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The 50: Top 10 Super Bowls That Never Lived Up To The Hype

By Dave Thomas

Welcome to The 50, where we're counting down to Super Bowl 50 with the top Super Bowl quarterbacks, players, biggest upsets, most memorable plays, and matchups that never lived up to the hype.

There have been some great Super Bowls in the 49 years of the big event, including last season's thrilling New England win over Seattle in the final minute of the game. On the flip side of the coin, there have been some downright dogs. And when we say dogs, we're putting it kindly. In fact, you could probably say the following 10 games were nothing short of massacres.

In the event your memory is coming up a little short, hark back to these 10 dogs...

10. Super Bowl XX: Chicago 46, New England 10

Who could ever forget the dominant Chicago Bears defense or William "Refrigerator" Perry? Back when the New England Patriots were mere mortals and still had those cool red uniforms with the awesome helmets to boot, they laid a stinker in the Louisiana Superdome for all the world to see. Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, Richard Dent (MVP) and the rest of Da Bears were all but perfect on that day, cruising to victory. On that day, Chicago had a 408-123 advantage in net yards, with even Perry scoring on a 1-yard run. The irony of that game was that the great Payton would be held to 61 yards rushing and no TD's.

9. Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 38, Miami 16

Dan Marino went on to have one of the best careers a quarterback would ever have in the NFL, but this was certainly not his day at Stanford Stadium. The 49ers led 28-16 at intermission, then shut down Marino and Co. over the next 30 minutes to roll to victory. So early in his career, Marino (29-of-50, 1 TD, 2 INT's) would ironically never make it back to the big game again. As for San Francisco, Joe Montana (MVP) went 24-of-35 for 331 yards passing and 3 touchdowns.

22 Jan 1984: The Los Angeles Raiders celebrate a touchdown against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Raiders won the game 38-9. (credit: Allsport /Allsport

8. Super Bowl XVIII: Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington 9

In the game at Tampa Stadium that will forever be remembered for perhaps the greatest run in Super Bowl history by one Marcus Allen (MVP), the Raiders rolled to victory. Leading 21-3 at the break, the Raiders used Allen's remarkable 74-yard run in the third quarter to put the game away. Allen finished his productive afternoon with 191 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, as the Raiders won the third of their three Super Bowl titles.

7. Super Bowl I Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10

Although it was not the worst title game ever played, the inaugural SB game as we know it did not exactly live up to all the hype. On this day at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Bart Starr (MVP) and the Packers proved just how dominant they and the NFL were over the AFL (before the merger). Breaking open a 14-10 game going into the third quarter, Vince Lombardi's squad went 21-0 in the second half to coast to the victory. To show you how times have changed, the first-ever Super Bowl drew less than 62,000 fans, with the top-priced ticket costing only $12.

6. Super Bowl II: Green Bay 33, Oakland 14

Just as they had in Super Bowl I, the Green Bay Packers were equally dominant in the second year of the big game, rolling to victory over an outmatched Oakland squad. On this afternoon at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Vince Lombardi's team once again turned to quarterback Bart Starr (MVP) to lead the way. And just as they had in the first edition of the Super Bowl against Kansas City, the Packers broke open a tight game going into halftime (16-7) with a dominating second half. While the stats may have looked close (Green Bay held a 322-293 advantage in net yardage), the Packers proved for the second straight year how dominant they and the NFL were against the upstart AFL.

5. Super Bowl XXIX San Francisco 49, San Diego 26

Making their first-ever and only appearance to date in the big game, the San Diego Chargers were all but done shortly after the game in Miami started. A dream season for the Chargers (upset Pittsburgh on the road in the AFC title game) quickly went south as quarterback Steve Young (MVP), Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott and the rest of the 49ers put a beat-down on their neighbors from Southern California. Rice (3 touchdowns) scored the game's first touchdown and the 49ers would essentially never look back. If you thought Rice had a great game (and he did), Young was off the charts, throwing for 325 yards and six touchdowns.

4. Super Bowl XXII Washington 42, Denver 10

Hall-of-Fame quarterback John Elway would go through several embarrassing Super Bowl defeats before winning back-to-back titles (over Green Bay and Atlanta) and closing out his illustrious career. In this clunker in San Diego, the Redskins used a 35-point second quarter to send many people at home changing channels at halftime. Quarterback Doug Williams (MVP) and the Redskins were a scoring machine in that second stanza, while Elway and Co. couldn't muster any points other than the 10 they got in the first 15 minutes of the game. While Denver had 327 net yards of offense on the day, Washington rolled up a monster 602 net yards.

Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

3. Super Bowl XXXVII Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21

While the City of San Diego hosted one of the best Super Bowls ever (Denver beating Green Bay 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII), the last Super Bowl to be played in America's Finest City was anything but that. Jon Gruden, who had previously coached in Oakland before owner Al Davis showed him the door, got his revenge and more. The Bucs, who finished with the top-ranked defense in the league, intercepted regular season MVP Rich Gannon (4,689 yards passing, 26 TD's during the regular season) five times on the day, three of which went for Tampa Bay scores. Oakland, which came into the game with the NFL's No. 1 offense, was nowhere to be found on this afternoon.

2. Super Bowl XXVII Dallas 52, Buffalo 17

It is quite common knowledge that the Buffalo Bills had a stretch of four straight AFC titles, meaning four consecutive straight visits to the Super Bowl. It is also well-known that Marv Levy and Co. went 0-for-4 during that incredible stretch. On this day in Pasadena, Troy Aikman (MVP) and the Dallas Cowboys laid down a beating and then some. Buffalo had a brief 7-0 lead before watching Dallas go into intermission with a decisive 28-10 advantage. Any hopes Buffalo had of rallying were totally gone in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys outscored the Bills 21-0 over the final 15 minutes of play. For Buffalo, it was the third straight SB loss.

1. Super Bowl XXIV San Francisco 55, Denver 10

Before they would win a pair of Super Bowls in the late 1990s, the Denver Broncos were the whipping boys in several games that certainly could not be called classics. On this afternoon at the Louisiana Superdome, Joe Montana (MVP) and the 49ers basically did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to. En route to their fourth title, San Francisco led 27-3 at half and never looked back. On the flip side, Denver's John Elway would suffer a humiliating defeat, finishing his day 10-of-26 for a mere 108 yards and a pair of interceptions. If you made it through all four quarters of this ultimate dog, pat yourself on the back.


Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle 43, Denver 8

Super Bowl XI - Oakland 32, Minnesota 14

Super Bowl XXXV - Baltimore 34, New York Giants 17

As a football fan, what Super Bowls stand out most to you as being ultimate dogs?

Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on

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