That's what I've endeavored to answer here, with the help of former Dallas Cowboys personnel guru and NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt. You'll see his recollections in some of the game descriptions. As for the other analysis, well that's mine.
I took this list seriously, but not so seriously that I can't take some guff. Hit me up @HarrisonNFL if you think I missed the mark on one -- or many -- of these Super Bowls.
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 discover. Super Bowl XXIV was brutal from start to finish. Really, it was never a game. It was 27-3 at halftime. Get excited.
You got an ominous feeling the moment you saw the shotgun snap whiz past Peyton Manning and into the end zone that it wasn't going to be the Broncos' day. To be perfectly frank, it wasn't the Super Bowl's day, either. The Seahawks' 43-8 pasting of Denver was even more of a blowout than the score indicates. To say the Broncos were out of sync is like saying Pete Carroll would get a wee bit buzzed when Marshawn Lynch ran through three guys ... or when Kam Chancellor stopped three guys.
Any drama in this game was stepped on and sprinted past the moment Percy Harvin took the second-half kickoff to the house. Suddenly, a 22-nuthin' nail-biter was 29-zip. Your serve, Peyton!
Keep "matriculating the ball down the field, boys," Stram would say for the NFL Films crew. Now that's some football talk right there.
**Gil Brandt's take:** "That [Chargers](/teams/losangeleschargers/profile?team=LAC) club got off to a slow start and really shouldn't have even been there."
No, they shouldn't have. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan went over all 300 plays beforehand and knew they were ready. Young's line: 24-36 for 325 yards and six touchdowns. That would indicate he was probably ready to play.
For you lovers of fun facts out there: Super Bowl VIII was played at Rice Stadium. You know, the Rice Owls, a Division I powerhouse. Who would've thought?
- The Vikings offense wasn't really called that. I needed something for this lousy game, and that's all I had.
Hughes and the secondary played well, but co-MVPs Harvey Martin and Randy White were downright suffocating for the Denver Broncos quarterbacks, who combined to go 8-25 for 61 yards and four interceptions.
McGee would go on to catch seven passes for 138 yards, and added a score.
**Brandt:** "We lost in the championship to the [Packers](/teams/greenbaypackers/profile?team=GB) that year because a lineman we traded for, Jim Boeke, jumped offsides when we had first-and-goal from the 2. Don Meredith ended up having to try to pass to get the touchdown and threw the interception to Tom Brown." </content:power-ranking>
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.
People forget that the 1983 Washington Redskins were considered almost unbeatable. Their turnover differential that season was an absolutely mind-boggling plus-46. Still, I would say a 38-9 loss constitutes a beating.
"That was our best Cowboy team. We just had a reunion. 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!"
**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."
"Duane Thomas fumbled at their 1-yard line. I still remember Jack Fette's big fat butt running over and giving the ball to the Colts. Our center, Dave Manders, got up from the pile and handed him the football. He still pointed the other way and gave them possession! And then there was the tipped pass off their receiver Eddie Hinton's hands. It bounced right to John Mackey, and they got a touchdown!"
Oh well, undefeated is undefeated.
**Gil Brandt's take:** "The [Bears](/teams/chicagobears/profile?team=CHI) beat us 44-0 that year at Texas Stadium." Point made. </content:power-ranking>
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.
It didn't matter. New England's last-gasp drive didn't get far. Meanwhile, 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.
"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."
[Super Bowl](http://www.nfl.com/superbowl) 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 it included a little controversy on that late four-down stop. (Was [Michael Crabtree](/player/michaelcrabtree/71269/profile) interfered with, or was it a good no-call?)
[Super Bowl](http://www.nfl.com/superbowl) X was perhaps the first fiercely contested Super Sunday, with Art Rooney getting his second Lombardi Trophy in two seasons after 40 with nary a championship. </content:power-ranking>
[Steve McNair was a beast late in the game](http://nflfilms.nfl.com/2012/10/17/reineking-recalls-steve-mcnair-a-football-life/), rolling out and just not letting the [Rams](/teams/losangelesrams/profile?team=LA) 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 [Super Bowl](http://www.nfl.com/superbowl) is gone. </content:power-ranking>
I can still see Jake Delhomme rolling to his left and uncorking a long touchdown pass -- pure streetballin'. An exquisitely entertaining game.
... but of course, we were beaten on the Billy Waddy catch in the playoff versus the Rams. Aaron Kyle, who 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, putting his hand over his eyes. Something tells me that one still hurts.)
If there's a forgotten great Super Bowl, this is it.
Eagles- Patriots is a tough one to rank. It was an exciting game, certainly one of the most entertaining ever. Yet, as my esteemed editor noted, there wasn't too much premier defense to go with the league's premier teams. Other than Brandon Graham's clutch strip-sack, defense was hardly at a premium. It was as if both teams were replicating the Falcons' second-half defensive act from the prior year's Super Bowl.
So where does it stand? Perhaps Super Bowl LII should be viewed through the lens of entertainment. Frankly, that is ultimately what professional sports are all about. That's why this game lands in epic territory. Philadelphia winning its first championship since pulling it off at Franklin Field in 1960 was a nice bonus, too.
Oh, and we forgot the Philly Special.
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.
This game, in my mind, put NFL Films on the official map.
With respect to Gil's opinion, I still feel that XLIX was a better game from start to finish, while XLII (first 16-0 team loses) and XIII (battle between the 1970s' two premiere teams) were equally entertaining games and carry more historical weight.
**Gil Brandt's take:** "I think this one has to go at the top of the charts. We'd never had overtime before. Between that and the epic comeback, my feeling is, LI was the best I ever watched -- and the most exciting." </content:power-ranking>
5) Tracy Porter robs Peyton Manning, Super Bowl XLIV. 4) Jack Squirek's pick-six, Super Bowl XVIII. 3) Mike Jones' tackle of Kevin Dyson, Super Bowl XXXIV. 2) James Harrison's 100-yard interception return, Super Bowl XLIII. 1) Butler's interception. His instant read-and-react to Ricardo Lockette's underneath route, coupled with his catch, won the third-greatest Super Bowl in history. Enough said.
I would only add that New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo showed us all how rotating a good front four could win a game.
This 35-31 contest had so many moments ... a strip-sack for a touchdown, Terry Bradshaw's MVP performance, the Smith drop, a big pass-interference call on the Cowboys' Benny Barnes, and a special-teams fumble that turned the game around.
**Gil Brandt's take:** " [Super Bowl](http://www.nfl.com/superbowl) XIII, in my mind, was one of the most memorable [Super Bowl](http://www.nfl.com/superbowl)s. Those were two great football teams. We (the Dallas Cowboys) 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](http://www.nfl.com/superbowl) XIII was among the greatest Super Bowls." </content:power-ranking>