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Published: Jan. 29, 2014 at 08:57 a.m.
Updated: Jan. 29, 2014 at 11:40 a.m.

Ranking the Super Bowls

What's the greatest Super Bowl of all time?

Well, if you think you have a pretty strong grasp on which game is the ultimate Super Sunday in NFL history -- be it Super Bowl XLII, XIII or XXV -- then what's the 23rd-best Super Bowl? Or the 43rd?

That's what I endeavored to answer in an assignment my editor would only label as "time consuming." Indeed. And to responsibly accumulate a legitimate pecking order, from 1 to 47, I enlisted the help of former Dallas Cowboys personnel guru and NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt, particularly with regard to the older Super Bowls. (After all, he was there.) You'll see his recollections in some of the game descriptions.

As for the other analysis, well that's mine. I take my responsibility as NFL Media Historian seriously, but not so seriously that I can't take some guff. Hit me up @Harrison_NFL if you think I missed the mark on one -- or many -- of these Super Bowls.

47 Photos Total

  • 47. Super Bowl XXIV - San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10 47

    47. Super Bowl XXIV - San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10

    Gil Brandt's take: "The 55-10 game in New Orleans might have been the worst. The Broncos just didn't match up with the 49ers. They couldn't stop them."

    Uh, ditto. If the Pleiadians or some other alien race finds our planet in 200 years and discovers NFL Films, let's hope this isn't the one film canister they unearth. Super Bowl XXIV was brutal from start to finish. Really, it was never a game. It was 27-3 at halftime. Get excited. (AP Photo/Tom DiPace)

  • 46. Super Bowl IV - Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7 46

    46. Super Bowl IV - Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7

    Gil Brandt's take: "That wasn't a very good game. It was played in old Tulane Stadium. It was not an exciting game and the Chiefs killed them. Everyone remembers that Kansas City's head coach, Hank Stram, was miked the whole time."

    Keep "matriculating the ball down the field, boys," Stram would say. Now that's some football talk right there. (Associated Press)

  • 45. Super Bowl XI - Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14 45

    45. Super Bowl XI - Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14

    Gil Brandt doesn't really like this game, and neither do I. It was the Vikings' last stand, and it was ugly. They really were never in the game. The final tally was 32-14, but it wasn't that close. Hall of Fame wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff was named game MVP, but really, the Raiders' ground attack dominated the Vikings' famous front four ... 266 rushing yards is no joke.

    This Super Bowl is also famous for the classic NFL Films footage simply dubbed "Old Man Willie." Hall of Famer Willie Brown picked off a Fran Tarkenton pass and returned it 75 yards to the house -- at the ripe age of 36. (National Football League)

  • 44. Super Bowl XXIX - San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26 44

    44. Super Bowl XXIX - San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26

    The real title bout took place two weeks before this Super Bowl, when the 49ers topped the Cowboys in a highly anticipated NFC Championship Game.

    Gil Brandt's take: "That Chargers club got off to a slow start and really shouldn't have even been there."

    No, they shouldn't have. 49ers quarterback Steve Young and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan went over all 300 plays beforehand, and knew they were ready. Young's line: 24-of-36 for 325 yards and six touchdowns. That would indicate he was probably ready to play. (AP Photo/Tom DiPace)

  • 43. Super Bowl VIII - Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7 43

    43. Super Bowl VIII - Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7

    Miami ran Larry Csonka counter to the flow of traffic, making the impact of the knifing Alan Page -- the Vikings' Hall of Fame defensive tackle -- almost negligible. Csonka ran for 145 yards, and quarterback Bob Griese threw seven passes all game. This was pretty much awful.

    For you lovers of fun facts out there: Super Bowl VIII was played at Rice Stadium. You know, home of the Rice Owls, a real football powerhouse. Who would've thought? (Associated Press)

  • 42. Super Bowl IX - Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6 42

    42. Super Bowl IX - Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6

    The Steelers' momentous franchise victory -- their first NFL championship in over 40 years as an organization -- came at the expense of fans. What a snoozer -- made up for by the fact there was no offense. And when I say no offense, I mean none on the Minnesota side. The Vikings' 10,000 lakes offense* -- the precursor to the West Coast offense -- racked up 119 yards. Franco Harris rushed for 158 by himself. Uh, no offense intended, Vikings fans.

    * The Vikings' offense wasn't really called that. I needed something for this lousy game and that's all I had. (Associated Press)

  • 41. Super Bowl XLI - Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17 41

    41. Super Bowl XLI - Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17

    Awful conditions in a game that featured Rex Grossman at quarterback. Peyton Manning shot a commercial with a colleague of mine after this Super Bowl and told him the Colts "could've scored 70 that game." I believe it. The Bears' Cover-2 scheme left Reggie Wayne open by about a dozen yards on his 53-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. (AP Photo/David Drapkin)

  • 40. Super Bowl XXXV - Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7 40

    40. Super Bowl XXXV - Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7

    Perhaps my least favorite Super Bowl, made worse by Steven Tyler doing a halftime show with Britney Spears. This game was saved, at least from an entertainment standpoint, when three touchdowns were scored on three straight plays: The Baltimore Ravens notched a pick-six, the New York Giants' Ron Dixon brought the kickoff all the way back, and then Ravens kick returner Jermaine Lewis answered.

    Without that string of football magic dust, this dud would have been 47 out of 47 on this list. (AP Photo/Kevin Reece)

  • 39. Super Bowl XII - Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10 39

    39. Super Bowl XII - Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10

    Dallas' second Super Bowl win was an unexciting game, with the Cowboy defense dominating throughout. Gil Brandt recalled safety Randy Hughes' performance, and laments that a player with such potential had his career ruined by shoulder injuries.

    Hughes and the secondary played well, but co-MVPs Harvey Martin and Randy White downright terrorized Broncos quarterbacks, who combined to go 8-of-25 for 61 yards with four interceptions. (Associated Press)

  • 38. Super Bowl XXXVII - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21 38

    38. Super Bowl XXXVII - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21

    After much reflection on this game, I came up with this: Rich Gannon played poorly, while the Tampa 2 did not. This Super Bowl made football America aware of Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, too. (Associated Press)

  • 37. Super Bowl XL - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10 37

    37. Super Bowl XL - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10

    For a relatively close contest, no one I've spoken with liked this game -- on any level. This Super Bowl featured a horrific uni matchup, bad calls by the refs and a storyline that centered on Jerome Bettis finishing his career in his hometown of Detroit. Yippee. (Harry How/Getty Images)

  • 36. Super Bowl XXVI - Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24 36

    36. Super Bowl XXVI - Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24

    Other than Thurman Thomas misplacing his helmet prior to the game, causing him to miss the start, this was devoid of excitement. The 37-24 loss marked the second straight Super Bowl defeat for Marv Levy's Bills -- and the first of three consecutive Super Sunday beatdowns received by Buffalo. This game also marked perhaps the only time anyone thought the Redskins' Mark Rypien might be the best quarterback in the NFL. Come on, somebody did. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

  • 35. Super Bowl I - Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10 35

    35. Super Bowl I - Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10

    Gil Brandt's take: "The Packer receivers, Boyd Dowler and Max McGee, were in the old locker rooms there at the L.A. Coliseum before the game. McGee says to Dowler, 'Hey, you can't come out of the game. I can't play today. I was out all night and got in at 7 a.m.' Well, of course Dowler gets knocked out and McGee comes in and catches that slant for a big touchdown."

    McGee would go on to finish with seven catches for 138 yards.

    "We lost in the championship to the Packers that year because a lineman we traded for, Jim Boeke, jumped offsides when we had first-and-goal from the 2," Brandt says. "Don Meredith ended up having to try to pass to get the touchdown and threw the interception to Tom Brown." (National Football League)

  • 34. Super Bowl XXVII - Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17 34

    34. Super Bowl XXVII - Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17

    Leon Lett's non-touchdown fumble return has been a teaching video for millions of junior high football players, thanks to the hustle of former Bills wideout Don Beebe. Who sprints that hard to stop a 52-17 game from being 59-17?

    Beebe does. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

  • 33. Super Bowl XV - Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10 33

    33. Super Bowl XV - Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10

    Oakland Raiders linebacker Rod Martin intercepted the ball three times. It's hard to win when the other team's LB gets three picks. This 27-10 ballgame was mostly a snoozer, although Philadelphia was in the game up until the Raiders dominated the fourth quarter. (National Football League)

  • 32. Super Bowl XXXIII - Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19 32

    32. Super Bowl XXXIII - Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19

    Gil Brandt's take: "The Vikings might have been the best team that year, but, you know, they missed the field goal. (Gary) Anderson missed it in the NFC championship. But it was more than just that kick. Remember, Atlanta's Chuck Smith came around the end and forced the fumble. That led to a touchdown (right before halftime). Minnesota didn't need to be throwing in that situation."

    The Vikings had a 20-7 lead with just over a minute left in the first half, and the ball at their own 18-yard line. Brandt has a point.

    "In the Super Bowl, I remember the kid, Darrien Gordon, (Denver) got from San Diego got a big interception in that game, a really important play," Brandt said. "He was a first-round draft pick of the Chargers." (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

  • 31. Super Bowl XXII - Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10 31

    31. Super Bowl XXII - Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10

    While the media circus centered around quarterback Doug Williams being African-American, perhaps some reporter should've noticed his quick release and 80 yards' worth of arm strength. A record 35-point second quarter served notice in the Redskins' 42-10 beatdown of the Broncos. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 30. Super Bowl XVIII - Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9 30

    30. Super Bowl XVIII - Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9

    Gil Brandt's take: "There are always a few plays that alter the outcome. If you go back and look at games where a team gets a quick touchdown right before halftime, that team usually wins. Joe Theismann threw that little pass out in the flat, and No. 58 (Jack Squirek of the Raiders) intercepted and scored. That was a big factor in the game."

    People forget that the 1983 Redskins were considered almost unbeatable. Their turnover differential that season was an absolutely mind-boggling plus-43. Still, I would say a 38-9 loss constitutes a beating. (Associated Press)

  • 29. Super Bowl VI - Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3 29

    29. Super Bowl VI - Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3

    Gil Brandt's take: "They were a good football team because of their defense. However, in the Super Bowl, we were able to get Nick Buoniconti blocked. Hell, we ran for 250 yards on them. Then, Larry Csonka fumbles the ball away. He hadn't fumbled in 300-some-odd touches that year before the Super Bowl ... and then there was the big sack.

    "That was our best Cowboy team. You look at our running backs in that Super Bowl: Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill, Walt Garrison, Dan Reeves. Who had four running backs like that? Our whole roster was like that. We had Mel Renfro and Herb Adderley at corner (both are in the Hall of Fame). We also picked up Forrest Gregg and Lance Alworth (two more Hall of Famers) during that season!" (National Football League)

  • 28. Super Bowl II - Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14 28

    28. Super Bowl II - Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14

    The Packers dominated the Raiders in Vince Lombardi's last game as Green Bay's head coach and most famous citizen. Brandt remembers the subtleties of how the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl.

    Gil Brandt's take: "We lost in the (NFL) championship in Green Bay, the Ice Bowl, at the end of the game. Their fullback, Chuck Mercein, made a couple of big plays on the game's last drive ... then Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown on the sneak.

    "Well, earlier that year, we had lost a running back to injury, and so had Green Bay, so we both needed someone. I called Chuck, and he told me that the Packers had already called him, and he felt they had a good shot of making the Super Bowl, so he was going to sign with them. He made the plays down the stretch to beat us." (Associated Press)

  • 27. Super Bowl XIX - San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16 27

    27. Super Bowl XIX - San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16

    The greatest offensive season in NFL history -- namely, Dan Marino's 5,084-yard campaign -- came to a resounding halt against the 49ers' quartet of Pro Bowlers in the secondary. For one season, Eric Wright, Ronnie Lott, Dwight Hicks and Carlton Williamson were as elite as any back four in NFL history. Their play, along with Joe Montana going 24-of-35 for 331 yards and three touchdowns, won the day. (Associated Press)

  • 26. Super Bowl V - Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13 26

    26. Super Bowl V - Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13

    Gil Brandt's take: "The Cowboys lost 16-13 to the Colts on Jim O'Brien's field goal. We were a better football team, talent-wise. We had come so close the previous years, losing back-to-back championship games to the Packers, then in '68 in Cleveland and to the Browns again in '69. So, now we lost on a 32-yard field goal by O'Brien after he had missed an extra point earlier in the same game!

    "Duane Thomas fumbled at their 1-yard line. I still remember (official) Jack Fette running over and giving the ball to the Colts. Dave Manders got up from the pile, handed him the football. He still pointed the other way, and gave them possession! Then there was the tipped pass off their receiver Eddie Hinton's hands. It bounced right to John Mackey and they got a touchdown!" (As he said this, Gil made a face that resembled the one spot in the universe where disgust and incredulity meet.) (Associated Press)

  • 25. Super Bowl VII - Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7 25

    25. Super Bowl VII - Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7

    The Miami Dolphins complete the 17-0 season with a 14-7 win. It would have been a fitting 17-0 score if Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian converted a late field goal, rather than serving up a volleyball after catching his own blocked kick. The Redskins' Mike Bass plucked it out of the air and scored.

    Oh well, undefeated is undefeated. (Associated Press)

  • 24. Super Bowl XX - Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10 24

    24. Super Bowl XX - Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10

    A blowout, yes, but a demolition made fun by, well, the most fun team in league history. I asked Gil Brandt if this Bears defense ranks as the most dominating he's seen in his six decades in the NFL. His response? "The Bears beat us 44-0 that year at Texas Stadium." Point taken. (Associated Press)

  • 23. Super Bowl XXI - New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20 23

    23. Super Bowl XXI - New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20

    Gil Brandt's take: "Tom Landry and I thought Bill Parcells had an excellent defense. We played them early in the year, in the opener, and beat them for a touchdown on a screen pass down the sideline. We won that game, and that was one of just two losses the Giants had that year. In the Super Bowl -- even though they were a defensive team -- offensively, Phil Simms (22-of-25 passing for 268 yards and three touchdowns) really played over his head. That was the difference."

    Simms' performance might have indeed been the difference, but defensive coordinator Bill Belichick ran a unit that would not let John Elway off the hook. (National Football League)

  • 22. Super Bowl XXVIII - Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13 22

    22. Super Bowl XXVIII - Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13

    This Super Bowl rematch from the prior season wasn't as bad a game as everyone remembers. In fact, Buffalo led 13-6 at halftime. But from that point on, talent -- as well as some costly Bills turnovers -- decided the day. The Cowboys shut out the Bills 24-0 in the second half to win their second straight Super Bowl under Jimmy Johnson. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • 21. Super Bowl XXXI - Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21 21

    21. Super Bowl XXXI - Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21

    The better team won, on the strength of special teams. Desmond Howard's kick return put the game away in theory; Reggie White and the defense ensured it. White wrapped up the Patriots' Drew Bledsoe three times while the Brett Favre-led offense did enough to keep control of the game. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • 20. Super Bowl XXXIX - New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21 20

    20. Super Bowl XXXIX - New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

    Donovan McNabb's puking habits became all the rage in the media after Terrell Owens let the world in on his interpretation of why Philadelphia failed late: McNabb's conditioning program could use a NordicTrack. Watch this game again, if you happened to DVR it back in February of 2005. The Eagles looked awfully lethargic getting in and out of the huddle, despite trailing 24-14 with five minutes left. (AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance)

  • 19. Super Bowl XVII - Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17 19

    19. Super Bowl XVII - Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17

    If there is a Super Bowl that no one remembers, it's Super Bowl XVII. The Dolphins had, quite possibly, the worst starters in Super Bowl history at the skill positions, with quarterback David Woodley hitting the immortal Jimmy Cefalo for a touchdown early. Still, this game wasn't decided until "The Diesel" (John Riggins) got going in the fourth quarter. (Associated Press)

  • 18. Super Bowl XXX - Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17 18

    18. Super Bowl XXX - Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

    Neil O'Donnell to Larry Brown. That's all this Super Bowl will be remembered for. Pittsburgh laid some wood in the second half, but the Steelers were let down by two bad throws -- or bad routes, depending on your perspective, of course. Either way, Dallas won its fifth Lombardi Trophy. The franchise has won just two playoff games since. (AP Photo/Beth Keiser)

  • 17. Super Bowl XLVI - New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17 17

    17. Super Bowl XLVI - New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17

    Standing on the catwalk of Lucas Oil Stadium, at about the Giants' 35-yard line, I had a perfect view of Eli Manning's 38-yard completion to Mario Manningham, which eventually led to Ahmad Bradshaw's go-ahead touchdown run ... er, fall. Bradshaw was trying to stop himself from scoring, so as to not give the Patriots any time to mount a comeback, but tumbled into the end zone. It didn't matter. New England's last-gasp drive didn't get far.

    The lasting memory of this game was Manning's picture-perfect throw, dropped perfectly over Manningham's shoulder nearly 40 yards downfield. It was a gutsy call on first down, and the play that won a second ring for Tom Coughlin's Giants. (AP Photo/Pat Semansky)

  • 16. Super Bowl XLV - Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25 16

    16. Super Bowl XLV - Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25

    Put the seat debacle aside for a moment. The Packers-Steelers Super Bowl in Dallas turned out to be a competitive game. Aaron Rodgers capped off a tremendous postseason with an incredible performance in the biggest game of his career. That said, it was a defensive play that underlined the Packers' win: Clay Matthews' jarring hit on Rashard Mendenhall, which caused the Steelers tailback to cough up the football and led to the decisive touchdown. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • 15. Super Bowl XLIV - New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17 15

    15. Super Bowl XLIV - New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17

    Another very underrated Super Bowl. Don't let the final score fool you; this was a close contest that might have swung on Sean Payton's gamble to onside kick to start the second half. Tracy Porter's late pick-six exemplified true mastery of the cornerback position. Porter jumped the route to Reggie Wayne, ultimately giving a beleaguered city its first Lombardi Trophy. (AP Photo/Tom Hauck)

  • 14. Super Bowl XVI - San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21 14

    14. Super Bowl XVI - San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21

    Gil Brandt's take: "We had a guy we drafted in the ninth round, Mike Wilson out of Washington State, who made a big catch for San Francisco on the sideline in the second half. Otherwise, their offense couldn't squeeze a drop the whole second half.

    "We were disappointed to not be there, of course. The final drive of the NFC Championship Game, they beat us utilizing their backs, Ricky Patton and (Lenvil) Elliott. Bill Walsh was smart. He saw us playing with five defensive backs and ran the ball. It was the right thing to do. Then you saw the play Eric Wright made on Drew Pearson, pulling him down from behind ... or he was gone. But they won the game, and then the Super Bowl."

    A solid, if not incredible game, Super Bowl XVI kicked off the 49ers' dynasty. (Associated Press)

  • 13. Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31 13

    13. Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31

    Well, if two hot quarterbacks with polar-opposite styles, a 34-minute power outage and nearly a 22-point, second-half comeback don't interest you, maybe a faceoff between two head coaches who just happen to be brothers and a fourth-and-goal stop essentially settling the game will.

    Super Bowl XLVII makes it into the top 15 by virtue of having one of the most exciting second halves ever. The final stretch was spectacular, and included a little controversy on that late four-down stop. (Was Michael Crabtree interfered with, or was that a good no-call?)

    At the end of the day, the Ravens' win might not be up there with Super Bowl X, but it's not far behind, while being one of the better Super Sundays of recent vintage. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • 12. Super Bowl X - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17 12

    12. Super Bowl X - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

    Gil Brandt's take: "Mark Washington had good coverage on the (Lynn) Swann plays. But really, the amazing thing about that game was the fact that only one player on both teams ever played for another team. One guy! It was Preston Pearson, who we picked up before the season. So out of 86 players on the field, or whatever, one had not been with that team his whole career. And here's the thing about that: The team Preston played for was Pittsburgh, the team we were playing. Can you imagine that happening today?"

    Super Bowl X was perhaps the first fiercely contested Super Sunday, with Art Rooney getting his second Lombardi Trophy in two seasons after 40-plus with nary a championship. (National Football League)

  • 11. Super Bowl XXXII - Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24 11

    11. Super Bowl XXXII - Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24

    NFL Fantasy Live colleague Jason Smith simply says two words about this Super Bowl: "the helicopter."

    Who could forget John Elway getting hammered -- upended -- in mid-air? This Super Bowl always will be remembered for Elway's heart, and his ability to finally win the big one. But there were so many big plays. Steve Atwater laying out the Packers' Robert Brooks and teammate Randy Hilliard (and himself) on one pass over the middle in the fourth quarter was football in the 1990s. Not anymore. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 10. Super Bowl XXXVI - New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17 10

    10. Super Bowl XXXVI - New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17

    "Spygate" has marred what was an exciting contest. New England halted the unstoppable Rams -- a.k.a. "The Greatest Show on Turf" -- in perhaps the greatest team victory in Super Bowl history. St. Louis could not get its offense going for most of the game, but put together two impressive drives in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 17. That's when Bill Belichick decided to trust first-year starter Tom Brady with 1:21 left on the clock. The future Hall of Famer moved the team 53 yards in eight plays to set up Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

  • 9. Super Bowl XLIII - Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23 9

    9. Super Bowl XLIII - Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23

    Another fantastic Super Bowl of recent vintage. The Santonio Holmes catch in the corner of the end zone to give Pittsburgh a 27-23 win over Arizona is burned in the mind's eye of anyone who recalls this game. What a performance by the Cardinals. What if Kurt Warner had more time at the end, a la Staubach in Super Bowl XIII? Look out. (AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance)

  • 8. Super Bowl XXXIV - St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16 8

    8. Super Bowl XXXIV - St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16

    I ran into Eddie George, an old colleague of mine from our time at Fox, at Super Bowl XLVI. A lot of people were asking him for his thoughts on that game, but it was hard to forget his goal-line surge in Super Bowl XXXIV, one of the key plays in the Titans' comeback from a 16-point deficit.

    Steve McNair was a beast late in the game, rolling out and just not letting the Rams bring him down. Kordell Stewart used to say McNair was "country strong." No joke. It's sad to think one of the starting quarterbacks in such a great -- and recent -- Super Bowl is gone. (AP Photo/Paul Spinelli)

  • 7. Super Bowl XXXVIII - New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29 7

    7. Super Bowl XXXVIII - New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29

    Gil Brandt's take: "The Patriots-Panthers Super Bowl had a slow first half and a great second half. Neither team could get going in the first half. But in the second, each team exchanged touchdowns and put up a lot of points. And, of course, then the Panthers kicked off and it went out of bounds ... that was a huge play."

    I can still see Jake Delhomme rolling to his left and uncorking a long touchdown pass -- pure streetballin'. An exquisitely entertaining game. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • 6. Super Bowl XIV - Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19 6

    6. Super Bowl XIV - Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19

    Gil Brandt's take: "The Super Bowl after we played (the Steelers) in XIII was one of the better games. They played it in Pasadena, Calif., and the Rams were able to get a halfback option pass from Lawrence McCutcheon for a touchdown on Pittsburgh. We thought we were in good position that year to play them. We had a good team. ... But of course, we were beaten on the Billy Waddy catch in the playoffs versus the Rams. Aaron Kyle, whom I drafted to play corner for us in '76, had him covered, but just didn't have any ball skills. He'd be right there tracking ... tracking ... but then as Waddy was coming down with the football, Kyle was jumping up."

    (Gil shook his head after that last utterance, putting his hand over his eyes. Something tells me that one still hurts.)

    If there's a forgotten great Super Bowl, this is it. (Associated Press)

  • 5. Super Bowl XXIII - San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16 5

    5. Super Bowl XXIII - San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16

    Gil Brandt's take: "The second of the Bengals-49ers Super Bowls was one of the best games. Of course there was the Montana play, but Tim Krumrie broke his leg, which changed the game. It was close throughout."

    Krumrie's injury allowed San Francisco to run the ball, but overall, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's unit kept the 49ers at bay most of the day ... until it really mattered. John Taylor caught the game-winner (and a piece of NFL history). (National Football League)

  • 4. Super Bowl XXV - New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19 4

    4. Super Bowl XXV - New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

    Gil Brandt's take: "The Giants winning on the 'Wide Right' field goal. They basically played a 2-5 (defense) so as to try to stop the Buffalo offense. You know, the Giants played them earlier in the season and stifled Buffalo's offense -- now that was a really good game, too. Jim Kelly got hurt, and (Frank) Reich had to come in."

    Re-watching the broadcast of Super Bowl XXV, I can back up what Gil is saying. Here the Giants were, playing two down linemen with five linebackers moving around. Man, Bill Belichick was ahead of the game as a defensive coordinator. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

  • 3. Super Bowl III - New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7 3

    3. Super Bowl III - New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7

    Gil Brandt's take: "Super Bowl III has to be one of the best because of what it meant. It changed the perception about the American Football League and the merger. That game was about the impact it had."

    This game, in my mind, put NFL Films on the official map. (National Football League)

  • 2. Super Bowl XLII - New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14 2

    2. Super Bowl XLII - New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14

    Gil Brandt's take: "So many small plays in a game can change a game. What if they had called in-the-grasp on Eli (Manning)? What if (David) Tyree doesn't trap the ball against his helmet? What if Asante Samuel doesn't worry about getting his feet down and catches the (interception)?"

    I would only add that Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo showed us all how a good front four could win against a superior opponent. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar)

  • 1. Super Bowl XIII - Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31 1

    1. Super Bowl XIII - Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

    The great ones never lose, they just run out of time. That's what happened here to Roger Staubach, who overcame the most famous drop -- Jackie Smith's end-zone blunder -- in NFL history.

    This 35-31 contest had so many moments ... a strip-sack for a touchdown, the Smith drop, a big pass interference call on the Cowboys' Benny Barnes, a special teams fumble that turned the game around. And how about Terry Bradshaw's MVP performance?

    Gil Brandt's take: "Super Bowl XIII, in my mind, was the most memorable of the Super Bowls. Those were two great football teams. We made mistakes. We had Randy White on the return team with a cast on, and then he fumbled the kickoff ... which really hurt us. Even though we lost, I would say Super Bowl XIII was the greatest Super Bowl." (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

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