Ranking the 15 Greatest Ends in Super Bowl History: Giants-Patriots Games, 49ers-Chiefs Wild Finish Make the Cut

While that’s not always the case, Super Bowl LVIII more than lived up to the hype. Indeed, you could say that the Chiefs’ overtime win actually exceeded any expectations because it was the longest Super Bowl ever.

Kansas City’s 25-22 win added to the list of 15 Super Bowls that those watching won’t soon forget. Some of them contributed to dynasties, while one particular finish prevented a dynasty from adding a full season to its long list of all-time.

This list was created using the following criteria:

  • Exciting dramas
  • How the game actually ended
  • The time in which the game-winning score was scored
  • The predictability factor
  • Historical significance

Honorable mention: Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens 34, 49ers 31

A 35-minute power outage seemed to change the complexion of the game. Trailing 28-6 before the outage, the 49ers were a 2-point conversion away from tying the score with 10 minutes left. Down 34-29, they landed at the Ravens’ 5-yard line and were in position to win the game. As good as he was at running back 49ers, Colin Kaepernick was a little off on his fourth-down pass to Michael Crabtree that was slightly overturned. The 49ers’ last gasp attempt at victory was extinguished when Josh Bynes tackled Ted Ginn Jr. just short of midfield on the final play of the game.

15. Super Bowl X: Steelers 21, Cowboys 17

File this under the “That would never happen in today’s NFL” category: Leading 21-17 and facing a fourth-and-9 at the Cowboys’ 41-yard line with 1:28 left, Steelers coach Chuck Noll made the call. A running play That gained 2 yards. Noll’s questionable decision was due to his punter/kicker conflict that day as well as his confidence in the defense. Noll’s faith was rewarded when safety Mike Wagner deflected Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary throw into the Steelers’ end zone on the final play of the game. The pass was picked off by fellow safety Glenn Edwards, whose 35-yard return keyed seconds remaining on the game clock.

14. Super Bowl XLVI: Giants 21, Patriots 17

A perpetual thorn in New England’s side, Eli Manning’s jaw-dropping 38-yard completion to Mario Manningham with 3:46 left started the Giants’ lead. It was the height of this end, however, the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw literally stumbled into history because the Patriots allowed him to score to give Brady more time. Brady got close enough to launch a last-second Hail Mary into the Giants’ end zone. The ball was deflected before evading Rob Gronkowski’s outstretched arms.

13. Super Bowl LII: Eagles 41, Patriots 33

People forget that the Eagles were actually trailing in this game before Nick Foles took the lead on Zach Ertz’s 11-yard touchdown pass with 2:21 left. Philadelphia extended its lead to eight points with a field goal after Derek Barnett recovered Tom Brady’s forced fumble by Brandon Graham. Just like in Super Bowl XLVI, Brady was able to get the Patriots into the end zone for the last second. With the entire city of Philadelphia holding its breath, Brady’s pass once again landed harmlessly on the turf, as Eagles fans could finally celebrate the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.

12. Super Bowl V: Colts 16, Cowboys 13

In the first Super Bowl decided on a last-minute field goal, Jim O’Brien’s 32-yard boot gave the Colts the lead for good with five seconds left. Baltimore linebacker Mike Curtis set up O’Brien’s game-winning kick with 1:09 left. A sloppy game that included 11 turnovers ended.

11. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots 32, Panthers 29

A repeat of the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win two years earlier. This one had a little less suspense, however, as we had already seen Brady pull off a last-minute, game-winning drive in the Super Bowl. Another Adam Vinatieri game-winning kick appeared inevitable when Carolina tied the score with 1:08 remaining when Panthers kicker John Casey tipped his kickoff out of bounds — giving Brady a small field to work with. Three completions from Troy Brown and a 17-yard completion from Brady to Dion Branch set up Vinatieri’s 41-yard boot with four seconds left.

While the ending was somewhat controversial, this was one of the best fourth quarters in Super Bowl history, as a record 37 points were scored during the game’s final 15 minutes.

10. Super Bowl XXXII: Broncos 31, Packers 24

In a back-and-forth battle, the Broncos took the lead for good after the Packers intentionally allowed Denver to score with 1:47 left. Brett Favre quickly drove the defending champions into Broncos territory before misfiring on two straight passes. Facing a fourth-and-6 at the Broncos’ 31, Favre’s final pass was batted away by Broncos linebacker John Mobley, as the Broncos took over on downs with 28 seconds left. John Elway won his first ring, while Terrell Davis won MVP honors after rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. The Broncos’ win snapped the NFC’s 13-game Super Bowl winning streak.

9. Super Bowl LI: Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (OT)

The Patriots forced overtime after completing a 91-yard scoring drive with a minute left in regulation. Down 28-3 midway through the third quarter, New England tied it late in the fourth when James White scored from one yard out. The game officially went to overtime after Matt Ryan was unable to connect with Austin Hooper on a third-down pass with 11 seconds left.

Because of the history of Brady and the Patriots, along with what happened during the second half, there wasn’t much suspense left when the Patriots won the overtime toss. Like thieves in broad daylight, the Patriots stole the game and the Falcons’ hearts on the first drive of overtime. New England’s highly efficient drive — which took less than four minutes — ended with White’s 2-yard touchdown run. Brady surpassed Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the winningest quarterback in Super Bowl annals.

8. Super Bowl XXIII: 49ers 20, Bengals 16

Trailing 16-13, the 49ers successfully marched 92 yards in 11 plays over the final three minutes of the game. Game MVP Jerry Rice caught three of his 11 receptions on the drive, but it was used on Joe Montana’s game-winning touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left. A short completion, a sack and two incomplete passes on the Bengals’ next drive gave the 49ers their third Super Bowl win of the ’80s, the final game of Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh’s career.

7. Super Bowl LVIII: Chiefs 25, 49ers 22 (OT)

It was a great finish by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Twice, the 49ers took a late lead, but Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense answered both times. The second time the game ended, Mahomes hit McCall Hardman for the game-winning score after the 49ers started overtime with a field goal.

6. Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots 20, Rams 17

Down 17-3, the Rams scored two late touchdowns and appeared to be on their way to forcing overtime. But Warner and the Rams offense never got the ball back after Tom Brady set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning, 48-yard field goal as time expired. Brady completed five of his first seven passes on the drive including a 23-yard hook-up with Troy Brown that got the Patriots into Rams territory. Vinatieri then recorded the first walk-off field goal in Super Bowl history.

5. Super Bowl XXV: Giants 20, Bills 19

First Super Bowl where the winner or loser will be decided by field-goal attempt. Fortunately for the Giants, Scott Norwood’s 47-yard attempt was wide, preserving the narrowest margin of victory in Super Bowl history. The Bills drove 61 yards in eight plays with eight seconds left before Norwood’s miss. Most of those yards were gained by Bills running back Thurman Thomas, who had 190 all-purpose yards in the losing effort.

4. Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

Pittsburgh appeared to have the game in the bag until two Larry Fitzgerald touchdowns (the second in a 64-yard drive) gave Arizona a 23–20 lead with 2:37 left. Backed up at his own 12-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger drove on a 14-yard completion to Nate Washington on first-and-20. His completion to Santonio Holmes two plays later kept the drive alive, while his 40-yard pass to Holmes three plays later set the Steelers up for the game-winning score.

Roethlisberger and Holmes then connected on one of the most incredible plays in Super Bowl history. After buying time for what seemed like an eternity, Roethlisberger fired a high pass that was intercepted by Holmes in the back corner of the end zone. Holmes was somehow able to get both leg parts inbounds while securing the catch. With 29 seconds left, Kurt Warner completed two passes to give the Cardinals a lead from midfield. Arizona wouldn’t stand a chance at the Hail Mary, however, as Lamar Woodley strip-barked Warner just as he was about to throw out. The game ended with Roethlisberger taking a knee while securing the Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl victory.

3. Super Bowl XXXIV: Rams 23, Titans 16

This finish was really wild. One play after the Titans tied the score, the Rams took the lead back on Kurt Warner’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce. The resilient Titans then marched from their own 12 to the Rams’ 10-yard line in the game’s final two minutes. On the final play of the game, Titans quarterback Steve McNair — who had managed to break two tackles before a 16-yard completion on the previous play — hit receiver Kevin Dyson on a slant pass. Dyson initially looked like he was on his way to a potential game-tying score before Rams linebacker Mike Jones — who turned his head just as McNair dropped his pass — intercepted Dyson 1 yard short of the goal line.

2. Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

Quite possibly his most under-appreciated Super Bowl, Tom Brady’s two fourth-quarter touchdown passes gave the Patriots a four-point lead. Russell Wilson kept the defending champions alive by head-scratching Jermaine Kearse on a 33-yarder that initially looked like an incomplete pass. But then Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made an equally head-scratching play by choosing to throw from the 1-yard line instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch. Seattle fans are still mourning that decision, as Wilson’s pass was picked off by Malcolm Butler with 26 seconds left. The pick sealed the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win in a decade.

1. Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14

The most action-packed final 75 seconds in Super Bowl history. It started with Eli Manning’s jaw dropping, 32-yard completion to David Tyree who used the side of his helmet to catch the ball. Manning then gave the Giants a stunning 17-14 lead when he hit Plexico Buress in the end zone with 39 seconds left.

However, the Patriots weren’t done yet, as Brady and Randy Moss nearly connected on a frustrating fourth-down deep pass that would have put New England in field goal range with two seconds left. Brady, who threw the ball nearly 85 yards on the play, just missed connecting with Moss as the Giants took over on downs with one second left.

New England fell painfully short of becoming the first 19-0 team in NFL history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *