The Super Bowl is a game that is to be played by the two best teams in the National Football League. At least that’s what it is supposed to be. But some years that isn’t the case. From teams of destiny, to an easy path to the Big Game, there have been a few teams in the Super Bowl who have really been head scratchers and leave you wondering, “how on earth did this team make it here?” Here are our five worst Super Bowl teams.
5. 2016 Atlanta Falcons – Lost to New England Patriots
The Falcons had the league MVP on this team in QB Matt Ryan, and one of the games great receivers in Julio Jones. However, they had a bottom tier defense and that ultimately came back to bite them. The Falcons began the year 4-1, then lost three of their next five. However, they corrected the ship to finish 11-5. They then destroyed Seattle in the divisional round and Green Bay in the conference championship. A lot of that credit goes to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan whose unit was incredible for them during the playoffs. After jumping out to a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, the defense began to crumble. They allowed 25 unanswered points in the last 17+ minutes of the game to send it to overtime. There, they gave up a touchdown on the Patriots opening drive and lost 34-28. Blowing a lead of that magnitude in any game, much less the Super Bowl, is inexcusable. That alone makes them one of the worst teams to make the Super Bowl.
4. 2008 Arizona Cardinals – Lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cardinals won the NFC West with a 9-7 record. You’d think that would be a great accomplishment and that maybe the West was absolutely grueling that year, but you’d be wrong. They were 6-0 against the Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers who were a combined 13-35 that season. So, it was kind of a shocker that a team from that division that only won three games outside of their weak divisional foes won the entire NFC. Yet, that’s what happened. In the Super Bowl, the Cardinal were driving to score a go-ahead touchdown before half when Steelers LB James Harrison intercepted Kurt Warner and returned it 100 yards for a 17-7 Steeler halftime lead. The Cardinals fought back in the 2nd half to take a 23-20 lead with 2:37 left in the game. However, the Steelers drove down and scored the winning touchdown in the final seconds on a great catch by Santonio Holmes.
3. 2007 New York Giants – Beat the New England Patriots
This is probably the most shocking Super Bowl upset of all-time, as it was incredible that the Giants were in the Super Bowl to begin with. They didn’t win their division, finishing 10-6, and they lost two of their final three games of the season, so they were hardly on a hot streak. The Giants were a Wildcard team that had a first round game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it didn’t seem like the odds of them moving through that game were high. However, they ended up breezing past Tampa, then took down the disappointing 1-seed Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round before disposing of the Green Bay Packers in the conference championship game. However, nobody gave them a chance to win the Super Bowl against the undefeated New England Patriots. Yet, they did just that. They were just the fifth team to ever win a Super Bowl as a Wildcard.
2. 2003 Carolina Panthers – Lost to the New England Patriots
The ‘03 Panthers won 11 games but only two of those victories were won by more than six points, while seven other victories were by three points or fewer. So, while they were the king of “close games” they were considered to be pretenders for most of the regular season. Their run game was average while QB Jake Delhomme was very much the definition of a game manager, putting up a 19-16 TD to INT ratio. The Panthers handily eliminated the Cowboys in the Wild Card round and then disposed of the two top-seeded teams – the St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles – in the divisional round and conference championship respectively. They played surprisingly well in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, tying the game 29-29 with just over a minute left. However, Tom Brady was not to be denied as he drove the Patriots down the field for a game-winning 41-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
1. 1979 Los Angeles Rams – Lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Rams finished the season 9-7 and went to the Super Bowl. However, as the only team with a winning record in their weak division, only two of their wins that year came against teams with winning records. Their quarterbacks – led by Pat Haden and Vince Ferragamo – combined to throw 10 more interceptions that season than touchdowns. Although their offense was one of the worst to ever make the Super Bowl, they kept it close against the Steelers, and took a three-point lead at halftime. However, the Steelers scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away. Pittsburgh QB Terry Bradshaw had three interceptions in the victory, otherwise the game might not have ended up as close as it did. The Rams were the first team in NFL history to make the Super Bowl after winning just nine games.