NFL Championship History: Highs, Lows & Memorable Moments
Each year’s NFL Championship game has its big plays and headline moments. As Super Bowl LIV approaches, let’s look back at the game’s dramatic upsets, memorable scores and bizarre statistics.
- Super Bowl III, 1969. The New York Jets, 18-point underdogs, stunned the Baltimore Colts 16-7, with quarterback Joe Namath guaranteeing the victory. This game propelled Broadway Joe into the Hall of Fame and vanquished the alleged superiority of the NFL over the AFL.
- Super Bowl IV, 1970. The Kansas City Chiefs upended the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 as 12-point dogs. This game wasn’t even close; oddsmakers still hadn’t learned that the AFL was good.
- Super Bowl XXV, 1990. The New York Giants, 7-point dogs, defeated the Buffalo Bills 20-19. Their methodical, ball-control offense reduced the possessions of the powerful Bills offense. Buffalo missed a field goal on the final play—this remains the closest the Bills ever got to a Super Bowl title.
- Super Bowl XLII, 1991. The New York Giants, Big Blue, won as 14-point underdogs against the New England Patriots, spoiling New England’s perfect season, which would have been the first in the NFL since 1972. There still hasn’t been another perfect campaign. What’s odd about this one? The spread. A month earlier, the Pats had barely beaten the Giants by 3 points. Why was this 14? Giants bettors just said, “Thank you.”
- Super Bowl XXLVI, 2002. The New England Patriots were 14-point underdogs, but defeated the Louis Rams 20-17 on a field goal as time expired. It was the first Super Bowl of the Tom Brady era.
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Honorable Mentions & Surprising Margins of Victory:
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a 4-point underdog, destroyed the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXVII.
- The Denver Broncos, 4.5-point dogs, defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl L.
- And how about those Seattle Seahawks? As 2-point dogs, they obliterated the Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. So much for “too close to call.”
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Highs and Lows
What was the biggest margin of victory? 45 points. The 49ers destroyed the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
And the smallest? Because New England needed overtime to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI, I call that the closest game ever. It was the only overtime game in Super Bowl history. Second place? The 1-pointer by the Giants against the Bills.
Highest-scoring game ever? The 49ers clubbed the San Diego Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIV, as the teams notched a record 75 points.
And the lowest scorer? Hard to believe, but it was just last year. The potent Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, who had participated in games hovering around 100 points throughout the season, combined for 16. The Patriots triumphed 13-3, ending one of the highest-scoring seasons in NFL history with a Super Bowl dud.
- With this Sunday’s game, the Kansas City Chiefs end a 50-year drought between Super Bowls. But it’s not the longest dry spell. That dubious honor belongs to the Jets, who have not been in a Super Bowl since their appearance in 1969.
- Only one team has ever appeared in four straight Super Bowls. That’s the Buffalo Bills. And they went 0-4.
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