At 18 years of age, there are only eight Super Bowls that I remember in their entirety on account of the fact I had a bedtime and was asleep by halftime until I was 10. With that being said, here is a countdown of my top eight Super Bowls:
8) Super Bowl XLVIII – Seahawks 43 Broncos 8
Out of all the games mentioned on this list, this game may have actually been the most hyped, but the least entertaining. There was so much talk about the Broncos’ top offense going up against the Seahawks’ top defense, the old QB going up against the new breed, and the sheer fact that the game was in the NY-NJ area amplified all of the excitement.
After the game opened up with the ball flying past Peyton Manning’s face into the endzone for a safety, things began to unravel.
The Seahawks dominated on the offensive side of the ball, led by Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, and James Kearse. Wilson completed 72% of his passes for 202 yards and two TDs. Kearse and Baldwin were each on the receiving end of one of those TD passes, and they combined for 131 yards. Percy Harvin provided a spark on both offense and special teams, as he carried the ball twice for 45 yards and returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown, which destroyed any hopes of a comeback for the Broncos.
The defense was dominant as well, forcing a total of four turnovers. Malcolm Smith recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a TD, earning him Super Bowl MVP honors. The ‘Legion of Boom’ proved its prowess and cemented its legacy as one of the greatest defense of all-time, alongside the ‘Steel Curtain’ and the ’85 Bears.
The dominant performance earned Seattle its first Super Bowl title.
7) Super Bowl XLV – Packers 31 Steelers 25
The scoreline indicates a close game that came down to the wire between two cornerstone franchises of the NFL, but this game, for my taste at least, was nothing special.
The first quarter was rather slow moving for what was supposed to be a shootout between two great offenses, but the Packers broke through in a big way late in the first. Aaron Rodgers capped off a nine play drive with a 29-yard strike to Jordy Nelson for the opening score. On the ensuing drive, Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted by Nick Collins, who found his way into the end zone to give the Packers a 14-0 lead, which turned into a 21-10 lead by half.
The 3rd quarter was rather uneventful, but things began to pick up in the 4th as the Steelers cut the deficit to three with a bit over seven minutes remaining. Sounds like the makings of an exciting finish, but as I was watching, I never for a moment felt as if Aaron Rodgers was going to let this slip through his fingers. For the games ranked higher on this list, I always had the sense that something memorable was going to happen down the stretch, but I never got that sense here.
It was a good game overall (and it was actually competitive as opposed to the Seahawks’ drubbing of the Broncos), but I did not walk away from it saying “wow, what a game!”
6) Super Bowl XLIV – Saints 31 Colts 17
This entire game can really be summarized by two plays: the onside kick by the Saints to start the second half, and Tracy Porter’s pick-six.
The first half lacked excitement entirely and was a bit sloppy at times, but Sean Payton’s bold decision to open the second half of a 10-6 game with an onside kick changed everything. The Saints marched down the field and took a 13-10 lead after the onside kick, but the Colts responded with a touchdown of their own, though this score prove to be Indy’s last of the game.
The Saints opened the 4th quarter with a defensive stop, which led to a two-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Jeremy Shockey with under six minutes remaining. Down 24-17, Peyton Manning had a chance to engineer a game-tying drive, but Tracy Porter jumped a pass intended for Reggie Wayne and took it back 74 yards for the score.
We were all left with the lasting image of Drew Brees holding his ear-muffed child and the Lombardi Trophy, which was a huge boost to a city still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
*Every game from this point forward could have been considered for the top spot. They were all classics in my opinion, and I consider myself rather lucky that 5 of the 8 Super Bowls I have watched are in the “classic” category. Hopefully the trend continues.*
5) Super Bowl XLVI – Giants 21 Patriots 17
The teams went back and forth, trading stops and scores until the Giants were able to make one more play than the Patriots. For the second time in four years, the Giants’ front seven was able to wreak havoc and prevent Tom Brady from being the robot we are used to seeing.
Overall, the only memorable aspect of this game was Eli Manning threading the needle to Mario Manningham on the game-winning drive, but it was simply a hard-fought, tremendous football game that came down to the wire.
Things became especially interesting when Ahmad Bradshaw fell into the endzone, giving Brady and the Patriots’ offense a final chance. A ‘Hail Mary’ attempt fell just out of the reach of a diving Rob Gronkowski, and Eli Manning was able to raise his 2nd Lombardi in his brother’s home stadium.
4) Super Bowl XLII – Giants 17 Patriots 14
Both installments of Giants-Patriots followed the same blueprint — back and forth games where the Giants were able to pressure Brady into mistakes and win late. The reason this game is ranked ahead of the second, however, is because this game had a more memorable game-winning drive, and history was on the line as the Patriots came into the game at 18-0.
When I say “this game had a more memorable game-winning drive,” I really mean “this game had one of the most memorable plays of all-time.” Eli Manning somehow managed to stay on his feet as a handful of New England defenders were draped over him. When he escaped, he flung the ball down the field, and his prayers were answered as David Tyree went up over the great Rodney Harrison, pinned the balled to his helmet, and maintained control all the way to the ground. A few plays later, Plaxico Burress was on the receiving end of a fade, and the Giants were Super Bowl Champions.
As I said, I only remember eight Super Bowls, and this one was the first — not a bad way to start, huh?
3) Super Bowl XLVII – Ravens 34 Niners 31
In the early stages of this game, it seemed as if the Ravens were going to run away with things, just as the Seahawks did a year later. They took a 21-6 lead into the half, and before Colin Kaepernick would even touch the ball to start a potential comeback, Jacoby Jones provided an even larger cushion by returning the opening kick of the second half for a TD.
Then the lights went out.
The lights eventually came back on at the Superdome after a break that lasted longer than halftime, and the Niners came alive. They scored 17 unanswered points and brought the score to 28-23 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The Ravens opened the 4th with a field goal but Kaepernick responded with a 15-yard TD run, bringing the score to 31-29 after the Niners failed to convert on the two-point conversion. Justin Tucker went on to add another field goal, but the Niners had a shot to win the game with four chances inside the 10-yard line.
The Niners came up empty, though the case could have been made for a pass interference on 4th down. Nevertheless, Ray Lewis was able to join the likes of John Elway, retiring after a Super Bowl victory.
2) Super Bowl XLIX – Patriots 28 Seahawks 24
Since this game took place exactly a year ago, I really do not need to do much to jog your memories for this one. Two great teams went back and forth for 59 minutes, and the 60th minutes was one of the most exciting I have ever witnessed.
It was shades of the Tyree catch for the Patriots as Jermaine Kearse hauled in a circus catch that was kicked to him while he was on his back. The miraculous play set the stage for one of the strangest sequences in Super Bowl history.
With the Seahawks at the one-yard line, Bill Belichick inexplicably opted not to call timeout, and Pete Carroll inexplicably opted not to hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch. Wilson dropped and threw a slant at the goal line that ended up in the arms of the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler.
Which prompted these priceless reactions:
I am sure all of us Jet fans felt a bit sick when we saw Darrelle Revis holding the Lombardi Trophy in a Patriots jersey.
1) Super Bowl XLIII – Steelers 27 Cardinals 23
In the city of Phoenix — a bird that is reborn from the ashes — we saw the rebirth of Kurt Warner. A decade after winning the Super Bowl with the Rams, he was able to lead Cardinals to the Super Bowl, and he nearly won it.
There was not much scoring in the 1st quarter as the Steelers took a 3-0 lead into the 2nd, but the teams were amped up, flying around the field, and you could tell this had the makings of a great game.
The teams traded touchdowns in the 2nd, before James Harrison made one of the most important plays in Super Bowl history. The Cardinals were in the redzone, threatening to either tie or take the lead heading into the half. Harrison jumped a route at the goal line, and took the ball back 100 yards for the score (though he almost ran out of gas at the end). The play gave the Steelers a 17-7 lead heading into the half.
The 3rd quarter mirrored the 1st, in that it only featured a field goal by the Steelers and good defensive football from both sides. The Cardinals scored nine unanswered points to start the 4th quarter (TD and SFTY), which cut the deficit to 20-16 and set up an epic finish.
The Cardinals got the ball with just over three minutes remaining, looking to put together a game-winning drive. It only took two plays to get into the endzone, as Larry Fitzgerald took a quick slant 64 yards for the score and a 23-20 lead. The quick score ended up being more of a curse than a blessing, because there was still more than two minutes on the clock for Big Ben to respond.
Roethlisberger drove his team down down the field and found Santonio Holmes in the back of the endzone for the game-winning touchdown. Holmes was awarded Super Bowl MVP, and the Steelers won a league-leading 6th Super Bowl.