Which of the first 54 Super Bowl champions were the best of the bunch? We count them down, getting to the greatest team of the modern era.
54. Super Bowl XXXIII: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
There’s never been a bigger foregone conclusion on Super Sunday than the upstart Atlanta Falcons against the defending champion Denver Broncos to bookend the 1998 NFL season.
The Falcons were 14-2, but nobody outside of Georgia really believed one-time Broncos boss Dan Reeves would win a first Lombardi trophy as a coach at the expense of his old team.
Mike Shanahan’s Denver entered the game with an identical 14-win season in the rearview mirror. But this was a more efficient and ruthless machine on both sides of the ball.
So it proved as an offense spearheaded by 2,000-yard rusher Terrell Davis overwhelmed Atlanta’s workmanlike defense. Broncos quarterback John Elway’s swan song proved to be little more than a Sunday afternoon stroll.
There’s barely anything memorable about this game. The matchup also rates as a stinker because those spoiling Falcons denied fans the chance to see the Broncos pitted against the Minnesota Vikings and Randy Moss, at the time the most explosive offense in league history.
53. Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17
Peyton Manning finally got the Super Bowl win his talent merited, although not in the way he probably imagined. Rather than Manning’s arm and the Indianapolis Colts’ high-powered offense surgically dissecting the Chicago Bears’ Tampa 2, fans sat through a rain-soaked run fest where Dominic Rhodes became Indy’s game winner.
Peyton’s big day didn’t live up to the billing, while Rex Grossman and the mistake-ridden Bears offense confirmed everyone’s worst fears.