TGS SPECIAL REPORT...ALL-TIME SUPER BOWL RANKINGS!
by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor
In the spirit of "Big Game Week" we present our much-discussed all-time TGS Super Bowl rankings. We'll place the upcoming Super Bowl LI in an updated list which will appear in our post-Super Bowl TGS Hoops issue on February 9. The first 50 Super Bowls are ranked below in inverse order, from our worst-rated to our best-rated.
50-XLVIII, Seattle 43 - Denver 8 (at East Rutherford, NJ)...A feeble effort from the Broncos commenced on the first play from scrimmage when an errant snap sailed past QB Peyton Manning for a safety. Things got progressively worse from there for Denver and its record-setting offense that was kept off balance all afternoon. The game officially ceased to become a competitive affair when the Seahawks' Percy Harvin returned the second-half kickoff for a TD and a 29-0 lead. Seattle scored via safety, field goal, run, pass, interception, and kick return (is there anything else?) in perhaps the most drama-free of many disappointing Super Bowls.
49-XXXV, Baltimore 34 - N.Y. Giants 7 (at Tampa)...An exceedingly drab game with little or no drama, dominated by the Ravens' defense, which rendered the Giants offense helpless while holding it without a score. Indeed, the only fireworks in XXXV came in bang-bang-bang succession in the 3rd Q, with TDs on successive plays by Baltimore's Duane Starks (interception), New York's Ron Dixon (kickoff return), and the Ravens' Jermaine Lewis (yet another kickoff return). Otherwise, XXXV threatened to put Sominex out of business.
48-XXVII, Dallas 52 - Buffalo 17 (at Pasadena)...The Bills' capitulation was particularly appalling because they simply didn't seem so overmatched. But their slapstick nine turnovers precluded this from becoming the competitive affair most envisioned. Buffalo's only highlight was WR Don Beebe streaking downfield to slap the ball out of DT Leon Lett's hand before the latter would have scored one last TD.
47-XXVI, Washington 37 - Buffalo 24 (at Minneapolis)...More one-sided than the final might indicate, as the Redskins enjoyed 24-0 & 37-10 leads before a couple of garbage-time Buffalo TDs made the final more respectable. Thurman Thomas forgetting about his helmet at the start of the game summed up a dispirited effort by the Bills, who lost contact early and were never in the game.
46-XV, Oakland 27 - Philadelphia 10 (at New Orleans)...A disappointing showing by the Eagles, who were down 14-0 before the 1st Q ended, contributed heavily to an absolute lack of drama in XV. Three TD passes by Jim Plunkett and 3 picks by Raider LB Rod Martin highlighted the surprisingly one-sided proceedings.
45-XXII, Washington 42 - Denver 10 (at San Diego)...This one ceased to be competitive midway in the 2nd Q, when the Redskins were in the midst of the most-devastating stanza in SB history. The startling 35 points (including four Doug Williams TD passes) in that period required only 18 plays in the five TD drives and set a one-quarter SB record that will be hard to top, all the more amazing because Denver had looked ready to score an early KO of its own when it jumped to a quick 10-0 lead. When the carnage was complete, Washington had amassed a SB record 602 yards, and obscure RB Timmy Smith had a SB-record 204 yards rushing. The second half more resembled a scrimmage than a championship game.
44-XXIV, San Francisco 55 - Denver 10 (at New Orleans)...The biggest-ever SB blowout lacked any drama whatsoever. But S.F.'s dominance was so complete, and, indeed, breathtaking, we felt almost privileged to watch such excellence.
43-XX, Chicago 46 - New England 10 (at New Orleans)...Although this game was absolutely no contest, it was a bit more entertaining than other title game blowouts simply because the "Super Bowl Shuffle" Bears were such a colorful (and absolutely dominating) bunch.
42-XXIX, San Francisco 49 - San Diego 26 (at Miami)...Though the final margin wasn't quite as large as some other famous SB beatings, this game was every bit as one-sided as the worst of them, as the 49ers appeared capable of scoring whenever they pleased before easing up in the 2nd half. Complete mismatch.
41-XII, Oakland 32 - Minnesota 14 (at Pasadena)...The Vikings were manhandled in a battle that lacked much intrigue after the Raiders moved easily to a 16-0 halftime lead. Oakland's dominance was reflected in a then SB-record 266 yards rushing, with vet DB Willie Brown's 75-yard interception TD (captured so eloquently by Raiders radio play-by-play voice Bill King) a nice capper in the 4th quarter.
40-VIII, Miami 24 - Minnesota 7 (at Houston)...A surprisingly non-competitive game, as most figured the Vikings, with Fran Tarkenton back at the controls, rated a good chance. Instead, the outcome was never in doubt past the 1st Q, with the Dolphins practically disdaining the pass (Bob Griese only threw the ball 7 times!) and instead bludgeoning the Vikes behind Larry Csonka's 145 yards rushing. A more impressive Miami win than in the Super Bowl vs. the Redskins the previous year.
39-XXXIII, Denver 34 - Atlanta 19 (at Miami)...Denver finally enjoyed an easy Super Bowl win in a contest that lacked any sustained drama, with the Broncos up 31-6 in the 4th Q. In the end, there would be a nice "feel good" factor as John Elway, in what would be his final game, was named MVP for his 336 yards passing.
38-XXVII, Dallas 30 - Buffalo 13 (at Atlanta)...Even when the favored Cowboys seemed to sleepwalk through the 1st half, trailing 13-6 at intermission, there seemed to be an inevitability about XXVII that the Bills would again find a way to lose, as they had done in the three previous Super Bowls. It took James Washington's 46-yard fumble return for a 3rd-Q TD to finally turn the tide in Dallas' direction, and the Cowboys never seemed in danger thereafter, with Buffalo providing little resistance in the 2nd half and surrendering meekly in the end.
37-VI, Dallas 24 - Miami 3 (at New Orleans)...Although the outcome was still in doubt at halftime, when Dallas led only 10-3, the Cowboys quickly took control in the 3rd Q, and Miami didn't threaten thereafter. The enduring memory of this game was controversial Cowboy RB Duane Thomas (flanked by none other than Jim Brown) and his famous one-word answer ("Evidently") to a long-winded question from CBS broadcaster Tom Brookshier on the postgame show.
36-XVIII, L.A. Raiders 38 - Washington 9 (at Tampa)...Another good-looking matchup that failed to materialize, the outcome essentially decided by Jack Squirek's 5-yard interception return TD off an ill-advised Joe Theismann screen pass just 5 seconds before halftime. Indeed, the Raider dominance was somewhat startling, with CBs Mike Haynes & Lester Hayes blanketing the Skin wideouts. A number of highlight-reel runs by Marcus Allen (en route to a then-SB record 191 yards rushing) provided some excitement after the outcome was decided.
35-XXXVII, Tampa Bay 48 - Oakland 21 (at San Diego)...This game was almost more interesting for its ironies (none greater than HC Jon Gruden, in his first year with the Bucs after leaving Oakland) than any action on the field. The Raiders made it mildly interesting in the 4th Q, cutting a 34-3 deficit to 34-21, before the Bucs capped the game with a pair of exclamation points in the form of two interception TDs in the last two minutes, their 2nd and 3rd such scores of the contest!
34-II, Green Bay 33 - Oakland 14 (at Miami)...The Super Bowl concept was still enough of a novelty in January of 1968 that just seeing AFL and NFL teams on the same field was something special. Unlike the previous year, however, Green Bay was in control from the outset and was never seriously threatened. This SB would eventually gain more notoriety for being Vince Lombardi's last game as head coach of the Packers.
33-XXI, N.Y. Giants 39 - Denver 20 (at Pasadena)...This was a bit more competitive than the Broncos' other one-sided SB losses, as Denver performed ably in the first half and even led at intermission, 10-9. But the game became a runaway before the 3rd Q ended when the Giants erupted behind Phil Simms' deadly accuracy (completed 22 of 25 passes!) en route to a then-SB record one-half record for points (30 of 'em!).
32-XIX, San Francisco 38 - Miami 16 (at Palo Alto)...Unless you were a 49er fan, this one was a disappointment, as it failed to live up to its hyped "shootout" billing. The S.F. defense made sure there was no drama by muffling Dan Marino and his record-setting offense, while Joe Montana toyed with an overmatched Miami stop unit.
31-XII, Dallas 27 - Denver 10 (at New Orleans)...What shaped up as an intriguing matchup failed to materialize, as Denver self-destructed with 6 turnovers, with QB Craig Morton pulled in the 3rd Q. Although the Broncos rallied briefly behind backup QB Norris Weese and hinted at a possible grandstand finish for a time, the Cowboys' arsenal was too much, with a couple of spectacular TDs (Butch Johnson's acrobatic 45-yard catch from Staubach, which might have been overturned had replay then been in effect, and an option pass from RB Robert Newhouse to WR Golden Richards) sealing the outcome.
30-50, Denver 24 - Carolina 10 (at Santa Clara)...No offensive showcase, but the Broncos would ride their defense in a performance reminiscent of the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens to shut down Cam Newton and the NFL's top-scoring team. Denver did not need to do much on offense thanks to a "D" that forced four turnovers and would score the game's first TD when game MVP Von Miller, a constant thorn in Newton's side, stripped the Panther QB on a sack and Bronco Malik Jackson would recover in the end zone. The game would stay taut until deep in the 4th Q until Newton, sacked 7 times, would again be separated from the ball deep in his own territory, with Denver DB T.J. Ward's recovery preceding RB C.J. Anderson's game-clinching TD in what would also be Denver QB Peyton Manning's final game.
29-VII, Miami 14 - Washington 7 (at Los Angeles)...Added significance because it was the final installment of the Dolphins' perfect 17-0 season. But the game was mostly a bore after the Dolphins took control in the 1st half, with the "No-Name" defense throttling the Skins for most of the day. Became mildly interesting late in the 4th Q after Garo Yepremian's infamous flubbed FG and Mike Bass' subsequent TD return, but that was about the only drama of the afternoon.
28-XL, Pittsburgh 21 - Seattle 10 (at Detroit)...Although there was considerable drama for a time well into the 4th quarter, XL was a bit of a disappointment and hardly a shining hour for the referees, whose series of extremely questionable calls (coincidentally almost all favoring the Steelers) at crucial moments distorted the proceedings. Pittsburgh did capitalize when presented opportunities, however, using big scoring plays by Willie Parker & Hines Ward to shift the momentum in the second half.
27-IX, Pittsburgh 16 - Minnesota 6 (at New Orleans)...A taut affair (with a 2-0 halftime score!) dominated by LB Jack Lambert and the Steel Curtain defense, which held the Vikes to a SB-low 117 yards. Indeed, Minnesota's offense didn't score, but Matt Blair's blocked punt and recovery by Terry Brown for a TD early in the 4th Q did get the Vikings within 9-6 and suggested a possible dramatic finish before game MVP Franco Harris (a then-SB record 158 yards rushing) put the contest away, giving beloved Steelers owner Art Rooney his first-ever title.
26-XXXIX, New England 24 - Philadelphia 21 (at Jacksonville)...The final score of the only Jacksonville SB suggests it might warrant a better ranking. But the game never had a real flow to it, there were few memorable plays, and the enduring memories are the Eagles taking their sweet time in a late drive that demanded urgency, and Terrell Owens' post-game complaints about Donovan McNabb. Hardly a classic.
25-XLI, Indianapolis 29 - Chicago 17 (at Miami)...Arguably the best 1st Q in SB history, featuring the first-ever opening kickoff returned for a TD (Chicago's Devin Hester going 92 yards). But another SB first, almost an entire game played in a deluge, slowed the contest thereafter and exacerbated a feeble performance by Bear QB Rex Grossman. Although Peyton Manning and the Colts dominated the statistical battle, Chicago gamely hung around until Kelvin Hayden's 56-yard interception TD return in the 4th quarter finally gave Indy some breathing room.
24-IV, Kansas City 23 - Minnesota 7 (at New Orleans)...There was always a delightful symmetry attached to this surprising result, as it evened the AFL-NFL ledger at 2 wins apiece before the merger and shut up the numerous "NFL supremacists" once and for all. More entertaining than the score suggests, with the brilliant and creative game plan of Hank Stram immortalized by NFL Films.
23-I, Green Bay 35 - Kansas City 10 (at Los Angeles)...Historically, perhaps the most important Super Bowl of them all. No one knew what to expect, and the fact the underdog AFL Chiefs were definitely in the game at halftime, trailing the powerful Packers only 14-10, opened more than a few eyes (we know; we were there!). This one was a lot more interesting than many historians would lead you to believe.
22-XXXI, Green Bay 35 - New England 21 (at New Orleans)...Plenty of big plays, including a Super Bowl-record 99-yard kick return by Green Bay's Desmond Howard (game MVP) that effectively ended the Patriots' upset hopes in the 3rd Q. The Packers always appeared in control, and the only late drama surrounded G.B.'s attempts to cover the 14-point spread (a late missed FG by Chris Jacke kept the final margin at 14).
21-XVI, San Francisco 26 - Cincinnati 21 (at Pontiac)...The early-version Bill Walsh 49ers didn't yet have Jerry Rice or Roger Craig, but they did have Joe Montana and an underrated supporting cast that was in control of this entertaining game a bit more than the final score suggests (a last-second Cincy TD cut the final margin to 5). Credit the Bengals for making it a bit more interesting when rallying from a 20-0 halftime deficit, though a dramatic goal-line stand (and a big tackle on Pete Johnson from unsung 49er LB Dan Bunz) kept Cincy at bay. Another unsung hero was 49er PK Ray Wersching, who hit four FGs and helped with kickoffs that put Cincy in poor field position.
20-XXX, Dallas 27 - Pittsburgh 17 (at Tempe)...The Steelers made this a more-compelling game than many anticipated, rallying from an early 13-0 deficit to close within 20-17 in the 4th Q, and might have pulled the upset had Cowboy DB (and game MVP) Larry Brown not made the second of his two picks of Pittsburgh QB Neil O'Donnell deep in the 4th Q, setting up Dallas' clinching TD.
19- XLV, Green Bay 31 - Pittsburgh 25 (at Arlington)...This one teased at becoming a memorable classic as the Steelers hinted at a dramatic comeback throughout the second half, but in the end there would be no last-minute thrills as the Packer defense kept Pittsburgh far away from another last-minute miracle. Three costly giveaways including a poorly-thrown Ben Roethlisberger pass returned for a TD by Nick Collins late in the 1st Q put the Steelers in an early hole from which they could never escape.
18-XXV, N.Y. Giants 20 - Buffalo 19 (at Tampa)...Drama-wise, perhaps this one deserves to be rated higher, as it wasn't decided until Bills PK Scott Norwood shoved his last-second, 47-yard FG just wide to the right. Norwood's miss, however, remains the only really memorable play of a game that mostly bored because of the Giants' ball-control tactics featuring RB Ottis Anderson (and backup QB Jeff Hostetler, who executed a bulletproof game plan) that were brutally effective, helping the G-Men control the ball for over 40 minutes vs. the high-powered and favored Bills. The finish was tension-packed, but pace was tedious and didn't make for particularly exciting viewing.
17-V, Baltimore 16 - Dallas 13 (at Miami)...Though perhaps the sloppiest Super Bowl with 11 turnovers (earning it the "Blunder Bowl" label), it nonetheless produced the first dramatic finish in SB history when Colts rookie PK Jim O'Brien nailed a 32-yard FG with only 5 seconds to play. Earl Morrall, one of the goats of SB III, relieved John Unitas at QB and performed admirably for the Colts, who still needed a couple of late picks by Rick Volk and, finally, Mike Curtis off Cowboys QB Craig Morton to set up the tying and winning scores deep in the 4th quarter.
16-III, N.Y. Jets 16 - Baltimore 7 (at Miami)...For a long while, the historical significance of this one (first AFL victory after Green Bay wins the previous two years) demanded its inclusion in the top ten, although some recent thrillers have pushed Jets-Colts down the list. This one made Joe Namath famous after his brash "guarantee" of victory before the game. The Jet defense, RB Matt Snell (121 yards rushing and scorer of New York's lone TD), PK Jim Turner (3 FGs), and Colt sloppiness (5 TOs) also figured prominently in game that seemed almost surreal as it unfolded, since few figured the 18-point underdog Jets had a chance to stay close, much less win!
15-XVII, Washington 27 - Miami 17 (at Pasadena)...An entertaining Super Bowl that, save perhaps for John Riggins' exploits that included a then-SB record 166 yards rushing and a memorable, 43-yard TD run on a 4th-down play with 10 minutes left that finally put the Redskins ahead for good, seems to have been regrettably underrated by many gridiron aficionados. The Dolphins didn't do much (only 176 yards of offense and a mere 4 pass completions combined between QBs David Woodley & Don Strock), but stayed close thanks to Jimmy Cefalo's 76-yard TD reception and Fulton Walker's then SB-record 98-yard kickoff return TD. The game remained tense deep into the 4th quarter.
14-XIV, Pittsburgh 31 - L.A. Rams 19 (at Pasadena)...We think this one has been a bit overlooked by Super Bowl historians, as it featured plenty of spectacular plays and a gutsy performance by the underdog Rams, behind QB Vince Ferragamo, who steered LA into leads after each of the first three quarters of play. A 25-yard HB-option TD pass from Lawrence McCutcheon to Ron Smith gave the Rams their final advantage at 19-17. But XIV is more remembered for the spectacular play of Steeler wideouts Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, the latter catching a 73-yard bomb from Terry Bradshaw to put the Men of Steel up for good at 24-19 and then effectively sealing the deal with another highlight-reel, 45-yard grab to set up Franco Harris' late, clinching TD.
13-XXXII, Denver 31 - Green Bay 24 (at San Diego)...Breaking a 13-year run of NFC Super Bowl dominance, the underdog Broncos finally prevailed after four previous SB failures in a brisk and exciting game best remembered for QB John Elway's "helicopter" scramble that secured a key first down on a 3rd-Q Denver TD drive. Yet it was RB Terrell Davis who ended up the game's MVP with 157 yards rushing and 3 TDs, the last a game-winning 1-yard blast with only 1:45 to play.
12-X, Pittsburgh 21 - Dallas 17 (at Miami)...Though not regarded as highly as their Titanic battle three years hence, the "bicentennial" Pittsburgh-Dallas clash was a memorable one nonetheless if for no other reason than confirming Steeler WR Lynn Swann's brilliance with a couple of unforgettable grabs (including a late 64-yard TD catch) en route to a then-SB record 161 receiving yards. No matter Swann's heroics, this one turned out a bit closer than Pittsburgh fans would have liked due to Roger Staubach's 34-yard TD pass to Percy Howard (Howard's only career catch!) with 1:48 to play, then, after getting the ball back in the last minute, moving close enough for Staubach to bomb toward the end zone from inside the Steeler 40 in the final seconds.
11-XLVI-NY Giants 21 - New England 17 (at Indianapolis)...Eerily similar to their meeting four years earlier at Glendale, this one was another grandstand finish that was also decided in the last minute by a late, long Giants TD drive led by Eli Manning, featuring another circus deep-ball catch by one of his wideouts (this time Mario Manningham after David Tyree's heroics four years earlier). Tom Brady was bombing into the end zone on the final play, but the Patriots' cautious short-passing game and lack of big plays limited the impact of their "O" throughout.
10-XXIII, San Francisco 20 - Cincinnati 16 (at Miami)...Lots of drama, as despite being outgained by a near 2-to-1 margin, Cincy hung tough thanks to Stanford Jennings' 93-yard kickoff return TD late in the 3rd Q and a couple of missed FGs by 49er PK Mike Cofer, and even held a late 16-13 lead thanks to a Jim Breech FG with only 3:20 to play. But the incomparable Joe Montana cemented his place in Canton by authoring perhaps the best winning drive in Super Bowl history, taking the 49ers 92 yards to the title, culminating in a 10-yard TD toss to John Taylor with just :34 to play.
9-XLIV, New Orleans 31 - Indianapolis 17 (at Miami)...More compelling than the final scoreline suggests, as the underdog Saints were still trailing deep into the 4th Q and didn't put the game away until Tracy Porter's 74-yard interception return for a TD with 3 minutes to go. Although the game lacked some anticipated fireworks, it had sustained drama, with Porter's interception and a nervy onside kick called by New Orleans HC Sean Payton to begin the second half ranking as highlights alongside QB Drew Brees' near-flawless performance.
8-XIII, Pittsburgh 35 - Dallas 31 (at Miami)...Long considered the standard by which great Super Bowls should be measured, this one featured great teams, great players, and great plays, though the most-enduring memory might be veteran Cowboys TE Jackie Smith dropping a sure TD pass that would have leveled the score at 21 in the 3rd Q. It was also an unofficial title bout for "team of the decade," as each had won two Super Bowls in the '70s. All it lacked was a down-to-the-wire finish, as a belated Dallas rally narrowed a 35-17 Steeler lead to the 35-31 final. Though the last TD, scored with :22 left, caused apoplexy for many wagerers and Vegas sports books, with the pointspread having bounced between 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 for much of the previous two weeks!
7-XXXVI, New England 20 - St. Louis 17 (at New Orleans)...Any Super Bowl decided by a score on the final play (in this case Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard FG at the gun) deserves respect. Though it took a while for this one to warm up after the underdog Patriots kept the high-powered Rams at bay until the 4th Q, when Kurt Warner rallied St. Louis from 14 points down to a 17-17 tie. Rather, however, than play for overtime (as TV analyst John Madden infamously suggested), New England went for the win, and Tom Brady led a dramatic drive that resulted in Vinatieri's game-winning FG.
6-XLIX, New England 28 - Seattle 24 (at Glendale, AZ)...A back-and-forth game played in fits and spurts that took a while to get going. But just when the Seahawks seemed to have taken control for good in the second half, Tom Brady would rally the Patriots to a late lead before a wild last two minutes and a much-discussed final sequence that blew up in Seattle's face, when Russell Wilson was picked off by Malcolm Butler at the one-yard line. All after it seemed as if Seattle was about to steal the game following a circus tipped-catch by Jermaine Kearse at the New England five!
5-XXXIV, St. Louis 23 - Tennessee 16 (at Atlanta)...Last plays don't get much more dramatic than what we saw in XXXIV! And Ram DB Mike Jones hauling down Titan WR Kevin Dyson just short of the goal qualifies as at least the most-electrifying last-play in SB history. Much of this game didn't suggest such a dramatic finish, however, as the Rams moved methodically to a 16-0 lead late in the 3rd Q before the Titans started to stir. But this game came alive in the 4th Q, as Tennessee rallied to tie before Kurt Warner's 73-yard TD bomb to Isaac Bruce with just 1:52 to play proved the winning points and a prelude to some last-second thrills.
4-XLII, N.Y. Giants 17 - New England 14 (at Glendale, AZ)...For three quarters, the undefeated 18-0 Patriots, on the doorstep of pro football immortality, simply could not shake the scrappy 12-point underdog Giants, who used their stubborn defense to create an extremely tense affair reminiscent of a nervy pitching duel in baseball. Then, not unlike a 10,000-meter race at the Olympics, both broke into a late sprint for the finish line, with three lead changes in the final quarter. In the end, however, it was the surprising G-Men on top, with Eli Manning answering Tom Brady's late TD drive with one of his own that was capped by a 13-yard TD pass to Plaxico Burress to win it with 35 seconds to play. A circus catch by WR David Tyree on New York's final drive (after a Houdini-like escape in the pocket by Eli) rates alongside Lynn Swann's acrobatics a generation earlier among the best catches in Super Bowl annals.
3-XLIII, Pittsburgh 27 - Arizona 23 (at Tampa)...Although one of the chippiest SBs, big plays and a wild fourth quarter made XLIII one to remember. The Steelers looked on the verge of a KO several times, first after dominating early action, then after LB James Harrison's 100-yard TD interception on the last play of the first half staked Pittsburgh to a 17-7 lead. The Cards grimly kept the Steelers within earshot until the Kurt Warner-led offense finally awakened in the 4th Q, and for a moment it appeared as if Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard TD catch with 2:37 to play would give the Big Red their first title in 61 years. But Ben Roethlisberger, mostly muted since the 1st Q, calmly drove Pittsburgh for the winning TD pass in heavy traffic to Santonio Holmes with just :35 to play.
2-XXXVII, Baltimore 34 - San Francisco 31 (at New Orleans)...Into the third quarter, this one seemed more likely to rank low on the list alongside some of the blowout SB results of the '80s and early '90s before a turn of events with a surreal twist (a 34-minute delay caused by a partial blackout inside of the Superdome early in the 2nd half) presaged one of the most electrifying second halves in SB history. Baltimore had been cruising until the delay, up 28-6 and aided by an NFL postseason record 108-yard KR TD by Jacoby Jones, before the 49ers caught fire after the blackout and scored 17 unanswered points in just over 4 minutes to narrow the gap to 28-23. San Francisco continued to pile on the pressure in the 4th Q, pulling to within a missed 2-point conversion of tying the game, then threatening to steal the contest when a dramatic late drive reached the Ravens' 7 in the final minutes. Baltimore would repel the threat, take a safety, then hold its breath as SF's Ted Ginn, Jr. came close to breaking a punt return on the game's final play that left a nation limp.
1-XXXVIII, New England 32 - Carolina 29 (at Houston)...A rare Super Bowl slugfest with a dramatic finish. Though it took a while for this one to warm up (no scoring until late in 1st half), it turned into a real corker, especially a wild 4th-Q (perhaps the best 15 minutes in SB history) that featured three lead changes and 37 points. Carolina, which had rallied to take a 22-21 lead on an 85-yard TD pass from Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad with 6:53 to play, fell behind 29-22 on a Tom Brady-Mike Vrabel TD pass and Kevin Faulk 2-point PAT, only to level matters on a Delhomme-Ricky Proehl pass with 1:08 remaining. Brady then led a textbook game-winning drive, ending in Adam Vinatieri's 41-yard FG at the gun. Both defenses were spent by the end, when the last team with the ball looked like it was going to win. Indeed, XXXVIII deserves to be remembered for the great game it was, rather than Janet Jackson's malfunctioning wardrobe at halftime!
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