Philly Sports Live

Top 10 Super Bowl Matches of All Time

It’s an annual ritual to look back at games past to pick the best Super Bowl moment, or simply the best game. Every year dozens of “Top 10” lists appear, sometimes riddled with opinion and personal preference.

This page looks at three Top 10 lists from major sports news outlets to try and get a clear picture of what might actually be The Top 10 Greatest Super Bowl Matchups of all time.

Greatest Game lists from,, and were compared to NBC Sports’ “Greatest Super Bowl Moments” (individual plays and/or player performances), and Sports Illustrated’s “The 10 Worst Super Bowls” (games). If a game was on all three outlets’ lists, AND the NBC list, and NOT on the SI list, then it was a winner. You get that? There will be an exam later in the season… probably on Sports Center… you know… gotta prove your fanhood?

These eight games made all three lists:

Super Bowl III – January 12, 1969, in Miami

New York Jets def. Baltimore Colts 16 to 7

NBC notes “The Guarantee”

Super Bowl XIII – January 21, 1979, in Miami

Pittsburgh Steelers def. Dallas Cowboys 35 to 31

NBC notes “Jackie Smith’s sad finish”

Super Bowl XXIII – January 22, 1989, in Miami

San Francisco 49ers def. Cincinnati Bengals 26 to 21

NBC notes “Walsh’s brilliant finale”

Super Bowl XXV – January 27, 1991 in Tampa

New York Giants def. Buffalo Bills 20 to 19

NBC notes “Wide Right”

Super Bowl XXXIV – January 30, 2000 in Atlanta

Saint Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans 23 to 16

NBC notes “a yard short”

Super Bowl XXXVI – February 3, 2002 in New Orleans

New England Patriots def. Saint Louis Rams 20 to 17

NBC notes the Pats first win

Super Bowl XLII – February 3, 2008 in Glendale (Phoenix)

New York Giants def. New England Patriots 17 to 14

NBC notes the “Improbable Completion”

Super Bowl XLIII – February 1, 2009 in Tampa

Pittsburgh Steelers def. Arizona Cardinals 27 to 23

None of these eight made SI’s wall of shame, and seven of them landed in the Top 10 on NBC’s list of greatest moments. There are also many similarities in the lists, but these particular similarities add integrity more so than mere commonalities:

  • Perennial Powerhouses Prominently Featured – the Patriots, Giants, Steelers, and Rams all appear twice
  • Location Matters – 6 of the 8 games were in Florida, and no team ever had any kind of home field advantage
  • Tight Scoring – 7 final scores were within one possession, 6 within 5 points, and in 5 games no team scored above 25

The continuity here, plus the fact that 80% of the outlet lists are identical in the first place, backs up the editors’ choices. Sooo… maybe there’s some hope for the sports world after all? Maybe these guys DO know what they’re talking about? Turn the volume back up and see for yourself.