Super Bowl LII is just days away as the top-seeded AFC champions New England Patriots take on the top-seeded NFC Champions Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis.
The Patriots are looking to grab their sixth Super Bowl victory to tie the Steelers for the most all-time Lombardi Trophies while the Eagles look to bring a Super Bowl back for the first time to the City of Brotherly Love.
Unless you’re a fan of those two teams, you’re just hoping for an entertaining game. Luckily, when Bill Belichick’s Patriots are in a Super Bowl, the games are always close. In their previous seven trips, the outcome was decided between three to six points each time (Four games were decided by three, two were decided by four, one was decided by six).
Since 2000, 11 Super Bowls have been decided by one possession. It’s a far cry from the Super Bowl blowouts that were a common occurrence in the 80s and 90s. In fact, from 1980-1999, only four games were one possession games.
We’ve witnessed some brutal Super Bowls and some absolutely amazing Super Bowls and for the sake of narrowing things down, we take a look at the best and worst final games from the last 25 years.
5. Super Bowl XXXII Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
From a scoring perspective, this wasn’t the worst. But it was as boring as fans expected. A lot of the hate for this game stems from what football fans missed out on–the 15-1 Minnesota Vikings taking on the 14-2 defending Super Bowl champs Denver Broncos.
The Vikings set an NFL scoring record that year behind the combination of quarterback Randal Cunningham, Cris Carter and Randy Moss. Despite Gary Anderson never missing a field goal all season, he picked a great time to choke and miss his first one. Up 27-20, Minnesota brought him in to put the game away, he went wide left. Atlanta tied it up and won in overtime.
As for the Super Bowl itself, the only thing it is known for is John Elway’s final game and the Falcons’ Eugene Robinson winning an award for exemplary character only to be busted for soliciting a prostitute the night before the game.
4. Super Bowl XXXVII Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21
Tampa Bay’s defense was incredible so this wasn’t a bad game to them but brutal to watch. Oakland quarterback and the 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon threw five interceptions, three of which were taken all the way back for touchdowns.
That’s all you need to know.
3. Super Bowl XXIX San Francisco 49ers 49, SD Chargers 26
San Francisco quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young threw for six touchdowns in this horrendous game that felt like a root canal to watch.
At one point, it was 42-10 before the Chargers added 16 points late in the game to make it seem less like a bloodbath.
2. Super Bowl XLVIII Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
This was supposed to be the game where Peyton Manning took the lead in the chase to be the greatest quarterback of all-time. In the regular season, Manning set records with 55 passing touchdowns and 5,477 yards. The Broncos were averaging 38 points per game. No way Seattle could contain them.
Well, everything went to hell pretty quickly. On the first play of the game, the Broncos took a safety. The wheels quickly fell off as they took a 22-0 lead into halftime.
Fans were thinking, yeah, it’s bad but it’s Manning. He can probably lead them back. Then the Broncos kicked off to start the second half and Seattle’s Percy Harvin returned the kickoff for a touchdown.
The Seahawks became the first team to get a safety, a kickoff return for a touchdown and an interception return for a touchdown on their way to a 43-8 win, which was their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
1. Super Bowl XXXV Baltimore Ravens 34, Giants 7
Kerry Collins versus Trent Dilfer…in the Super Bowl. That match-up had the appeal of two-day old Little Caesar’s Pizza.
The halftime score was 10-0 in favor of Baltimore. In the third quarter, there would be no offensive touchdowns scored by either team. Baltimore got a pick six, the Giants returned a kickoff for a touchdown to give them their only points on the night and immediately following that, the Ravens returned a kickoff for a touchdown as well.
For three quarters of the game, only one offensive touchdown occurred. Ray Lewis would go on to get the Super Bowl MVP and that ferocious Ravens defense would go down in history as one of the best.
But if you haven’t noticed, great defenses make for horrendous Super Bowls to watch.
5. Super Bowl XXXIV St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
For most of the game, it wasn’t that entertaining. However, the dramatic finish of seeing the Rams tackle Tennessee’s Ken Dyson as he stretched his arm toward the goal line makes this easily top five.
4. Super Bowl XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
When this Super Bowl is talked about, there’s only three plays that come to mind and always shown as the highlights regarding this contest- James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald giving his team the lead after he took a pass from Kurt Warner down the middle of the field for a 64-yard touchdown and then…
With 42 seconds to play, Ben Roethlisberger managed to squeeze the ball through Arizona defenders to the back of the endzone to Holmes who was able to get both feet down for the winning touchdown.
3. Super Bowl XLII New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
The Patriots were 18-0 heading into the Super Bowl XLII and had been dominating the league and setting offensive records on their way. New England’s Tom Brady threw for 50 touchdowns and Randy Moss caught 23 touchdowns during the regular season.
New York had faced the Patriots in Week 17 and played them very tough, eventually losing 38-35. Still, the Patriots were heavy favorites while the world hoped the Giants could pull the upset.
Before the game, Brady was offended that Giants receiver Plaxico Burress predicted the Patriots would only score 17 points and lose. Little did the GOAT know that New England would only score 14 points.
When Eli Manning scrambled and got loose, he helped usher in one of the most dynamic players in Super Bowl history when he hit David Tyree down the field and he managed to hold the ball on to the side of his helmet.
Manning would hut Burress a few plays later in the endzone and that finished off the biggest upset in NFL history.
2. Super Bowl XLIX New England Patriots 28,Seattle Seahawks 24
After a miraculous catch by Seattle wide out Jermain Kearse got the Seahawks to the Patriots five yard line with a little over a minute to go, it seemed a certainty that Seattle would win.
Down 28-24, everyone in the stadium thought they would give the ball to Marshawn Lynch and let him get them in the endzone. Lynch got the ball and got to the one yard line before New England’s Dont’a Hightower made an improbably tackle.
Just delaying the inevitable, right? Wrong. The Seahawks opt to pass and then Malcolm Butler steps in front and picks it off to give the Patriots their fourth Super Bowl win.
1. Super Bowl LI New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28
Without a doubt, the greatest Super Bowl ever played. The Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter to win in overtime off a James White touchdown dive at the goal line.
The Patriots had to be perfect on offense and defense in the final quarter and they were. After getting down 25 points, the Patriots drives were touchdown, field goal, touchdown with two-point conversion and another touchdown with another two-point conversion to tie. Meanwhile, the Falcons went punt, fumble, punt, punt to end the fourth quarter and when the Patriots won the coin toss in overtime, everyone knew Tom Brady and company weren’t losing.
There were so many incredible plays in the game, from the Julian Edelman catch, Dont’a Hightower’s strip sack, Julio Jones acrobatic catch and Brady’s clutch performance cementing his status as the GOAT, makes it an easy decision. Sorry, Falcons fans.