Five Super Bowls that were somehow just as boring as Pats-Rams (really)
The most exciting play of Super Bowl LIII came at halftime, on a pass from Joe Montana to Jerry Rice that was intercepted by Deion Sanders. This is not opinion but objective fact, determined with little debate after a game that featured nearly as many punts (14) as points (16) and ended with the New England Patriots doing what most everyone thought they would: winning their sixth Super Bowl.
The Montana pass was actually in an NFL commercial designed to launch a yearlong celebration of the league’s 100th season, a spot that included 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame turning a black-tie dinner into a scrum for a golden football. Sanders’ interception of Montana’s pass generated the kind of goose bumps we hope to get from the Super Bowl itself. Alas, that was our only iconic moment of the night.
How boring was the Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams? Let’s just say that CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Tony Romo were a bit too giddy in the third quarter when Rams punter Johnny Hekker set a Super Bowl record with a 65-yard punt.
“Oh, you’ve been waiting for a good stat like that!” Romo said with his trademark glee, while Nantz shrieked, “That’s the highlight of the game!”
The over/under for Super Bowl LIII was 56, the third highest in Super Bowl history. Happy trails to those of you who took the over. If watching football players score points is your thing — and based on the NFL’s improved television ratings this season, it probably is — you didn’t find much to like about Super Bowl LIII. It was, in fact, the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history, edging the previous mark of 21 points.
The Patriots became the first team in Super Bowl history to win with 13 (or fewer) points, and the Rams tied for the fewest points scored in a Super Bowl. More congratulations are in order for the Rams, the second team to go an entire Super Bowl without scoring a touchdown. (The other time that happened was 47 years ago in Super Bowl VI, when scoring touchdowns was an optional part of the game.)
We didn’t see a play in the red zone, on either side, until 7 minutes, 3 seconds remained in the game. What’s more, 27 of the Rams’ 60 plays went for zero or negative yards. Go ahead and save that one for your grandchildren — or, better yet, never mention this game again.
Jared Goff says he felt great and excited heading into the Super Bowl, but the Patriots’ defense kept the Rams’ offense guessing.
Super Bowls happen only once a year, and this one will take its place in annals alongside the previous 52. If we’re being honest here, those of us who existed in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s would have sacrificed a console TV or two for a Super Bowl decided by 10 points. Yes, there was a time when most Super Bowls ended in blowouts that couldn’t keep your attention no matter how many combined points were scored.
If the Patriots have given us anything the past two decades, it’s four quarters of Super Bowl drama. Sunday night was the first of their nine appearances since 2001 that was decided by more than one score. The average margin of victory in all other Super Bowls has been 15 points. In that light, let’s consider five other Super Bowls that could compete with LIII for the clunkiest clunker of all time.
Before Sunday night, the 1971 Dolphins were the only team that had failed to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. They managed a field goal in the second quarter and finished with 185 total yards. But they did rebound to go undefeated the following season. So there.
The Dolphins took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, and the only thing that prevented a shutout was probably the worst play in Super Bowl history. Maybe you’ve seen it on your favorite NFL bloopers show. When the Redskins blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, Dolphins place-kicker Garo Yepremian figured it was a good idea to pick up the ball and try to throw it. The ball fell out of his hand, naturally, and then he tried to push it forward in the air. The Redskins’ Mike Bass snagged it and went 49 yards for a touchdown.
The Bills committed nine — yes, NINE — turnovers. That included four interceptions and five lost fumbles. They recovered three other fumbles, fortunately, or things might have really gotten out of hand. The Bills played most of the game with backup quarterback Frank Reich (yes, that Frank Reich) after starter Jim Kelly was injured.
San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26
Super Bowl XXIX (Jan. 29, 1995)
The 49ers scored two touchdowns on their first seven plays, including passes of 44 yards to Jerry Rice and 51 yards to Ricky Watters. They led 14-0 with 10:05 left in the first quarter, and in essence, the game was already over. It was 28-10 at halftime and 42-10 in the third quarter when most television viewers dozed off, according to scientific data available at the time.
The 49ers scored four first-half touchdowns, led 27-3 at halftime and basically ran out the clock in the second half. The Broncos finished with 12 first downs and 167 offensive yards. There was no garbage time in this game, but it was a prime napping opportunity.