Not all Super Bowl runners-up are created equal. Out of the 54 Super Bowl “losers,” there are handful of teams that fell short in the Big Game that, had a few other things gone their way (or a lot of things, in a few cases), they would have been the team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. Several teams lost the Super Bowl just a year after winning it, while a few other teams would win their first Super Bowl within a few years of coming up short. One team famously never made it back to the Big Game despite featuring one of the greatest players in league history.
While there are a slew of lists out there dedicated to the naming the top teams that won the Super Bowl, we decided to pay homage to the top 12 teams that did not get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Our criteria when making this list included overall record, league standings, how well they played in their Super Bowl loss, and talent as it related to the players as well as the coaching staff.
12. 1966 Kansas City Chiefs
We kick things off with the first team that represented the AFL in the Super Bowl. A star-studded team that included quarterback Len Dawson, running back Mike Garrett, receiver Otis Taylor, defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, linebacker Bobby Bell, safety Johnny Robinson and head coach Hank Stram, the ’66 Chiefs averaged over 32 while finishing second in the AFL in fewest points allowed. In the ’66 AFL title game, two touchdown passes by Dawson, a pair of touchdown runs by Garrett and two interceptions of All-Pro Bills quarterback Jack Kemp led Kansas City to a 31-7 win.
Facing the mighty Packers in Super Bowl I, the Chiefs fought to pull to within four points at halftime. An interception by Dawson early in the second half, however, opened the floodgates, as the Packers pulled away for a 35-10 victory. The Chiefs’ offense struggled to sustain momentum against the Packers’ talented defense, while Green Bay receiver Max McGee stole the show with his seven-catch, 138-yard, two-touchdown performance.
“We looked at them very carefully in the film, and we realized they had excellent personnel,” Packers Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Robinson recently told CBS Sports when looking back on the Chiefs, who would become the second (and final) AFL team to win the Super Bowl in January 1970. “The manpower was great, really great football players. But they lacked a little bit of the techniques that we were used to. So we had to take advantage of the different techniques. It wasn’t so much their fault as it was the rest of the AFL. The defense weren’t that strong in the AFL, and so they had never experienced the things we did and the type of football we bring. We had an advantage right there, that was the big thing going for us.
“After they had interleague play, the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders showed their true mettle, and they became very very good teams. All they need was inner league play so they had that experience playing against better defenses.”
11. 1973 Minnesota Vikings
Bud Grant’s Vikings appeared in four Super Bowls from 1969-76, but the ’73 squad may have been the best from that bunch.
On offense, the ’73 Vikings were led by Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, Hall of Fame tackle Ron Yary, versatile running back Chuck Foreman and Pro Bowl receiver John Gilliam. While their offense was among the best in football, the strength of the Vikings was their famed “Purple People Eater” defense, a unit that was anchored by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page, Hall of Fame safety Paul Krause and defensive ends Jim Marshall and Carl Eller.
After a 12-2 regular season, Minnesota defeated Washington and Dallas — the two teams that had represented the NFL in the previous three Super Bowls — in the playoffs. But after facing little resistance during most of the season, the Vikings were no match for Don Shula’s Dolphins, a team that lost just two games that season after going undefeated the previous year. With their offense unable to muster any momentum against Miami’s “No Name” defense, the Vikings’ defense fell victim to an unrelenting Dolphins rushing attack, led by fullback Larry Csonka, whose 145 yards and two touchdowns helped Miami take a 24-0 lead into the fourth quarter en route to a 24-7 victory.
The Vikings would make it back to the Super Bowl two more times over the next three seasons, falling to the Steelers in Super Bowl IX and the Raiders in Super Bowl XI. Despite Hall of Fame talent on both sides of the field, the Vikings became the first team to lose four Super Bowls.
10. 1984 Miami Dolphins
Don Shula’s sixth and final Super Bowl team, the ’84 Dolphins were led by second-year quarterback Dan Marino, who took home MVP honors after setting then-NFL single-season records for passing yards (5,084) and touchdown passes (48). Marino, along with receivers Mark Duper, Mark Clayton and Hall of Fame center Dwight Stephenson, headlined an offense that led the NFL in scoring. Miami’s “Killer B” defense, led by nose tackle Bob Baumhower, Doug Betters (14 sacks), linebacker A.J. Duhe and safety Glenn Blackwood (six interceptions), allowed just 18.6 points per game. The Dolphins went 14-2 during the regular season before outscoring the Seahawks and Steelers in the AFC playoffs by a combined score of 76-38.
Miami dictated the pace at the start of Super Bowl XIX, as Marino’s first-quarter touchdown pass gave it an early 10-7 lead. But Joe Montana would eventually take control of the game, throwing for a then-Super Bowl record 333 yards and three touchdowns. Montana also rushed for a score while picking up 59 yards on the ground, a then-Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
While he threw for 318 yards (which tied him with Terry Bradshaw for the second-most in Super Bowl history behind Montana), Marino, facing an unyielding 49ers pass rush, threw two second-half interceptions while failing to put together a single scoring drive. The Dolphins’ defense could do little to stop Montana and running back Roger Craig (the first player in Super Bowl history to score three touchdowns) in San Francisco’s 38-16 win. It would be the one and only Super Bowl appearance for Marino, who retired 15 years later as the greatest quarterback that did not win the Big One.
9. 2015 Carolina Panthers
While they may not have boasted an all-time roster, the ’15 Panthers enjoyed a historic season, joining the ’84 49ers, ’85 Bears, ’98 Vikings, ’04 Steelers, ’07 Patriots and ’11 Packers as the only teams in league history to win at least 15 regular-season games. The Panthers, a team that fielded nine Pro Bowlers that season, were led on offense by MVP Cam Newton, who became the first player in league history to throw 35 touchdowns and run for 10 scores in the same season. The Panthers’ defense was anchored by linebacker Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and cornerback Josh Norman, who each took home All-Pro honors while leading a unit that finished sixth in the league in fewest points allowed.
In the second round of the playoffs, the Panthers took a 31-0 lead before holding off a furious comeback attempt by the defending two-time NFC champion Seahawks. Carolina did not take its foot off the pedal the next week against the Cardinals, running out to a 34-7 lead en route to a 49-15 victory. Newton amassed 382 yards and four touchdowns in the win, while Kuechly capped off the win by returning the Panthers’ fourth interception of quarterback Carson Palmer for a touchdown.
The Panthers were unable to get off to a fast start in Super Bowl 50, however, as Peyton Manning — playing in his final NFL game — helped give the Broncos a 13-7 halftime lead. While Carolina’s defense rose to the challenge in the second half (allowing just 83 total yards after intermission), the Panthers’ offense never figured out how to contain Von Miller, who won MVP honors after recording six tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles of Newton, who was sacked six times while completing just 18 of his 41 pass attempts. Miller’s second forced fumble set up the Broncos’ game-clinching score with 3:08 left, as the Panthers became the first team to lose in the Super Bowl after going 15-1 during the regular season.
8. 1983 Washington Redskins
After winning the Super Bowl (and compiling a 12-1 record during the strike-shortened 1982 season) the previous year, Joe Gibbs’ Redskins were close to joining the ranks of the greatest teams of all time after winning 17 of 19 games entering Super Bowl XVIII. Washington’s offense, led by Hall of Fame running back John Riggins, the iconic “Hogs” offensive line, a talented receiving corps (nicknamed “The Smurfs”) and quarterback Joe Theismann, scored a then-NFL record 541 points during the regular season.
Washington’s defense, led by Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, safety Mark Murphy (nine interceptions), defensive tackle Dave Butz (11.5 sacks) and defensive end Dexter Manley (11 sacks), finished 11th in the league in scoring defense during the regular season. They held Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson to a paltry 16 rushing yards in Washington’s 51-7 win over the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Redskins punched their second straight Super Bowl ticket after just getting past Joe Montana and the 49ers in the NFC title game.
The Redskins’ Super Bowl opponent would be a Raiders team that Washington had defeated back in Week 5, 37-35. Washington, however, was no match for the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII, as Los Angeles cornerbacks Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes bottled up the Redskins’ formidable receiving duo of Charlie Brown and Art Monk. Raiders linebacker Jack Squirek’s pick-six of Theismann late in the second quarter gave Los Angeles a 21-3 halftime lead. Super Bowl MVP Marcus Allen’s two third-quarter touchdown runs (including his then-Super Bowl record 74-yard scoring run) put the game on ice. Riggins, the MVP of the previous year’s Super Bowl, rushed for just 64 yards on 26 carries. It remains one of the most shocking outcomes in Super Bowl history.
“When I was watching those guys warm up, I just didn’t have a sense that they respected us at all,” Haynes recently told CBS Sports when reflecting on the Raiders’ improbable win. “Everybody else we played, they seemed to have a sense of who we were and what kind of game we played. They didn’t. I figured it must be because they beat the Raiders earlier [in the season]. When we went back into the locker room before we came out the second time, we were definitely a different team. We were gonna be focused until that last whistle. There was no doubt that this game was gonna be a battle. We were all 100% prepared for that.”
7. 2014 Seattle Seahawks
A year after blowing out Peyton Manning and the high-scoring Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the 2014 Seahawks successfully defended their NFC title after going 12-4 during the regular season. Seattle’s offense, led by quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch, finished 10th in the league in scoring and first in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defense, anchored by cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker Bobby Wagner and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, finished as the NFL’s top-ranked scoring unit during the regular season.
After pulling off a miraculous come-from-behind win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC title game, Wilson’s touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin gave Seattle a 10-point lead over the Patriots entering the final quarter of Super Bowl XLIX. But after watching Brady mount two scoring drives to give New England the lead, Wilson led Seattle to the Patriots’ 1-yard-line before throwing his stunning interception to Malcolm Butler. The pick sealed New England’s 28-24 win while depriving Seattle of becoming the ninth team ever to win back-to-back Super Bowls. While they’ve remained competitive, Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have yet to make it back to the Big Game. That fact continues to motivate Carroll, whose team has compiled a a 53-33-1 overall record since losing Super Bowl XLIX.
“We ain’t got back [to a Super Bowl] yet,” Carroll recently said during an interview with NFL.com’s Michael Silver. “We’ve still gotta get back there and go get that game again. And it’s coming.”
6. 2001 St. Louis Rams
After the ’99 Rams won the Super Bowl with the league’s top-ranked offense and fourth-ranked defense, the ’00 Rams allowed 31 points in an opening-round playoff loss to the Saints. That offseason, the Rams shook up their coaching staff, hiring Lovie Smith to be their defensive coordinator. While their offense was still the league’s best in 2001, St. Louis’ defense went from 31st to seventh in points allowed. Despite their revamped defense helping them win 14 regular-season games, the Rams were still anchored by their offense, nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf.” The unit featured league MVP Kurt Warner (36 touchdown passes), running back Marshall Faulk (2,147 all-purpose yards, 21 touchdowns) and receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, who combined to catch 145 passes for 2,469 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Rams routed Brett Favre and the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs before edging out Donovan McNabb and a talented Philadelphia Eagles squad in the NFC title game. The Rams entered their Super Bowl XXXVI matchup against the Patriots as 14-point favorites after defeating New England in a tightly contested game back in Week 10.
St. Louis was caught off guard by the Patriots, who employed a furious pass rush that consistently put pressure on the immobile Warner. The pressure applied on Warner led to the game’s first touchdown, a 47-yard interception return by Patriots cornerback Ty Law. New England’s lead swelled to 17-3 before a pair of touchdown passes by Warner tied the score with 1:30 left.
With everyone expecting overtime, a second-year quarterback named Tom Brady instead played for the win, completing five passes for 53 yards on the game’s final drive setting to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal as time expired. While they eventually figured out how to beat Bill Belichick’s defense, it was too little too late for the Rams, who fell short in their quest to win a second Super Bowl in three years.
5. 1997 Green Bay Packers
The 1996 Packers are one of the most dominant teams in NFL history. That season, Green Bay led the NFL in both scoring offense (averaging 28.5 points) and scoring defense (giving up an average of 13.1 points) during the regular season. In the playoffs, they outscored the 49ers, Panthers and Patriots 105-49 en route to winning the franchise’s first championship in 29 years.
A year later, the Packers were nearly as dominant. Led by league co-MVP Brett Favre (35 touchdowns), Hall of Fame pass rusher Reggie White (11 sacks), running back Dorsey Levens (1,805 total yards, 12 touchdowns) receivers Robert Brooks (1,010 yards, seven touchdowns) and Antonio Freeman (1,243 yards, 12 touchdowns), run stuffer Gilbert Brown and safeties LeRoy Butler and Eugene Robinson, the Packers again went 13-3 during the regular season while finishing second in points scored and fifth in points allowed. Green Bay breezed past the Buccaneers and 49ers in the NFC playoffs, winning both games by a combined score of 44-17.
The Packers looked the part of an 11-point favorite at the start of Super Bowl XXXII against Denver, with Favre hitting Freeman for a touchdown on the game’s first drive. But the Broncos quickly responded, with Terrell Davis tying the score on Denver’s first offensive possession. Denver then began applying pressure on Favre, forcing him to commit two turnovers that led to 10 Broncos points. Trailing 17-7 late in the first half, Favre led the Packers on 98-yard scoring drive that cut Green Bay’s deficit to three points at intermission.
While they tied the score on two occasions during the second half, the Packers never found an answer for Davis, who earned MVP honors after rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns despite missing most of the second quarter with a migraine. The Packers’ bid for back-to-back titles ended when Favre’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 32 seconds left. While Favre and the Packers fell short, they lost to a deserving team (Denver would go on to win Super Bowl XXXIII in what would be John Elway’s final game) in what is regarded as one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.
4. 1978 Dallas Cowboys
Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson had no reservations when he proclaimed the 1977-78 Cowboys as the best two teams in NFL history during a 2019 interview. Henderson, a strongside linebacker for the Cowboys, was a starter on a defense that allowed just 10 points during their dominant win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XII. A year later, Henderson was a Pro Bowler while helping the Cowboys finish third in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 13 points a game. Dallas’ offense was just as dominant. Led by quarterback Roger Staubach, running back Tony Dorsett, tight end Billy Joe Dupree and receivers Drew Pearson and Tony Hill, the Cowboys’ offense led the league in scoring. In the playoffs, the Cowboys edged the Falcons before blowing out the Rams in the NFC title game.
Specifically, Henderson feels that Dallas’ “Doomsday Defense” is what truly set his team apart.
“When you look down that line of ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Randy White, Larry Cole and Harvey Martin and Bill Gregory, D.D. Lewis, Bob Bruenig, Thomas Henderson, Benny Barnes, Mel Renfro, Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris, we had an ensemble,” Henderson said. “To me, the ’77 Cowboys and the ’78 Cowboys, I will play with that defense rather than play with other defenses in the history of football. That ensemble, they were smart. They may not have been great athletes, they played their positions, they played their spots. You could count on them being where they were supposed to be.”
In Super Bowl XIII, Dallas faced an equally talented Pittsburgh team that had defeated the Cowboys three years earlier in Super Bowl X. Inspired by Henderson’s pregame trash talk, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw three touchdown passes while giving Pittsburgh a 21-14 halftime lead. While the Cowboys’ defense held the Steelers’ offense in check for most of the second half, a dropped touchdown pass by tight end Jackie Smith, a controversial pass interference call and a fumbled kickoff return by Randy White set up both of Pittsburgh’s second-half touchdowns. Trailing 35-17, Staubach and the Cowboys scored two late touchdowns before seeing their comeback bid extinguished when Rocky Bleier recovered Dallas’ onside kick with 22 seconds left. Despite their best efforts, the Cowboys fell short against the Steelers in a game that decided who would wear the crown as the Team of the Decade.
“It was one of the great rivalries of the ’70s,” Henderson said of the Steelers-Cowboys matchup. “[I’m] still good friends with Joe Greene. Mel Blount is a buddy. And so, we don’t hate each other, we’re friends. … We have a brotherhood that will last forever. Us football players, none of us hate each other. We all know that we’re the gladiators of this century. It’s just a little glad to be remembered as one of the good ones, and to have been around some of the great ones.”
3. 1968 Baltimore Colts
How good were the ’68 Colts? Despite suffering an injury to Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas during the preseason, Don Shula’s team still managed to post a 13-1 record while supplanting the Packers as the NFL’s best team. Unitas’ replacement, 34-year-old Earl Morrall, won league MVP honors while leading an offense that finished second in the league in scoring during the regular season. Baltimore’s defense — led by defensive coordinator (and future Steelers head coach) Chuck Noll, Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Curtis, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fred Miller, and All-Pro cornerback Bobby Boyd (eight interceptions), fellow cornerback Lenny Lyles (five interceptions) and safety Rick Volk (six interceptions) — boasted the league’s top-ranked scoring defense during the regular season.
In the playoffs, the Colts defeated a formidable Vikings squad before dismantling the Browns in Cleveland in the NFL Championship Game 34-0. While Morrall was mostly held in check, the Browns were no match for Baltimore’s punishing attack, as Tom Matte and Jerry Hill combined to rush for 148 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. Conversely, the Browns managed to run for just 56 yards on 22 carries, as the Colts earned the right to represent the NFL in Super Bowl III.
Baltimore’s regular-season and postseason dominance, along with the Packers’ convincing wins in Super Bowls I and II, contributed to the Colts being a whopping 18-point favorite heading into their matchup against Joe Namath and the AFL champion Jets in Super Bowl III. Namath’s pregame guarantee, however, would serve as a foreshadowing of what was to come when the two teams met in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 12, 1969.
While the Colts were able to move the ball against the Jets’ defense, Baltimore was bedeviled by five turnovers and two missed field goals. Morrall’s first interception set up the game’s first score, a second-quarter touchdown by Jets running back Matt Snell. New York, who meticulously moved the ball against Baltimore’s aggressive defense, would add to their lead in the second half, as three field goals by Jim Turner gave New York a commanding 16-0 lead.
While Unitas — who relieved an ineffective Morrall in the third quarter — led Baltimore to their only score, it was too little too late, as the Colts became the first NFL team to lose to an AFL squad. Namath, who didn’t attempt a pass in the fourth quarter, was named MVP after completing 17 of his 26 attempts with 206 yards and zero interceptions. Namath’s quick passing neutralized Baltimore’s ferocious pass rush, while Snell’s 121 yards on the ground helped the Jets control the ball for large stretches of the game.
While the Colts would win the Super Bowl two years later, they remain haunted by their role in the greatest upset in Super Bowl history.
“That loss is the grave baggage,” Curtis told NFL Films in a 2006 documentary on the ’70 Colts. “Doesn’t help that I won [Super Bowl V], a bunch of awards. Doesn’t mean flip to me. It’s losing that Jet game.”
2. 1990 Buffalo Bills
Buffalo’s first of four consecutive AFC championship teams, the 1990 Bills came the closest to securing victory in the Super Bowl, falling one point short in one of the greatest championship games ever played.
On a team that included Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy, a Hall of Fame backfield in quarterback Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, two Hall of Fame receivers in Andre Reed and James Lofton, a defense that included Hall of Fame pass rusher Bruce Smith, and a special teams unit that featured perennial Pro Bowler Steve Tasker, Buffalo went 13-3 during the regular season while boasting the league’s top-ranked scoring offense and sixth-ranked scoring defense.
Kelly and Reed both earned Pro Bowl honors that season, while Thomas received All-Pro recognition after averaging 114.3 all-purpose yards. Tasker earned the first of six consecutive Pro Bowl selections, while Smith (19 sacks, four forced fumbles) earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Joining Smith in the Pro Bowl that season were linebackers Darryl Talley, Cornelius Bennett and Shane Conlan.
In the divisional round, the Bills put up 44 points in a classic duel between Kelly and Dan Marino, who combined to throw for 662 yards and six touchdowns. While the Bills’ offense was even better the following week against the Raiders (scoring 51 points while tallying 502 total yards), Buffalo’s defense nearly pitched a shutout, holding Los Angeles to just three points while forcing seven turnovers.
The Bills’ dominant playoff run, and the fact that they had defeated the Giants in the regular season, made them a seven-point favorite entering their matchup against New York in Super Bowl XXV. The fact that the Giants were playing with a backup quarterback (Jeff Hostetler) and a 34-year-old running back (Ottis Anderson) also helped make the Bills a decided favorite.
Buffalo’s “K-Gun” offense, however, wasn’t prepared to face a Giants defense that was hellbent on not allowing Kelly to beat them. Bill Belichick, the Giants’ defense coordinator, only used three down linemen in Super Bowl XXV while instead deploying a multitude of defensive backs. And while Kelly still managed to complete 18 of his 30 attempts, he threw for just 212 yards after averaging 319.5 yards in Buffalo’s first two playoff games. Conversely, Belichick’s game plan enabled Thomas to have a field day against a defense that was geared to stop Kelly and the passing game. And while Thomas did have a big day (amassing 190 total yards that included 135 on the ground), the Bills didn’t exploit their advantage in the running game until it was too late.
Despite their neutralized passing attack, and the fact that they had the ball for less than 20 minutes, the Bills trailed by just one point with 2:16 to play. After runs of 22 and 11 yards by Thomas helped put Buffalo in field goal range with eight seconds left, Scott Norwood barely missed his 47-yard attempt that would have given the Bills their first Super Bowl win.
Super Bowl XXV would be the closest the Bills would come to winning the big one. That being said, Buffalo’s four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl has given them a permanent place in NFL lore.
1. 2007 New England Patriots
The 2007 Patriots came the closest to matching the 1972 Dolphins as the only teams in NFL history to complete a perfect season. The only team in NFL history to record a 16-0 regular season, New England featured the league’s top-ranked offense (that averaged 36.8 points) led by Tom Brady, who won his first MVP award after throwing a then-NFL record 50 touchdown passes.
Nearly half of Brady’s touchdown passes that season went to Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, whose 23 touchdown catches remain an NFL record. New England’s offense also featured receiver Wes Welker (who caught 112 passes and eight touchdowns) and three Pro Bowlers on the offensive line in left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins and center Dan Koppen.
The Patriots’ defense, a group that fielded three Pro Bowlers in nose tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Mike Vrabel (12.5 sacks) and cornerback Asante Samuel (six interceptions), finished fourth in the league in points allowed during the regular season. The unit was lights out most of the season, allowing fewer than 14 points on nine different occasions.
Despite two underwhelming playoff wins and the fact that they had allowed 35 points to the Giants in Week 16, the Patriots were 12-point favorites heading into their rematch against New York, which went 10-6 during the regular season before upsetting the Buccaneers, Cowboys and Packers in the NFC playoffs. Tom Coughlin, who worked with Belichick on the Giants’ coaching staff during New York’s upset win over the Bills 17 years earlier, had gotten to the Super Bowl largely on the strength of his defensive line, led by Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. The Giants’ defensive line continued its run of success in Super Bowl XLII, sacking Brady five times and putting pressure on him throughout the game. The constant pressure applied to Brady resulted in a season-low 14 points.
The Patriots’ defense, which had only allowed 10 points for the game’s first 57 minutes, was charged with protecting New England’s 14-10 lead when Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense took the field for their final drive of the game. After allowing Brandon Jacobs to gain the necessary yardage on fourth-and-1, New England gave up one of the most infamous completions in NFL history, as David Tyree managed to catch Manning’s pass off his helmet while keeping it away from Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. Four plays after Tyree’s improbable catch, Manning lofted the go-ahead touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 39 seconds left.
New England’s dreams of a 19-0 season ended moments later, as Brady’s fourth-down heave to Moss fell harmlessly to the turf. While the Patriots won six Super Bowls during the Brady/Belichick era, the 17-14 loss in Super Bowl XLII prevented them from further adding to their sparkling legacy.