You prepped so very hard. You got your party favors, your wings, pizza, beer, snacks and on and on. The hours of preparation and hard work seem to be just the beginning of a fun-filled football evening, full of excitement and cheer, big plays and the 2 best teams letting it all hang out. Sadly, it turns into card games, girl talk and soggy left overs sometimes, when one of these 2 great teams kind of leaves the “A-Game” at home, and we are stuck watching a dud.
Sure, over the last few years we have had some excellent games, and as we look ahead to this year’s Super Bowl XLVI match-up between the AFC’s New England Patriots and the NFC’s New York Giants, chances are we will see another good one. We also have to be ready for the fact that all that glitters is not always gold.
So what I am bringing to you here is a list of the Top 10 worst outings in NFL Super Bowl history. 10 clunkers where a team just was happy to be there and not really gave the fans a quality performance. It has to stick in the heads of the players for years to know they got on the grandest stage and just fell totally flat. Sure, I have never played pro ball, but I know enough to be aware of a clunker! So, with all that in mind, my “Not-So-Top 10″ worst Super Bowl moments:
10. Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29 vs. Chicago Bears 17
The game started off with a bang. Kick return super stud Devin Hester made Super Bowl history by returning the opening kick-off for a touchdown for the first time in Super Bowl history while head coach Lovie Smith was running down the sidelines in jubilation. The rest, well not so pretty for the Bears.
In a game that featured 2 African-American coaches for the first time in NFL history, the world watched as the 2 teams combined for 8 turnovers, watched the Bears have the ball for just 21 minutes to the Colts 39, and the Bears muster just 265 yards of total offense. What made it worse for those who went to the game were moments of heavy rain and the first-ever tailgating ban by the NFL. Fans were not allowed to consume alcohol in the stadiums parking lot pre-game and no non-ticket holders were allowed anywhere near the stadium for pre-game activities.
In summary not an awful game, but with the combination of all that played out this is a worthy of a top 10 spot here.
9. Super Bowl XXIX: San Francisco 49ers 49 vs. San Diego Chargers 26
The Niners came into this game as the 2nd highest favorite in Super Bowl history at 18 points, yes that’s right, 18 points!
Steve Young, who tied a Super Bowl record with 6 TD passes and opened it up quick with a 44 yard TD pass to Jerry Rice, followed quickly by a 51 yarder to Ricky Watters. Yes, San Diego answered back to cut it to 14-7, but the Niners pretty much had control the whole time taking leads of 28-7 and as high as 42-10.
The Chargers were not expected to bring much to the game yet some expected a little more out of the AFC reps in this one. The Niners domination of the NFL was quite evident here, but it still was one of the most viewed Bowls in history.
In summary the Chargers gave as much of a performance as expected, which was not a whole lot by 49ers standards.
8. Super Bowl XXXVII: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48 vs. Oakland Raiders 21
Jon Gruden’s old team from Oakland came in as a 4 point favorite against Gruden’s new team from Tampa. What was labeled as “The Gruden Bowl” turned into a very lopsided mismatch.
For the first time in Super Bowl history the number 1 offense in the league went head to head with the number 1 defense in the league and well as the phrase goes, defense wins championships. Raiders QB Rich Gannon threw 5 interceptions, 3 of which went for TDs and 2 of them to Dwight Smith. The Raiders could get very little going against the Bucs which included just 10 yards rushing on 7 carries from RB Charlie Garner. Every time it appeared the Raiders would make some kind of run the Buc defense came up big.
As for the crowd, it was the 3rd lowest in Super Bowl history as maybe the fans expected what we had saw in the end. The Raiders were listless and seemed totally over-matched, especially for a team that finished 11-5. The speculation raged on as to how Gruden knew their every move and how to sniff out every formation, but hey you can’t blame the guy for using what he had to win it all.
In summary, the Raiders really have yet to recover from this game and are still struggling to get back to the playoffs or get another winning season. The curse of the “traded” coach Gruden lives on.
7. Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 38 vs. Miami Dolphins 16
This Bowl, which was heavily hyped as the battle of footballs 2 best QB’s turned into a very one-sided affair which lacked in many elements. The game started off with the first ever Presidential coin toss by California native Ronald Reagan yet sadly done via satellite at the White House. Even Ronnie knew better than to waste his time on a plane ride to this one.
While 49ers QB Joe Montana was living up to his end of the hype with 3 TD passes with 1 rushing DT counterpart Dan Marino had little to brag about. The Niners defense sacked him 4 times, picked him off twice and only allowed just 1 TD pass. As a team the Dolphins rushed for just 25 yards and had a game total of 315 which was a far cry from the 537 the Niners racked up. Make no mistake, this 49ers team may have been the 49ers all-time best coming in with a record of 17-1. Despite trailing one point 10-7 it was only a matter of time before San Fran would run off 21 unanswered. One high note: the heavy TV exposure of star Teri Hatcher, who at the time was a 49ers cheerleader.
In summary, Montana proved to be more of a big game QB then Marino, who would never make it back to a Super Bowl after this loss.
6. Super Bowl XVIII: Los Angeles Raiders 38 vs. Washington Redskins 9
The mighty Redskins who entered the game wait a 16-2 record and also came in as 3 point favorites. They were a team that many thought were a true football dynasty…well until this game.
Marcus Allen and the Raiders offense pounded the NFL’s top ranked run defense. The Raiders scored 2 TD’s and Allen finished with 191 yards himself. In a game still known as “Black Sunday”, the black jersey of the Raiders rough and tough defense scored TD’s on a blocked punt and an interception run back against a very out of sync Skins team. The Raiders held Washington to 283 total yards of offense, and making this one of the more unexpected blow outs in Super Bowl history.
In summary, the Skins did have some good Super Bowl success in but for quite a while this lasted as the most one-sided blowout in Super Bowl history. That record has since been smashed.
5. Super Bowl XXII: Washington Redskins 42 vs. Denver Broncos 10
This game quickly seemed like one you would turn off but not by the team we thought would rout in the end.
The Broncos raced out to a 10-0 lead behind QB John Elway and seemed as if they were going to put this game away early, in addition to playing tough defense. The next thing to happen turned into Super Bowl history. The Redskins ran off 35 unanswered points in the second quarter, setting records for most points in a half or a quarter by scoring the most TD’s in a quarter by a QB. Doug Williams was the man here, also the first African-American QB to win the Super Bowl. The Redskins shattered many records on their way to the destruction of Denver.
In summary, we see the Broncos had the ability to really lay flat in Super Bowls. As great of a legacy as John Elway had this was a real clunker. Elway was sacked 5 times and picked off 3.
4. Super Bowl XVII: Dallas Cowboys 52 vs. Buffalo Bills 17
If no one ever remembers who finishes second, then the Buffalo Bills must have been one of the most forgotten teams ever in this era. After 2 straight Super Bowl losses, the Bills gave it their all ( or more like nothing ) against the resurgence of America’s Team.
The Bills let it float away behind an effort of 9 turnovers, a Super Bowl record. They did somehow manage to get as close to 31-17, but the score was not indicative of the blowout. This game that seemingly had lots to offer including an awesome 98,712 person attendance, a halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and America’s team. The Bills just looked beat for the third of 4 tries to be exact and were never able to shake off the previous losses. Troy Aikman passed for 4 TD’s in the first of the Cowboys 2 blow outs of the Bills.
In summary, the Bills never had the NFC’s number in the Super Bowl and as good as the likes of Jim Kelly, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas were, they just did not have the fire power Dallas, Washington or the New York Giants had. Four straight Super Bowl losses is a long standing record for the Buffalo Bills that will probably never be broken.
3. Super Bowl XXXV: Baltimore Ravens 34 vs. New York Giants 7
Even though the Ravens came in as a Wild Card team, the defense managed to get red-hot at the exact right time in the ultimate example of “defense wins championships” and thumping the New York Giants.
In a Super Bowl that may have been the worst outing by two offenses in history, it was the Ravens defense that forced the tempo with 5 turnovers including 4 interceptions of QB Kerry Collins, who was just 15-39 passing. As a team the Giants only posted 152 total yards of offense as opposed to the Ravens 244 yards. The Ravens used defensive and special teams scores to pull away here.
In summary, one of if not the poorest played Super Bowl games in history. Some of these guys are still in the league and the Ravens continue to play good, hard-nosed defense.
2. Super Bowl XX: Chicago Bears 46 vs. New England Patriots 10
Not that many had any faith in what the Patriots could do yet it was worse than any could have imagined.
When one team comes to the big game with a 17-1 record, and a top 40 billboard hit with a song known as “The Super Bowl Shuffle” chances are they are really good, and in this case a little too good. The Patriots were a surprise opponent, starting the season 2-3, flip flopping quarterbacks without the a star-studded roster. The Bears, and the ferocious 46 defense set a Super Bowl record with 7 sacks, allowed just 7 yards rushing, and held the Patriots to just 123 yards the entire game which is second lowest in SB history. The Bears even used William Perry, the well-known defensive tackle for rushing TD’s and pass attempts, showing they had zero fear of who was in front of them.
Sadly some of the Bears swagger took some of the class out of the winning. In the days leading up to the game, we of course had the ego-laden “Shuffle” but we also had Bears QB Jim McMahon calling New Orleans women “sluts”, and of course his head band scandals refusing to respect the NFL’s uniform policy. None of that seemed to really matter or slow this team down all season.
In summary, it was a game I clearly remember being over quickly, despite the Pats jumping out to a 3-0 lead. My clearest memory? My friends and I breaking into a game of indoor volleyball at half-time, after the Pats -19 yards.
1. Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 49ers 55 vs. Denver Broncos 10
This was not what the league had in mind when Super Bowls were invented, clearly.
This one, by far was the most lopsided game in the history of the Super Bowl. While the 49ers put on one of the very vest performances led by Joe Montana and his 5 TD passes and 279 pass yards and 3 TD catches by Jerry Rice, the Broncos could only muster a total of 167 yards of total offense and just one TD. The Broncos would drop their third attempt at a Super Bowl victory, and it marked the second time they were beaten so badly. The 49ers 55 points and 45 point margin of victory are still Bowl records.
Not a lot of surprise being that the 49ers came in as 12 point favorites, and in anticipation of such a mismatch this game earned the lowest TV ratings since 1969. The Niners put up 300 more total yards of offense, and this game never even had a sniff of being close. For the 49ers it was a second straight Bowl win, and the first by a rookie coach, George Seifert, who took over for retired coach Bill Walsh.
In summary, it was what the 49ers did to opponents back then. Although many think the Steelers teams of the 70’s may have been better, the Niners left everyone in their path and steamrolled all the way up to this Super Bowl.
I certainly hope that this year brings good plays, excitement and action. I fail to see how these two teams, with such similar styles and quality athletes could give anything less. Then again even legends like Elway and Marino can have bad days, as we saw here.
For the Super Bowl remains as heavenly to men as a wedding day to women, we hope not for divorce due to such poorly matched “couples”. Happy Super Bowl Day everyone!
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected].
100 Yards of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History
NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com
Madden 12 video game
NFL America’s Game Super Bowl I-XL on DVD