The Top 20 Super Bowl Bests and Worsts From the Very Beginning

Quarterback Joe Montana #16 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII at Joe Robbie Stadium on January 22, 1989 in Miami, Florida. The 49ers defeated the Bengals 20-16. (Photo by Rob Brown/Getty Images)
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From game-winning drives to wardrobe malfunctions at halftime, no Super Bowl has left us without something to talk about the next day. And with the next Super Bowl upon us, now’s the perfect time to recap the past.

Every Super Bowl Ever, Ranked From Worst to Best

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Don’t worry—no textbook history lesson here, just a fun, best-of guide that’ll go down easy.



Here’s a look at the Super Bowl bests and worsts from the very beginning.

1. The Best Super Bowl QB: Joe Montana

Super Bowl greatness is synonymous with this four-time champion and three-time Super Bowl MVP (a record, by the way). Runner-up goes to four-time winner and two-time MVP Terry Bradshaw.

2. The Worst Super Bowl QB: Jim Kelly

Despite proving his worth in countless regular seasons and AFC playoff runs, Kelly goes down in Super Bowl infamy for losing four straight Super Bowls (1991-94) at the helm of the hapless Buffalo Bills.

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3. The Best Super Bowl: Super Bowl XLII (Giants 17, Patriots 14)

Coming in with a flawless 18-0 record, the Patriots looked to finish their historic run with a win over the Giants, a team most fans thought was lucky just to be there. But then Eli Manning–yes, Peyton’s little brother–somehow kicks Brady to the curb and steals the prize.

David Tyree Super Bowl Giants
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4. The Worst Super Bowl: Super Bowl XXIV (49ers 55, Broncos 10)

A great match-up of Hall of Fame quarterbacks (Joe Montana and John Elway) doesn’t end in drama. The 49ers mop the floor with the feckless Broncos.

5. The Most Clutch Super Bowl Kicker: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots

Vinatieri won two Super Bowls with field goals at the last second–a 48-yarder in Super Bowl XXXVI to beat the Rams, 20-17, and a 41-yarder to beat the Panthers two years later, 32-29. He’s the man you want on the field in the most high pressure situation imaginable.

6. The Least Clutch Super Bowl Kicker: Scott Norwood, Bills

The first of Jim Kelly’s aforementioned Super Bowl defeats (XXV) was the only close one, ending in a 20-19 Giants victory after Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a potential game-winning 47-yarder in the final seconds. Norwood also lives in Bills infamy.

7. The Best Pick-Six: Super Bowl XLIV, Saints vs. Colts

The Saints lead by a touchdown, but Peyton Manning is gunning for the New Orleans end zone in the last few minutes. Cornerback Tracy Porter saves the day for the Saints by picking off an uncharacteristically bad pass from Manning and takes it to the house.

8. The Most Clutch Super Bowl Tackle: Super Bowl XXXIV, Rams vs. Titans

Linebacker Mike Jones somehow manages to rip down the cutting Kevin Dyson just before he can reach the goal line, sealing up the win for St. Louis.

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Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a play in an NFL game.
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9. Best Play That Didn’t End Up Mattering: Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers vs. Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers to play the game, crosses over the middle, catches a pass from Kurt Warner on the run and busts up-field for a 64-yard touchdown. The score puts his team ahead by three, but there’s just too much time left…

10. The Best “Get Two Feet Down and Go Limp” Catch: Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers vs. Cardinals 

After Fitzgerald’s TD, Holmes makes one of the most miraculous catches in Super Bowl history in the corner of the end zone with just 35 seconds left. The Steelers win, 27-23.

11. The Best “What the F***” Catch: Super Bowl XLII, Giants vs. Patriots

The Tyree Catch–by far the most ridiculous play in NFL history. This is not debatable. It gets the Giants a first down and sets up the game-winning touchdown, which will be scored with under a minute to play.

12. The Best Guarantee: Super Bowl III, Jets vs. Colts

The swagger of Joe Namath and the upstart AFL wins out against the Baltimore Colts, as Namath’s “guarantee” of a victory rings true. Jets win, 16-7.

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13. The Worst Stadium Malfunction: Super Bowl XLVII, Ravens vs. 49ers

The lights went out somehow, which allowed you an extra half hour to get to all the various beer and snacks you wanted at your friend’s party.

14. The Sloppiest Game: Super Bowl V, Cowboys vs. Colts

The first Cowboys Super Bowl win was a poorly-played one, as the two teams combined for 11 turnovers and 14 penalties. Dallas eventually won on a last-second 32-yard field goal, 16-13.

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15. Best First-Down Rush by a Non-Rushing QB: Super Bowl XXXII, Broncos vs. Packers

With the Broncos in desperate need of a first down against the Pack, John Elway doesn’t need the legs and body of a younger man. The 37-year-old disregards all personal well-being and helicopters to a first down, as Denver goes on to win, 31-24. It’s Elway’s first Super Bowl win in his fourth try, and he’ll win it all next year too before retiring.

16. The Best Choreographed Dance by a Super Bowl-Winning Team: Super Bowl XX

This one speaks for itself. Oh yeah, this team went all the way by beating the Pats.

17. Worst Game-Winning Touchdown: Super Bowl XLVI, Giants vs. Patriots

In the second Eli-Brady Bowl, Giants back Ahmad Bradshaw barrels up the middle only to realize the Pats’ defense is letting him through so their offense can have more time for a comeback. Bradshaw puts on the brakes too late and reluctantly scores the Super Bowl-winning touchdown.

18. Best Game-Winning Joe Montana Drive: Super Bowl XXIII, 49ers vs. Bengals

Montana’s cool under pressure was never greater than during this drive, in which he took over the ball with just over three minutes to play and led San Francisco to a 92-yard touchdown drive to win the game, 20-16.

19. Best Kickoff Return for a Touchdown: Super Bowl XLVII, Ravens vs. 49ers

Taking it from the back of the end zone, Jacoby Jones brings the Niners’ kick all the way back to the rack to start the second half. It seems like a blowout at the time, but San Francisco’s post-power outage comeback makes this return completely necessary.

20. Most Dominant Defensive Performance: Super Bowl XXXV, Ravens vs. Giants

Ray Lewis earned a rare Super Bowl MVP Award on the defensive side of the ball in Super Bowl XXXV, as the Ravens shut down Kerry Collins and the Giants all night, winning the game by a score of 34-7.

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