The National Football league is one of the most exciting and competitive sports in the world, but judging from past Super Bowl winners, the championship game is usually anything but a close game. With all the hype and money that goes into staging the most watched television event of the year, it is surprising how often the game turns out to be a yawner. Recent history has seen a change of sorts--Super Bowls XXXVI through XLVI had only one game decided by more than two touchdowns and 7 games decided by single digits--but throughout the big game's history the average margin of victory has been 14.3 points. Just 17 have been decided by less than 10 points.
Blowouts are no fun for the unbiased viewer or the losing team and its fans. But they are a blast for the victors. Here now are the top 10 Super Bowl winners who had the largest margins of victory.
1. San Francisco 49ers - Super Bowl XXIV
San Francisco 55 - Denver 10 - Margin of Victory 45
A lot of things go into winning a Super Bowl. Having one of the best quarterbacks and wide receivers to ever play the game certainly doesn't hurt. Joe Montana threw for 297 yards and was named the Most Valuable Player. Jerry Rice scored three touchdowns.
2. Chicago Bears - Super Bowl XX
Chicago 46 - New England 10 - Margin of Victory 36
In what was then a record, the Chicago Bears scored 46 points in route to an annihilation of the New England Patriots. Things started out ok enough for the Pats after they took a 3-0 lead just 1:19 into the first quarter. Unfortunately, the last 23 points of the first half were scored by the Bears. At the half the Bears had 236 total yards of offense to the Patriots' -19. The last 16 Bears points were scored on an interception return, a 1 yard run by defensive tackle William Perry, and a safety. It isn't the largest margin of victory, but it is probably the most dominating performance in Super Bowl history.
3 (tie). Dallas Cowboys - Super Bowl XXVII
Dallas 52 - Buffalo 17 - Margin of Victory 35
The game that announced the Jimmy Johnson-led Cowboys were for real. The Buffalo Bills were coming off of two close Super Bowl losses, and many observers thought this was their year to win it all. Things started off well for the Bills after a blocked punt led to a first quarter touchdown that put Buffalo up 7-0. But by the end of the night, the Cowboys had forced 9 turnovers, Troy Aikman had thrown for 4 touchdowns, and Leon Lett had fumbled away what would have put this game above Super Bowl XX in the largest margin of victory by past Super Bowl winners.
3 (tie). Seattle Seahawks - Super Bowl XLVIII
Seattle 43 - Denver 8 - Margin of Victory 35
A safety on the first play from scrimmage resulted in two Seattle points, and it never got any better for the Denver Broncos. The league's number 1 defense dominated the league's number 1 offense, and a Seattle kickoff return for a touchdown to open the 2nd half shut down all hopes of a Peyton Manning miracle.
5. Washington Redskins - Super Bowl XXII
Washington 42 - Denver 10 - Margin of Victory 32
It seems like so many of these games do not set up as blowouts from the beginning. On Denver's first play of Super Bowl XXII, quarterback John Elway threw a 56 yard touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel. After a Broncos field goal, they were up 10-0. Then the second quarter happened. Washington scored on five straight possessions, they were up 35-10 at the half, and the game was over.
6. Oakland Raiders - Super Bowl XVIII
Los Angeles 38 - Washington 9 - Margin of Victory 29
The Redskins weren't so lucky in Super Bowl XVIII. The Los Angeles Raiders dominated this game from the opening kickoff. Their first score was a blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone. Running back Marcus Allen was named the Most Valuable Player after rushing for 191 yards including a 74-yarder in the third quarter.
7 (tie). Baltimore Ravens - Super Bowl XXXV
Baltimore 34 - New York Giants 7 - Margin of Victory 27
This is the game no one saw coming. Offensively challenged Baltimore was not supposed to score 34 points. However, their margin of victory was helped out by one of the most bizarre series of events in Super Bowl history. In the third quarter, the Ravens' Duane Starks ran back an interception 49 yards for a touchdown. The Giants ran back the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, only to then give up a touchdown on their ensuing kickoff. Still, it was a dominating performance for Baltimore as they only allowed 152 yards of offense by New York and forced 5 turnovers.
7 (tie). Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Super Bowl XXXVII
Tampa Bay 48 - Oakland 21 - Margin of Victory 27
It is fitting that the two past Super Bowl winners tied for #6 on the list were similar teams. They were both thought to present little in the way of offense but dominate defensively. That was certainly the case with the Bucs in Super Bowl XXXVII. And like the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, the defense of Tampa Bay helped lift the final score. Three Raiders interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and the Buccaneers cruised to victory.
9. Green Bay Packers - Super Bowl I
Green Bay 35 - Kansas City 10 - Margin of Victory 25
The one that started them all. Green Bay was thought to be the superior team, and that was the case. Most Valuable Player Bart Starr passed for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Packers won their first of two consecutive Super Bowl championships.
10. San Francisco 49ers - Super Bowl XXIX
San Francisco 49 - San Diego 26 - Margin of Victory 23
The NFC Championship game featured two of the best teams of the 1990s as San Francisco defeated the Dallas Cowboys to keep the Cowboys 3-peat aspirations just a dream. The Super Bowl was expected to be anti-climactic, and it was. Quarterback Steve Young passed for 325 yards and 6 touchdowns as the 49ers scored early and often.
Does It Matter?
Of course, it is much more exciting to watch a Super Bowl that is close and competitive. But in the end, the Super Bowl for many people is about getting together with friends and enjoying a fun evening of football and commercials.
And while blowouts are fun for the victors, these past Super Bowl winners were just happy to be raising the trophy and getting their rings.