x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rarely living up to the big build-up of Super Bowl

The Super Bowl have been so often one-sided or dreary over the years that many viewers came to anticipate more entertainment from the televised advertisements.

Considering the fuss made in the United States over the Super Bowl, one might expect its 44-year history to be strewn with great games.

The reality is that the NFL's championship event was so often one-sided or dreary over the first 30-plus stagings that many viewers came to anticipate more entertainment from the televised advertisements than the action.

Year after year, US sports journalists wrote analyses on why so many Super Bowls were so little fun to watch, usually focusing on the perceived emotional collapse by teams that fell behind early in such a big game or citing the two weeks of preparation that allowed the marginally superior team to find their opponent's weakness and ruthlessly exploit it.

The early history of the game was such that Baltimore's 16-13 victory over Dallas in 1971 was long considered the greatest Super Bowl because it was decided on a late field goal, ignoring the appalling 11 turnovers and 14 penalties that came before.

The debate over "why have their been so many bad Super Bowls?" was never settled and now is largely forgotten because, thankfully, the game over the past decade has often exceeded expectations.

Compiling a list of the greatest games in the series is no longer an exercise in choosing the best of the bad.

Being of sufficient age to have seen all 44 games, and having been at the stadium for 12 of them, this writer feels emboldened to present the top five games in Super Bowl history, and suggests the reader note that three of them have been played since the dawn of the millennium.


5. Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17, 1976. The Cowboys made it a four-point game with an 80-yard drive that concluded with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Percy Howard with 1.48 to play.

Dallas got the ball again at their 39-yard line with 1.22 left and reached the Pittsburgh 38-yard line. Staubach threw a pass into the end zone that went off Howard's shoulder pad, and his next was intercepted in the end zone by Glen Edwards as time expired on the desperate rally.

4. New England 17, St Louis 14, 2002. The Rams tied the game with 90 seconds left when the Kurt Warner passed 26 yards to Ricky Proehl.

However, the Patriots, led by the young Tom Brady, moved 53 yards in nine plays, the final being a 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired.

It remains the only Super Bowl won on the final play.

3. San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16, 1989. Trailing 16-13, Joe Montana, the 49ers quarterback, sealed his standing as one of the greatest clutch performers by leading an 11-play, 92-yard drive that culminated in a 10-yard pass to John Taylor with 35 seconds on the clock.

2. St Louis 23, Tennessee 16, 2000. The Titans tied the game at 16 with 2:12 left. The Rams regained the lead two plays later on a 73-yard strike from Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce, and then the Titans went 87 yards in the final 1.48 - only to have Kevin Dyson tackled at the one-yard line by Mike Jones of the Rams as time expired in the One Yard Short game.

1. New York Giants 17, New England 14, 2008. The Patriots were one victory away from an unprecedented 19-0 season, but the Giants scored the winning touchdown with 35 seconds to play, a 13-yard pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress.

This came moments after an amazing, 32-yard catch by David Tyree in which the receiver held the ball against his helmet with one hand as he was being tackled.

A monumental upset with unforgettable plays.