Since the inaugural game on January 15, 1967 there have been 50 contests, with this year’s to be decided on Sunday, February 7. (Notice how the season has lengthened and the big game coming later in the year. That’s one kind of progress.)
So which teams have been there the most? Won the most? Lost the most? Never even been to the big dance? Well here’s how it maps out. There are four teams that, over the last 50 years, (which represents 100 opportunities since there are two teams in each Super Bowl,) have played in the final showdown the most.
On top of that list of four are the Pittsburg Steelers. They’ve played in 8 Super Bowls and won 6 for a 75% winning record. They were there in the 70s, the 90s, and 4 times in the 21st century. They were, are, and continue to be a contender with their last appearance in 2010.
Next in order is the Dallas Cowboys. They also played in 8 big games and won 5 keeping their record over .500. All these successes were in the 70s and the 90s, with no games since 1995.
The New England Patriots are 4 and 4 in their appearances and had an opportunity to jump to 9 Super Bowl appearances before the Denver Broncos beat them in this year’s AFC final. They have played in Super Bowls in ’85 and ’96, and have been most successful in the 21st century, including a win last year.
Last in the list of top teams are the Denver Broncos. This year is their 8th appearance, but their record is a rather dismal 2 wins out of 7 attempts. It remains to be seen if they will improve that record this year. This also means they hold the record for losing the most Super Bowls, a stat that sits at 5 losses pending the outcome of this week’s game. Only challenged in this numerical category by the Vikings and Buffalo Bills, each with four losses amongst four attempts — the Bills with the terrible result of losing four in a row from ’90 to ’93.
Certainly the Broncos hold many records for poor performance with large losses and blowouts in many of their appearances. On the positive side, they’ve been a constant participant with Super Bowl appearances in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and an upcoming second appearance in this century. Not many other teams have been such a regular, with Denver appearing in 4 of the 6 decades of play. The Patriots have also been in 4 decades, but their first time was in ’85.
The San Francisco 49ers have 6 appearances based largely on a long run in the 90s. Five teams have 5 overall appearances including the Packers, Giants, Raiders, Red Skins, and Dolphins. Best of that group is the four wins for Green Bay and New York. Green Bay may have the longest range of successes with a win in the first Super Bowl as well as a win in 2010. The Dolphin’s successes were all back in the 70s and 80s, before most of today’s fans were even born.
The Colts join the Vikes and the Bills in playing in four games, but better their records with two wins. The Rams and the Seahawks have been three times, each with one win. The St. Louis Rams lost in ’79, and the L.A. version won one and lost one in this century. The Seahawks success has been quite recent.
Six teams have been there twice, including the Ravens, Chiefs, Bears, Eagles, Bengals, and this year’s Panthers. The Baltimore Ravens have bested this group with two wins, while the Eagles, Bengals, and Panthers have yet to win one.
With only a single appearance we have seven: the Jets, Buccaneers, Saints, Chargers, Falcons, Titans, and Cardinals. Only the first three have managed a win.
So who has never been to the Super Bowl of the current teams? Well this sad lot includes the Cleveland Browns, a team the Broncos kept out of the final game twice back in the 80s. Also with no trips are the Detroit Lions, Jaguars, and Houston Texans, that last team being relatively new to the NFL formed in 2002 and the Jags have only been around since ’95.
Although the Broncos have not done well with their visits, this year’s contest as yet undecided, they are in the elite group of teams with repetitive wins. After winning a Super Bowl, the following season is very difficult for many reasons. Only seven teams have ever won back-to-back with the Steelers repeating that conquest in both IX and X and XIII and XIV in the 70s when they pretty much owned the NFL. Other teams with two in a row include Green Bay with the first two Bowls (and a win of the NFL Championship prior to the Super Bowl), the Dolphins, San Francisco, and the Broncos and the Patriots. No team has ever won three in a row, and few have even been there three times consecutively except for the Dolphins who lost the first of three in the early 70s and those poor Bills who played four-in-a-row without a single victory in the 90s.
So there you have the stats for the upcoming game. Denver continues success getting to the final contest, and in less than a week we’ll know if they added a win to their success rate, or add another poor performance and blow-out to a pretty dismal showing in the big game. Still, as a Denver fan since before they started playing in the final show down, I’m just super excited they get another chance. They have been a consistent power house in football since the 70s, and that is a record few other teams or cities can match.
Have the Broncos replaced the Cowboys as “America’s Team”? Some would say so. Me, I’m waiting for the numbers and the final tally. There have been 50 of these final contests during my lifetime, and each one has been an exciting visit by the home teams. They haven’t all been good games or close games or entertaining games, but they’ve all been “super.” Just ask any team that hasn’t been there … recently or at all.
Of course it will soon start all over … the season, the playoffs, Super Bowl 51 (LI) … so there is still a chance that your team will be added to this roll of honor. Will the Patriots up their score to 9 appearances? Will the Broncos be back? What about Green Bay? The Bears? Cleveland? Well, we’ll have to wait another year for that. Right now I’m getting ready for SUNDAY!