It’s Super Bowl time again, and that can mean only one thing. Well, two things, actually. Overdone commercials and anticlimactic halftime entertainment.
But will today’s CBS telecast also bring out the best football? Perhaps. But the Ravens and 49ers will have to go a ways to beat some of the greatest contests in Super Bowl history. Following is our (admittedly subjective) list, arranged chronologically:
1. Super Bowl XIII / Jan. 21, 1979 / Miami
Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31: This was Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach’s last Super Bowl, and it was a bittersweet one. Billed as a matchup between two dominating QBs -- Terry Bradshaw led the Steelers -- Dallas was plagued by some ferocious sacks and tough penalties. Even so, Staubach kept a relentless scoring pace, with his Cowboys becoming the only team in history to score more than 30 points and still lose the Super Bowl. NFL legend Boomer Esiason later said the game exemplified Staubach’s fighting attitude, adding: “Too bad for him Terry Bradshaw was on the other side.”
2. Super Bowl XXIII / Jan. 22, 1989 / Miami
San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16: A heart-stopper. The score was tight throughout, with both teams hobbled by devastating injuries (Bengals’ defensive lineman Tim Krumrie smashed two bones in his leg so badly that medics had trouble carting him off the field). Finally, with the 49ers down by three late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Joe Montana led the team on 92-yard scoring drive and hurled the game-winning pass with 34 seconds to go.
3.Super Bowl XXXIV / Jan. 30, 2000 / Atlanta
St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16: This was the year of One Yard Short. In that now-mythic play, the Rams’ Mike Jones brought down Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson in the final seconds of the game -- at the 1-yard line. Dyson stretched to get the ball into the end zone but he couldn’t make it before the clock ran out. The image of Dyson vainly reaching for last-second glory has become one of the most famous in sports.
4. Super Bowl XXXVIII / Feb. 1, 2004 / Houston
New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29: Some sportswriters consider this the best Super Bowl of them all. The quality of play was consistently high, and the teams were unusually well-matched -- so much so that the first and third quarters were entirely scoreless. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named game MVP, but the win came down to Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal in the final seconds.
5. Super Bowl XLII / Feb. 3, 2008 / Glendale, Ariz.
New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14: Another nail-biter. With 35 seconds left on the clock in the final quarter and the seemingly unstoppable Patriots poised for their fourth Super Bowl title since 2001, Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress snagged a 13-yard pass in the end zone following a desperate scoring drive by quarterback Eli Manning.
What was your favorite Super Bowl?