The History of the Super Bowl

Background

The Super Bowl marks the pinnacle of the NFL season, bringing the top two teams in the land together in a clash of titans for the famous trophy. It has been contested ever since 1967, when the National Football League and the American Football League came together to crown the very best.

Incredibly, it’s as close as 27 wins to 26 in the favour of the National Football Conference teams, and the proximity in quality between the Super Bowl finalists is just one of the reasons why more than 140 million people in the USA alone tune in to the big game each year.

Of the ten most-watched TV broadcasts in US history, nine are editions of this fantastic seasonal climax, and the Super Bowl ranks second in terms of the most food consumed in the US in a single day – behind Thanksgiving!

Team Records

Of the 32 NFL teams currently in operation, 28 have made at least one appearance in a Super Bowl game. Commiserations to supporters of the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns, who are yet to see their heroes reach football’s most hallowed ground…

What other interesting Super Bowl records are there? Let’s take a dip into the history books.

Most Appearances

The team with the most Super Bowl appearances is the New England Patriots, who have made the championship game on eleven different occasions.

The Patriots have gone on to reign supreme in six of those games for a winning ratio of 54.5%, but that record is mastered by the Pittsburgh Steelers: they have also won six Super Bowls from just eight appearances for a winning ratio of 75%.

The only other teams who can hold a candle to the Patriots and the Steelers are the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos, who have both appeared in eight Super Bowl matches.

Most Wins

As mentioned, the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the ‘winningest’ teams in Super Bowl history with six triumphs between them.

The Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers have five Super Bowl wins apiece – the latter boasting an outstanding 83% success rate in the championship game.

Other notable outfits include the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants with four wins apiece.

A quartet of teams have a 100% winning record in Super Bowl matches: Baltimore Ravens are two-from-two, while the New Orleans Saints, the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all reigned victorious in their sole trip to the big time.

But just imagine the heartache for all involved with the Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills, who are yet to get their hands on the trophy despite appearing in four Super Bowl games each.

Highest Totals in a Match

There are all sorts of remarkable team-based records to explore in the 50+ years of Super Bowl history. After doing all of the hard work in qualifying for the championship finals, the last thing you need is to roll over and play dead in the Super Bowl. But that’s exactly what the Denver Broncos did at Super Bowl XXIV when they went down to a staggering 10-55 defeat to the San Francisco 49’ers – the highest points tally ever scored in a Super Bowl match, the largest margin of victory and the most touchdowns scored by one team (eight).

And at Super Bowls VI and LIII respectively, the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams may as well have not turned up when they scored just three points each – the lowest points tally in the history of this fine game.

If you get a chance to watch the highlight reel of the Patriots against the Rams, perhaps make your excuses. This game, at Super Bowl LIII, holds the record for fewest touchdowns by the winning team (one) and the fewest touchdowns recorded by the losing team (zero). For the record, the Patriots won 13-3.

For fans of really close, nerve-shredding football games, Super Bowl XXV would have been right up your street. In the end, the New York Giants outdid the Buffalo Bills 20-19 – the smallest margin of victory.

And you don’t win six Super Bowl titles without possessing plenty of character. The Patriots team that took to the field in Super Bowl LI found themselves 25 points behind the Atlanta Falcons, including a 3-21 deficit heading into the final quarter. Alas, the Patriots showed their class to force overtime, before completing an extraordinary 34-28 victory – the biggest margin overturned in a Super Bowl contest.

Individual Records

Football is a team game, of course, but often the Super Bowl is the perfect stage for the sport’s megastars to shine.

Here are some of the best individual records in Super Bowl history:

Most Appearances

Many of the appearance-related categories are dominated by the incomparable Tom Brady. The Patriots’ quarterback has played in nine Super Bowl games, which is a record for a player. However, the record for the number of most consecutive appearances goes to Gale Gilbert, who played in four straight Super Bowls for Buffalo before switching to the Chargers for his fifth.

And let’s raise a glass to Bill Belichick, who has appeared in 12 Super Bowl games as an assistant or head coach combined.

Most Wins

Given his incredible appearance record, it’s no surprise to learn that Brady has won more Super Bowl matches than any other player: six, to be precise. Spare a thought for Glenn Parker, Cornelius Bennett and Gale Gilbert, who have all lost the most Super Bowl matches (five) – the latter tasting defeat on five consecutive occasions!

Highest Totals in a Match

The Super Bowl is all about making heroes, and in scoring a hat-trick of touchdowns these five men, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Ricky Watters, Terrell Davis and James White, created their own slice of history.

Indeed, Rice remains the only player to score three TDs in separate Super Bowl matches.

When Jacoby Jones received the ball deep into his own half in Super Bowl XLVII, he probably didn’t realize that a few seconds later he would have created history – the Baltimore Ravens man completing the longest scoring play with a behemoth 108-yard kick-off return.

When it comes to passing in the Super Bowl, nobody can match the brilliance of Brady, whose career completions – 256 – may never be beaten. Some 43 of those came in Super Bowl LI, which is the most in a single championship game, and the record for the most passing yards in a match also belongs to Brady, 505 to be precise, in Super Bowl LII.

The honor of delivering the most touchdown passes in a Super Bowl game belongs to Steve Young, when he delivered six perfect passes in the 49ers’ romp over the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.

And the longest successful single pass? That belongs to Jake Delhomme, who served up an 85-yard whopper for the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.