There’s something so special about when the teams playing in the Super Bowl put on a show for the ages. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lopsided affair or an offensive shootout. Sometimes, all you need to make the game memorable, is a play, a moment, or for the squads to transmit that thirst to win at all costs.
As the NFL nears its 57th Super Bowl, while there have been games that not many remember, there are others that are plastered in the minds of football fans. With the 2022 season beginning its final stretch toward Super Bowl LVII, let’s run through our picks for the best Super Bowl Games since 2000.
Super Bowl XLVII
Known as the “Harbaugh Bowl and “Har-Bowl”, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens would face off at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints on February 3, 2013. Why the “Harbaugh” Bowl though? Because while now Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh was coaching the Niners, his brother John Harbaugh was coaching the Ravens, a job he still holds to this day.
This game had everything. Standing out as one of the game’s most interesting non-football incidents was a 34-minute stoppage of the game because of a power outage in the stadium following Beyoncé’s halftime show performance.
Going back to football, the Ravens and Niners brought the fight on every quarter. The Niners, led by former QB Colin Kaepernick on offense, bounced back from a 28-6 deficit to nearly edging out Baltimore with a 25-point comeback after the game was reinstated.
With a final score of 34-31, the Ravens, with passer Joe Flacco winning the game’s MVP trophy took the Lombardi trophy back home to Maryland.
Super Bowl XLIX
Why didn’t they run the ball with Marshawn Lynch? That’s a question that will always haunt everybody who watched the Seahawks call one of the worst plays in the history of the game and thus go down dramatically against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
But hey, if you don’t remember Seattle’s infamous call, let me paint a picture real quick. It was the fourth quarter, 26 seconds left on the clock, Seahawks’ ball on New England’s 1-yard line.
With the power to call a timeout to think of a strategy, Seattle’s former OC Darrell Bevell decided to bypass said opportunity and call a pass play. Yes, a pass play on New England’s one-yard line, all while having “Beast Mode” ready to barrel through the Patriots’ defense and score.
What would ensue would be a Malcolm Butler interception, leaving the Patriots with the ball once again on their one-yard line, with 20 seconds left.
In a game that saw Russell Wilson and the Seahawks take the fight to Brady and the Pats, the action was non-stop. Up until the third quarter, Seattle held a comfortable 10-point lead over New England, leading fans to believe that Seattle would be cruising to another title win. But an epic 14-point comeback from the Patriots, and, again, one of the worst offensive calls in Super Bowl history would end up seeing New England topple Seattle by 28-24 to win their fourth league title.
Super Bowl XXXIV
I was just starting to really get into football when this game went down. So of course, having one of the team’s offenses be deemed as “The Greatest Show on Turf,” how could anybody not get excited about what was to come?
On January 30, 2000, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta saw the former St Louis Rams, battle Steve McNair, Eddie George, and the Tennessee Titans. Led by the likes of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce, the Rams really took to their “Greatest Show on Turf” moniker and put on an offensive show.
But it was one play in specific that took the cake as the most important moment in the game.
Known by fans as “The Tackle, or “One Yard Short,” the Titans stood at St. Louis’ 10-yard line with six seconds left on the clock. After a pass from McNair to WR Kevin Dyson, Rams linebacker Mike Jones came through with a clutch tackle stopping Dyson one yard short of scoring and thus tying the game.
In one of the best Super Bowl MVP performances, Warner would go on to become the sixth player at the time to win both the game’s MVP honors as well as the league’s MVP award in the same season.
Super Bowl LII
Up until this game, being a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles consisted of almost getting there, but never crossing the finish line. Great players and coaches came and went, but Philadelphia could never catch a break and win the coveted Lombardi Trophy. But then, it happened.
Led by an inspiring performance from second-string QB Nick Foles, and with one of the best trick plays the Super Bowl has seen, the “Philly Special,” the Eagles would trump New England to win their first and only Super Bowl title.
But wait, the “Philly Special”?
With the ball on New England’s one-yard line, as the first half of the game was ending, the Eagles would take a page out of Bill Belichick’s book and attempt a trick play similar to one the Patriots had tried and failed earlier in the game.
Running back Corey Clement took the snap, handing it over immediately to tight end Trey Burton who would find a wide-open Foles just waiting for the pass in New England’s end zone, bringing the score at that moment to 22-12.
Philadelphia’s title win was also one where various NFL title game records were broken. For example, both teams racked up a combined 74 points, one point away from tying the Super Bowl record of 75 set in Super Bowl XXIX when the 49ers beat the Chargers. Also, they managed to gain the most yards by any two teams in the history of the game, with a total of 1,151 yards, including regular and postseason games.
Lastly, Tom Brady would break the record for most passing yards by a QB in Super Bowl history with 505 total yards.
Super Bowl XLII
If there’s one thing that former Giants QB Eli Manning knew how to do well was beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. While he beat Belichick and Brady’s team twice in the league’s biggest game, it’s because of his Super Bowl XLII for which he is best remembered.
In a tight game from start to finish, it was the actions toward the end that would make this one of the best matchups in history. On a third-and-5 from NY’s 44-yard line, Manning, a QB not necessarily known for his mobility avoided tackles from Adalius Thomas, Richard Seymour, and Jarvis Green, passing the ball for 32 yards down the middle of the field where WR David Tyree would outjump Rodney Harrison, and catch the ball, pressing it against his helmet to secure possession as he fell to the ground.
Four plays later, Manning would pass the ball to WR Plexico Burress who would go on to score and secure New York’s win over the Pats. Said win would have an extra special meaning for the Giants, as they managed to stop New England on their road towards becoming the first team in professional football to have a perfect 19-0 season.
Super Bowl LI
If you’re a Falcons fan, I thank you for reading all of my previous picks. If you wish to stop and leave, right now would be a perfect moment to do so.
“28-3.” It’s not just a score or the nickname for Super Bowl LI, it’s the stuff of nightmares for the Atlanta Falcons after they blew their 28-3 lead over Brady and the Pats to lose the game by 34-28 in the only Super Bowl in history to be decided in overtime.
It wasn’t enough to have one of Matt Ryan’s best performances, or Julio Jones making what could easily be the best catch of his life. Struck by some rather idiotic playcalling in the fourth quarter, the Falcons let the Patriots score time and time again like it was a walk in the park.
Every time I think of who had it worse, Seattle with their one-yard interception, or Atlanta’s 28-3 debacle, it’s hard to pick one. Seriously, why not run with Lynch? But then again, seriously, who blows a lead like that?
Ugh, I hate the Patriots.