The 2007 New England Patriots are living proof that the best team in football does not always end the season with a Super Bowl victory. Yet more often then not when a team that dominates the regular season comes into the Super Bowl as overwhelming favorites, they leave with the Lombardi Trophy. Of those that do, it will always be open to debate on which team is the best of the best of the Super Bowl Champions. Here then is a list of the top ten Super Bowl Champions of all-time (as measured against their peers from the same era)
1) 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl XIII:
Any of the Steelers teams of the 70’s can certainly rate among the best of all-time. Out of those, the 1978 Steelers (14-2 in the regular season) are the best. Their classic Super Bowl win that season came against an equally talented Dallas Cowboys team (1977 champs). With a roster full of Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball, the Steelers fielded a team like few others. Hall of Fame Quarterback Terry Bradshaw was coming off a season which saw him throw for 2,915 yards and 28 touchdowns. Running Backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier led an attack that gained 2,297 yards on the ground; while Hall of Fame wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth combined for 20 touchdown catches. Yet as good as the offense was, the Defense was better, leading the league in points allowed (12.2 points per game) during the regular season and featuring players like, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mike Wagner, Mean Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Mel Blount and Donnie Shell. In all the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers had 8 Pro Bowlers, and 9 future Hall of Famers.
That year the Steelers made short work of the Broncos (1977 AFC Champs), and the Oilers in the playoffs before their Super Bowl showdown with the Dallas Cowboys in Miami. The Steelers would go on to win the Super Bowl 35-31, after spotting the Cowboys a 14-7 lead, with Terry Bradshaw throwing for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns, and both Swann and Stallworth gaining over 100 yards in receptions.
2) 1972 Miami Dolphins – Super Bowl VII:
The Miami Dolphins fielded Super Bowl teams from 1971-1973, with the 1972 team compiling a 17-0 record while taking home the Super Bowl crown. This was a team that featured a ferocious running game with both Csonka and Morris rushing for over 1,000 yards that season (over a 14 game schedule). Backup Earl Morrall was the AFC’s passing leader, spelling 1971 AFC passing leader Bob Griese during part of the season, after Griese went down with an injury. In scoring Miami was first in the NFL with 385 points, and in Defense they were also first yielding only 171 points. Anchoring their “No Name Defense,” was Hall of Fame Linebacker Nick Buoniconti, and Pro Bowlers Jake Scott and Bill Stanfill.
The Super Bowl almost turned into a post climatic affair, with the Dolphins winning 14-7 over the Washington Redskins. The Redskins only score came in the 4th quarter when kicker Garo Yepremian tried to throw a pass and fumbled into the hands of Mike Bass. As they had done all season, Miami pounded the ball on the ground, with Csonka gaining 112 yards on 15 carries. On Defense, Jake Scott came away with two interceptions.
3) Dallas Cowboys 1971 -Super Bowl VI:
The 1971 Dallas Cowboys had a juggernaut team that throttled the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl 24-3. Despite the talent on this team, the Cowboys got off to a 4-3 start when Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry kept alternating Craig Morton and Roger Staubach at quarterback. Finally settling on Staubach (who lead the NFC in passing), the Cowboys won their last 10 straight games. Dallas running back trio of Duane Thomas, Walt Garrison and Calvin Hill help the Cowboys account for 2,249 yard rushing (to only 1,144 yards given up). Overall the Offense accounted for an NFL best 406 points, while Hall of Famers Lance Alworth, and Mike Ditka, along with Olympic gold medalist Bob Hayes gave Staubach solid targets to throw to.
The Defense was even better, anchored by Pro-Bowlers Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley (MVP of the Super Bowl V), and Mel Renfro. Also a part of the Defense that year were former and future Pro Bowlers, Charlie Waters, Cliff Harris, Lee Roy Jordan, Herb Adderly, Cornell Green and George Andrie.
The Super Bowl was a blow out, with Dallas’ running for over 200 yards (Thomas 95, Garrison 74, Hill 25, Staubach 18, Hayes 16, Reeves 7) to Miami’s 80 (Csonka 40, Kick 40), and Roger Staubach throwing for two touchdowns to walk away with the game MVP.
4) New York Giants (1986) -Super Bowl XXI:
This Lawrence Taylor led team finished the regular season 14-2 and then crushed their playoff competition (Bears and Redskins) 66-3, before beating the Broncos 39-20 in the Super Bowl. Phil Simms was almost flawless in the Super Bowl, completing 22 out of 25 passes for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns. The team fielded Pro Bowlers Joe Morris, Mark Bravado, Harry Carson, Leonard Marshall, Jim Burt, and Lawrence Taylor (20-1/2 sacks in the regular season).
5) Chicago Bears (1985) – Super Bowl XX:
The 1985 Chicago Bears were in a league of their own, going 15-1 in the regular season, before shutting out the Giants and the Rams in the playoffs, and thumping the Patriots 46-10 in the Super Bowl. Featuring arguably one of the best Defenses of all-times, the Bears only surrendered 198 points all year, while scoring 456. Pro Bowlers Walter Payton and Jin McMahon led the offense, while the Defense featured six Pro Bowlers (among them Singletary, Dent and Hampton).
6) San Francisco 49ers (1989) -Super Bowl XXIV:
This Joe Montana and Jerry Rice led team finished the season 14-2 and then went on to score 126 points (to 26 points) in the post season. The Super Bowl outcome was never in doubt with the 49ers beating the Bengals 55-10. Montana enjoyed an MVP season, getting spells from Hall of Famer Steve Young along the way (leaving future NFL starter Steve Bono on the bench). On Offense Roger Carr, John Taylor and Jerry Rice made the
Pro Bowl. Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott anchored a balanced Defense.
7) Green Bay Packers (1966) -Super Bowl I:
The NFL’s first Super Bowl Champion, the Packers squeezed by Dallas in the playoffs 34-27, before routing the Chiefs in the Super Bowl 25-10. This was an aging team of Packer greats, with Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, and Ray Nitschki all in their 30’s. Still, little used Max McGee caught two Starr TD passes, and Taylor and Pitts added running touchdowns to put the Packers in the record book as the first Super Bowl champion in NFL history.
8) Baltimore Ravens (2000) Super Bowl XXXV:
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens are proof that Defense wins championships. The Ravens only allowed 168 points in the regular season, racking 4 shutouts along the way. The post season was no different with teams scoring only 23 points in 4 games against the Ravens. The Super Bowl was a lopsided affair, as the Ravens beat the Giants 34-7. Ray Lewis, Rod Woodson, and Sam Adams all had Pro Bowl seasons on Defense. The Offense was far less spectacular, but featured Jamal Lewis (1,364 yards rushing), Priest Holmes and Trent Dilfer.
9) Dallas Cowboys (1977) _Super Bowl XXII:
Another fabulous Dallas team of the 70’s. The 1977 team featured a balance offense with rookie Tony Dorsett (1,007 yards, 12 TDs rushing in 14 games), Robert Newhouse (721 yards rushing), and Preston Pearson (876 yrds from scrimmage) helping Dallas run for 2,369 yards during the season. Quarterback Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson (WR), and Billy Joe Dupree (TE) were all Pro Bowlers on Offense. On the opposite side of the ball, Harvey Martin, Randy White, Cliff Harris and Charlie Water led the Doomsday Defense. The Super Bowl was “no-contest” as Dallas easily defeated Denver 27-10.
10) New York Jets (1968) Super Bowl III:
Joe Namath guaranteed victory over the Colts hastened the NFL-AFL merger. Heavily favored to lose to the favored Colts, the Jets showed that the AFL was the NFL’s equal, taking the Super Bowl 16-7. Namath, Boozer (RB), Maynard (WR), and Sauer all earned Pro Bowl honors, while kicker Jim turner hit on a record 34 field goal tries. Along with Namath, Matt Snell enjoyed a great Super Bowl, running for 121 yards and a TD, on 30 carries.
“Sports Illustrated Almanac 2006,” Sports Illustrated Books, 2005