Every Super Bowl season, we get a glimpse at some of the most unforgettable Super Bowl moments, games, and mishaps that shaped the past 52 years.
Yes, we’ll be told about Joe Namath’s guarantee and we’ll be reminded of the story of Joe Montana pointing out John Candy before leading the 49ers to victory. And since this is another Patriots-Rams Super Bowl, we will see countless clips of their first meeting that kicked off the Patriots dynasty.
All those moments are great and those games helped shape the path of the NFL to what it is today, but there are other Super Bowls that also do that, but don’t seem to get as much attention as other games. These underrated Super Bowls (listed in chronological order) may not rank in everybody’s top ten greatest Super Bowl list, but they were great games filled with historic and unique moments that deserve recognition.
Super Bowl IV – Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
History tells us that once Joe Namath and the New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts, the AFL immediately gained respect and all was well between the two leagues as they got closer to completing a merger. That didn’t exactly happen.
Yes, that win by the Jets in Super Bowl III was huge and it was a turning point in how modern football was shaped, but the AFL didn’t really gain respect. Many NFL loyalists at the time called the Jets’ win a fluke and when Super Bowl IV rolled around, the Kansas City Chiefs were 13 point underdogs and again weren’t given a chance because they were an AFL team.
Just like the previous Super Bowl, the AFL team dominated the NFL team and the merger completed with each league winning two Super Bowls. Some still showed disrespect to the AFL but this game at least proved that they were no fluke and would fit right in with the NFL.
Super Bowl XXX – Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
The Cowboys-Steelers rivalry of the 1970s was *the* rivalry. It seemed like one of these teams was in the Super Bowl every year in the 70s and the two teams played each other twice that decade, resulting in two classic games won by the Steelers.
Super Bowl XXX continued that rivalry, but it wasn’t supposed to be a close game. The Cowboys were attempting to win their third Super Bowl in four years, while the Steelers hadn’t been to the title game since 1980.
Despite the Cowboys being 13.5 point favorites, the Steelers kept it close. And after a shock onside kick recovery, the Steelers were within a field goal in the fourth quarter.
But everyone remembers this game for one man (maybe two men). Larry Brown had his perfect night at the perfect time, intercepting two Neil O’Donnell passes to seal the win and a dynasty for the Cowboys. Brown never really had another game like Super Bowl XXX, but he’s a three-time champion, Super Bowl MVP, and because of that night, he never has to pay for a drink in Dallas, so that’s better than most pro football careers.
Super Bowl XXXIX – New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
Since 2002, the New England Patriots have dominated the NFL. But while they have won five Super Bowls (and may win a sixth Sunday), the Patriots have a flair for the dramatic. Their first two titles ended on last second Adam Vinatieri field goals, while their last two titles ended with a game ending interception and winning the first overtime Super Bowl.
This game was in the middle of New England’s five Super Bowl wins, and like the middle child, it’s been largely forgotten in the Patriots timeline.
Yeah, it was the worst of the five Brady/Belichick Patriots Super Bowl wins, but the Eagles made it a competitive game, despite Donovan McNabb’s puking. And while the Eagles needed to go 95 yards in hardly any time, the Patriots still made the crucial interception to end the game and win by three. It’s not the most glamorous Patriots Super Bowl win, but it was still a good game.
Super Bowl XLIV – New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
In one of the more ballsy calls in Super Bowl history, Sean Payton started the second half by calling a surprise onside kick, which also happened in Super Bowl XXX. But while Bill Cowher’s onside kick was a bit of desperation early in the fourth quarter, Payton did it to start the second half while down 10-6. While there was plenty of time to overcome that gap, it was a decision, like their fake punt against the Eagles, that was meant more to change the momentum for the Saints.
And did it ever. Losing 10-6 quickly turned into a 25 point second half for the two touchdown victory. Payton’s decision changed the legacies of so many, including a team who had been considered perennial losers for the first 40 years of the franchise’s history. But that narrative has changed, due to a call that isn’t talked about often. Because if that didn’t work and the Saints lost, we would be putting Sean Payton on the level of Jackie Smith and Scott Norwood in terms of Super Bowl goats.
Super Bowl XLVII – Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
Other than the fact that there was a blackout and that one of these quarterbacks was out of the NFL just a few years later while in his prime for reasons those in the NFL would rather not discuss, there isn’t much people remember about this game and it only happened six years ago.
The “Battle of the Harbaughs” took a couple of twists and turns. The Ravens dominated the first half and things didn’t get better with a 108 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half. And then the blackout happened. Down 28-6 at the time, the 49ers regrouped and San Francisco had a 17 point third quarter to put them within five points to Baltimore.
Despite the comeback, the Ravens found a way to remain in front. It took a couple field goals but it was enough as the Ravens held on 34-31 for their second Super Bowl win. It’s certainly not the most memorable Super Bowl and having a blackout during a Super Bowl is an embarrassing situation the NFL probably doesn’t want to list in a “Greatest Super Bowl Moments” compilation but this was a great game that came down to the wire and gave us something completely unusual that we had never seen and likely will not see again.
[Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images]