Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Ranking the Super Bowls: Counting Down From 43 to 31

Posted on January 25, 2010 by A.J. Foss
Considering how easily Larry Csonka and the Dolphins dismantled the Vikings in Super Bowl VIII, is this the worst Super Bowl of all-time?

Considering how easily Larry Csonka and the Dolphins dismantled the Vikings in Super Bowl VIII, is this the worst Super Bowl of all-time?

With it being Super Bowl week (so big that it is actually two weeks), many writers or bloggers tend to look back at the previous Super Bowls to compile a list of the best plays, performances or games.

I decided to take this one step further by ranking all 43 Super Bowls from worst to best, with 43 being the worst and 1 being the best.

The criteria that I used to rank these Super Bowls was how competitive the game was, plus the amount of memorable moments or great plays that occurred, and the individual or team performances in the games.

This means that some blowouts would be ranked higher than others because something historic happened in that game, even though the game was not very competitive.

So without further adieu, I present to you a ranking of all 43 Super Bowls, starting with 43-31.

What was the Worst Super Bowl of All-Time?

  • SB XXXV - Ravens vs. Giants (46%, 13 Votes)
  • SB XXXVII - Buccaneers vs. Raiders (21%, 6 Votes)
  • SB XXIV - 49ers vs. Broncos (18%, 5 Votes)
  • SB VI - Cowboys vs. Dolphins (11%, 3 Votes)
  • SB XXIX - 49ers vs. Chargers (4%, 1 Votes)
  • SB VIII - Dolphins vs. Vikings (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 28

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43. Super Bowl VIII Dolphins-24 Vikings-7
This was the most boring Super Bowl of all time because the Dolphins ran the ball on 53 of 60 plays and scored two touchdowns on their first two drives of the game to build a 14-0 lead and eventually built a 24-0 lead in the middle of the third quarter.

Fullback Larry Csonka was the MVP of the game as he rushed for 145 yards on 33 carries and scored two touchdowns.

42. Super Bowl XXXV Ravens-34 Giants-7
Both teams combined for 396 yards of total offense, the lowest in Super Bowl history, and a record 21 punts.

What saved this game from being the absolute worst was the three touchdowns in a span of 26 seconds in the third quarter: a 49-yard interception return by Ravens defensive back Duane Starks, followed by a 97-yard kickoff return by Giants kick returner Ron Dixon, and ending with a 84-yard kickoff return by Jermaine Lewis of the Ravens.

41. Super Bowl VI Cowboys-24 Dolphins-3
The game was not as close as the final score as the Cowboys rush for a then-record 252 yards and hold the Dolphins to 182 yards of total offense and three points, the only time in Super Bowl history one team has not scored a touchdown.

The fact that Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach is named the MVP despite only throwing for 119 yards shows how uneventful this Super Bowl was.

40. Super Bowl XXIX 49ers-49 Chargers-26

This game was over in the first five minutes as 49ers quarterback Steve Young hit Jerry Rice for a 44-yard touchdown on the third play of the game, then found Ricky Watters for a 51-yard touchdown just four plays after the 49ers defense forced a three-and-out from the Chargers.

Young would throw a record six touchdown passes as the 49ers became the first team to win five Super Bowls.

Derrick Brooks put the final nail in the coffin as the Buccaneers defeated the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Derrick Brooks put the final nail in the coffin as the Buccaneers defeated the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

39. Super Bowl XXXVII Buccaneers-48 Raiders-21
In a matchup of Jon Gruden’s old team and new team, the Buccaneers won this game easily as they intercepted Raiders quarterback five times, a Super Bowl record.

The Raiders had a chance at a miracle comeback as they scored three touchdowns in the second half to trim the lead to 34-21 and had the ball with less than two minutes to play.

However, Gannon was intercepted by linebacker Derrick Brooks who returned it 44 yards for a touchdown, which was followed by a 50-yard interception return by Dwight Smith that put the exclamation point on Tampa Bay’s domination of the Raiders.

38. Super Bowl XXIV 49ers-55 Broncos-10
Billed as a showdown between quarterbacks Joe Montana and John Elway, it is Montana who steals the show as he completes 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns for his record third Super Bowl MVP.

The 49ers dominate the game as they out-gain the Broncos 461-161 on offense, have the ball 39:31 on offense, and force four turnovers in the most lopsided game in Super Bowl history.

37. Super Bowl II Packers-33 Raiders-14
For the second year in a row, the Packers easily dispatched an AFL opponent, this time the Oakland Raiders, by the final score of 33-14, thanks to four field goals by Don Chandler and Herb Adderely’s 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.

This was the final game for Vince Lombardi as head coach of the Green Bay Packers as he stepped down three weeks after the Super Bowl.

Two years later following his death, the trophy given to the winner of the Super Bowl was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

36. Super Bowl XXVI Redskins-37 Bills-24

The most memorable moment from this game occurs on the Bills’ opening drive of the game when Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas misses his team’s first two offensive plays as he cannot find his helmet.

As for the game itself, the Redskins scored the first 24 points of the game, then sealed the game in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Mark Rypien to Gary Clark.

The win was the third for Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs, who won all three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks.

In Super Bowl XXXIII John Elway became the only quarterback to retire after leading his team to the Super Bowl title.

In Super Bowl XXXIII John Elway became the only quarterback to retire after leading his team to the Super Bowl title.

35. Super Bowl XXXIII Broncos-34 Falcons-19
Broncos quarterback John Elway gets a storybook ending to his Hall-of-Fame career as he is named MVP in his final game.

Elway throws for 336 yards and one touchdown, an 80-yarder to Rod Smith, and runs in for another in a 34-19 win over his former head coach Dan Reeves and the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons had their chances as they drove inside Denver’s 30-yard-line seven times, but came away with only one touchdown out of all of those trips.

34. Super Bowl XI Raiders-32 Vikings-14
In a battle of teams that had trouble getting over the hump and becoming champions, the Oakland Raiders, winners of 83 games over the last eight years, easily defeat the Minnesota Vikings, handing Minnesota its record fourth loss in a Super Bowl.

The Raiders complied 428 yards of total offense but the two most memorable plays came from the Raiders defense in the fourth quarter.

The first play was safety Jack Tatum drilling Vikings wide receiver Sammy White, knocking White’s helmet off, followed by cornerback Willie Brown’s 75-yard interception return for a touchdown, the longest interception return in Super Bowl history for 29 years.

33. Super Bowl XXVIII Cowboys-52 Bills-17
The Bills stunk up the show once again as they committed nine turnovers and twice allowed two touchdowns within 20 seconds of each other in their third straight Super Bowl loss.

What everyone remembers from this Super Bowl is Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett taking a Buffalo fumble and running 64 yards for an apparent touchdown until Bills wide receiver Don Bebee knocked the ball from the one-yard-line as Lett held the ball out in premature celebration.

32. Super Bowl XIX 49ers-38 Dolphins-16

Five years before his showdown with John Elway, Joe Montana was in another much-hyped quarterback duel, this time with Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino who had thrown for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns during the 1984 season.

It appeared the game would live up to the hype as Miami held a 10-7 lead after a back-and-forth first quarter.

But the 49ers would score 21 points in the second quarter and would shut out Marino in the second half to grab a 38-16 win.

Montana won the second of his three Super Bowl MVPs as he completed 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns, plus ran for 59 yards on 5 carries and ran for a touchdown.

Jim Plunkett and the Raiders surprised the football world with their run to the Super Bowl XV title.

Jim Plunkett and the Raiders surprised the football world with their run to the Super Bowl XV title.

31. Super Bowl XV Raiders-27 Eagles-10
Billed as a matchup of “good vs. evil”, the “maverick” Oakland Raiders became the first team to win the Super Bowl as a wild card as they whipped “blue-collar” Philadelphia Eagles.

The highlights of this game included an 80-yard touchdown pass from Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett to Kenny King and Raiders linebacker Rod Martin setting a Super Bowl record by intercepting three passes.

Check back on January 28th for number 16-30 in the Super Bowl rankings.

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