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Ranking, remembering the first 53 Super Bowls

While everyone overanalyzes Super Bowl LIV, it’s time to take a look back at the best and worst title games. Here are my Super Bowl rankings, from worst to best:

53. XLVIII, Seattle 43, Denver 8 (at East Rutherford, New Jersey): A feeble effort from the Broncos commenced on the first play from scrimmage when an errant snap sailed past quarterback Peyton Manning for a safety. Things got progressively worse from there for Denver and its record-setting offense that was kept off balance by the hard-charging Seattle defense. The game unofficially was over when the Seahawks’ Percy Harvin returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown and a 29-0 lead. Seattle scored via safety, field goal, run, pass, interception and kick return (is there anything else?) in perhaps the most drama-free of many disappointing Super Bowls.

52. XXXV, Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7 (at Tampa, Florida): An exceedingly drab game with little drama, dominated by the Ravens defense, which rendered the Giants offense helpless while holding it without a score. The only fireworks came in bang-bang-bang succession in the third quarter, with touchdowns on successive plays by Baltimore’s Duane Starks (interception), New York’s Ron Dixon (kickoff return) and the Ravens’ Jermaine Lewis (another kickoff return).

51. XXVII, Dallas 52, Buffalo 17 (at Pasadena, California): The Bills’ capitulation was particularly appalling because they simply didn’t seem so overmatched in this game. But their slapstick nine turnovers precluded this from becoming the competitive game most envisioned. Buffalo’s only highlight was wide receiver Don Beebe streaking downfield to slap the ball out of Leon Lett’s hand before the latter would have scored one final touchdown for the rampant Cowboys.

50. XXVI, Washington 37, Buffalo 24 (at Minneapolis): More one-sided than the final might indicate, as the Redskins enjoyed 24-0 and 37-10 leads before a couple of garbage-time Buffalo touchdowns. Thurman Thomas forgetting about his helmet at the start of the game summed up a dispirited effort by the Bills.

49. XV, Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10 (at New Orleans): A disappointing showing by the Eagles, who were down 14-0 before the first quarter ended, contributed heavily to an absolute lack of drama. Three touchdown passes by Jim Plunkett and three picks by Raiders linebacker Rod Martin highlighted the surprisingly one-sided game.

48. XXII, Washington 42, Denver 10 (at San Diego): This one ceased to be a competitive game about midway through the second quarter, when the Redskins scored a startling 35 points (including four Doug Williams touchdown passes) in that period on only 18 plays. The five touchdown drives set a one-quarter Super Bowl scoring record, and it was all the more amazing because Denver had looked ready to score an early knockout of its own when it jumped to a 10-0 lead. When the carnage was complete, Washington had amassed a Super Bowl-record 602 yards, and Timmy Smith gained a record 204 yards rushing.

47. XXIV, San Francisco 55, Denver 10 (at New Orleans): The biggest-ever blowout lacked any drama. But San Francisco’s dominance was so complete and breathtaking that we felt almost privileged to watch such excellence.

46. XX, Chicago 46, New England 10 (at New Orleans): Although this was a total mismatch, it was a bit more entertaining than other title game blowouts simply because the “Super Bowl Shuffle” Bears were such a colorful and dominating bunch.

45. XXIX, San Francisco 49, San Diego 26 (at Miami): Though the final margin wasn’t quite as large as some other famous beatings, this game was every bit as one-sided as the worst of them. The 49ers appeared capable of scoring whenever they pleased before easing up in the second half.

44. XII, Oakland 32, Minnesota 14 (at Pasadena, California): The Vikings were simply manhandled in a game that lacked much intrigue after the Raiders moved easily to a 16-0 halftime lead. Oakland’s dominance was reflected in a then Super Bowl-record 266 yards rushing, with veteran Willie Brown’s 75-yard interception return touchdown a nice capper in the fourth quarter.

43. VIII, Miami 24, Minnesota 7 (at Houston): A surprisingly noncompetitive game, as most figured the Vikings, with Fran Tarkenton back at quarterback, stood a good chance. Instead, the outcome was never in doubt past the first quarter, with the Dolphins practically disdaining the pass (Bob Griese threw the ball only seven times) and instead bludgeoning the Vikings behind Larry Csonka’s 145 yards rushing.

42. XXXIII, Denver 34, Atlanta 19 (at Miami): Denver finally got to enjoy an easy Super Bowl win in a game that lacked any sustained drama, with the Broncos ahead 31-6 in the fourth quarter. In the aftermath, there would be a nice feel-good factor, as John Elway, in what would be his final game, was named Most Valuable Player after his 336-yard passing game.

41. XXVII, Dallas 30, Buffalo 13 (at Atlanta): Even when the favored Cowboys seemed to sleepwalk through the first half, trailing 13-6 at intermission, there seemed to be an inevitability that the Bills would again find a way to lose, as they had in the three previous Super Bowls. It took James Washington’s 46-yard fumble return for a third-quarter score to finally turn the tide in Dallas’ direction, and the Cowboys never seemed in danger thereafter, with Buffalo providing little resistance in the second half.

40. VI, Dallas 24, Miami 3 (at New Orleans): Although the outcome was still in doubt at halftime, when Dallas led 10-3, the Cowboys quickly took control in the third quarter.

39. XVIII, Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington 9 (at Tampa, Florida): Another good-looking matchup that failed to materialize, the outcome essentially decided by Jack Squirek’s 5-yard interception return off an ill-advised Joe Theismann screen pass five seconds before halftime. Indeed, the Raiders’ dominance was somewhat startling, with cornerbacks Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes blanketing the Washington wideouts. A number of highlight-reel runs by Marcus Allen (en route to a then-record 191 yards rushing) provided some excitement after the outcome was decided.

38. XXXVII, Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21 (at San Diego): This game was almost more interesting for its ironies (none greater than coach Jon Gruden, in his first year with the Buccaneers after leaving Oakland) than any action on the field. The Raiders made it mildly interesting in the fourth quarter, cutting a 34-3 deficit to 34-21, before the Bucs capped the game with two exclamation points in the form of two interception-return touchdowns in the final two minutes.

37. II, Green Bay 33, Oakland 14 (at Miami): The Super Bowl concept was still enough of a novelty in January 1968 that just seeing AFL and NFL teams on the same field was something special. Unlike the previous year, however, Green Bay was in control from the outset. This would eventually gain more notoriety for being Vince Lombardi’s final game as coach of the Packers.

36. XXI, New York Giants 39, Denver 20 (at Pasadena, California): This was a bit more competitive than the Broncos’ other one-sided losses, as Denver led 10-9 at halftime. But the game became a runaway before the third quarter ended when the Giants erupted behind Phil Simms’ deadly accuracy, as he completed 22 of 25 passes.

35. XIX, San Francisco 38, Miami 16 (at Palo Alto, California): Unless you were a 49ers fan, this one was a disappointment, as it failed to live up to its much-hyped shootout billing. The San Francisco defense, however, made sure there was no drama by muffling Dan Marino and his record-setting Dolphins offense, while Joe Montana toyed with an overmatched Miami defense.

34. XII, Dallas 27, Denver 10 (at New Orleans): What shaped up as an intriguing matchup failed to materialize, as Denver self-destructed with six turnovers, with quarterback Craig Morton banished to the bench in the third quarter. Although the Broncos rallied briefly behind backup Norris Weese, the Cowboys’ arsenal of weapons were too much, with a couple of spectacular scores (Butch Johnson’s acrobatic 45-yard catch from Roger Staubach, which might have been overturned had replay been in effect, and an option pass from Robert Newhouse to Golden Richards) sealing the outcome in the second half.

33. 50, Denver 24, Carolina 10 (at Santa Clara, California): No offensive showcase, but the Broncos rode their defense in a performance reminiscent of the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens to shut down Cam Newton and the NFL’s top-scoring team. Denver did not need to do much on offense because of a defense that forced four turnovers and scored the game’s first TD when game MVP Von Miller, a constant thorn in Newton’s side, stripped the Panthers quarterback on a sack and Malik Jackson recovered the fumble in the end zone. The game stayed taut until deep in the fourth quarter when Newton, who was sacked seven times, fumbled again deep in his territory. T.J. Ward’s fumble recovery preceded C.J. Anderson’s game-clinching TD in what was Broncos QB Peyton Manning’s final game.

32. VII, Miami 14, Washington 7 (at Los Angeles): Added significance because it was the final installment of the Dolphins’ 17-0 season. But the game was mostly a bore after the Dolphins took control in the first half, with the “No-Name” defense throttling the Redskins for most of the day. It became mildly interesting late in the fourth quarter after Garo Yepremian’s infamous flubbed field goal and Mike Bass’ subsequent touchdown return, but that was about the only drama.

31. XL, Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10 (at Detroit): Although there was considerable drama for a time well into the fourth quarter, this game was a bit of a disappointment and hardly a shining hour for the referees, whose series of extremely questionable calls (almost all favoring the Steelers) at crucial moments distorted the game. Pittsburgh did capitalize when presented with opportunities, however, and used big scoring plays by Willie Parker and Hines Ward to shift the momentum in the second half.

30. IX, Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6 (at New Orleans): A taut game (with a 2-0 halftime score) dominated by linebacker Jack Lambert and the Steel Curtain defense, which held the Vikings to a Super Bowl-low 117 yards. Franco Harris, with a then-record 158 yards rushing, put the game away and gave beloved Steelers owner Art Rooney his first title.

29. XXXIX, New England 24, Philadelphia 21 (at Jacksonville, Florida): The final score suggests it might warrant a better ranking. But the game never had a real flow, there were few memorable plays, and the enduring memories are of the Eagles taking their sweet time in a late drive that demanded more urgency. Then there were Terrell Owens’ postgame complaints about quarterback Donovan McNabb.

28. XLI, Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17 (at Miami): Arguably the best first quarter in Super Bowl history, featuring the first-ever opening kickoff returned for a touchdown (Chicago’s Devin Hester going 92 yards). But another first, almost an entire game played in a deluge, slowed the game thereafter and exacerbated a feeble performance by Bears quarterback Rex Grossman. Although Peyton Manning and the Colts dominated the statistical battle, Chicago gamely hung around until Kelvin Hayden’s 56-yard interception return in the fourth quarter gave Indianapolis some breathing room.

27. IV, Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7 (at New Orleans): There was always a delightful symmetry attached to this surprising result, as it evened the AFL-NFL ledger at two wins apiece before the merger and shut up the numerous “NFL supremacists” once and for all. It was more entertaining than the score suggests, with the brilliant and creative game plan of Hank Stram immortalized by NFL Films.

26. I, Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10 (at Los Angeles): Historically, perhaps the most important Super Bowl of them all. No one knew what to expect, and the fact the underdog AFL Chiefs were definitely in the game at halftime, trailing the powerful Packers 14-10, opened more than a few eyes. This one was a lot more interesting than many historians would lead you to believe.

25. XXXI, Green Bay 35, New England 21 (at New Orleans): Plenty of big plays, including a Super Bowl-record 99-yard kick return touchdown by Green Bay’s Desmond Howard and game MVP that effectively ended the upstart Patriots’ upset hopes in the third quarter. But the Packers always appeared in control, and the only late drama surrounded Green Bay’s attempts to cover the 14-point spread (a late missed field goal by Chris Jacke kept the final margin at 14).

24. XVI, San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21 (at Pontiac, Michigan): The early-version Bill Walsh 49ers didn’t have Jerry Rice or Roger Craig, but they did have Joe Montana and an underrated supporting cast that was in control of this entertaining game a bit more than the final score suggests (a last-second Cincy touchdown cut the final margin to five). Credit the Bengals for making it more interesting when rallying from a 20-0 halftime deficit. An unsung hero was 49ers kicker Ray Wersching, who hit four field goals and helped San Francisco with his effective kickoffs that consistently put the Bengals in poor field position.

23. XXX, Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17 (at Tempe, Arizona): The Steelers made this a more compelling game than many anticipated, rallying from an early 13-0 deficit to close within 20-17 in the fourth quarter, and might have pulled the upset had Cowboys defensive back and game MVP Larry Brown not made the second of his two picks off Pittsburgh’s Neil O’Donnell deep in the fourth quarter.

22. XLV, Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25 (at Arlington, Texas): This one teased at becoming a memorable classic, as the Steelers hinted at a dramatic comeback throughout the second half, but in the end, there would be no last-minute thrills. Three costly giveaways, including a poorly thrown Ben Roethlisberger pass returned for a touchdown by Nick Collins late in the first quarter, put the Steelers in an early hole.

21. LIII, New England 13, L.A. Rams 3 (at Atlanta): Though this became the lowest-scoring Super Bowl and was almost completely devoid of offensive fireworks, it was oddly compelling nonetheless as it evolved into an unexpected defensive struggle for the ages. The score was tied midway through the fourth quarter, and the outcome was in doubt until almost the final minute. But in the end, it was the sixth notch in the championship belt of Bill Belichick, whose defensive schemes stifled the potent Rams attack.

20. XXV, New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19 (at Tampa, Florida): Drama-wise, perhaps this one deserves to be rated higher, as it was not decided until Bills kicker Scott Norwood shoved his last-second 47-yard field goal just wide to the right. Norwood’s miss, however, remains the only really memorable play of a game that mostly bored because of the Giants’ ball-control tactics featuring running back Ottis Anderson and backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler, who executed a bulletproof game plan, that were brutally effective, helping the Giants control the ball for more than 40 minutes against the high-powered and favored Bills.

19. V, Baltimore 16, Dallas 13 (at Miami): Though perhaps the sloppiest Super Bowl with 11 turnovers (earning it the “Blunder Bowl” label), it nonetheless produced the first dramatic finish in the game’s history when Colts rookie Jim O’Brien nailed a 32-yard field goal with five seconds to play. Earl Morrall, one of the goats of Super Bowl III, relieved Johnny Unitas at quarterback and performed admirably for the Colts.

18. III, New York Jets 16, Baltimore 7 (at Miami): For a long while, the historical significance of this one (first AFL win after Green Bay wins the previous two years) demanded its inclusion in the top 10, although some recent thrillers have pushed Jets-Colts down the list. This one made Joe Namath famous after his brash “guarantee” of victory before the game. The Jets defense, Matt Snell (121 yards rushing and scorer of New York’s only touchdown), Jim Turner (three field goals) and Colts sloppiness (five turnovers) also figured prominently in a game that seemed almost surreal as it unfolded, since few figured the 18-point underdog Jets had a chance to stay close.

17. XVII, Washington 27, Miami 17 (at Pasadena, California): An entertaining Super Bowl that, save perhaps for John Riggins’ exploits that included a then-record 166 yards rushing and a memorable 43-yard touchdown run on a fourth-down play with 10 minutes to play that put the Redskins ahead for good, seems to have been regrettably underrated by many. The Dolphins didn’t do much offensively (only 176 yards of offense and four pass completions between David Woodley and Don Strock), but stayed close thanks to Jimmy Cefalo’s 76-yard touchdown reception and Fulton Walker’s then-record 98-yard kickoff return.

16. XIV, Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles Rams 19 (at Pasadena, California): We think this one has been a bit overlooked by Super Bowl historians, as it featured plenty of spectacular plays and a gutsy performance by the underdog Rams, behind quarterback Vince Ferragamo, who steered Los Angeles into leads after each of the first three quarters. A 25-yard halfback-option touchdown pass from Lawrence McCutcheon to Ron Smith gave the Rams their final advantage at 19-17, but the game is more remembered for the spectacular play of Steelers wideouts Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, the latter catching a 73-yard bomb from Terry Bradshaw to put the Steelers up for good at 24-19 and then effectively sealing the victory with another highlight-reel 45-yard grab to set up Franco Harris’ clinching score.

15. XXXII, Denver 31, Green Bay 24 (at San Diego): Breaking a 13-year run of NFC Super Bowl dominance, the underdog Broncos finally prevail after four previous failures in an exciting game that might be best remembered for John Elway’s “helicopter” scramble that secured a key first down on a third-quarter Denver touchdown drive. Yet it was Terrell Davis who ended up the game’s MVP with 157 yards rushing and three TDs, the last a game-winning 1-yard blast with 1:45 to play.

14. X, Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17 (at Miami): Though not regarded as highly as their Titanic battle three years hence, the “bicentennial” Pittsburgh-Dallas game was a memorable one nonetheless, if for no other reason than confirming Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann’s brilliance with a couple of unforgettable grabs (including a late 64-yard touchdown catch) en route to a then-record 161 receiving yards. No matter Swann’s heroics, this one turned out a bit closer than Pittsburgh fans would have liked because of Roger Staubach’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Percy Howard (Howard’s only career catch) with 1:48 to play. The Cowboys got the ball back in the final minute and moved close enough for Staubach to bomb toward the end zone from inside the Pittsburgh 40 in the final seconds, but Glen Edwards’ interception sealed the game on the final play.

13. XLVI, New York Giants 21, New England 17 (at Indianapolis): Eerily similar to their matchup four years earlier at Glendale, Arizona, this one was another grandstand finish that was decided in the final minute by a long Giants touchdown drive led by Eli Manning and featuring another circus deep-ball catch by one of his wideouts, this time it was Mario Manningham after David Tyree’s heroics four years earlier). Tom Brady was bombing into the end zone on the final play, but the Patriots’ cautious short-passing game and lack of big plays limited the impact of their offense throughout.

12. XXIII, San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16 (at Miami): Despite being outgained almost 2-1, Cincinnati hung tough thanks to Stanford Jennings’ 93-yard kickoff return touchdown late in the third quarter and two missed field goals by Mike Cofer. The Bengals even led 16-13 after a Jim Breech field goal with 3:20 left. But the incomparable Joe Montana cemented his place in Canton by authoring perhaps the best winning drive in Super Bowl history, taking the 49ers 92 yards to the title, culminating with a 10-yard toss to John Taylor with 34 seconds left.

11. XLIV, New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17 (at Miami): More compelling than the final score suggests, as the underdog Saints were trailing deep into the fourth quarter and didn’t put the game away until Tracy Porter’s 74-yard interception return for a touchdown with three minutes left. Although the game lacked some anticipated fireworks, it had sustained drama, with Porter’s interception and an onside kick called by New Orleans coach Sean Payton to begin the second half ranking as highlights along with quarterback Drew Brees’ near-flawless performance.

10. XIII, Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 (at Miami): Long considered the standard by which great Super Bowls should be measured, this one featured great teams, great players and great plays, though the most enduring memory might be veteran Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith dropping a sure touchdown pass that would have tied the score at 21 in the third quarter. It was also an unofficial title bout for “team of the decade,” as each had won two Super Bowls in the 1970s. A late Dallas rally cut a 35-17 deficit to 35-31. The final touchdown, scored with 22 seconds left, was heard all the way to Las Vegas, with the spread bouncing from 3½ to 4½.

9. XXXVI, New England 20, St. Louis 17 (at New Orleans): Any Super Bowl decided by a score on the final play — Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal — deserves respect. It took awhile for this one to warm up after the underdog Patriots kept the high-powered Rams at bay until the fourth quarter, when Kurt Warner rallied St. Louis from 14 points down to a 17-17 tie. Rather than play for overtime, as TV analyst John Madden infamously suggested, New England went for the win, and Tom Brady led a dramatic drive that resulted in Vinatieri’s kick.

8. XLIX, New England 28, Seattle 24 (at Glendale, Arizona): A back-and-forth game played in fits and spurts that took awhile to warm up. But just when the Seahawks seemed to have taken control in the second half, Tom Brady rallied the Patriots to a late lead before a wild final two minutes and a much discussed final sequence that blew up in Seattle’s face, when Russell Wilson was intercepted by Malcolm Butler at the 1-yard line.

7. XXXIV, St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16 (at Atlanta): Final plays don’t get much more dramatic than what we saw in XXXIV. Mike Jones tackling Titans wideout Kevin Dyson just short of the goal line qualifies as at least the most electrifying final play in Super Bowl history. Much of this game didn’t suggest such a dramatic finish, however, as the Rams moved methodically to a 16-0 lead late in the third quarter before the Titans started to rally. But this game came alive in the fourth, when Tennessee rallied to tie 16-16 before Kurt Warner’s 73-yard touchdown bomb to Isaac Bruce with 1:52 left provided the winning points and a prelude to some last-second thrills.

6. LI, New England 34, Atlanta 28, OT (at Houston): What looked like a lopsided win for the Falcons ended up being the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, with Tom Brady and the Patriots rallying from a 28-3 deficit to win the first Super Bowl decided in overtime and give the Brady-Bill Belichick combo their fifth title. Atlanta still appeared in control until midway through the fourth quarter when a series of big plays began to go New England’s way. Dont’a Hightower’s strip-sack of Falcons QB Matt Ryan gave Brady a shorter field to navigate the first of two TDs and two 2-point conversions needed to force OT. Though the thought persists that the Falcons blew the game with some dubious late-game strategy, the Patriots capitalized, and Brady was unstoppable down the stretch. The New England rally was highlighted by a sensational grab by Julian Edelman on a tipped pass during the game-tying drive.

5. XLII, New York Giants 17, New England 14 (at Glendale, Arizona): For three quarters, the 18-0 Patriots could not shake the 12-point underdog Giants and their stubborn defense. Then both teams broke into a late sprint for the finish line, with three lead changes in the final quarter. In the end, it was Eli Manning answering Tom Brady’s late touchdown drive with one of his own, capped by a 13-yard scoring pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left. A circus catch by David Tyree on New York’s final drive, after a Houdini-like escape in the pocket by Manning, rates among the best catches in Super Bowl history.

4. XLIII, Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23 (at Tampa, Florida): Big plays and a wild fourth quarter made this one a game to remember. The Steelers looked on the verge of a knockout several times, first after dominating early, then after James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half staked Pittsburgh to a 17-7 lead. The Kurt Warner-led offense awakened in the fourth quarter, and it appeared as if Larry Fitzgerald’s 64-yard TD catch with 2:37 left would give the Cardinals their first title in 61 years. But Ben Roethlisberger, who had been mostly muted since the first quarter, calmly drove Pittsburgh for the winning touchdown pass in heavy traffic to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left.

3. LII, Philadelphia 41, New England 33 (at Minneapolis): Though his NBC commentary angered many Eagles fans, Cris Collinsworth got it right when trying to describe the breathless pace of Super Bowl LII. “It’s been relentless,” Collinsworth said. And who would disagree in a game that featured only one punt and NFL offensive postseason yardage records? In the end, however, the story would be the Eagles and fill-in QB Nick Foles, who completed a magical postseason run with a near-flawless performance highlighted by his TD catch on a nervy fourth-down call by coach Doug Pederson just before halftime. Tom Brady rallied the Patriots into a brief lead in the fourth quarter, but in the end, the Bill Belichick defense failed to control Foles and the rampant Philly offense.

2. XXXVII, Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31 (at New Orleans): Into the third quarter, this one seemed more likely to rank low on the list before a turn of events with a surreal twist — a 34-minute delay caused by a partial blackout inside of the Superdome early in the second half — presaged one of the most electrifying second halves in Super Bowl history. Baltimore had been cruising until the delay, ahead 28-6 and aided by an NFL postseason record 108-yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones, before the 49ers rallied after the blackout and scored 17 consecutive points in about four minutes to narrow the deficit to 28-23. Behind suddenly hot Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco continued to apply pressure in the fourth quarter, pulling to within a missed 2-point conversion of tying the score, then threatening to steal the game when a dramatic late drive reached the Ravens’ 7-yard line in the final minutes. Baltimore would repel the threat, take a subsequent safety, then hold its breath as the 49ers’ Ted Ginn Jr. came close to breaking a punt return on the final play.

1. XXXVIII, New England 32, Carolina 29 (at Houston): A rare Super Bowl slugfest with a dramatic finish. The game was scoreless until late in the first half and took off from there. The fourth quarter might be the best 15 minutes in Super Bowl history, featuring three lead changes and 37 points. Carolina rallied to take a 22-21 lead on an 85-yard TD pass from Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad, then fell behind 29-22 on Tom Brady’s TD pass to Mike Vrabel and Kevin Faulk’s 2-point conversion. The Panthers tied the score on Delhomme’s TD pass to Ricky Proehl with 1:08 remaining, and Brady then led a textbook game-winning drive, ending in Adam Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal on the final play. The game deserves to be remembered as the best in Super Bowl history rather than Janet Jackson’s malfunctioning wardrobe at halftime.

Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is editor of The Gold Sheet (goldsheet.com).

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