Super Bowl History, Most Memorable Games and Fun Facts
With the NFL season winding down, teams are vying for playoff positioning. As the most anticipated sporting event in the United States approaches, let’s take a look back at some of the most exciting moments and fun facts in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl Origins
For many years since the NFL’s birth in 1920, the league had to fend off other leagues. The first major rival, the American Football League, was formed in 1960. Originally the AFL-NFL Championship Game, Lamar Hunt, then owner of the Kansas City Chiefs called the game the Super Bowl. The media began using the term to describe the championship game between the two leagues.
The first Super Bowl went to the Packers of the NFL, taking down the Chiefs. With coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers went on to win the second Super Bowl as well. One of the top moments in Super Bowl history came the following season. Joe Namath, the quarterback of the New York Jets of the AFL, correctly predicted a Super Bowl win over the Baltimore Colts. After the Chiefs took down the Vikings in Super Bowl IV, the leagues had split the first four contests. They merged in 1970 and the AFC and NFC were formed.
Two franchises have won over twenty percent of all Super Bowls, those being the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, each with six titles. Four other franchises have won a combined 18, lead by the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, followed by the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.
The majority of the franchises in league history have won at least one Super Bowl. The San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, and Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans have participated in but never won a Super Bowl. The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans are the only franchises yet to appear in the ultimate game.
One of the most memorable games in Super Bowl history was the Jets’ 16-7 win over the Colts in Super Bowl III. Joe Namath completed 17-of-28 for 206 yards and Nate Snell gashed the Colts defense for 121 yards on 30 carries. The Jets shut down Johnny Unitas, holding him to 110 yards on 11-of-24 passing. Earl Morrall fared even worse, being intercepted three times and completed just 6-of-17. The once outlandish prediction by Namath became a reality, as naysayers noticed that the AFL could compete with the NFL.
Another of the most memorable games was the Super Bowl LII contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. A surprise team during the season were the Eagles, coming off a 7-9 record. Despite playing with backup quarterback Nick Foles through the final couple games of the season and the postseason, the Eagles took down heavily favored Patriots by a 41-33 score. The game featured the most combined yards ever in an NFL game with Tom Brady throwing for 500 yards in the loss.
Who can forget Super Bowl XIII between the Steelers and the Cowboys? The most memorable moment was the dropped pass by Dallas tight end Jackie Smith in the end zone. There was a fumbled kickoff by Randy White, who was inexplicably on the return team with a cast on. Mike Hegman also returned a fumble 37 yards fumble for a touchdown. The teams combined for 28-points in the fourth quarter with Dallas coming from down 18 in the fourth to fall just short.
Patriots’ Upset and Triumph
One of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history occurred in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots appeared on their way to winning the game and completing a perfect 19-0 season. With 1:15 left in the game, ahead 14-10 the Giants converted a 3rd and 5 from their 44 on an improbable 32-yard reception from Eli Manning to David Tyree. A touchdown pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress with 39 seconds left shocked the Patriots, earning a title for the Giants by a 17-14 score.
Of all the Super Bowl titles by the Patriots, their 34-28 win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI is the most remarkable. Falling behind by a 28-3 score, New England inched their way back into the game. They were still down, 28-9 heading into the fourth. After a 19-point explosion in the fourth, the Patriots won on a one-yard run by James White in overtime. The collapse by the Falcons was the first time in postseason history that a team led by 17 points in the fourth quarter and lost.
Fun Super Bowl Facts
The Super Bowl is the most-watched event in the United States and second-most in the world. Super Bowl 44 was the most-watched show in history with over 106.5 million viewers.
Many quarterbacks from the Super Bowl teams have come from the same universities. Stanford, Michigan, and Notre Dame have each produced seven Super Bowl appearances, followed by Purdue, LSU, Miami, California, Navy, Alabama, Tennessee, and UCLA.
Super Bowl LV will be held at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on February 7, 2021.