Some of you may have noticed that the NFL Network aired its 25 Top Ranked Episodes of “America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions” this past weekend. It made for excellent Blizzard TV. Well, of course after I clawed about 9 inches of snow and ice off the DirecTV Dish! The NFL Network allowed the fans to vote for the Top 25 Episodes and there were some surprising results:
– The 1985 Chicago Bears (18-1) was the 14th-ranked Episode. The ’85 Bears shut out both of their opponents (Giants and Rams) in the NFC Playoffs and then only allowed 10 points to the Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
– The 1989 San Francisco 49ers (17-2) was the 13th-ranked Episode. The ’89 49ers won regular season games started by 3 different QBs (Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Steve Bono) and destroyed their postseason competition, defeating the Vikings (41-13), Rams (30-3), and Broncos (55-10) (Super Bowl XXIV).
– The 2007 New York Giants (14-6) was the Top-Ranked Episode. This is of course the Giants team that derailed the Patriots “Perfect Season” attempt. Now it should be noted once again that the Fans voted for their “Favorite Episode”, which is very different than voting for which Team they thought was “The Best”. And I have to admit that the ’07 Giants “America’s Game” Episode was pretty funny, especially the parts when Eli Manning pokes fun at his older brother Peyton. The theme in that jabbing is that Eli is better than Peyton at all sports except for football. Michael Strahan also makes fun of almost everything Eli and the other Episode Narrator – Giants Coach Tom Coughlin say during the Episode in a Reality TV-style manner. So I can see how the Tri-State Population combined with this humor would make this Episode so popular.
But all of this got me thinking: Who were the Greatest Super Bowl Champions of All-Time? And further: Who were the Greatest NFL Teams of the Super Bowl Era? Is it possible that some Teams that Didn’t Win Super Bowls were better than Teams that Did? The Answer to that Question is undoubtedly Yes. The 2007 Patriots (18-1) and 2001 Rams (16-3) immediately come to mind. If this year’s 49ers put up 34 points on the 2012 Champion Ravens, how many points might have the ’07 Pats or ’01 Rams scored?
So here’s my best shot: ErnBlog’s Top 25 Teams of the Super Bowl Era:
(Super Bowl Losers in Italics)
1. 1989 San Francisco 49ers
The 1989 San Francisco 49ers rolled through the Postseason, defeating Minnesota 41-13; the Rams 30-3; and finally Denver 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV in New Orleans.
2. 1984 San Francisco 49ers
The 1984 San Francisco 49ers only lost one game (vs. Pittsburgh). They beat the Dolphins in Dan Marino’s only Super Bowl appearance at Stanford Stadium.
3. 2007 New England Patriots
The 2007 Patriots won their first 18 games, mostly in convincing, overwhelming fashion before narrowly dropping Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants, 17-14.
During the regular season, the Patriots scored over 50 points twice and only scored less than 30 points four times, all obviously victories.
4. 1985 Chicago Bears
The 1985 Bears only lost one game (at Miami with Dan Marino).
5. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers
6. 1976 Oakland Raiders
The 1976 Oakland Raiders only lost one game (at New England).
7. 1972 Miami Dolphins
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL History to go Undefeated in a Season/Postseason with at least 17 games. Coach Don Shula’s Dolphins finished a Perfect 17-0.
8. 1991 Washington Redskins
9. 1977 Dallas Cowboys
Running back Tony Dorsett was one of the PrimeTime Players for Tom Landry’s Cowboys who came to be known as “America’s Team”.
10. 1967 Green Bay Packers
QB Bart Starr (MVP of each of the first 2 Super Bowls lunged over guard Jerry Kramer, into the end zone as time expired to beat Dallas in Lambeau Field’s infamous “Ice Bowl” – known as the coldest pro football game ever played. After that conquest, the Oakland Raiders were no match for Vince Lombardi’s Packers Dynasty in Super Bowl II.
11. 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers
Only the second team in NFL History to win back-to-back Super Bowls, the Steelers pulled away from Dallas in the second half of Super Bowl X.
12. 1995 Dallas Cowboys
This was Dallas’ last of 3 Championship Editions from the 90’s. They added Deion Sanders for this Title Run.
13. 1994 San Francisco 49ers
MVP QB Steve Young got the “Monkey Off His Back” against San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX in Miami (a properous Super Bowl venue for San Francisco, who also beat the Bengals there in Super Bowl XXIII).
14. 2004 New England Patriots
The last of Bill Belichick’s 3 Patriots Super Bowl Titles in the 2000’s decade. Belichick transformed this Patriots Championship Edition from a defensive-oriented squad in 2003 to an offensive jaugernaut behind Tom Brady and Corey Dillon in 2004.
15. 1998 Denver Broncos
The 1998 Broncos started 13-0 before losing two of its last three games of the regular season. But when the Playoffs began, Denver put the hammer down on Miami, the Jets and the Falcons to claim the Lombardi Trophy in John Elway’s last gallop.
16. 1992 Dallas Cowboys
The Triplets: QB Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wideout Michael Irvin – all Hall of Famers who wanted the ball and got the ball with the game on the line.
17. 1997 Green Bay Packers
Although they lost to Denver in Super Bowl XXXII, this Packers squad won some tough games in 1997, including a victory at San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.
18. 1987 Washington Redskins
After trailing 10-0 to Denver early in Super Bowl XXII, the Redskins scored a Super Bowl Record 5 touchdowns in the 2nd QUARTER to bury the Broncos.
19. 2001 St. Louis Rams
Coined “The Greatest Show on Turf”, the 2001 Rams shredded competition, including the Patriots in Foxboro in November. Although St. Louis (led by MVP QB Kurt Warner) only dropped 2 games the whole season, they were ultimately devoured by a defensive concoction formulated by Dr. Belichick and New England in Super Bowl XXXVI.
20. 2003 New England Patriots
Shutting out three opponents during the regular season (Miami, Buffalo, and Dallas), the 2003 Patriots had a knack for making big defensive plays when it counted most. They earned Homefield Advantage throughout the AFC Playoff by stuffing Indianapolis at the Goal-Line in November and then handled the Colts again in the AFC Championship Game, intercepting NFL MVP Peyton Manning 4 times.
21. 2006 Indianapolis Colts
The 2006 Colts went on the road to beat Baltimore in the Playoffs before returning home to overcome an 18-point Halftime deficit to defeat New England for the AFC Championship. Then, Peyton Manning withstood the worst weather of any Super Bowl (torential rain in Miami) to overwhelm the Chicago Bears for Peyton’s first and only Lombardi Trophy.
22. 2010 Green Bay Packers
QB Aaron Rodgers proved that the Packers could succeed in the post-Brett Favre Era, winning all 3 of their NFC Playoff Games on the road before edging out the Steelers in a thrilling 4th Quarter of Super Bowl XLV.
23. 1973 Miami Dolphins
The 1972 Dolphins were Perfect, but the 1973 Miami Edition was certainly no pushover, wining Super Bowl VIII over a strong Minnesota Vikings team that would lose Super Bowls to 3 of the Teams on this List (also the ’75 Steelers and ’76 Raiders). Nick Buoniconti led the Dolphins blistering 1973 defense.
24. 1968 New York Jets
“Broadway” Joe Namath lying on Miami Beach, predicting victory over Johnny Unitas and the powerful Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and then following through for the AFL (“AFC”)’s first Super Bowl Title. What else can I say?
25. 1996 Green Bay Packers
In 1996, the Packers were the best team in Football from start to finish. NFL MVP Brett Favre earned his shining moment in New Orleans as Green Bay won its first Super Bowl in 29 years.