Fair or not, quarterbacks get a healthy amount of praise and/or criticism for their teams’ success. Having the ball in your hands tends to have certain responsibilities, after all. Whether it’s playing mistake-free or carrying their teammates on their backs, quarterbacks play a huge part in the outcome of a game, especially the Super Bowl.The championship game brings together the last passers standing from each conference. Both bring a different flair to the position, but the goal remains the same: Win the game. This has produced some epic quarterback duels, from both players trading scores or young upstarts making names for themselves by knocking off the top dogs. The Super Bowl brings out the best in quarterbacks or crushes them under immense pressure. Either way, it’s highly entertaining. With that in mind, here is a ranking of every Super Bowl quarterback matchup.

 

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Fans and experts called this the “Blunder Bowl” for a reason. Despite having great quarterbacks in Johnny Unitas and Craig Morton, neither showed up for the biggest game of the year. Unitas didn’t even finish the game, getting knocked out in the second quarter but not before he threw two interceptions compared to just three completions. Morton survived the game but didn’t fare any better, throwing three interceptions and completing less than 50 percent of his passes. Many people want to forget this one.

 

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Some of the greatest quarterbacks in the game have played in the Super Bowl. Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins are not among them. Both teams rode running games and strong defenses. It seems that any quarterback who played it safe could’ve been behind center and would have made it to the game. The Super Bowl only confirmed those suspicions. Collins got roughed up by one of the best defenses of all time, getting picked off and sacked four times each. Dilfer technically won the duel by getting the win but didn’t do much, completing less than 50 percent of his passes but throwing for a touchdown. Most Super Bowls have at least one quarterback who performs well. This one had none.

 

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Yes, it’s Peyton Manning, but he was a shell of his former self, relying on the excellence of his defense to win. Cam Newton established himself as one of the faces of the NFL with 3,837 passing yards, 636 rushing yards and 45 total touchdowns. Newton was expected to excel, but not even he could solve the Denver D. Newton was sacked six times and threw one interception. He also lost two fumbles in a messy game. Manning held on for dear life, throwing for only 141 yards and taking five sacks. Manning-Newton is a great generational debate. Unfortunately, the reality in 2016 was so much worse.

 

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50. Super Bowl VII: Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins, and Billy Kilmer, Washington Redskins

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Both Super Bowl quarterbacks had less than ideal starts to the season. Bob Griese fractured his leg early in the year, while Billy Kilmer was replaced three games into the season by a 38-year-old Sonny Jurgensen before gaining the starting job again after the veteran went down with an Achilles injury. Both weren’t much of a factor in this Super Bowl. Griese leaned heavily on Larry Csonka and the stable of running backs behind him, completing only eight passes on 11 attempts. Kilmer did the same but ended up contributing to the Redskins’ woes with three interceptions. This was not a quarterback duel fans would remember.

 

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49. Super Bowl II: Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers, and Daryle Lamonica, Oakland Raiders

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The wily veteran vs. the young gunslinger: Starr was playing in what was the last season of his Hall of Fame career, while Lamonica was setting the AFL on fire with his powerful arm. The “Mad Bomber” found out it takes a lot more than a big arm to win the Super Bowl, though, as Starr managed the game to perfection to win his second straight championship. For all his production in the regular season, Lamonica couldn’t move the ball against a stingy Green Bay defense. It didn’t help that the Packers were eating the clock with long possessions, keeping the explosive Oakland offense on the bench. Lamonica got some garbage-time yards and finished with 208 yards and two touchdowns, but Starr expertly led the Packers behind an efficient 202 yards on 13 completions with one touchdown.

 

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48. Super Bowl VIII: Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins, and Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings

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Much like in the previous year’s Super Bowl, Bob Griese didn’t have to do much to help the Dolphins win their second straight championship. He had to complete six passes this time while leaning on Larry Csonka again. Minnesota’s Fran Tarkenton did his best to dance and scramble the Vikings back in the game but found it hard to do anything against Miami. He finished with 182 passing yards and one interception. It was another snoozer of a quarterback matchup.

 

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After the previous few Super Bowl quarterback matchups, this one was a dud. It wasn’t the talent level that was the problem. Ben Roethlisberger got hurt during the season and still put up 2,385 passing yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 games. Matt Hasselbeck rode Shaun Alexander’s 28-touchdown MVP campaign and threw for 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions. The Super Bowl was another story. The game was plagued by questionable officiating, and the players didn’t do much to make it any better. Roethlisberger went 9-of-21 in his pass attempts and was intercepted twice. Hasselbeck did better, with 273 pass yards, but was sacked three times. It was an ugly game in terms of quarterback play.

 

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With one of the greatest quarterbacks ever on one side and an emerging star in Los Angeles on the other, you would have thought Super Bowl LIII’s quarterback matchup would have produced better results. Unfortunately fans were subjected to one of the most boring offensive displays in this pass-heavy era of football. Jared Goff, who passed for 4,688 passing yards and 32 touchdowns in the 2018 season, was stoned by Bill Belichick, looking lost while only completing 50 percent of his passes and guiding the Rams to three points. Brady, who was no slouch with over 4,300 passing yards, threw his signature dump-offs and slants for a yawn-inducing 262 yards and wasn’t directly responsible for any points scored by New England. Many were expecting fireworks for this matchup but instead got one of the most infuriating Super Bowl games ever.

 

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45. Super Bowl XX: Jim McMahon, Chicago Bears, and Tony Eason, New England Patriots

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You could’ve literally put any quarterback against the Chicago Bears defense in 1985, and it wouldn’t have mattered. The Bears were going to win no matter what. Jim McMahon was a solid quarterback, completing 12 passes for 256 passing yards, but Tony Eason couldn’t do anything, missing all six of his pass attempts before getting knocked out of the game. This couldn’t be a more forgettable matchup.

 

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44. Super Bowl I: Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers, and Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs

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The first Super Bowl featured two of the era’s most accurate passers. Len Dawson led the AFL with a 56 percent completion percentage, while Starr completed 62.2 percent of his passes to lead the NFL. Even though Dawson crushed Starr in the touchdown department (26-14), it was Starr who prevailed in the championship game. After star receiver Boyd Dowler went down, Starr rode veteran tight end Max McGee the entire game, completing seven passes to him for 138 yards. Dawson couldn’t keep up with Starr, finishing with 39 fewer pass yards and throwing a critical third quarter interception that gave Green Bay the momentum the rest of the game. The Packers won, 35-10.

 

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The Colts were 18-point favorites to destroy the less-productive Jets. A big reason for that huge spread was Morrall, who led the NFL with 26 touchdowns in 1968. Joe Namath, who was looked like a woefully inferior quarterback in comparison, boldly claimed the Jets would win the Super Bowl three days before the game was played. The rest was history. Morrall couldn’t solve the Jets defense, throwing three interceptions before being replaced by veteran Johnny Unitas. Namath, on the other hand, dinked and dunked his way past the Colts’ blitzing defense, finishing with 206 yards on 17 completions. He may not have torched the AFL during the season, but he did what he needed to do to win the league’s first Super Bowl.

 

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42. Super Bowl IX: Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings

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With two historic defenses in this Super Bowl, there was little hope that either quarterback was going to flex his muscles much. Terry Bradshaw found some success getting on Franco Harris’ back and riding his 158 rushing yards. He finished the game with nine completions and a touchdown. Fran Tarkenton once again was foiled by a great defense, throwing three interceptions, and the “Steel Curtain” stuffed Chuck Foreman time and time again.

 

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41. Super Bowl IV: Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs, and Joe Kapp, Minnesota Vikings

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Joe Kapp wasn’t a passer like Len Dawson, but he was so tough on runs from the quarterback position that he earned the nickname “indestructible.” Dawson had a rough season, missing six games with a knee injury, and he barely qualified for the playoffs. The fortunes flipped in the Super Bowl. Kapp never had to play against a defense as big as the Chiefs’. He struggled to find receivers, throwing two interceptions, and ran for only 9 yards. On the other side of the field, Dawson had an easier time taking advantage of open receivers on the short routes, throwing for 142 yards on 12 completions with one touchdown. Neither quarterback lit the world on fire, as the defenses dominated this game.

 

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The 33-year-old Jim Plunkett revived his career with the Raiders after stinking it up in New England and San Francisco. With Ron Jaworski leading the Eagles with 3,529 yards and 27 touchdowns in the regular season, this was set to be a great matchup. Well, at least Plunkett came to play. Plunkett put on a deep-ball clinic, throwing for three touchdowns and 261 yards on 13 completions. Jaworski, on the other hand, went the opposite direction, getting picked off three times. The Eagles scored only 10 points, and the Raiders won easily.

 

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39. Super Bowl XVII: Joe Theismann, Washington Redskins, and David Woodley, Miami Dolphins

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The quarterback position and the Miami Dolphins have a curious relationship. The team reached four Super Bowls to this point without a quarterback who put up huge numbers. Even though this matchup featured the top-rated passer in the NFC in Joe Theismann, not even he was enough to make this duel intriguing with David Woodley behind center for Miami. Woodley completed four of his 14 pass attempts for 96 yards, with a majority of them coming from a 76-yard scoring connection with Jimmy Cefalo in the first quarter. Theismann did his best to make the quarterback battle semi-exciting, completing 15-of-23 passes for 143 yards with two touchdowns. His two interceptions were an eyesore though, making this matchup a bore.

 

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38. Super Bowl XI: Ken Stabler, Oakland Raiders, and Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings

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The third time was not the charm for Fran Tarkenton. Even after establishing himself as the league’s all-time leader in pass completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns, he couldn’t get over the hump to win a Super Bowl. Tarkenton had trouble with the Raiders’ 3-4 defense filled with aggressive, hard-hitting players. Ken Stabler, on the other hand, had no problem solving the Purple People Eaters defense, handing the ball off to Clarence Davis and Mark van Eeghen and managing the game perfectly by completing 12-of-19 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.

 

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37. Super Bowl VI: Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys, and Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins

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Two young, hotshot quarterbacks met in Super Bowl VI, with Roger Staubach earning the starting job in his third year, while Bob Griese threw for nearly 2,100 yards and 19 touchdowns. The former Navy Vietnam veteran rode a productive run game and chipped in with 119 yards on 12 completions, including two passing touchdowns. Griese couldn’t carry the load after his running game failed him, throwing for 134 yards, getting picked off once and fumbling the ball. He would have a chance to redeem himself soon enough.

 

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36. Super Bowl XII: Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys, and Craig Morton, Denver Broncos

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Roger Staubach replaced Craig Morton as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback in 1971, and Dallas never looked back. Morton got a chance for revenge against his former team in Super Bowl XII. He did not capitalize. Morton fell victim to Dallas’ Doomsday Defense, throwing four interceptions and completing only four passes for 39 yards. Staubach had more success against the vaunted Orange Crush Denver defense, throwing for 183 yards and one touchdown. This was hyped a revenge game but ended up being a dud.

 

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35. Super Bowl XIV: Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Vince Ferragamo, Los Angeles Rams

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It was already a miracle that the Rams made it into the playoffs, and they got to the Super Bowl, which was even more unbelievable. But it was no thanks to quarterback Vince Ferragamo. The fourth-round draft pick was expected to get outdueled by Terry Bradshaw, and he didn’t do much to fight that. Ferragamo finished the game with 212 passing yards but never hit pay dirt for a score and had one pass intercepted. Bradshaw may have had three passes picked off, but he added two touchdowns and threw for 309 yards. There wasn’t much back and forth like there was with him and Staubach the previous year. It was all Bradshaw this time.

 

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34. Super Bowl XVIII: Jim Plunkett, Los Angeles Raiders, and Joe Theismann, Washington Redskins

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Two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks usually provide a matchup full of potential. With MVP-winning Joe Theismann and Jim Plunkett still showing off his big arm, everyone was expecting an explosive Super Bowl. Neither delivered. Plunkett took a backseat to running back Marcus Allen, who rushed for 191 yards. The Raiders quarterback at least notched one touchdown. Theismann couldn’t even manage that, throwing two interceptions. The Raiders made the Super Bowl a laugher, winning 38-9.

 

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Before Phil Simms was doing Super Bowl broadcasts, he was on the field winning one. The “Big Blue Wrecking Crew” Giants defense may have gotten the headlines, but Simms led the offense with 3,487 passing yards. John Elway was already entertaining crowds with his ability to scramble. In the Super Bowl, Simms outdueled Elway with three touchdowns, while Elway had a tough time moving the ball against Lawrence Taylor and Co. He still finished with over 300 yards passing, but he was unable to make the Super Bowl intriguing.

 

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32. Super Bowl XLVIII: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, and Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

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You would think in a matchup featuring a record-setting Peyton Manning, who threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, would be exciting no matter what. It was quite the contrary when he ran into the Legion of Boom. Manning was throttled by Seattle, throwing two interceptions, getting sacked once and losing a fumble. Russell Wilson gobbled up the extra possessions his defense gave him, managing the game perfectly with 206 yards and two touchdowns. What was supposed to be a competitive matchup ended up being a laugher.

 

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31. Super Bowl XXII: Doug Williams, Washington Redskins, and John Elway, Denver Broncos

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Redskins quarterback Doug Williams started the season on the bench but took over the starting job at the end of the season. In five games, he piled up 1,156 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he was running into a buzz saw in John Elway, who just completed another excellent season in which he threw for nearly 3,200 yards. Instead, Williams stole the show. The first African-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl threw four touchdowns. Unable to shake his Super Bowl woes, Elway threw three interceptions and was sacked five times. Williams wowed the crowd, but Elway couldn’t join him in making this a more entertaining game.

 

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30. Super Bowl XIX: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, and Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins

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Montana vs. Mr. 5,000 — this was going to be the quarterback matchup to end all quarterback matchups. Dan Marino became the first quarterback to eclipse 5,000 yards in a season, and Joe Montana threw for 28 touchdowns. Well, at least one of them showed up. Montana destroyed Marino in a head-to-head battle, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another. Marino did the best he could, throwing for 318 yards, but he was picked off twice. Many people argued that Marino was well on his way to supplanting Montana at the top of the quarterback mountain, but the 49ers legend put those statements to bed.

 

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29. Super Bowl XXIV: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, and John Elway, Denver Broncos

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Two legendary quarterbacks faced off in Super Bowl XXIV, and both confirmed their respective reputations through their performances, for better or for worse. John Elway came into the game losing his last two Super Bowls, and he didn’t do much to quell criticism that he couldn’t win the big game. He didn’t have his best season, and that inconsistency showed in the championship game, where he threw two interceptions and was sacked four times. Montana cemented his penchant for big performances, pummeling the Broncos into submission through the air with 297 passing yards and five touchdowns to set a Super Bowl record. He didn’t need Elway to give the fans a show.

 

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In 1991, Mark Rypien and Jim Kelly were lighting up the NFL. Rypien threw for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Kelly continued to masterfully orchestrate the K-Gun offense, throwing for 3,844 yards with a league-high 33 touchdowns. Unfortunately, this was another matchup he did not capitalize on. Kelly got thrown around by the Washington defense, getting sacked five times and throwing four interceptions. Rypien took advantage of Kelly’s miscues, throwing for 292 yards and two touchdowns. This wasn’t the first or last time Kelly was bested on the biggest stage.

 

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27. Super Bowl XXVIII: Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys, and Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills

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For the first time in NFL history, the same two teams made it to the Super Bowl in back-to-back years. Aikman-Kelly was set up to be a barnburner, with Aikman still commanding an efficient offense, while Kelly led the Bills to the best record in the AFC. Unfortunately for the Bills, history would repeat itself. Kelly attempted 50 passes but had a hard time moving the ball, with one interception and three sacks. Aikman didn’t have to dominate the game like he did the year before, with Emmitt Smith rushing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Aikman and the Cowboys coasted to another easy win, and the Jim Kelly Bills earned the dubious honor of being known as the greatest team to never win a Super Bowl.

 

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26. Super Bowl XLI: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, and Rex Grossman, Chicago Bears

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Peyton Manning’s first Super Bowl was a momentous occasion with one of the greatest quarterbacks finally making it to the championship game. Too bad there wasn’t a similar quarterback on the other side of the field to make the game interesting. Rex Grossman was a fine quarterback, but he didn’t have the clout that would’ve made this a heavyweight battle. He finished the game with 20 completions for only 165 yards and was picked off twice. Not even Manning lit up the Miami sky. He finished with 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It wasn’t his best game, but he got the job done.

 

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25. Super Bowl XXVII: Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys, and Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills

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It was another year in which Jim Kelly dominated the AFC in the no-huddle offense, but a new challenger rose from the NFC. Troy Aikman led a Cowboys team that finished second in the league in scoring, throwing for 3,445 yards and 23 touchdowns. Aikman lit up the Bills, throwing four touchdowns and going 22-of-30 on his pass attempts. After throwing two interceptions, Kelly reinjured his knee that kept him out of the first two playoff games, knocking him out of the game. The Bills lost for the third straight year in the Super Bowl.

 

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24. Super Bowl XXIX: Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, and Stan Humphries, San Diego Chargers

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Stan Humphries was thrust into the national spotlight by making the Super Bowl with the surprise Chargers. He threw for 3,209 yards, but on the other side of the field he ran into Steve Young, the 49ers quarterback who had Joe Montana’s big shoes to fill and a lot of questions as to if he could win a big game. He made sure people knew he was ready against San Diego. Young torched the Chargers for 325 yards and six touchdowns, breaking Montana’s previous record of five touchdown passes set in Super Bowl XXIV. Humphries’ luck ran out against the 49ers, throwing two interceptions and getting sacked twice before being replaced in the fourth quarter. The one-sided affair made this a mediocre matchup.

 

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23. Super Bowl XXV: Jeff Hostetler, New York Giants, and Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills

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Jim Kelly and Buffalo’s no-huddle K-Gun offense was supposed to be the main draw in the matchup with Jeff Hostetler playing game manager filling in for an injured Phil Simms. The game was a lot more entertaining than that. Hostetler and Kelly battled to a near draw, with Hostetler throwing for 222 yards and a touchdown, while Kelly put up 212 yards, including 28 yards late in the fourth quarter to set up the potential game-winning field goal. However, as many Buffalo fans know, Scott Norwood missed the kick, giving the Giants the win.

 

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22. Super Bowl XVI: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, and Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals

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In terms of quarterback matchups, this was marquee-worthy. A young Joe Montana emerged for the 49ers, leading the league with a 63.7 completion percentage. On the other side, Ken Anderson won the NFL MVP and Comeback Player of the Year, throwing for 3,754 yards and 29 touchdowns. Their duel in Super Bowl was impressive. Montana started the scoring with a rushing touchdown in the first quarter and followed that up with a passing score in the second. After the 49ers jumped to a 20-0 lead at halftime, it was all Anderson from there. His third-quarter rushing touchdown was the only score that quarter, and he notched two fourth-quarter throwing scores, one of them with 22 seconds left to pull the Bengals within five. The only thing Anderson needed was time, something he was not afforded after a failed onside kick gave Montana his first Super Bowl win, starting a legendary career.

 

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21. Super Bowl XXX: Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys, and Neil O’Donnell, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Troy Aikman returned …

Sometimes the game is a blowout, and sometimes the game is close. Either way, the Super Bowl almost always delivers something unusual, be it a play on the field, a halftime incident, a new technological innovation, or even the implementation of new rules and game-day standards. Let’s take a look at some of the most unusual facts and stories from each Super Bowl.

 

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Super Bowl I: Max McGee’s hangover leaves Chiefs feeling sick

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McGee was a backup and didn’t expect to get much action in the game. So of course, he stayed out all night and took in the Los Angeles social scene. Boyd Dowler, ahead of McGee on the depth chart, was hurt on the game’s second play. Big trouble for a guy with a hangover, right? Wrong. McGee caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Pack to victory.

 

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Super Bowl II: What’s in a name?

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Fun fact: The first two Super Bowls were not known as such. They were simply termed the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” Sharron Hunt, daughter of Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, was trying to speak about her Super Ball toy, and her accent inspired her father to informally term the Chiefs-Packers tilt as the “Super Bowl.” The Colts-Jets matchup in 1969 was the first game to formally bear the name.

 

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Super Bowl III: The upset to end all upsets

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There’s a good chance that the Super Bowl would not be quite the spectacle it has become without Joe Namath’s guarantee of victory and his team’s play to back it up. The Jets’ upset of the heavily favored Colts legitimized the AFL, turned Namath into a star and is still recognized as one of the most famous upsets in American sports history. 

 

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Super Bowl IV: Full of hot air

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You might think that early Super Bowl halftime shows were much more tame than their modern counterparts, and you’d be mostly correct. Still, there were some interesting spectacles. Super Bowl IV featured a hot-air balloon that was supposed to rise above the stadium. Instead, it blew into the stands. Somewhat incredibly, no one was hurt.

 

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Super Bowl V: Even losers win

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Linebacker Chuck Howley’s Super Bowl experience was a bittersweet one, as he picked off two passes and was named MVP. Of course, Howley also became the answer to a trivia question because his Cowboys lost, and he became the first (and still only) member of the losing team to win MVP.

 

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Super Bowl VI: Nixon draws one up

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Imagine, if you will, Donald Trump drawing up a play for Bill Belichick and telling him to call it during the game. Now imagine Belichick actually running it, or at least attempting to. It actually happened in Super Bowl VI, when Richard Nixon made a suggestion to Don Shula about a route for Paul Warfield. Dallas stifled the play, with Tom Landry indicating that the Cowboys made extra sure not to get beat by a presidential pass.

 

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Super Bowl VII: Garo’s “legendary” toss

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The Dolphins finished a 17-0 season with a 14-7 win over Washington, but the result would not have been that close had Garo Yepremian’s clinching field-goal attempt not been blocked. Yepremian picked up the blocked kick and tried to throw it, but the ball fell out of his hand and into the arms of Washington’s Mike Bass, who ran it in for a touchdown. To this day the play might be the most recognizable folly in league history and is often replayed in slow motion, to great comedic effect.

 

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Super Bowl VIII: From front to back

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If you scan old Super Bowl box scores, you occasionally find made field goals of 10 yards or less, which seem like misprints given the game’s modern rules. However, the goal posts were at the front of the end zone, so such chip shots were somewhat common. Super Bowl VIII was the last game to feature the uprights up front, as they were moved to the end line for the next season. Both kickers were perfect in the game, by the way.

 

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Super Bowl IX: An apology from…Mary Tyler Moore?

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The “Mary Tyler Moore Show” used Super Bowl IX as part of the plot of an episode that aired the night before the game. On the show, which was set in Minneapolis, the Vikings won the game. As the end credits rolled, Moore herself apologized in advance to Steelers fans, should their team win. They did, and the apology, unlike Minnesota’s attempt at bringing home the title, was successful.

 

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Super Bowl X: Tick tock, tick tock

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In today’s sports world, the idea that any piece of vital information would be unavailable to both fans and players is borderline farcical. Super Bowl X was the first Super Bowl where the play clock was visible to teams and spectators, crazy though it may seem. The following season was the first in which a visible play clock was mandatory at all contests.

 

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Super Bowl XI: Vikings the first to four…losses

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Before the Buffalo Bills were the Buffalo Bills, the Minnesota Vikings cornered the market on Super Bowl heartbreak. The Vikings played in four of the first 11 Super Bowls, more than any other team, but lost all of them, each time by double digits. Minnesota hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl in 43 years.

 

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Super Bowl XII: Sharing is caring

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It must be something with the Cowboys and quirks of the MVP Award. Chuck Howley was the only player from a losing team to win it, and Harvey Martin and Randy White were the only players to share it, as their stellar defensive work (a combined three sacks) paced Dallas to an easy win over the Denver Broncos.

 

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Super Bowl XIII: SB as in “Super Bowl”? No, as in “Spelling Bee”

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No player dominated the run-up to this game like Cowboys linebacker Hollywood Henderson. The Dallas defender ripped into Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, questioning his intelligence by suggesting that Bradshaw couldn’t spell “cat” if spotted the “c” and the “a.” Bradshaw got the last laugh, however, throwing for 318 yards and four touchdowns to pace Pittsburgh to a 35-31 victory and claim MVP honors.

 

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Super Bowl XIV: Steel Curtain causes a color change

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Ask just about anyone about Pittsburgh sports and two colors come to mind: black and gold. While the Pirates and the Steelers have always sported those colors, the Pittsburgh Penguins came into the NHL with powder blue as their primary color. Perhaps as a nod to the Bucs and Steelers, who after this game had combined for three titles in the previous 13 months, the Pens changed their color scheme to black and gold a mere 10 days after the Steelers were victorious. 

 

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Super Bowl XV: No plane, no problem

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We’ve all used the “my alarm didn’t go off” excuse, right? Sometimes it might even be true. Usually, it’s not a big deal, but for the Raiders’ Cliff Branch, it could have been a disaster. He missed the team flight to New Orleans and blamed his alarm for the mishap. Branch caught two touchdown passes in the game, and Oakland owner Al Davis didn’t seem to mind, saying of Branch’s lateness, “What the heck’s the difference?”

 

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Super Bowl XVI: A game-changing tool makes its debut

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We all take the telestrator for granted these days, as technology for highlighting certain players or areas of the field has gone to the next level. But for a long time, it was the industry standard for a color analyst who wanted to show viewers exactly what he was breaking down. The telestrator made its national debut in Super Bowl XVI, and of course John Madden was on the call to ring it in.

 

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Super Bowl XVII: Markbreit can’t make heads or tails of things

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Surely nothing could go wrong at the opening coin toss, right? Well, there’s a reason that the referee makes sure that both teams know which side of the ceremonial coin is heads and which is tails. That’s because Jerry Markbreit flubbed the toss in this one, mistakenly calling it as heads when it was in fact tails. Thankfully for him, the game didn’t come down to any sort of dramatic late penalty call.

 

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Super Bowl XVIII: Allen’s “mistake” sinks Washington

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Washington was already in big trouble, having just been stopped on fourth-and-1 to give the ball back to the Raiders and down 28-9. The Redskins needed a big defensive play, and when Marcus Allen arced way outside on a run to the left, in what he later admitted was a gaffe on his part, they had a chance at throwing him for a big loss. Instead he cut back, made several defenders miss and ran for a then Super Bowl-record 74-yard score. Washington was officially done.

 

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Super Bowl XIX: Nothing like home cooking

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No team has played the Super Bowl in its home stadium, with the Vikings blowing their chance two years ago. Only two, the Rams in Super Bowl XIV and the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX, have played it in their home markets. The Niners were right at home in Stanford Stadium, ripping off 21 straight points in response to a 10-7 deficit and then cruising to a victory in the second half. 

 

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Super Bowl XX: Super Bowl Shuffle

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The 1985 Bears were great. Some would argue that they were the greatest single team of all time. They were so good that they put out a rap song, the “Super Bowl Shuffle,” that became a hit. The single sold half a million copies and got all the way to No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100. Such antics would doubtless be bulletin board material for the opponent, right? Apparently they weren’t for the AFC champion Patriots, who took a 3-0 lead then got pasted by a final of 46-10, at the time the most lopsided final score in Super Bowl history.

 

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Super Bowl XXI: The taste of victory is sweet — literally — for Bill Parcells

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The “Gatorade Shower” is ubiquitous these days. Every victorious coach knows it’s coming, and cameras follow jubilant players as they sneak up on their coach, bucket in tow. It wasn’t always this way. The Giants started the practice the prior season, but it wasn’t until they doused Bill Parcells after routing the Broncos that a national audience bore witness to the spectacle. Any coaches who hate having to clean themselves off after an involuntary bath have the G-Men to thank.

 

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Super Bowl XXII: Timmy Smith — from unknown to star and back again

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There have been unlikely Super Bowl standouts — Larry Brown  and Dexter Jackson spring to mind — but no single player’s star burned brighter and dimmed faster than Washington’s Timmy Smith. A rookie making his first NFL start, Smith ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, then he promptly lost the starting running back job the next year and was out of the league after the 1990 season.

 

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Super Bowl XXIII: Enter Elvis Presto

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Before there was “Left Shark,” there was “Elvis Presto” and the “Be Bop Bamboozled in 3-D” halftime show. The show was designed to be viewed in 3-D, and viewers were told that if they had trouble seeing some of the images, they should consult an optometrist. Needless to say, the “entertainment” was not well received. 

 

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Super Bowl XXIV: The mother of all blowouts

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To this day, no team has topped San Francisco’s 55 points, nor has anyone eclipsed the 45-point margin of victory. The Niners scored two touchdowns in every quarter, and only a missed extra point stood between them and a perfect row of 14s on the scoreboard. The final margin did not lie, as most analysts still view this as the worst Super Bowl ever played, at least from a competitiveness standpoint.

 

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Super Bowl XXV: A clean game goes the Giants’ way

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Most years, the Super Bowl matches the two best teams in the league, or close to it. Given that reality, it probably comes as a surprise that it took 25 Super Bowls for one to be played without a single turnover by either side. That was the case in this one, something that likely worked to the Giants’ advantage, as they could not afford to make things easy for Buffalo’s vaunted K-Gun offense. We all know how the game ended, but Scott Norwood’s missed field goal was the closest thing to a miscue in this one.

 

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Super Bowl XXVI: Thurman Thomas’ helmet disappears

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The Bills lost Super Bowl XXVI, 37-24, and truthfully they were so sloppy, so completely outclassed by the Redskins, that no variable would likely have changed the outcome. Still, it was awkward and strange when Thurman Thomas didn’t start the game on offense. The Bills’ star running back didn’t make it on the field until Buffalo’s third play because he couldn’t find his helmet after coming back to the sideline from the coin toss. The incident is yet another in the long line of indignities Buffalo has suffered in the biggest game of them all.

 

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Super Bowl XXVII: Leon’s gallop for glory goes awry

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The game was already decided. The Cowboys were well on their way to victory. Still, every defensive lineman dreams of scoring a touchdown, especially in the Super Bowl. Leon Lett, after picking up a Frank Reich fumble and seeing nothing but green in front of him, seemed destined to live the dream. He soaked up his moment, slowing down into a trot at the 10-yard line. However, he didn’t count on Buffalo’s Don Beebe chasing him down from behind and knocking the ball from his hands and out of the end zone, turning his moment of glory into an infamous, if harmless, Super Bowl memory.

 

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Super Bowl XXVIII: Deja vu all over again for Bills, Cowboys

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This game marked the first and so far only time that the same two teams met in back-to-back years in the Super Bowl. It was going much better for the Bills in this one, too, as they carried a 13-6 lead into halftime. Things unraveled quickly after that, with Dallas tying the game then turning a Buffalo fumble into a touchdown and a lead it would never relinquish. The Bills haven’t been back to the Super Bowl since.

 

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Super Bowl XXIX: Bad game, worse halftime show

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The Chargers were the biggest underdog in Super Bowl history, and they played like it, trailing 28-10 at halftime. The game had little drama, so hopefully the halftime show would redeem it, right? Wrong. The show was a bizarre mess, conceived to promote Disneyland’s “Indiana Jones Adventure” attraction, which was opening later in the year. 

 

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Super Bowl XXX: Larry Brown, unlikeliest of heroes

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Larry Brown was a starter at cornerback for Dallas, and while he had a nice enough career, he may have been the lowest-profile player to win Super Bowl MVP. He had two interceptions on the day, but each one could not have been more perfectly gift-wrapped by Pittsburgh’s Neil O’Donnell, who threw the ball directly to Brown on two separate occasions with no Steelers receivers in the area either time. Brown signed a lucrative contract with the Raiders in the off-season, but there’s no word on whether he felt compelled to give O’Donnell a cut.

 

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Super Bowl XXXI: Introducing the FoxBox

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These days, we take for granted the fact that the score, time remaining and down and distance are always on the screen. This was not the case in the first 30 Super Bowls, until Fox, televising the game for the first time, introduced the FoxBox and revolutionized the way games are presented on television. As for the game itself? Well, let’s just say the FoxBox deserved a more dramatic contest.

 

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Super Bowl XXXII: Flawless offense earns Elway long-treasured title

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John Elway’s Super Bowl experiences were full of heartbreak, and many figured he’d end his career without a title. Then Terrell Davis came along, and the Broncos sent their Hall of Fame quarterback out in style with back-to-back titles. This one was particularly noteworthy because, aside from Elway’s kneel downs to run out the clock and a few penalties, Denver did not have a single negative play on offense. 

 

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Super Bowl XXXIII: Eugene Robinson gets busted

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The Falcons, fresh off an upset of the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC championship game, were looking to do the same to Denver in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they had to deal with a major distraction when defensive back Eugene Robinson was busted for soliciting a prostitute the night before the game. The incident clearly distracted Atlanta, and the Falcons were never really competitive in a 34-19 loss.

 

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Super Bowl XXXIV: From groceries to greatness

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Hollywood couldn’t write a story as great as Kurt Warner’s. Left on the trash heap by the NFL, Warner at one point took a job stocking shelves at a grocery store to make ends meet. He made a name for himself in the Arena League and NFL Europe, and he finally exploded into the national consciousness as the impresario of the Greatest Show on Turf, stepping in and scorching the league once Trent Green was lost to injury. Warner capped off an improbable run by hitting Isaac Bruce for a long touchdown to top the Titans, 23-16.

 

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Super Bowl XXXV: Lewises shall lead them

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The game was not competitive by any stretch, with the Ravens dominating en route to a 34-7 win. What was unusual is that each phase of the game was defined by someone with the surname Lewis. Jamal Lewis was the game’s top rusher, Jermaine Lewis returned a kick for a touchdown and linebacker Ray Lewis was the game’s MVP. 

 

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Super Bowl XXXVI: Vinatieri makes Super Bowl history

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Until this game, not one Super Bowl had been decided on the game’s final play. Even a late field goal by the Colts to win Super Bowl V happened with a few ticks left on the clock. This time, Adam Vinatieri’s winning kick sailed through as the clock showed all zeroes, marking the first “walk-off” win in the game’s history.

 

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Super Bowl XXXVII: Robbins goes AWOL

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Barret Robbins was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 2002, anchoring a strong Raiders offensive line. Inexplicably, he went missing for most of the day before the game after not taking his depression medication. When he finally showed up at the team hotel that evening he was disoriented, and Bill Callahan left him off Oakland’s roster. It turned out that Robbins had been partying in Tijuana, Mexico, thinking (according to his wife) that the Raiders had already won the game. Needless to say, they didn’t.

 

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Super Bowl XXXVIII: “Wardrobe malfunction”

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In what is arguably the most infamous moment in broadcast television history, Justin Timberlake briefly exposed fellow halftime show star Janet Jackson’s breast, which was partially covered with a nipple shield. The FCC came down hard on CBS for the incident, which ended up sparking plenty of debate about indecency in broadcasting. The incident was the most rewatched moment in TiVo history to that point.

 

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Super Bowl XXXIX: McNabb leaves Eagles fans feeling sick

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The Eagles fought valiantly against the favored Patriots, and when they got the ball back deep in their own territory with little time left on the clock, their chances of winning weren’t good. The real story that came out of the waning minutes was a major debate on whether Philly’s Donovan McNabb was dry-heaving or vomiting as the clock wound down. With no conclusive video evidence either way, this one comes down to personal belief. 

 

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Super Bowl XL: Roethlisberger’s bad day ends well

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It is likely that no winning quarterback played a worse Super Bowl than Ben Roethlisberger. He ran for a disputed touchdown and did hit a crucial deep pass to set up another Steelers score, but aside from that, he did virtually nothing and finished the game with a passer rating of 22.6. Not that Roethlisberger needed to apologize because without his efforts, the Steelers wouldn’t have made it to the game in the first place.

 

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Super Bowl XLI: Hester starts things off with a bang

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Devin Hester electrified NFL fans with his return skills the minute he suited up for the Chicago Bears. When Chicago won the coin toss and elected to receive, everyone held their breath. Hester rewarded them by taking the opening kick back 92 yards for a score, the first time the opening kick had been returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

 

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Super Bowl XLII: Tyree makes the most of his moment

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The Patriots were a juggernaut, 18-0 and favored to complete a perfect season and win their fourth Super Bowl of the decade. Eli Manning and David Tyree had other plans, and on New York’s winning drive, Manning scrambled out of what looked like a certain sack and hit Tyree, who had already caught a touchdown pass, for a huge gain. The catch was all the more unlikely because Tyree was forced to pin the ball to his helmet to gain control of it as he hit the ground. The Giants went on to win, and Tyree never caught another pass in the NFL.

 

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Super Bowl XLIII: A quiet Super Bowl week gets a great ending

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Due to the global financial crisis, the festivities leading up to Super Bowl XLIII were scaled back from the norm. Tickets were much more affordable, and the overall feeling of the event was somewhat muted. The game itself, however, delivered plenty of drama, with James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return standing alone in the eyes of many as the greatest defensive play in the game’s history and Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger trading touchdown passes in the final three minutes, with Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes hooking up for the winning score with less than a minute to play.

 

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Super Bowl XLIV: Payton’s gamble outshines, well, Peyton

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Down 10-6 at the half to Peyton Manning and the favored Colts, Sean Payton’s Saints needed a spark, so he made the bold call for an onside kick to start the third quarter. The gamble paid off, as the Saints recovered and drove down the field for a go-ahead score. Manning and the Colts rallied back, but New Orleans never blinked, retaking the lead and then sealing the game on a …

As we near Super Bowl LV, it provides a good excuse to examine the uniforms that teams wore in the previous 54 seasons’ final showdowns. Here is an entirely accurate, and in no way subjective, ranking of every Super Bowl uniform matchup.

 

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55. Super Bowl XL: Steelers vs. Seahawks

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The Seahawks’ regrettable uniforms in between their Cortez Kennedy and Russell Wilson eras marred a Super Bowl that soon became marred by officiating. While the Steelers are not to blame for this, they are dragged down because of their opponent’s misguided 10-year fashion experiment. 

 

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54. Super Bowl XV: Raiders vs. Eagles

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A similar case. The Raiders’ third Super Bowl trip came against an Eagles team struggling through a uniform run. Philadelphia’s designs in between the Chuck Bednarik and Randall Cunningham periods were a few cuts below. Unfortunately, the Eagles missed the Super Bowl in their Kelly Green years. Their first trip featured monstrous stripes and a blander green, making for less aesthetically appealing (for non-Rod Martin fans) NFL Films highlights.

 

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53. Super Bowl XXXIV: Titans vs. Rams

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This may or may not be a dissenting opinion, but the Titans spent most of their existence in bad uniforms. Maybe they were not that unpleasant in a vacuum, but coming after the franchise’s marvelous Oilers attire, seeing this concept showcased in a Super Bowl in Year 1 of the new identity dragged down the Rams’ final game in their finest road uniform. Had Tennessee upset Kansas City in last year’s AFC championship game, the Titans would have looked (literally) better on the sport’s biggest stage.

 

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52. Super Bowl XXIX: Chargers vs. 49ers

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Though whichever team represented the weaker AFC in 1994 was in big trouble, San Diego was a Super Bowl-record 18.5-point underdog. San Francisco covered, but this was another example of success overshadowing attire. While the 49ers showed off their top-notch standard uniforms in four prior Super Bowls, the 1994 team had used its 1950s throwbacks — which featured a different shade of red from the modern helmets they still wore — for most of that season. The white pants especially were a major misstep. The 49-26 loss notwithstanding, the Chargers wore superior uniforms. In attendance on that Miami night, Jerry and Newman surely agreed. 

 

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51. Super Bowl 50: Broncos vs. Panthers

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The Broncos are 0-4 when they wear orange in Super Bowls. So when they won the AFC in a year the conference had the uniform choice, the team’s dull white-on-white look resurfaced. The choice ended up working — against a Panthers team in its top uniform — but the Broncos using their orange-on-white primary home uni would have their gritty, defense-fueled conquest better for casual viewers. Denver uses its alternate blues twice and its Clemson-y Color Rush kits once annually; its primary home unis are only guaranteed five cameos per season. The Broncos’ white uniforms that were shaky in 1997 remain so today serve as their primary look. 

 

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50. Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers vs. Cardinals

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The second Super Bowl “Steelers, Italicized” (1997-present) at least featured the better of the Cardinals’ two standard uniforms. The Cards did not accomplish much in their previous Rod Tidwell look , but they have done a disservice to Larry Fitzgerald by forcing him to wear their current model for all but one season of his career. Again, the Steelers are dragged down by an opponent. However, that was not exactly the focus in one of the best Super Bowls ever.

 

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49. Super Bowl XXXIII: Broncos vs. Falcons

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We return to a Denver-on-the-road issue. The Broncos being forced to wear their away whites made this a rough watch (again, from a pure aesthetic standpoint). The Falcons wore one of their best kits in Tampa that night. While that was not the story in John Elway’s finale — a game in which the Broncos dominated — the Falcons certainly dressed better in the 20th century’s final Super Bowl.

 

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48. Super Bowl XXXV: Ravens vs. Giants

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Baltimore fans surely feel differently, but the Ravens have struggled on the uniform front. These white-on-whites were the then-relatively new purple buffs’ best option, but they were a lower-end NFL uni at the time. The Giants switched to their old-school blue-on-grays in this 2000 season, and while they got the job done, the throwbacks were not spectacular enough to lift a Ravens Super Bowl into the upper reaches of a big-game uniform list.

 

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47. Super Bowl LI: Patriots vs. Falcons

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Issues stopping Eli Manning perhaps did the Patriots some good; they no longer wear their home blue uniforms in Super Bowls. The white-on-blue road unis, while obviously not on Pat the Patriot’s level, presented the modern dynasty in a slightly better light. Had this game featured the inverse — the Pats’ Tom Brady-era blues vs. the Falcons’ then-chaotic white-on-whites — it would have been a candidate for the Super Bowl’s worst uniform matchup. 

 

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46. Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots vs. Rams

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Just after the Rams won their first Super Bowl, they changed their uniform. However, the move from yellow to gold was not as bad as people remember. Until St. Louis started to venture away from its gold pants, the car was still on the road. Said pants were fine on this New Orleans night, but neither the Rams’ nor Patriots’ uniforms were top-class outfits. This was New England’s first of four Super Bowls in these. Another great Super Bowl with so-so attire.

 

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45. Super Bowl V: Colts vs. Cowboys

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This unusual, 11-turnover game would have at least looked better had the teams swapped home and road identities, but both Baltimore and Dallas wore their inferior 1970 uniforms. Making the Cowboys wear these was like the 2018 Patriots telling the Rams, “You’ll wear that mismatched white uniform and you’ll like it!” Just as they are today, the Colts’ white-on-white with gray facemasks are perhaps too minimalist — bordering on Penn State-level blandness — and the Cowboys obviously prefer their home whites. The Cowboys have adjusted their blue jerseys many times; none have produced a true winner capable of competing with their defining look.

 

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44. Super Bowl VII: Miami vs. Washington

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This matchup occurred 10 years later and featured each side wearing better uniforms. But Washington, which have avoided its home reds for the better part of the modern era, loses points for ditching a superior design scheme in this 1972 season. The Dolphins deployed one of the better white-on-white looks in NFL history, but their aqua jerseys still would have been preferred. They surely would have had more fun celebrating their 17-0 season in them.

 

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43. Super Bowl LV: Chiefs vs. Buccaneers

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In these teams’ Week 12 Tampa tilt, the Bucs wore their superior red-on-pewter uniforms, and the Chiefs donned their underappreciated white-on-red scheme. Unfortunately, the Bucs (who held top uniform dibs for this Super Bowl) will ride their recent road momentum and treat fans to each of these teams’ second-best uniforms for their home Super Bowl. Alas, the Chiefs will now be 0-for-4 in bringing red pants to Super Bowls. But at least the Bucs’ 2020 uniform change prevented this from happening. Of course, we all know the real premier uniform matchup this series could bring. Someday, Tampa Bay. Someday. 

 

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42. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots vs. Panthers

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The Patriots’ second Super Bowl in these uniforms kept their Spygate-era momentum going; it also marked the final time New England won a Super Bowl in them. Again, these Pats kits are adequate. But they are just far off the franchise’s best work on the fashion front. Carolina’s first Super Bowl featured the team’s solid-from-the-jump color scheme, which has always brought vital stripe synchronization. A brutal illegal procedure penalty cost the Panthers, but their road whites did not let viewers down in Houston.

 

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41. Super Bowl XXXVII: Raiders vs. Buccaneers

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Just like their 1980 team did, the Raiders in 2002 found themselves without a quality uniform dance partner. This recently revived design scheme is probably the Bucs’ second-best — behind Bucco Bruce and ahead of the Jameis Winston-era threads — but it is far from one of the premier uniforms worn in a Super Bowl. This made Tampa Bay’s 2020 uniform pivot rather sad, with the franchise leaving the creamsicles on the shelf. No complaints about Oakland’s road attire, which remains one of the league’s best looks.

 

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40. Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots vs. Seahawks

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The Seahawks debuted their modern home uniform in a Super Bowl in the Marshawn Lynch “what if?” game, teaming with the 2010s’ most common Super Bowl threads (the Patriots’ road whites). An immeasurable Seahawks improvement from the previous time they brought their home attire to the big stage, but the Patriots’ merely adequate threads limit this classic contest from an especially high ranking on this list.

 

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39. Super Bowl IX: Steelers vs. Vikings

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Steelers Classic makes its first appearance on the list. While the Steelers went to five Super Bowls in this design scheme, this marks their only Super Bowl appearance in their old-school road whites. They went 1-0 on this stage in them. No big issues with these, though the team’s pants stripe was too big then and too big now. But the Vikings’ vintage home uniforms lagged behind their under-appreciated road attire.

 

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38. Super Bowl XXXI: Patriots vs. Packers

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Using one of the wackier design schemes to see a global audience, the Drew Bledsoe-era Patriots met up with a far more established brand. The Pats only used these uniforms for seven seasons, 1993-99. It is indeed difficult to get past the massive Patriot on the sleeves — which was only a thing for five seasons. If only the Patriots had run into the Packers in their Pat the Patriot unis; that would have been a majestic sight. 

 

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T-36. Super Bowl XLII: Patriots vs. Giants

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This Super Bowl was so good the fashion mattered little. The Giants deploy a sneaky-strong away-from-home scheme. Perhaps these uniforms’ reputation is enhanced by the two Super Bowl wins, but the Giants’ road attire uses their four-color ensemble well. The red socks are an underrated component, and thanks to David Tyree’s moment, this look will be immortalized throughout football’s existence.

 

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T-36. Super Bowl XLVI: Patriots vs. Giants

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Other than a much blander Super Bowl logo (as is the current, and unfortunate, custom), the Giants and Pats ran it back four years later.

 

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T-34. Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots vs. Eagles

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The two Patriots-Eagles encounters occurred 13 years apart but involved almost exactly the same uniforms. In an even year, the 2004 Eagles opted for their home greens, which made their Super Bowl debut in Andy Reid’s sixth Philadelphia season. The Giants’ road uniforms outflank the Eagles’ current home gear, but the Patriots dress better when they pack their away whites, giving the Pats’ second NFC East Super Bowl rematch the nod.

 

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T-34. Super Bowl LII: Patriots vs. Eagles

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Although the uniforms Donovan McNabb wore to Jacksonville featured a slightly different collar than the ones Nick Foles wore in Minneapolis, that is not enough to differentiate these Pats-Eagles matchups.

 

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33. Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens vs. 49ers

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In 2009, the 49ers were a ways away from relevancy. So the franchise’s switch from an unnecessarily busy scheme to its current design went less noticed than, say, the rival Rams’ 2000 change. But the 49ers’ present look is a top-class NFL uniform. San Francisco’s current gold pants outflank their Joe Montana classics. Unfortunately, the Ravens being their dance partners in New Orleans lowered this Super Bowl’s uniform ceiling.

 

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32. Super Bowl XXXII: Broncos vs. Packers

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Brett Favre’s Super Bowls came against some of the weirdest-looking opposition, with the full-on stirrup Broncos coming after the super-shoulder patriot Patriots. The Broncos’ radical 1997 redesign changed the game. Teams at all levels got into the stirrup business. Denver’s first season in them produced a Super Bowl title, and the scheme remains. The blue-on-white choice was the better of the Broncos’ two options at this time, but this game unfortunately validated a wrong turn for the franchise. 

 

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31. Super Bowl XI: Raiders vs. Vikings

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The most recent Vikings Super Bowl invitation featured a second run for their purple home uniform. The NFL’s lone purple bastion for 35 years, the Vikings went 0-2 in purple and 0-2 in white in Super Bowls. They just looked better in white. The Raiders’ renegade status and three relocations are not indicative of their attire reliability. Since the franchise deviated from its black-and-gold scheme in the early 1960s, it has featured one of American sports’ defining designs.

 

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30. Super Bowl XXV: Bills vs. Giants

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The most patriotic Super Bowl not involving the Patriots presented the Giants in their finest uniform. New York’s NFC team lightened its blue in 1989, separating this Super Bowl from the Giants-Broncos clash four years earlier. The Bills only wore this all-white uniform in one Super Bowl. While Buffalo’s home kits of this era were the better look, this Super Bowl certainly went better than the franchise’s subsequent outings in the home blues.

 

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29. Super Bowl XXI: Broncos vs. Giants

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Even if the Giants’ darker blues of the mid-1980s slightly trail their Rodney Hampton-era design, the Broncos’ road whites pre-1997 were better than the Bills’. Denver wore these in a Super Bowl once, making them less memorable than its oranges of the era. But these away-from-Colorado whites — complete with a superior blue shade — dunk on the Broncos’ stirrup-y model they stubbornly refuse to ditch.

 

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28. Super Bowl XLVIII: Broncos vs. Seahawks

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Both Denver and Seattle adjusted their uniforms in 2012, the Broncos making their orange alternates their primary home jerseys upon Peyton Manning’s arrival and the Seahawks ditching their unfortunate scheme of the previous 10 years in advance of Russell Wilson’s rookie season. They showed off their new designs in the Super Bowl. Neither team sported its all-time best look that night in New Jersey, but this was a big upgrade from what such a Super Bowl matchup would have showcased had the 2005 Broncos won the AFC championship game and met the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. (The ’05 Steelers prevented a global-stage fashion disaster.)

 

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27. Super Bowl XXVI: Buffalo vs. Washington

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The Bills receive appropriate credit for their early-1990s persistence, but the uniforms they wear today outdo the ones they packed for Super Bowls. Nothing wrong with either theirs or the gear Washington preferred when it went 3-1 in Super Bowls under Joe Gibbs. A fine middle-of-the-pack matchup.

 

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26. Super Bowl I: Chiefs vs. Packers

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Two years after the Chiefs’ loss in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game (the Super Bowl’s initial name), they switched to red pants on the road. The Chiefs’ pre-1968 (and Marty Schottenheimer-era) all-white look doesn’t pop as much. The Packers won the game and the color scheme battle that day in southern California.

 

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25. Super Bowl III: Jets vs. Colts

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This storied January 1969 day featured the most disappointing loss in Colts history. While the 18-point underdog Jets completed a seismic upset that changed pro football henceforth, the Colts’ home uniform is consistently one of the league’s best. No exception here. The Jets of this era are probably remembered for these all-whites because of their accomplishment on this day, but their greens of the Joe Namath years were superior. Either way, a quality uniform duel in Miami. 

 

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24. Super Bowl XVII: Miami vs. Washington

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The Washington-Miami rematch brought a nice update to the teams’ meeting 10 years prior. Washington wore its traditional RFK Stadium threads this time, and the Dolphins’ aqua classics represented a nice pairing in the game best remembered for John Riggins’ championship-cementing run.

 

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23. Super Bowl XVIII: Los Angeles vs. Washington

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Washington’s attempted repeat featured the most recent instance of the Raiders bringing their famed black-on-silver uniforms to a Super Bowl. It did not go well for Washington, becoming the Los Angeles Raiders’ signature night (complete with John Facenda’s immortalizing narration).

 

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T-21. Super Bowl XXVII: Bills vs. Cowboys

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Excepting the one time the 1970 Colts forced them to wear their blues, the Cowboys have donned some of the finest uniforms in Super Bowl history. Their January 1993 return to the big stage was no exception. Jimmy Johnson’s bunch shined in Pasadena, and the Bills’ top Jim Kelly-years game suit complemented them well. 

 

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T-21. Super Bowl XXVIII: Bills vs. Cowboys

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This uniform matchup looked a little stale a year later, though. This remains the only time the same teams faced off in consecutive Super Bowls. Unfortunately, the sides did not try what would have been a fun fashion flip. The Cowboys’ dark blues of this period took a bit too much heat and may have distracted from this slightly less one-sided matchup in Atlanta.

 

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20. Super Bowl IV: Chiefs vs. Vikings

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The Chiefs debuted their home reds in a Super Bowl on this day in New Orleans, when the Kansas City’s second big-game appearance left the AFL-NFL Super Bowl ledger at 2-2 in perpetuity. Kansas City does receive much credit for being one of the NFL’s pillars of uniform tradition, but the franchise has altered little on its home design since this 1970 afternoon. This also marked the debut of Minnesota’s top look in a Super Bowl. The Vikings pulled off their purple and gold during their uniform heyday, the shoulder stripe cementing these as the franchise’s best.

 

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19. Super Bowl XLI: Colts vs. Bears

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The Bears sport one of the game’s finest uniforms. Chicago debuted its blue-on-white classics in a Super Bowl in 2007, upon meeting Indianapolis in that city’s first Super Bowl opportunity. A Colts blue-vs.-Bears white presentation would have produced a fashion-friendlier night, as the Colts’ all-whites are one the modern game’s blander looks. But still, not too much to complain about in the first rainy Super Bowl.

 

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18. Super Bowl XLIV: Colts vs. Saints

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The best possible version of this matchup, from a fashion sense. The Saints have enjoyed a love-hate relationship with their gold pants away from home, currently utilizing black pants and having donned all-white for periods during their 50-plus-year existence as well. But white-on-gold has always been the franchise’s premier non-Superdome choice. It came against the Colts’ famed blue-on-white design that, save for the facemasks going from gray to white to blue and back to gray, has not changed since Johnny Unitas was calling signals. 

 

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17. Super Bowl XLV: Steelers vs. Packers

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A truly complementary Super Bowl featured an unbelievable array of wide receiver corps. The Packers’ Greg Jennings-Jordy Nelson-Donald Driver-James Jones stable met the Steelers’ Hines Ward-Mike Wallace-Antonio Brown-Emmanuel Sanders-Antwaan Randle El group. All wore yellow pants (these trousers are much closer to yellow than gold, despite what these organizations would have you believe) in a flashy Super Bowl that has become a bit underrated a decade later.

 

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T-14. Super Bowl X: Steelers vs. Cowboys

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The Super Bowl’s most frequent matchup debuted in January 1976, the first time the Steelers wore their storied Steel Curtain-era home attire for a championship. This may be No. 1 for many, and arguments can be made these two uniforms together do the best to define football in the late 20th century. 

 

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T-14. Super Bowl XIII: Steelers vs. Cowboys

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They did this again three years later. 

 

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T-14. Super Bowl XXX: Steelers vs. Cowboys

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They met up again 17 years after that, with the only difference being the bluer socks the Cowboys wore in the Arizona meeting. 

 

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13. Super Bowl XIX: Dolphins vs. 49ers

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The 49ers’ first time using their iconic red-on-gold design in a Super Bowl. Perhaps a more even playing field would have involved the 49ers using their road whites against the Dolphins’ home aquas — which, at the time, were unlike anything else in the NFL — but this game was in Palo Alto. The 49ers owed it to their fans who made the drive south to deploy their NorCal look. While it is unfortunate the Dolphins did not make another Super Bowl in the Dan Marino era to show off their improved road uniform (circa 1985-96), their vintage scheme remains associated with the franchise’s peak.

 

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12. Super Bowl VIII: Dolphins vs. Vikings

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This might be high for most, but it is interesting in what may get the vote for the most boring Super Bowl featured such a fascinating color contrast. The 1973 NFL featured one possible purple-aqua matchup, and the Dolphins and Vikings each brought their best jerseys to Houston. Although this game featured only seven Dolphins passes and stood at 24-0 in the fourth quarter, the ahead-of-its-time color duel deserves credit. 

 

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11. Super Bowl XVI: Bengals vs. 49ers

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This would have been a less eye-popping Super Bowl had it occurred merely one year earlier. In 1981, the Bengals shocked the NFL landscape with their then-revolutionary tiger-striped concept. Cincinnati’s previous uniforms were quite basic and bore a strong resemblance to the other orange, Ohio-based team Paul Brown once led. The Bengals executed a strong pivot and still possess the NFL’s premier helmet. Going against a 49ers team showing off its threads for a Super Bowl audience for the first time helped the teams’ first big-game meeting stand out.

 

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10. Super Bowl LIV: Chiefs vs. 49ers

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While the better matchup would have been for the Chiefs to go with their white-on-red road look and the 49ers to then use their equally fantastic red-on-gold kit, it was surely a non-starter for the team with the color choice (the AFC champion has first dibs in odd years) to defer home red in the reddest Super Bowl in history. But these teams’ second-best uniforms are better than many teams’ top kits, making for fine visuals in Miami.

 

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9. Super Bowl II: Raiders vs. Packers

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Although the Packers’ Lambeau Field greens receive more acclaim, their road whites are one of the best away-from-home uniforms in NFL history. The second AFL-NFL World Championship Game matching them up with the Raiders, who were just finding the uniform footing that would shape their identity for decades, took the yet-to-be-named Super Bowl a step forward. 

 

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8. Super Bowl XXII: Denver vs. Washington

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Favored going into this game, the Broncos gave up 35 points in the second quarter amid a string of late-1980s Super Bowl misfortune. But the uniforms John Elway donned for most of …