By Lucas Camacho
With the Super Bowl approaching this Sunday, everyone is already gearing up for a rematch four years in the making: the San Francisco 49ers versus the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. But with all the hype going around this game, one must think of the history of the game and all the great champions before. An article caught my attention on my phone where a sports analyst used a convoluted way to use statistics to rank the top Super Bowl Champions. Upon going through the list and seeing who he put at number one, my immediate reaction was simply “no!” There were so many misses to this list that I’m not even going to say where it was. That being said, I got my father, and we put our heads together for what we call the TRUE Top Ten List of the best Super Bowl Champions:
10) Super Bowl XX – 1986: Chicago Bears 46 – New England Patriots 10
Looking at the score tells the story that Chicago having a dominating defense led by Bears legend Mike Singletary. This defense was so good, the most recognizable member wasn’t even a starter! I am of course referring to William “the Refrigerator” Perry: a 300-plus pound defensive lineman who could stop a truck and was used as a blocking back for Hall of Famer Walter Payton. In this Super Bowl, Perry scored a rushing touchdown while Payton didn’t. While the Bears’ Defense were dismantling New England’s Offense, Chicago Quarterback Jim McMahon capped off his best season throwing for 256 yards for a Super Bowl win. Another good reason this team is in the Top Ten…they didn’t just win a Super Bowl…they won a Grammy! Those who know what I’m talking about know about “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” It is both hilarious and impressive, and…no Taylor Swift needed.
9) Super Bowl XXVII – 1993: Dallas Cowboys 52 – Buffalo Bills 17
Third time’s the charm for the mighty Buffalo Bills, right? Yeah, that was a definite no. The Bills unfortunately ran into the even bigger juggernaut that was the 92-93 Dallas Cowboys. This team of course featured the infamous offensive weapons known as “The Triplets”. Of course, I am referring to Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin (all three men are Hall of Famers). This was arguably their best team and their best performance. Sure, it was a rout of a Buffalo team that was on the decline, and everyone was sick of seeing, but it seems that the Cowboys were destined to beat WHOEVER came out of the AFC that year. On a side note, there was one blemish to the Cowboys in this game, and that concerns the infamous play involving Leon Lett and Don Beebe. Despite it being the fourth quarter and the game being out of reach, Don Beebe caught up to Leon Lett, who recovered the ball after a strip-sack of Bills Quarterback Frank Reich and stripped the ball from Lett for a touchback. It was a tribute to never giving up, and it’s what made Beebe a hero in the eyes of football fans everywhere (it’s also one of the reasons that Leon Lett may not be in the Hall of Fame like the rest of his teammates).
8) Super Bowl XXXV – 2001: Baltimore Ravens 34 – New York Giants 7
This was one of those games where the game was close at the time of the kick-off…and that was it. Long before Joe Flacco or Lamar Jackson put on a Ravens uniform, the Baltimore Ravens never really needed a star quarterback to lead this team to greatness. Why would you need a top tier quarterback when you have the legendary Ray Lewis? (How Lewis dropped to 26th in his draft…we’ll never know.) Lewis led the Ravens’ defense to allow only 152 yards of offense to the Giants; the third lowest total ever in a Super Bowl. One thing you could say about this defense was this: if they tackled you…you felt it…as a player and as a fan. This Ravens team dominated from the first quarter to the last quarter. If you were curious, the winning quarterback was Trent Dilfer (…and now you’re Googling who he is right now). This was a superior team that truly deserved to win the Super Bowl regardless of who was at the helm as quarterback.
7) Super Bowl XXXVI – 2002: New England Patriots 20 – St. Louis Rams 17
This is a notable Super Bowl, because this was the beginning of an era of dominance that the NFL has never seen before. I’m talking about the first Super Bowl win of legendary Quarterback Tom Brady’s career. This is one of the rare occasions where Brady was the underdog. After all, the St. Louis Rams were returning to the Super Bowl with much of their 1999-2000 Championship team intact, including a healthy Kurt Warner leading the famed “The Greatest Show on Turf” offense. It was also notable because it was the first to be played in February due to the schedule being move one week back in the aftermath of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. Kurt Warner and the Rams’ vaunted offense had no trouble getting into the playoffs, but the Patriots had something that the Rams didn’t have defense (remember, this was way before the time of Aaron Donald). After all, the Patriots had legendary Coach Bill Belichick at the helm: the same man that figured out how to stop the Buffalo Bills famed “no huddle” offense when he was defensive coordinator of the Giants. The Patriots jumped to a big lead thanks to some costly Rams turnovers, but the Patriots defense finally crumbled at the hands of “The Greatest Show on Turf”, and the Rams tied it up. Their only mistake was giving too much time for Tom Brady to lead his team down the field to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game winning 48-yard field goal as time expired. This game was regarded as one of the biggest upsets of all time, with the Rams being 14-point favorites, and one of the best Super Bowls of all time. So, what could be better than the game that launched the New England Patriots’ dynasty?
6) Super Bowl XVIII – 1984: Los Angeles Raiders 38 – Washington Redskins 9
I’ll see your Tom Brady and raise you a Marcus Allen. Coach Tom Flores’ Raiders squad put on a big offensive show. This is a complete 180 from the Patriots victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Going into this game, the Washington Redskins were both the defending champions and had the league’s best record at 14-2. They were stacked at offense scoring 541 points and led the league in fewest rushing yards allowed. So we had another case of a great defense meeting a great offense (although the great defense also had an offense to match). However, it turned out the Redskins were not fully ready for the terrifying might of this Raiders team. This could be described as the utter destruction of the Redskins, as the Raiders built a commanding 21-3 lead going into halftime and never looked back. Legendary Quarterback Joe Theismann was sacked six times and picked off twice by the Raiders’ defense. Marcus Allen ran for a total of 191 yards, two touchdowns, and one of those runs was for a whopping 74 yards (the argument could be made that Marcus Allen is one of the most successful Heisman Trophy winners in the NFL). Perhaps President Reagan didn’t dismantle the “super-weapon” that was Marcus Allen, but Al Davis did…but that’s another story…moving on to…
5) Super Bowl XIV – 1980: Pittsburgh Steelers 31 – Los Angeles Rams 19
It is next to impossible to have a list of Super Bowl champions without including “The Steel Curtain”. The legendary Steelers defense led by Joe Greene (“thanks Mean Joe!”) and L.C. Greenwood among others. This wasn’t expected to be a close game. After all, the Los Angeles Rams had only won nine games that season: the lowest for a Super Bowl contender at this point. They just got hot at the right time, which would normally be enough to win you a championship. And then they faced the Steelers. Despite what the final score says, this was actually a seesaw battle for the majority of the game. The lead changed seven times, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Steelers finally pulled away. This might have had a different outcome if the Rams could have mustered enough strength for one last quarter. The argument could be made that Steelers fans were getting nervous of the possibility of their beloved team losing to a team like the Rams. But in the end, “The Steel Curtain” would not be denied. The Steelers maintained their championship crown, and how could they not? The number of Hall of Famers on this Steelers team is enough to blow anyone’s mind: a whopping fourteen! It’s hard to find a more dominant team than this, but there’s more list to go.
4) Super Bowl LI – 2017: New England Patriots 34 – Atlanta Falcons 28 (OT)
I can already hear what you’re saying: “Not another Tom Brady team!” I assure you, there is a method to my madness and it’s pretty clear why if you remember why this game is so significant. If you don’t remember, the Patriots looked like they were about to get wrecked. Midway through the 3rd quarter, the Atlanta Falcons had a commanding 28-3 lead. Fans in Atlanta were probably already picking out what they were gonna wear to the parade. After that came one of the best performances in Super Bowl history. The Patriots, led by Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick, completed the largest comeback in Super Bowl history by scoring 25 unanswered points. It’s also the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. So this wasn’t so much as another championship for Tom Brady as it was what he became a part of: a historical victory that ranks it among the greatest games ever played. In all fairness, nothing but sympathy to the Atlanta Falcons; this was a tough pill to swallow. Three more to go…and Tom isn’t part of any of them.
3) Super Bowl XVI – 1989: San Francisco 49ers 20 – Cincinnati Bengals 16
Tom Brady isn’t the only quarterback to lead his team to a famous comeback in a Super Bowl game. Who could forget the famous game where, with everything on the line, legendary Quarterback Joe Montana looked up into the stands and asked “Hey, isn’t that John Candy?” This wasn’t the first time that the 49ers and Bengals met in the Super Bowl; in fact they played each other just several years prior in 1982. This was a lot closer than that game, as it looked like the Bengals were about to finally avenge their previous defeat. With 3:10 left on the clock, Montana led an eleven play, 92-yard drive for the winning touchdown. Some point to the John Candy comment as why they sometimes referred to Joe Montana as “Joe Cool” (yeah, it wasn’t just Snoopy that had that nickname). In the movie Draft Day, Kevin Costner’s character mentioned the drive and commenting “They couldn’t believe the balls on him.” Not only did this game have a very famous drive, but it had several Hall of Famers: Jerry Rice, Charles Haley, Ronnie Lott, and future 49ers star Steve Young.
2) Super Bowl VII – 1973: Miami Dolphins 14 – Washington Redskins 7
No list is complete without the only undefeated team in NFL history. There is no denying the greatness in the perfect 72-73 season for the Miami Dolphins: a feat that hasn’t been repeated since. None saw this coming…after all, the Dolphins just lost the previous year’s Super Bowl; getting destroyed by the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps that was what really drove this Dolphins team: anger at being humiliated the year before on the biggest stage in the NFL. Others would point to their weak regular season schedule and who their opponent was. They were facing off against the Washington Redskins that eliminated the same Cowboys team that beat them last year. The perfect Dolphins went in as an underdog, but they came out as champions. Despite dominating throughout the game, the Dolphins came really close to blowing it. Miami tried to cap their perfect 17-0 season with a 17-0 shutout. But a botched 42-yard field goal became a 49 yard interception for a touchdown that put the perfect season in jeopardy. Fortunately, they held on when Washington’s final drive came up short, and the perfect season remains a staple of NFL history. This was also the lowest scoring Super Bowl until the 13-3 score of Super Bowl LIII (yeah, yeah…Tom Brady was part of THAT one…)
1) Super Bowl I – 1967: Green Bay Packers 35 – Kansas City Chiefs 10
Why is this number one on the list? The answer is quite simple: the first champions, the Green Bay Packers, were so good and they were coached by the man whom the Super Bowl trophy is NAMED after: Vince Lombardi. If count Coach Lombardi, there are twelve Hall of Famers on this team led by legendary Packers Quarterback Bart Starr. It’s understandable why not many would consider this team number one. After all, going into this game many people predicted that there was no way a team from the American Football League (AFL) could beat a team from the older National Football League (NFL). Despite the expectations, the Chiefs were able to stay with the Packers for the first half, and even outgained them in total yards by the half at 181 to 164 yards. The Packers were favored to win by 14 points, and they ended up winning by 25. The plays and style of play used by this Packers team has become textbook and the industry standard in the NFL (like how the works of Orson Wells and Alfred Hitchcock became standards in the film industry). Bart Starr was the first Super Bowl MVP with a magnificent performance: throwing 16 for 23 for 250 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. Whether you agree or not, this Packers team deserves to be considered among the greats. One thing you can’t deny is this: there’s a reason the Super Bowl Trophy is named after Vince Lombardi.