There is nothing worse than a bad Super Bowl. With only two teams left to care about come championship time, there is only a small percentage of the nation who are actually invested in the competitors. Apart from homeowners and the occasional pockets of die hards for each team across the country, most of the rest of us football fans are just hoping for a good game. Sure, it's fun to watch a team you love crush another, weaker opponent under their cleated heel, but when you're just turning in as a football lover and you have to watch the same game, it can get pretty boring.
The great Super Bowls have always been close games, one's fought down to the wire. Wide right to end Super Bowl XXV. The Titans just a couple yards short to end XXXIV. David Tyree starting and finishing his career with his winning catch in XLII. Miami almost blowing the perfect season in the nail-biter 14-7 Super Bowl VII. These are the games the remain with you long after they're played, the ones you treasure and reminisce about with buddies years down the road. The miraculous. The historic. The things that makes us love football.
For those who love articles about things like that, turn back now. Read no further if you love stories of last second victories and come from behind losses, because you'll find none of that glorious nonsense here. Nope, what follows for you lucky few who persist in reading are the ten biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history. The one-sided, boring, never in doubt, "Thank God for the commercials" games that make us cringe during the two weeks leading up to the "big game". They're the party ruiners, the seasons spoilers, but here they are anyway for your... I guess, enjoyment?
10. XII-Broncos vs Cowboys, Louisiana Superdome, 1/15/78
Ah, Denver, you sure did have to lose alot of Super Bowls before you got yours. This was Denver's first trip to the holy land of the NFL, taking their Orange Crush defense to face Roger Staubach and a Dallas team that owned the 1970's (it was their fifth Super Bowl trip in that decade). Dallas' Doomsday Defense (whatever happened to all the cool nicknames?) just dominated Broncos' QB Craig Morton all day, who had 4 of Denver's 7 turnovers at the half, while Staubach played INT-less football in the face of Tom Jackson and the pressuring Denver D. In the end, Dallas' defense lived up to their name and the entire eleven man roster was initially nominated for MVP, though it was decided to give it to DE Harvey Martin and DT Randy White (the only co-MVPs of the Super Bowl). Denver, meanwhile, put up a paltry showing, never crawling closer than 10 points, with QB Morton (who,ironically, lost the Dallas QB job to Staubach in the 60s) putting up Tebow-esque numbers (4-15, 19 yds). The first of several Broncos' losses, a messy game, and, unless you were a Dallas fan, horribly unenjoyable. Final score 27-10
9. XL-Steelers vs Seahawks, Ford Field, 2/5/2006
It was against Seattle... What did you really expect was going to happen? Granted, the Seahawks were 13-3 in 2005, but they're an NFC West team and that division has been largely junior varsity compared to the rest of the NFL in the last decade or so (Arizona had a good season, 49ers just had one, but even counting the Rams, that division can never seem to get it together longer than a season per team). While the storylines surrounding the game were interesting (Steelers were a six seed, Seahawks were 11-1 to end the season with the highest scoring offense in the league) and the match ups were great (Alexander vs Bettis, rookie Roethlisberger vs veteran Hasselbeck), it suffered from West Coast bias. See, in the NFL, teams in the west seem to get this horrible reputation as being too far away to care about here on the east coast, and they are largely (unfortunately) trivialized. Four o'clock games are mostly ignored, seen as lesser, so those teams go unknown save for a couple good runs. While the game was actually tight, with a see-saw score that was up for grabs until the 4th, the eventual Steelers victory seemed somehow less exciting and meaningful because it was over Seattle, who didn't live up to their regular season billing at all. Maybe it's just me, but this one was only a big deal if you loved the Steelers, or if you hate bad officiating (many blamed several bad calls for the loss). Final score 21-10.
8. I - Chiefs vs Packers, LA Memorial Coliseum, 1/15/67
The game that marked the merger, Kansas City had beaten Buffalo for the right to face Green Bay in the first AFL-NFL Championship Game, the Super Bowl (or the Supergame as some termed it). Unfortunately, the contest itself turned out to be vastly less than the hype made it out to be. Both teams were looking to establish their league's dominance, both trying to become the "Big Dog" in the new era of football. Unfortunately, only Vince Lombardi and the Packers made these goals a reality, dominating the AFL scoring leaders and making the Chiefs interception hungry secondary look like they were playing in slow motion. Though the Chiefs put up a solid fight in the first half, down by only four at the break and leading in several stat categories, they never showed up in the second and were outscored 21-0 the rest of the way. The Packers owned Kansas City in every statistical category (even penalties) and didn't even let the Chiefs past midfield in the second half. Again, barring the history of the game, this was a pretty boring contest, with no real question about who would emerge victorious. Final score 35-10.
7. XXXVIII - Buccaneers vs Raiders, Qualcomm Stadium, 1/26/2003
This should have been a great one, with all the delicious storylines leading up to it and the teams looking so evenly matched. Called the "Gruden Bowl" by many, it featured the Tampa Bay Coach's team from a year ago facing off against his brand new one, with both teams rostering many of Gruden's type of players and using similarly plays. However, Jon also had Tony Dungy's Tampa defense largely intact from their previous years (including defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin) and it proved the difference that day, simply smothering the high powered Oakland offense and very veteran QB Rich Gannon, who was made to look every one of his 37 years throwing five INTs in the game. It was the third smallest Super Bowl attendance, which was fine because the game itself was decided by the end of the second quarter, with Tampa heading to locker room with a 20-3 lead from which they never looked back. The #1 ranked Oakland offense just fell flat against the #1 defense of Tampa Bay, with Coach Gruden looking like he may have been more important to winning than Raiders' owner Al Davis had calculated when trading him the year before. Granted, it was nice to see the Bucs get out of the muck for once, but who bothered to watch past the halftime commercials? Final score 48-21.
6. XVIII - Redskins vs Raiders, Tampa Stadium, 1/22/84
Black Sunday. Fresh off of winning Super Bowl XVII over Miami, the Redskins and quarterback Joe Theisman sliced their way through the regular season on their way back to the big one, going 14-2 under their MVP QB. Meanwhile, Los Angeles hadn't seen a Lombardi trophy since 1951 (when they were the Rams), but had ridden running back Marcus Allen and a Pro Bowl caliber defense (anchored by Howie Long) to a 12-4 record, holding their two playoff opponents under 24 points combined. Though Washington was the favorite, it quickly became apparent that no one in the LA locker room read the sports papers, as all three aspects of the team (offense, defense, special teams) managed to find the end zone in the first half, going in leading 21-3. Though Theisman put together a TD drive in the 3rd, the extra point was blocked and LA didn't allow another point to be scored, while their offense racked up another 17 points, led by Allen's 209 yards and 2 TDs. That's in addition to a defense that grabbed two INTs and sacked Theisman six times, while just shutting down Art Monk and the receiving corps. The defending champs lost and the Raiders became (among the other firsts that day) the first team to win two Super Bowls playing out of two different cities. Final score 38-9.
5. XXII - Broncos vs Redskins, Jack Murphy Stadium, 1/31/88
Time to drag Denver back over the searing coals of failure, but let's throw in some Elway this time, shall we? The year of the players strike, the year Doug Williams became the first African American Super Bowl QB, the second Championship opportunity in as many years for the Broncos (who lost the year before to the Giants 39-20, which just missed this list), the second failure for those same Broncos. Denver did have the #1 seed in the AFC in 1987 behind media darling Elway, but it would be Washington QB Williams who would be the hero of this Super Bowl, with a stat line of 18-29, 340 yds, and 4 TDs and just one INT. The Redskins as a whole just dominated the game, setting multiple Super Bowl records, including most points in a quarter or half with 35 (all scored in the second), erasing Denver's early 10-0 lead and never looking back. Denver didn't manage another score in the second half, went home empty-handed yet again in the still nascent Elway era, and would soon be coming back for an even bigger beatdown. Washington, meanwhile, had overcome the early deficit (and possible injury to Williams in the first) to make history, which may look good in the record books, but made for a one-sided game that featured next to no action in the second half, as the whole game had already been decided by then. Final score 42-10.
4. XXXV - Ravens vs Giants, Raymond James Stadium, 1/28/2001
It was like the Giants didn't even show up for this one, or at least that's how Super Bowl MVP Ray Lewis and the vaunted Baltimore defense made it seem. Holding New York to 152 total yards and zero (nil, nada, none, etc) offensive touchdowns, Baltimore became just the third Wild Card team to win it all, using a solid, mistake-free offense led by a strong run game (Jamal Lewis) and smart QB play (Trent Dilfer), but relying heavily on that ridiculous defense the Coach Billick had built around LB Lewis. All told, the Ravens grabbed 4 INTs that day from Kerry Collins, ended all 16 Giants possessions with either a punt or INT, and scored in every way (again, offense, defense, special). However, stunning defense in football (much like a no hitter in baseball) can be simply agony to watch and with a combined 396 yard of total offense by both teams, this one was a snoozer from the start. 10-0 at the half, 24-7 by the start of the fourth (the Giants managed a kick return for a TD), it was all short dump passes and hard running by Baltimore, all punts and mistakes by New York. Hooray for defense and all, but though it might win championships, it isn't very exciting to watch. Final score 34-7.
3. VI - Cowboys vs Dolphins, Tulane Stadium, 1/16/72
Now we start getting to some real blowouts, like this one, featuring Miami setting the record for fewest points scored in any Super Bowl all time. Though the point differential may not be as large as some and the winning Cowboys may not have run up a mega-score, there was no doubt that the Dolphins just weren't in this one at any point, regardless of their 12-4-1 regular season record. The Cowboys and MVP Roger Staubach scored in each and every quarter on their way to securing Dallas' first Championship, while also ending much of the QB controversy between Staubach and Craig Morton. Ironically, it would prove to be Miami's only loss in the calendar year 1972, as 16-0 and back to back Super Bowls were just an off season away for Coach Shula, so maybe this blowout was worth something after all, but for those watching the game, it must have been like watching a team practice. Landry and the Cowboys rode all over the Dolphins, squishing the fish until the Miami players just looked in a constant daze until well after the game and though they came back to glory in a hurry, this one really had to sting. Final score 24-3.
2. XXVII - Bills vs Cowboys, Rose Bowl Stadium, 1/31/93
... I don't want to talk about this one. As a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan, the fact that this game is so high up on the list just sickens me, but... I mean, this was their third Super Bowl in three years, so you'd think they would have been more prepared... It was less than a month after the Greatest Comeback in NFL History against the Oilers, yet they turned the ball over nine times in this Super Bowl (which, combined with Dallas' two, is a Super Bowl record 11 for the game... hooray...) and were down 28-10 by halftime... Sure, Buffalo got out to a 7-0 lead to start, but before Kelly and the boys could get any real rhythm going, Jim went down early in the second and Frank Reich just had no more magic left in the tank after the Wild Card. The only thing I, as a Bills fan, take away from this game is Don Bebee. When Leon Lett picked up a Reich fumble late in the 4th, he had a clear path to the endzone and would have made history if he had scored (for most points in a Super Bowl), but then there was Don. While the rest of the Buffalo Bills sat watching in misery as yet another score seemed imminent, Bebee raced up the field and seemed to enter the screen from nowhere, slapping the ball from the showboating Lett's hand (as he had begun celebrating about 20 yards before the score), and preventing the final insult. It was the only good thing to be said about this game besides the fact that it isn't quite the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. Final score... 52-17.
1. XXIV - Broncos vs 49ers, Louisiana Superdome, 1/28/90
The biggest point differential in Super Bowl history, it featured Joe Montana winning his third MVP, his fourth Super Bowl, and the 49ers second in a row. Meanwhile, Elway and the Broncos got their third Super Bowl loss in four years, all by blowouts; a measure of failure that would quickly be erased by the futility of the Bills four losses over the next four years. This was the final piece de resistance for Montana, for Rice, and was the first done without uber-Coach Bill Walsh at the helm (George Seifert took over that season, with barely a hiccup). The 49ers smartly just kept the ball away from Elway all game, using a controlled offense with deadly effect and running up 461 yards of total offense, while keeping Denver to just 167 yards and 20:29 time of possession. Elway never got going (though he did run in the Broncos only TD, he was 10-26 for 108 yds and 2 INTs), while Montana and Rice played some of the most brilliant ball of their illustrious career. Rice had 7 catches for 148 yds and 3 TDs, Montana threw perfection, going 22-29 with 297 yds and 5 TDs (still a Super Bowl record), at one point completing 13 straight. While the Broncos would get there's it was games like this one that had to make Elway wonder if he'd be forever cursed in the big game. While it was fun to watch the 49ers play pitch and catch for the first half of the game, once the score hit 27-3 it wasn't much of a game. By the end, it was interesting only because of how monumentally Denver failed and how unfairly good Montana and the 49ers were that season. Final score 55-10.
There, my friends and dear readers, are the stinkiest piles of Super Bowl ever played and while the winners may call them the greatest games they ever played in, and the fans of those winners may crow about what an awesome game it was, we all know otherwise. For us football fans, though, we just want a good game to tide us over until August, so here's hoping there won't be another game on this list come 2/5/2012. See you in Indianapolis.