Nothing takes the edge off having no football for the next seven months like a lousy Super Bowl.
Make no mistake, Super Bowl LV was a lousy game.
My apologies to fans of the Bucs and Tom Brady. To you, this encounter was nothing short of glorious. The Bucs came out with one of the best defensive game plans in Super Bowl history. They ultimately reduced Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a vintage clip from the NFL Films archives of Fran Tarkenton scrambling.
When the Chiefs’ initial second half drive resulted in yet another field goal, it seemed certain that they would never cross the Bucs’ goal line. And when Brady led the Bucs 74 yards to a touchdown on their ensuing drive, it left no doubt that the outcome was no longer, ahem, in doubt.
Brady merely cemented his position as the NFL’s best quarterback, ever. He proved he didn’t need the Patriots system to win a Super Bowl.
The Chiefs spent the first half self-destructing, as if Brady needed any help. You don’t often see a team leap offside on a punt, resulting in a first down. You don’t often see two pass interference penalties amid the final four plays of a half. But that assisted the Bucs in completing a 71-yard drive in 55 seconds for a 21-6 halftime lead. Ballgame.
So, how bad was it? Ban enough to merit a spot among the Ten Worst Super Bowls of All Time:
10. Bears 46, Patriots 10, XX, 1985 season: The Bears were doing the Super Bowl Shuffle two months before the game. Buddy Ryan’s defense was legendary. New England never had a chance. But we were denied the chance to see Walter Payton score a Super Bowl touchdown. The honors instead went to 350-pound (estimated) defensive lineman William Perry.
9. Bucs 31, Chiefs 9, LV (2020): Enough said about this one already.
8. 49ers 55, Broncos 10, XXIV (1989): Denver came in after allowing a league-low 14.1 points per game. The Niners flew past that in the second quarter. In his final Super Bowl appearance, Joe Montana won his third Super Bowl MVP award. He threw for 297 yards and five touchdowns before sitting out the final 11 minutes. The Niners set Super Bowl records for points scored and victory margin.
7. Chiefs 23, Vikings 7, IV (1969): In the final NFL-AFL Super Bowl, the Chiefs totally dominated the 12-point favorite Vikings. The score was 16-0 at the half, but it might as well have been 38-0. Five turnovers, including three Joe Kapp interceptions, helped a Kansas City defense that needed no help at all. The game remains memorable for Chiefs coach Hank Stram being mic’d and exhorting his team to “keep matriculating the ball down the field.”
6. Broncos 24, Panthers 10, 50, (2015): Peyton Manning capped his Hall of Fame career with this gem. He finished 13 of 23 for a mere 141 yards, with an interception. The rootless turf at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara resulted in a show worthy of the Ice Capades. Amid much slipping and sliding, the two teams combined for six turnovers. The Broncos were outgained, 315 yards to 195, and amassed all of 11 first downs, both all-time lows for a Super Bowl winner. The two teams converted 2 of 29 third downs, producing the lowest percentage (13.8) in Super Bowl history. Small wonder that linebacker Von Miller was the game’s MVP.
5. 49ers 49, Chargers 26, XXIX, (1994): San Francisco came in as the biggest favorites in Super Bowl history — 18.5 points — and easily drubbed a team happy just to be there. Steve Young threw six touchdown passes. Joe who? The game was never in doubt, and not nearly as close as the final score indicated.
4. Colts 16, Cowboys 13, V, (1970): Forever dubbed the Blooper Bowl, this game proved that a dramatic finish cannot salvage a dismal game. The two teams committed an unfathomable 11 turnovers. Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton managed to throw three — in the fourth quarter! The last one sailed through the hands of future Falcons coach Dan Reeves and into the arms of Mike Curtis. It set up the winning 32-yard field goal by Jim O’Brien, who had missed an extra point earlier. He had also missed a 52-yard field goal attempt, which the Cowboys allowed to roll dead on their own 1-yard line. The MVP was Chuck Howley, a linebacker on the losing team.
3. Bucs 48, Raiders 21, XXXVII, (2002): The pregame storyline exceeded anything the game itself produced: Prior to the season, the Raiders had traded coach Jon Gruden to the Bucs. The Bucs won their only other Super Bowl behind a defense that intercepted Rich Gannon three times—for touchdowns. The first, by Dwight Smith, gave the Bucs a 34-3 third-quarter lead. Yawn.
2. Seahawks 43, Broncos 8, XLVIII (2013): For the third time, two No. 1 seeds met in the Super Bowl. Only one showed up. Seattle scored a safety on the first play from scrimmage, and the lead grew to 36-0 late in the third quarter. The “Legion of Boom” defense stonewalled a Peyton Manning offense that scored an NFL-record 606 points during the season. Good luck getting another Super Bowl back to the Meadowlands.
1. Ravens 34, Giants 7, XXXV (2002): The Giants only score came on a third-quarter kickoff return by Ron Dixon. Alas, the Giants allowed Jermaine Lewis to return the favor on the ensuing kickoff. The Ravens defense, led by MVP Ray Lewis, forced four Kerry Collins interceptions and 11 punts on 16 possessions. Collins rang up a passer rating of 7.1. The two teams combined for a Super Bowl record-low 396 yards. The Ravens were quarterbacked by Trent Dilfer. Enough said.