1980s. Now he would break Bengals’ hearts for the second time and cap it all off with an incredible late drive.
Cincinnati had a 13-6 lead going into that last quarter and still had an advantage at 16-13 late in the game. But that’s when Joe Montana was at his very best. Using the talents of Jerry Rice, in particular, Montana led San Francisco on a 92-yard winning drive that ended with John Taylor scoring the touchdown to win the Super Bowl.
Head coach Bill Walsh retired straight after that exhilarating win over the Bengals. But Montana returned the year after to win another Super Bowl and consolidate the 49ers as the team of the decade, as they thrashed Denver.