Rating the highest 10 groups of the Tremendous Bowl period: ’78 Steelers, ’72 Dolphins battle for prime spot

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Earlier than leaving Benny Rodriguez’s room, fictional Babe Ruth supplied a bit of recommendation to the aspiring younger baseball participant within the 1993 hit film “The Sandlot.” 

“Bear in mind child, there’s heroes and there is legends: Heroes get remembered, however legends by no means die.” 

The Babe’s quote can even apply to the NFL. Whereas there have been many championship groups, there are solely a handful of champions which have reached the standing of legendary. These groups proceed to reside on by means of the reminiscence of the followers who feverishly watched their crew’s championship quest. A couple of of those groups truly crossed over to popular culture, because the ’85 Bears are remembered simply as a lot for his or her iconic “Tremendous Bowl Shuffle” as they’re for Buddy Ryan’s devastating “46” protection. 

With 55 Tremendous Bowls within the books, here’s a rundown of the ten biggest groups of the Tremendous Bowl period. The standards used when creating this checklist included the crew’s total file, Corridor of Fame illustration, teaching, dominance vs. the sector, high quality of opponents, and offensive/defensive standings (largely factors scored and factors allowed). You additionally needed to win a Tremendous Bowl, which is why the 2007 Patriots didn’t make the minimize.

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10. 1999 St. Louis Rams 

  • 16-3 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Scored 526 factors (a then-NFL file) 
  • Featured HOF and league MVP Kurt Warner 

The ’99 Rams are the enduring NFL Cinderella story. A former grocery retailer clerk, Warner went from relative unknown to bona fide NFL star in a matter of weeks. Warner was the conductor of the Rams’ “Biggest Present on Turf” offense that sprinted previous opposing defenses all season. The Rams’ majestic offense additionally featured operating again Marshall Faulk (who that season grew to become the second participant to have 1,000 yards dashing and receiving in the identical season), receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, and Corridor of Fame left deal with Orlando Tempo. 

The Rams’ offense was nice, however one cause why they made the minimize was as a result of their underrated protection — a unit that held the Buccaneers to only six factors within the NFC Championship Sport. Linebacker Mike Jones’ deal with on Kevin Dyson one yard wanting the top zone accomplished the Rams’ thrilling 23-16 win over the Titans in Tremendous Bowl XXXIV. 

Kurt Warner completed his Cinderella season with an MVP efficiency in Tremendous Bowl XXXIV. 
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9. 1986 New York Giants 

  • 17-2 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Defeated the subsequent two Tremendous Bowl champions within the playoffs by a mixed rating of 66-3 
  • Featured DPOY Lawrence Taylor 

Invoice Parcells’ first of two Tremendous Bowl championship groups in New York misplaced two video games by a mixed eight factors in 1986. The Giants had been led by a hard-hitting protection that featured Corridor of Fame go rusher Lawrence Taylor and Corridor of Fame linebacker Harry Carson. The Giants’ offense was led by quarterback Phil Simms, who loved a Tremendous Bowl for the ages in opposition to the Broncos. Together with throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns, Simms accomplished 88% of his passes to guide the Giants to a 39-20 win over Denver in Tremendous Bowl XXI. 

The Giants’ Tremendous Bowl win was spectacular, however what actually stands proud is the Giants’ 49-3 romp of the 49ers (the crew that gained 4 Tremendous Bowls throughout the decade) within the divisional spherical. New York then shut out Washington 17-0 earlier than carrying then-defensive coordinator Invoice Belichick off the sector. 

  • 14-2 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Featured 11 Corridor of Fame gamers
  • Turned the primary crew to be crowed NFL and Tremendous Bowl champions 

Recent off of successful Vince Lombardi’s third title in 1965, the ’66 Packers made historical past by changing into the primary Tremendous Bowl champion. Two weeks after beating the Cowboys in some of the thrilling championship video games in NFL historical past, the Packers defeated a proficient Chiefs crew that three years later would win the ultimate recreation performed earlier than the AFL-NFL merger. 

On offense, the Packers’ bread and butter was a robust sweep that complemented the passing of Bart Starr, the MVP of the primary two Tremendous Bowls. Inexperienced Bay’s protection — given fashionable know-how — would nonetheless dominate in as we speak’s NFL. The protection (a unit that featured six Corridor of Fame gamers) allowed simply 11.6 factors per recreation that season. Security Willie Wooden’s interception of Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson turned a aggressive recreation right into a 35-10 Packers rout of the Chiefs in Tremendous Bowl I. 

7. 1998 Denver Broncos 

  • 17-2 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Featured HOF QB John Elway and HOF RB/NFL MVP Terrell Davis 
  • Outscored their three playoff opponents 95-32 

Denver efficiently defended its Tremendous Bowl XXXII championship by operating away from the sector in 1998. The Broncos gained their first 13 video games earlier than coasting to a 14-2 end. Davis (who rushed for two,008 yards that season) was the centerpiece of an offense that additionally featured Corridor of Fame quarterback John Elway, Corridor of Fame tight finish Shannon Sharpe, and two 1,000-yard receivers in Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey. The Broncos’ high-scoring offense was complemented by an aggressive protection that allowed simply two touchdowns throughout the postseason. 

The Broncos pressured 4 turnovers of their 34-19 win over the Falcons in Tremendous Bowl XXXIII, as Elway’s 336 yards and two touchdowns gave him MVP honors in his last recreation. The ’98 Broncos would have been increased had they been given the possibility to defeat the Vikings (who had gone 15-1 throughout the season earlier than being upset by Atlanta within the NFC title recreation) within the Tremendous Bowl. 

Elway and Davis keyed Denver’s back-to-back championship run. 
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6. 1976 Oakland Raiders 

  • 16-1 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Featured seven HOF gamers and HOF coach John Madden 
  • Defeated the defending two-time champion Steelers within the AFC title recreation 

The Raiders wore the battle scars of three consecutive losses within the AFC Championship Sport. John Madden’s battle-hardened crew would not be denied in ’76, regardless of being the league’s most penalized crew. Led by Ken Stabler, a proficient receiving corps and a dominant offensive line that featured Corridor of Famers Gene Upshaw and Artwork Shell, the Raiders ran over the two-time defending champion Steelers within the AFC Championship Sport, 24-7. 

In Tremendous Bowl XI, Oakland rushed for a then-Tremendous Bowl file 266 yards in opposition to the Vikings’ famed “Purple Folks Eater” line of defense. The Raiders’ intimidating protection put the exclamation level on Oakland’s 32-14 win after Willie Brown scored on a 75-yard pick-six. The Raiders’ first championship might have cracked the highest 5 if not for needing a good name in opposition to the Patriots within the divisional spherical, together with the truth that they defeated a Steelers crew that performed with out 1,000-yard operating backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. 

5. 1992 Cowboys 

  • 16-3 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Featured “The Triplets” and the “Nice Wall of Dallas” offensive line 
  • Three playoff wins by a mixed rating of 116-47

Three years after going 1-15, Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones reaped the fruit of their labor in 1992. Johnson parlayed the best commerce in NFL historical past right into a loaded Cowboys roster that might win three Tremendous Bowls in a four-year span. The ’92 Cowboys, the crew’s first championship squad of the ’90s, was the most effective of the bunch. After successful an NFC East division that included the earlier two Tremendous Bowl champions, the Cowboys defeated a proficient Eagles crew within the divisional spherical earlier than taking down league MVP Steve Younger and the remainder of the 49ers at Candlestick Park. 

In Tremendous Bowl XXVII, Troy Aikman bewildered the Payments‘ protection to the tune of 273 yards and 4 landing passes. Two of Aikman’s touchdowns had been caught by Corridor of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, whereas Corridor of Fame operating again Emmitt Smith rushed for 108 yards whereas changing into the primary dashing champion to win the Tremendous Bowl. Dallas’ typically missed protection, led by Corridor of Fame go rusher Charles Haley, pressured 9 turnovers whereas scoring two touchdowns within the Cowboys’ 52-17 romp. 

4. 1984 San Francisco 49ers 

  • 18-1 file (together with playoffs)
  • Defeated the subsequent two Tremendous Bowl champions within the playoffs by a mixed rating of 44-10
  • Shut out Dan Marino and the Dolphins‘ prolific offense throughout the second half of Tremendous Bowl XIX 

Forgive the 49ers for feeling disrespected within the lead as much as Tremendous Bowl XIX. Regardless of successful 15 regular-season video games, fielding the league’s top-ranked protection and second-ranked offense and defeating the Giants (21-10) and Bears (23-0) within the playoffs, the 49ers had been largely overshadowed by the Dolphins and quarterback Dan Marino, who shattered the league’s single-season passing file en path to an MVP season. As a substitute of firing off bulletin board materials, the 49ers took their frustrations out on the Dolphins. San Francisco’s protection — a unit that featured Corridor of Fame security Ronnie Lott and three different Professional Bowlers within the secondary — picked off Marino twice within the second half. 

Whereas Marino was operating for his life, Montana raced into the historical past books. Together with operating for extra yards (59) than any earlier quarterback within the Tremendous Bowl, Montana threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns. The 49ers’ 38-16 win is a testomony to the general dominance of that crew, a crew that’s typically missed within the annals of Tremendous Bowl championship groups. 

Roger Craig hurdled over the Dolphins to change into the primary participant to attain three touchdowns within the Tremendous Bowl. 
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3. 1985 Chicago Bears 

  • 18-1 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Featured Buddy Ryan’s famed “46” protection 
  • Allowed 10 complete factors in three playoff video games 

In contrast to the ’84 49ers, there isn’t any lack of fanfare surrounding arguably probably the most celebrated earlier Tremendous Bowl champion. The ’85 Bears weren’t solely Chicago royalty, they quickly stole the Cowboys’ tag line as “America’s Staff” throughout their one-year run by means of the NFL. After a sluggish begin, Ryan’s protection went on a roll after holding Montana and the 49ers to only 10 factors in Week 6. Over the subsequent 13 video games, Chicago’s protection tallied 4 shutouts and held all however one opponent to 17 factors or much less. In addition they despatched an unofficial file for quarterback knockouts whereas solidifying their standing as probably probably the most intimidating protection in league historical past. 

Fittingly, defensive finish Richard Dent gained Tremendous Bowl MVP honors after being a part of a Bears protection that pressured six turnovers whereas holding the Patriots to a Tremendous Bowl-low seven dashing yards. Quarterback Jim McMahon led the Bears on seven scoring drives, as Corridor of Fame operating again Walter Payton gained his first and solely Tremendous Bowl. The Bears might have completed increased on this checklist had they confronted Marino and the Dolphins — the one crew that defeated them throughout the common season — in a Tremendous Bowl rematch. 

2. 1972 Miami Dolphins 

  • 17-0 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Featured the league’s top-ranked offense and protection 
  • Shut out Washington’s offense in Tremendous Bowl VII 

Almost 50 years later, the ’72 Dolphins stay the NFL’s solely good crew. They featured a dominant “No Identify” protection (led by Nick Buoniconti, Manny Fernandez and Tremendous Bowl MVP Jake Scott) that allowed 17 factors or much less 14 instances. Miami’s offense boasted the primary pair of teammates to every run for over 1,000 yards in a season in Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris. When the Dolphins did throw, Miami followers had been handled to the balletic play of Corridor of Fame receiver Paul Warfield. 

Hungry to avenge their 24-3 loss to the Cowboys in Tremendous Bowl VI, Don Shula’s crew didn’t lose a single recreation en path to defeating the Browns and Steelers (on the highway, no much less) within the playoffs earlier than out-playing Washington in Tremendous Bowl VII. Miami would have recorded the one shutout in Tremendous Bowl historical past if not for some of the iconic blunders in NFL historical past. The Dolphins can proceed to take delight in being the NFL’s solely unblemished crew, however the truth that they confronted only one crew (an 8-6 Chiefs crew) that completed with a successful file throughout the regular-season left them one spot off the highest of this checklist. 

1. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers 

  • 17-2 total file (together with playoffs)
  • Featured 10 Corridor of Fame gamers 
  • Dethroned the Cowboys in Tremendous Bowl XIII 

Earlier than the ’78 season started, the league’s Competitors Committee enforced guidelines that inspired increased scoring and fewer contact from defensive backs. Many suspected that the brand new guidelines (one was unofficially named in honor of Steelers cornerback Mel Blount) had been put in place to decelerate the Steelers, who had gained back-to-back titles earlier within the decade. As a substitute, the Steelers would go on to win the subsequent two Tremendous Bowls. Coach Chuck Noll unleashed quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who gained league and Tremendous Bowl MVP honors. Within the playoffs, Pittsburgh’s offense put up 33 factors on the defending AFC champion Broncos, 34 on the Oilers after which 35 on the Cowboys’ “Doomsday” protection in Tremendous Bowl XIII. Receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth every recorded 100-yard receiving days in opposition to the Cowboys, whereas Corridor of Fame operating again Franco Harris gave the Steelers a double-digit lead on a 22-yard scoring run. 

Whereas a bit of older, Pittsburgh’s “Metal Curtain” protection was nonetheless enjoying at an all-time stage in 1978. Led by two-time DPOY Joe Greene, Blount, L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Donnie Shell, the Steelers’ protection allowed a league-low 12.2 factors per recreation throughout the common season. They allowed simply 15 factors in Pittsburgh’s first two playoff video games earlier than holding the Cowboys’ high-octane offense to only 17 factors for the primary 57 minutes of Tremendous Bowl XIII. The ’78 Steelers boasted a star-studded roster, a Corridor of Fame entrance workplace, and a group of gamers who gained a file 4 Tremendous Bowls in a six-year span. 

Greene, Harris and Blount rejoice Harris’ back-breaking landing in Tremendous Bowl XIII. 
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