Saturday, January 28, 2012

Top 10 Worst Super Bowls of All Time

Super Bowl XLVI evokes memories of one of the greatest upsets in NFL history when the New England Patriots were denied a perfect season by the wildcard New York Football Giants in a thrilling 17-14 upset in Super Bowl XLII.  Everyone loves to talk about the thrilling moments from the game which was named after the super ball.  I feel it is important to remember the less than thrilling games (most of which before the salary cap) from the first game in Jan 1967 to today.  Here are my bottom 10:

10. Super Bowl III - NY Jets 16 - Baltimore Colts 7

 Yes I know this one is often called "the most important game in NFL history" but if you take away the AFL-NFL rivalry, the 18 point spread, and Joe Namath's famous guarantee of victory you have a really boring game.  Anyone who doesn't believe me should watch the whole game the next time the NFL network shows it in it's entirety even with Curt Gowdy's commentary.

9. Super Bowl II - Green Bay Packers 33 - Oakland Raiders 14

Does anyone remember that this game, not the Ice Bowl with Dallas, was Lombardi's last with the Packers?

8. Super Bowl IX - Pittsburgh Steelers 16 - Minnesota Vikings 6

The Steelers' first of six Super Bowl wins was the least memorable.  They played some thrilling SBs with the Cowboys, Rams, and Cardinals but not this time.  The Steel Curtain dominated the game, Franco Harris set a rushing record and the Vikings still came closest to winning this one out of their four losses where they never had the lead which isn't saying much.

7. Super Bowl XXII - Washington Redskins 42 - Denver Broncos 10

The Redskins (I know the name is not politically correct) made the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history (10 points) to win 42-10 with a 35 point explosion in the 2nd quarter running the same play over and over.  The lone bright spot was Doug Williams becoming the first (an so far last for reasons that could fill another post) African American quarterback to lead his team to a SB win.  Only Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair have come close since then.

6. Super Bowl XXXVII - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48 - Oakland Raiders 21

This is the only game which occurred after the salary cap was in place.  Jerry Rice found out what it's like to be on the losing end of a SB blowout when his experienced Raiders were outfoxed by their former coach Jon Gruden and their starting center missed the game in a manic episode.  QB Rich Gannon threw a record five interceptions.  Raiders receiver Tim Brown later claimed that his coach deliberately lost the game.

5. Super Bowl XX - Chicago Bears 46 - New England Patriots 10

New England's first SB trip was a thumping by the monsters of the midway.  Coach Ditka gave William "the refrigerator" Perry a touchdown run but not his hall of fame running back, Walter Payton.  

4. Super Bowl XXII - Dallas Cowboys 52 - Buffalo Bills 17

The Bills committed 9 turnovers which led to 35 points which was the difference in the game.  This margin of defeat was bigger than their other three losses combined.  Don Beebe prevented Leon Lett from making it an even bigger rout and provided some comic relief.

3. Super Bowl XXIV - San Francisco 49ers 55 - Denver Broncos 10

Sandwiched in between two of the greatest Super Bowls of all time (49ers-Bengals and Giants-Bills) was this one.  The score pretty much says it all.  The only 49er mistake was a missed extra point.  Sorry I couldn't add either of your SB wins Denver fans.

 2. Super Bowl V - Baltimore Colts 16 - Dallas Cowboys 13

At first glance this glance this game would seem like a classic with Jim O'Brien avenging the Colts SB III loss on a last second field goal.  He was really sparing everyone from overtime.  There were a total of 11 turnovers with the Colts committing 7.  Sports Illustrated dubbed this game the "blunder bowl" which no one seemed to want to win.

1. Super Bowl XVIII - LA Raiders 38 - Washington Redskins 9

Everyone had high expectations for this game.  These two teams played a thrilling 37-35 regular season game.  The Redskins were the defending champs with a +43 turnover ratio.  The Raiders transplanted to Los Angeles and walked all over Washington starting with a blocked punt that led to a touchdown, followed by an interception by Jack Squirek and then capped off by a 74 yard touchdown run by Marcus Allen when it mattered most.  No one would've guessed after this one that the AFC would not win another Super Bowl for 13 years.  John Facenda, the iconic voice of NFL Films in his last super bowl, called this game one in which "no honor could be recovered." 

The salary cap may have made the game closer.  Before 1994 the average (mean) margin of victory for the 28  pre salary cap SBs was 16.7 points with a standard deviation (average deviation from the mean (average)) of 11.1 points while afterward the average for the 17 post cap SB's was 11.1 points and the standard deviation was 8.1 points.  This difference is not statistically significant but could become so with more post cap SBs.  Looking at the Pro Bowl results there is no change pre and post salary cap but the players do not take that as seriously as the Super Bowl.


This year's super bowl 21-17 fit the profile of a post salary cap SB.  It brought the average post cap margin down to 10.7 points with a standard deviation of 8.05.  The t-test is closer to the significant p value of 0.05 but still no cigar. Future SBs should show this game to be more equal according to the t-test.

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