The uncertified holiday that is Super Bowl Sunday bring friends and families together to catch arguably the biggest sports event in the world. Fans have now cheered (or booed) their way through 56 editions of the NFL’s ultimate game day. In 2023, Glendale, Arizona is host to the big game at State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. Over the years, NFL fans have been treated to some contests that may be among the greatest games ever played in the league. We turned to experts to compile a list of the best Super Bowls of all-time — though that list can certainly change depending on the fan base.
Of course, for some, getting together with friends to watch the game is more about the party itself. One recent survey of 2,000 Americans asked respondents why they attend Super Bowl parties year after year, and for many, the actual game is the last thing on their minds come kick off time. In fact, the majority of respondents (56%) admit they look forward to Super Bowl parties because of the food, with just being social and attending a party being the second most popular reason (54%). Less than half (49%) of respondents said the actual game itself is usually their main interest. Many others say they attend Super Bowl parties to get in some family time (45%), or just check out the latest commercials (38%).
Betting is also a big part of the game these days, particularly with sportsbook gambling legalized in many states. A 2022 study reports that the Super Bowl is also the biggest day for sports betting. However, as with the game itself, not everybody comes out a winner.
Historically, New England and Pittsburgh are tied for the most Super Bowl victories in the NFL with six wins each. (Though any fan will point out that Tom Brady holds seven rings himself, which is why he’s considered to be the G.O.A.T.) And the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have each won five, while the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants are tied with four Super Bowl championships. Regardless of the teams who will play, many people have it on their bucket list to attend the big game.
And for those who dropped more than $4,800 on LVII tickets, we hope the game becomes the next one to make it on the list of the best of the best. But for now, here’s a list of the best Super Bowls of all time, ranked by 12 experts. Keep reading to find out what made these games stand out, whether it was a thrilling comeback or a history-making play or something else that gave them the edge to stand the test of time. Whatever it was, the bar has been set high for future games.
The List: Best Super Bowls Of All Time, According To Experts
1. Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots — 34, Atlanta Falcons — 28 (OT)
DAZN News puts this comeback story at No. 1, writing, “The game that became a meme, the 2017 title contest solidified the New England Patriots of the 2010s as a team of destiny. Facing a deficit, the Pats engineered the greatest comeback of all time against a Falcons team that came out flying. Atlanta built up a 21–0 lead, later increasing the margin to 28–3. It seemed assured that the Falcons would cruise to their first championship. The Patriots proceeded to mount a historic comeback, scoring 31 straight points to secure the team’s fifth Super Bowl victory.”
Patriots running back James White put on one of the most unforgettable performances of all-time, too. His 14 catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns will certainly go down in history among the top stat lines in the game.
“The fact that this was the first Super Bowl to go into overtime puts it at No. 1. The furious comeback that New England orchestrated after trailing 28–3 in the third quarter only solidifies its position,” Athlon Sports says.
14 catches for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns including the game-winner in OT
James White’s Super Bowl LI performance was one of the greatest of all-time 😤 @brgridiron
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/nJ9iUCWErn
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 11, 2022
And Men’s Journal agrees: “The first Super Bowl to go into overtime didn’t disappoint. After going down 28–3 and appearing dead in the water, the New England Patriots stormed back, scoring 25 unanswered points. That sent the game into an extra frame before the Pats notched the game-winning touchdown. Tom Brady orchestrated the comeback by throwing for more than 400 yards. Super Bowl LI granted Brady and Bill Belichick their fifth Super Bowl ring, an NFL record.”
2. Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots — 28, Seattle Seahawks — 24
CBS Sports thinks this game is the whole package: “This game had everything. There was controversy coming in and it was a battle of the two best teams in football. The defending champion Seahawks came out gunning, the Patriots responded and took over the game and then Russell Wilson and Seattle tried to steal it back with one of the wildest catches by Jermaine Kearse you will ever see. Malcolm Butler promptly took it right back with arguably the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history.”
For Ticketmaster, the excitement really made this game one of the top Super Bowls of all time: “This game was just flat out exciting. Russell Wilson and the ‘Legion of Boom’ were trying to win back-to-back Super Bowls against one of the greatest franchises in sports with legendary QB Tom Brady under center. This back and forth contest ultimately ended at the goal line when the Seahawks opted to pass instead of hand the ball to All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch. Wilson’s dart was picked off by Malcom Butler in the end zone to seal Brady and head coach Bill Belichick’s fifth Super Bowl win together.”
The #SB49 MVP:
Tom Brady! pic.twitter.com/8dw0B0W7yX
— NFL (@NFL) February 2, 2015
“In a back-and-forth affair between the Patriots and Seahawks, Seattle was one measly yard away from glory. But then the ‘Hawks — rather than run the ball with Marshawn Lynch — inexplicably decided to throw a pass that was intercepted by the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler,” CBS News reports.
3. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers — 27, Arizona Cardinals — 23
According to Philly Sports Network, “You can look at every single quarter of that game, and a play that was made would have probably been the best play of any other Super Bowl. There were defensive plays made on both sides. Offensive plays that will go down in the history books. [This] Super Bowl has two of the five greatest plays in Super Bowl history all in ONE GAME.”
Steelers. Cardinals. One of the best Super Bowls ever.
Watch Super Bowl XLIII — and this legendary toe-tap TD — in full on NFL GamePass: https://t.co/3yQtk4tAZ4 @ToneTime10 pic.twitter.com/54yMEW238q
— NFL (@NFL) April 20, 2020
“Just prior to the final play of the first half, this game could best be described as a good Super Bowl. Then Kurt Warner threw a pass into the end zone to try to give the Cardinals the lead. Suddenly the game was on its trajectory to becoming the best Super Bowl ever played that ended in regulation. That final play became the longest interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. Big Ben found game MVP Santonio Holmes in the back corner of the end zone. Holmes remarkably tapped the tips of both feet down just inside the side of the end zone to make the legal catch, in one of the greatest examples of body control in Super Bowl history,” Sportscasting says.
4. Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers — 35, Dallas Cowboys — 31
For the NFL, this Super Bowl stands out: “This 35–31 contest had so many moments … a strip-sack for a touchdown, Terry Bradshaw’s MVP performance, the Smith drop, a big pass-interference call on the Cowboy’s Benny Barnes, and a special-teams fumble that turned the game around.”
No. 17: “Battle of Champions” – Super Bowl XIII Steelers vs. Cowboys (Jan. 21, 1979) #NFL100 @steelers
📺: NFL 100 Greatest Games on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/vShlamhVfc
— NFL (@NFL) October 5, 2019
And Overtime Heroics says this game made history, writing, “This game was a rematch of Super Bowl X and featured the defending champion Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game featured some firsts in NFL History. It was the first game in which the defending champion lost, and the first in which a losing team scored at least 30 points.”
“It’s exactly what we wanted (and got) with the Eagles and Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Two really talented offensive teams lobbed up a ton of points with two great quarterbacks. Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw combined for seven touchdowns in this one,” mentions CBS Sports.
5. Super Bowl XXV: Giants — 20, Bills — 19
Bleacher Report calls this Super Bowl a giant win: “Super Bowl XXV is arguably the cleanest Super Bowl ever played. Neither team committed a turnover, and from the start, the game was intensely contested. The Giants established their ball-control dominance, as they held the ball for over 40 minutes, a Super Bowl record. Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly led the Bills down the field. And as emotions ran high and tensions rose, Bills kicker Scott Norwood trotted out to attempt the game-winner. No Super Bowl kicker had ever attempted a game-closing field goal in which the result of the kick determined the winner or loser. Norwood’s kick sailed wide right, and the Bills experienced their first of four Super Bowl heartbreaks.”
No. 10: “Wide Right” – Super Bowl XXV Bills vs. Giants (Jan. 27, 1991) #NFL100 @Giants
📺: NFL 100 Greatest Games on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/KXHHPwMWAy
— NFL (@NFL) October 5, 2019
Yardbarker also touches on the heartbreak, writing, “Super Bowl XXV was a classic chess match. Could Bill Parcells and the Giants defense slow down Buffalo’s vaunted K-Gun offense? The answer to that question, if we’re being truthful, was no. Buffalo moved the ball successfully most of the night, and Thurman Thomas racked up 135 yards rushing. Problem was, the Bills had the ball for less than 20 minutes because of New York’s ball-control attack. Still, Buffalo marched it to set up Scott Norwood for a 47-yard attempt at immortality. We all know what happened next.”
Athlon Sports sums it up nicely: “New York’s ball-control counterattack against Buffalo’s no-huddle offense was good enough to win… by one point.”
What are your plans for this year’s Super Bowl? Whether you’re headed to Glendale or straight to the snack bowl, we hope you get to watch a history-making game.
- DAZN News
- Athlon Sports
- Men’s Journal
- CBS Sports
- CBS News
- Philly Sports Network
- Overtime Heroics
- Bleacher Report
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