The History of the Super Bowl

Super Bowl History

The modern era of Super Bowl history begins not when the league was founded in 1920, but on January 15th, 1967 when the National Football League (NFL) played the rival American Football League (NFL) in what was originally dubbed the "NFL-AFL Championship Game". That game, and the eventual merger between the two leagues, only came about because a few disgruntled want-to-be NFL owners go frustrated in 1960 and created the AFL. After coaxing the general public in the direction of supporting a merger, the NFL and AFL agreed to merge in 1966. The agreement between the two leagues stipulated that they merge by 1970, although that elongated timeline still allowed the two leagues to begin playing the 1967 AFL-NFL Championship Game between the NFL's Green Bay Packers and the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers won that game 35-10, but what may have been most important was the suggestion by then Chiefs' owner Lamar Hunt's son who suggested the leagues call the game the "Super Bowl". The NFL-AFL Championship Game namesake was then tossed aside for the Super Bowl. The names of the leagues have changed as well once they officially merged in 1970, as the NFL is now the umbrella of which the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) play. The NFC is made up of the teams that were part of the original National Football League, while the AFC is made up of teams from the American Football League. Of course, a few expansion teams have also been added to both sides since the 1960s.

Super Bowl history started with the Green Bay Packers getting crowned the champion for the first two iterations of the game before Joe Namath was able to secure what would eventually become the Lombardi Trophy in 1969. The Jet’s win that season started a four-year run of parity before the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Oakland Raiders would go on to win a combined eight of nine Super Bowls during the 1970s and into 1980. Following that run of AFC dominance, the NFC would go on its own run of dominance as the conference would win 15 of the 16 Super Bowls between 1981 and 1996 on the backs of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys dynasties. Largely due to the sustained excellence of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick dynasty in New England, the record between the conferences is nearly even, with the NFC leading the AFC by a score of 27-25.

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Super Bowl Winning Coaches

Bill BelichickThere is a proud history of Super Bowl winning coaches. It birthed the legend of Vince Lombardi, for whom the game’s trophy is now named, when his Packers won the first two Super Bowl games ever played. It popularized the legend of Chuck Noll’s ‘Steel Curtain’ Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, setting a new standard for defensive excellence. Bill Walsh’s revolutionary ‘west coast’ passing attack led him to three Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and paved the way for the modern NFL offense. Joe Gibbs became the only coach ever to win Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks. In 2007, Tony Dungy became the first black coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, followed shortly after by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in 2009. Bill Belichick earned his record fifth Super Bowl title in 2017 in epic comeback fashion, and added a sixth in 2019.

Super Bowl Winning Quarterbacks

Tom BradyThere is a widespread belief in the NFL that elite quarterback play is a prerequisite for a Super Bowl title. That isn’t necessarily true, but the history of the game certainly supports that your odds of winning are drastically reduced without great quarterback play. The first eight quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl—Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Johnny Unitas Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw and Ken Stabler—are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If you look back at any NFL team with a realistic claim to being a dynasty, you will find a Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm, from Starr to Montana to Brady. There is an inescapable connection between elite quarterback play and Super Bowl success.

Defenses That Won the Super Bowl

The phrase "defense wins championships" has proven to be true throughout Super Bowl history. Few teams in NFL history have won the Super Bowl without an above-average scoring defense, with only eight teams ever winning the big game without a scoring defense that was in the top third of all defenses in the key stat. Some of the most famous defenses in the league have been the driving force of many championship teams, with Check Noll's "Steel Curtain" Steelers and the '85 Bears two of the most well-known defenses to do so. Many of the teams to win the Super Bowl since 2000 have also featured vaunted defenses, such as the 2000 Ravens, the 2002 Buccaneers, and the "Legion of Boom" Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Defense has proved vital specifically over the past nine seasons, as the Cincinnati Bengals 20 points marked the sixth time that the runner-up finished with 20 or fewer points. With that said, over the same time frame, there have been as many teams to score more than 20 points as there have been that have scored less than 10 points (3). The NFL may be a "quarterback-driven league" but the adage that "defense wins championships" continues to be nearly as important.

HISTORY

Past Super Bowl Scores And Results

Date Super Bowl Result MVP
Feb. 13th, 2022 LVI Los Angeles Rams 23, Cincinnati Bengals 20 Cooper Kupp
Feb. 7, 2021 LV Tampa Bay 31, Kansas City 9 Tom Brady
Feb. 2, 2020 LIV Kansas City 31, San Francisco 20 Patrick Mahomes
Feb. 3, 2019 LIII New England 13, Los Angeles Rams 3 Julian Edelman
Feb. 4, 2018 LII Philadelphia 41, New England 33 Nick Foles
Feb. 5, 2017 LI New England 34, Atlanta 28 (OT) Tom Brady
Feb. 7, 2016 50 Denver 24, Carolina 10 Von Miller
Feb. 1, 2015 XLIX New England 28, Seattle 24 Tom Brady
Feb. 2, 2014 XLVIII Seattle 43, Denver 8 Malcolm Smith
Feb. 3, 2013 XLVII Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31 Joe Flacco
Feb. 5, 2012 XLVI Giants 21, New England 17 Eli Manning
Feb. 6, 2011 XLV Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25 Aaron Rodgers
Feb. 7, 2010 XLIV New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17 Drew Brees
Feb. 1, 2009 XLIII Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23 Santonio Holmes
Feb. 3, 2008 XLII Giants 17, New England 14 Eli Manning
Feb. 4, 2007 XLI Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17 Peyton Manning
Feb. 5, 2006 XL Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10 Hines Ward
Feb. 6, 2005 XXXIX New England 24, Philadelphia 21 Deion Branch
Feb. 1, 2004 XXXVIII New England 32, Carolina 29 Tom Brady
Jan. 26, 2003 XXXVII Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21 Dexter Jackson
Feb. 3, 2002 XXXVI New England 20, St. Louis 17 Tom Brady
Jan. 28, 2001 XXXV Baltimore 34, Giants 7 Ray Lewis
Jan. 30, 2000 XXXIV St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16 Kurt Warner
Jan. 31, 1999 XXXIII Denver 34, Atlanta 19 John Elway
Jan. 25, 1998 XXXII Denver 31, Green Bay 24 Terrell Davis
Jan. 26, 1997 XXXI Green Bay 35, New England 21 Desmond Howard
Jan. 28, 1996 XXX Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17 Larry Brown
Jan. 29, 1995 XXIX San Francisco 49, San Diego 26 Steve Young
Jan. 30, 1994 XXVIII Dallas 30, Buffalo 13 Emmitt Smith
Jan. 31, 1993 XXVII Dallas 52, Buffalo 17 Troy Aikman
Jan. 26, 1992 XXVI Washington 37, Buffalo 24 Mark Rypien
Jan. 27, 1991 XXV New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19 Ottis Anderson
Jan. 28, 1990 XXIV San Francisco 55, Denver 10 Joe Montana
Jan. 22, 1989 XXIII San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16 Jerry Rice
Jan. 31, 1988 XXII Washington 42, Denver 10 Doug Williams
Jan. 25, 1987 XXI New York Giants 39, Denver 20 Phil Simms
Jan. 26, 1986 XX Chicago 46, New England 10 Richard Dent
Jan. 20, 1985 XIX San Francisco 38, Miami 16 Joe Montana
Jan. 22, 1984 XVIII Los Angeles 38, Washington 9 Marcus Allen
Jan. 30, 1983 XVII Washington 27, Miami 17 John Riggins
Jan. 24, 1982 XVI San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21 Joe Montana
Jan. 25, 1981 XV Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10 Jim Plunkett
Jan. 20, 1980 XIV Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles 19 Terry Bradshaw
Jan. 21, 1979 XIII Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 Terry Bradshaw
Jan. 15, 1978 XII Dallas 27, Denver 10 H. Martin, R. White
Jan. 9, 1977 XI Oakland 32, Minnesota 14 Fred Biletnikoff
Jan. 18, 1976 X Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17 Lynn Swann
Jan. 12, 1975 IX Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6 Franco Harris
Jan. 13, 1974 VIII Miami 24, Minnesota 7 Larry Csonka
Jan. 14, 1973 VII Miami 14, Washington 7 Jake Scott
Jan. 16, 1972 VI Dallas 24, Miami 3 Roger Staubach
Jan. 17, 1971 V Baltimore 16, Dallas 13 Chuck Howley
Jan. 11, 1970 IV Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7 Len Dawson
Jan. 12, 1969 III Jets 16, Baltimore 7 Joe Namath
Jan. 14, 1968 II Green Bay 33, Oakland 14 Bart Starr
Jan. 15, 1967 I Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10 Bart Starr