There are a couple articles that have come out recently ranking the top Super Bowl games ever. It’s certainly a tedious, yet probably fun, task to do considering there have been 52 of them so far, going on 53.
Just like with any ranking, everyone has their own perspective of what was memorable about each Super Bowl and what made them so great. So, I wanted to go ahead and give my first shot at doing my own Super Bowl rankings. However, I’m only going to rank the ones since SBXXXIV between the Tennessee Titans and St Louis Rams, mainly because that was the first Super Bowl I actually paid attention to the whole game and understood what I was watching. When I was 8 years old watching SBXXIX between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers I didn’t really know the game like I did years later, so it wouldn’t make sense to include any of the games that I can’t really recall.
Honorable Mention: Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
I’m going to start with this Super Bowl as an honorable mention because I just couldn’t leave it out. I know some people might say I’m being a hater because I’m putting a New York Giants game this low and don’t want to give them credit. But if I’m going to be honest, this game wasn’t that entertaining from start to finish. It did have one heck of an ending though, including the famous David Tyree “Helmet Catch”. And considering what was at stake (Patriots’ undefeated season), the magnitude of the Giants’ victory is absolutely incredible. It’s just not enough for me to say it was a better game than the 5 others I ranked above it. But it’s still one of the most memorable upsets in NFL history, therefore it deserves to be mentioned.
Super Bowl XLVII – Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
I was pretty invested in this game because even as a Philadelphia Eagles fan I still always rooted for the 49ers since I was a kid. I mentioned earlier how I watched SBXXIX, and that was the first ever Super Bowl I ever watched, and I was rooting for the 49ers that game, so that always stuck with me. At the same time, I was also a big fan of the Ravens’ running back Ray Rice in large part because my college team is Rutgers (obviously I’m not a fan of his anymore, for reasons not needed to be mentioned). Oh, and former Eagle David Akers was the kicker for the 49ers too. I had a rooting interest for both teams to some degree.
There were also the other storylines going into the game, such as it being the “Harbaugh Bowl” with John facing off against his brother Jim, the final game of Ray Lewis’ career, and the emergence of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took over for 49ers 1st round pick Alex Smith earlier that season.
The game seemed like it was on its way to becoming a blowout after Jacoby Jones took the 2nd half opening kickoff to the house to give the Ravens a 28-6 lead. But then there was a long delay due to the lights going out in the Superdome, and that marked the change in momentum. The 49ers came storming back, and with just over 2 minutes left to go trailing 34-29 were in position for the go-ahead touchdown at the Ravens 7 ½-yard line. They were unable to convert on 4 tries though, and the Ravens escaped with the victory.
Super Bowl XLIII – Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
James Harrison’s historic 100-yard interception return before halftime, Larry Fitzgerald’s 64-yard touchdown catch and run to give the Arizona Cardinals their first lead of the game with just over 2 minutes left, and Santonio Holmes’ unfathomable toe-tap touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone for the game-winning score were all memorable plays throughout this game that help make it #4 on my rankings.
Just like the Ravens-49ers game, this game looked to be in the bag for the Pittsburgh Steelers until the Arizona Cardinals made a furious comeback in the 4th quarter only to fall just short.
It’s crazy to look back and think “Larry Fitzgerald is a superstar in the making. He’ll be back playing in another Super Bowl eventually.” Well, he never made it back. And honestly, there aren’t many other athletes in the game today that most fans would want to see win a ring more than Larry Fitzgerald.
Super Bowl LI – New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28
Honestly, choosing between these last 3 games was very, very difficult. Anyone could rank them in any order and I’d be perfectly fine with it. But for me, this comes in at #3.
The Falcons absolutely dominated for about the first 2 ½ quarters of this game. As a matter of fact, it was getting pretty boring at a point, which plays a part in it not being ranked at the top. But once the Patriots recovered that fumble in the 3rd quarter, you could just sense that they were coming and were about to do something remarkable.
Julio Jones’ highlight-worthy catch on the sideline in the 4th quarter put the Falcons in position to kick a field goal and put the game out of reach with an 11-point lead, but Matt Ryan ended up taking a bad sack which took them out of field goal range.
This gave Tom Brady and the Patriots offense the opportunity they needed. Down 8, they marched down the field and not only scored a touchdown but converted on the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28.
This led to the very first overtime in Super Bowl history. And regardless of which team would win the coin toss there was almost no doubt in anyone’s mind who was going to walk away with the victory. The Patriots had all the momentum and the Falcons defense was exhausted.
As history would have it, the Patriots won first possession, and just like they’ve done so many times again and again, they went down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown on a toss play to James White.
From the moment I first started watching the Super Bowl every year, I always wished for one to go to overtime. And being able to finally witness one, let alone on a historic comeback effort by arguably the greatest dynasty in league history, is something I’ll forever appreciate as a football fan.
Super Bowl LII – Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33
A lot of my fellow Eagles fans will probably get mad at me for not putting this game at the top of my rankings. Honestly, if I was approaching these rankings from the perspective of an Eagles fan then this would of course be at #1. Witnessing my team finally win the Super Bowl was a dream come true and will always be one of the greatest experiences of my life.
The thing is, I’m not approaching these rankings from the perspective of an Eagles fan, but as an NFL fan. Therefore, I can’t put this above the game I have at the top. But having it at #2 still says a lot about how great of a game it truly was.
Some will make the argument that there was hardly any defense played by either team, therefore the quality of the game wasn’t that great and should knock it down in the rankings. However, considering how good of a unit the Eagles defense was all season, I saw it as the greatness of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of the Patriots offense playing out of their minds. Brady was no doubt the single best player on the field that night.
And quite frankly, if you’re looking for a game with just great and entertaining moments, this one is tough to beat.
Call me corny, but I would compare SBLII to the boxing match between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. It was an all-out slugfest between the underdog Philadelphia Eagles and the unbeatable machine that is the New England Patriots.
Doug Pederson and Nick Foles both had to have the game of their lives in order to keep Bill Belichick and Tom Brady on their heels, and no play was most evident of that than the “Philly Special” play call on 4th down before halftime.
Ironically though, the biggest play of the game wouldn’t come from either offense, but from someone on the defensive side of the ball. With the Patriots on their way to yet another one of their game-winning drives, defensive end Brandon Graham reached his hand out and forced a strip sack on Brady, which rookie Derek Barnett recovered. With the ball already well inside Patriots territory, Jake Elliott was able to kick a field goal to give the Eagles an 8-point lead.
With little time left Tom Brady still did all he could to get the Patriots down the field and in position for a Hail Mary attempt, but the ball fell incomplete in the end zone.
The ultimate fairy tale season for the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia was complete.
Super Bowl XLIX – New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
This game was just as entertaining as Eagles-Patriots, but with some better defensive play for both teams and an absolutely unbelievable finish.
We all know this game as either the “Malcolm Butler interception” game or, as most fans like to refer to it as, the “WHY DIDN’T YOU GIVE THE BALL TO MARSHAWN LYNCH?!” game.
If you ask most people, these 2 teams were the best teams in football that season, and a matchup between them seemed inevitable for most of the year. The team that had been the dynasty for over the last decade, the New England Patriots, went toe-to-toe with the team that was looking to become the new dynasty for the next decade, the Seattle Seahawks. And neither team disappointed.
The game would come down to 2nd & Goal at the Patriots’ 1-yard line for the Seattle Seahawks. And that’s when Malcolm Butler went from zero to hero, intercepting Russell Wilson’s pass in the end zone.
Most people blast Pete Carroll for not running the ball there when you have Marshawn Lynch as the running back, and understandably so. But if you go “next level thinking” as they say, what I find even more egregious is the type of pass play they chose to go with. Why call a slant route at the 1-yard line? It’s the end zone and there’s always going to be a lot of traffic in that area of the field. If the Seahawks wanted to go with a pass, they should have called a play-action pass to fake out the defense first, which would have potentially freed one of the wide receivers on their route. They could have even included some type of bootleg action so that if Wilson had some room to run he could have just taken it in himself. But in the end, that’s not how it played out.
The Patriots, like they’ve done so many times, were able to come away with a dramatic victory in what was a football game for the ages and worthy of the top spot in not only my rankings but many others’ as well.