Who is the greatest team Super Bowl team in the history of the NFL? The question is great fodder for discussions among friends, sportswriters, and TV analysts. Depending on the criteria you use, you could wind up with any number of different teams as greatest. In this list I am going to use three separate criteria to choose whom I think are the greatest. First, only teams that have won at least two Super Bowls in a row. Why? Because the only thing harder than winning the Super Bowl is defending the title. It takes a truly great team to pull off back-to-back victories. Second, only teams that have brought something unique or game-changing to the NFL will be considered. Football has evolved a great deal since the first Super Bowl back in 1967, and the best teams always brought a little something extra to the table. Finally, they must have an enduring legacy.
3: The 1981-1989 San Francisco 49ers. Names like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, and Dwight Clark might be legendary, but it was the coach, Bill Walsh, who will be remembered for bringing his ‘west coast’ offense to the NFL. Winners of Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XII, and XIII, the 49ers passing game was unlike anything before it. Montana and company made defenses look like idiots with precision timing patterns and selective runs. One of only three NFL franchises with four Super Bowls or more under its belt, (the Steelers and the Cowboys are the other two) this 49ers team’s legacy is assured.
2: The 1972-1973 Miami Dolphins. How can you not include the only team ever to have an undefeated regular season and then go on to win the Super Bowl? Winners of Super Bowls VII and VIII, the Dolphins were coached by legend Don Shula. In 1972, the Dolphins went 14-0, despite losing their starting quarterback, Bob Griese, in the fifth game. Veteran Earl Morrall led the team to victory in its remaining nine games. The Dolphins combined a bruising running attack led by Larry Csonka and “Mercury” Morris with a passing game featuring star receiver Paul Warfield. While Super Bowl VII might be remembered most for kicker Garo Yepremian’s botched field goal attempt, the Dolphins will always be remembered as the consummate team. Led by the “no-name” defense and a balanced offense, the Dolphins rewrote the book on teamwork and will likely be talked about as the greatest team until somebody else duplicates their perfect season.
1: The 1974-1979 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are the only NFL team to have won two Super Bowls in a row twice. Fans of the late 70’s team may remember the Steelers for their impressive passing game with Terry Bradshaw as quarterback and receivers like Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, but when the Steelers won Super Bowls IX and X, they were known for their unrelenting running game. The Steelers ran up and down over everybody they faced with the backfield duo of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. The “Steel Curtain” defense, led by names like “mean” Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood shut down opposing offenses with a vengeance. What the Steelers did that was unique was to win both as a running team and then later as a passing team. Bradshaw was considered competent but not outstanding until he won the Super Bowl MVP trophy in Super Bowl XIII. He followed that up with another MVP performance in Super Bowl XIV. This team is considered by many the best of all time and rightly so.
Three legendary teams. Are they the best Super Bowl teams ever? I think so, but half the fun of a list like this is in the debate itself. Vive le Super Bowl!