History shows us that by Week 4 of the regular season, teams that have a record of 0-3 have almost no chance of even making the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. Teams that are 1-2? The odds are nearly as bad. But even making it to the Super Bowl may not be enough when your team gets absolutely destroyed and embarrassed by the opposition. Here are the seven worst Super Bowl blowouts in the history of the NFL.
1. Super Bowl XX: Chicago 46, New England 10
Back in 1985, the Chicago Bears were the undisputed best team in the league, without question. They boasted a 15-1 record, crushing teams with their powerful defense, and danced all the way to the Super Bowl. The 11-5 New England Patriots weren’t the best team in their conference — not even by a long shot. However, the Pats went on the road three times and won their games, sending them to a matchup with the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX.
New England opened up with a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. For a brief moment, it looked like it would become a competitive, exciting game for fans. But the Bears scored 44 consecutive points, including a defensive touchdown and a one-yard rush at the goal line by defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry. The Chicago Bears won 46-10 in a game that never really looked all that close.
2. Super Bowl XXII: Washington 42, Denver 10
In the 1987 season, the Washington Redskins finished the year 11-4 while the Denver Broncos went 10-4-1. A 27-year-old quarterback named John Elway led Denver all the way to the Super Bowl. With just an 83.4 passer rating that season, he hadn’t quite reached the peak of his career yet. At the time, the Redskins had one of the top scoring offenses and best defenses in the NFL, which propelled them through the NFC to their matchup with Denver.
Things looked good early on for the Broncos and Elway, who hoped for his first Super Bowl ring. The quarterback threw an early, 56-yard touchdown pass and the team later kicked a field goal, heading into the second quarter up 10-0. But Washington quarterback Doug Williams, who started just two games in the regular season, threw four touchdown passes in the second quarter and the team dropped 35 points on Denver. Washington scored 42 unanswered points and won one of the worst Super Bowl blowouts in history.
3. Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 55, Denver 10
Just two seasons later, the Broncos experienced another excellent year. Elway led the team to an 11-5 record, powering them through the playoffs past the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The San Francisco 49ers, however, were the best team in football that season. They had a 14-2 record and the quarterback combination of Joe Montana and Steve Young.
San Francisco opened the scoring with a 20-yard pass from Montana to Jerry Rice. After a Denver field goal, the 49ers closed the quarter with another touchdown. Rice ended up catching three touchdowns in the game, embarrassing the Broncos to the tune of 55-10. The 49ers won the Super Bowl in what ended up being Montana’s last great season with the team.
4. Super Bowl XXVII: Dallas 52, Buffalo 17
In 1992, the young offensive trio of quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1978. The Buffalo Bills were 11-5 and coached by Marv Levy, who led the team to the Super Bowl the previous two seasons, losing both times.
The Bills opened up the scoring on a two-yard rush by Thurman Thomas, making the score 7-0 in favor of Buffalo. But the Cowboys bounced right back with a touchdown of their own, and then a fumble recovery led to another score for the Cowboys. On the whole, Buffalo turned the ball over an absurd nine times, which led to the embarrassing 52-17 final score in favor of Dallas.
5. Super Bowl XXXV: Baltimore 34, NY Giants 7
In 2000, the New York Giants followed the lead of a solid, if unspectacular, quarterback in Kerry Collins, as well as running back Tiki Barber. The team went 12-4 that year and buzzed through the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings in the NFC. But in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens were as tough as it got. They went 12-4 with a mediocre offense but a defense that allowed just 10 points per game and held their opponent to single-digits in points nine times in the regular season.
The Ravens were flying high heading into the Super Bowl, allowing just a total of 16 points in three AFC playoff games. Their quarterback, Trent Dilfer, was nothing more than a game manager but it seemed to work out well for them. A 97-yard kick return by Ron Dixon of the Giants made the game somewhat close, at 17-7 in favor of the Ravens in the third quarter. But Baltimore pulled away and eventually took this one by a score of 34-7.
6. Super Bowl XXXVII: Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21
The 2002 Oakland Raiders were 11-5 in the regular season, but this record didn’t truly reflect how good they were. They finished the season on a 6-1 tear, losing only to the Miami Dolphins by six points on the road. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 12-4 behind quarterback Brad Johnson, head coach John Gruden, and the top defense in the game — were a quality challenger for the Rich Gannon-led Raiders.
Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski put the Raiders up 3-0 early, but this ended up being the major highlight of the game for Oakland. Tampa Bay scored six consecutive times, turning the game into a 34-3 blowout by the middle of the third quarter. The Raiders made it somewhat interesting, pulling to within 34-21. But Gannon threw two interceptions that the Bucs returned for touchdowns, which sealed their fate, 48-21 in favor of Tampa.
7. Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle 43, Denver 8
At the end of the 2013 season, Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl for the first time since Elway retired all the way back in 1998. The team was an offensive juggernaut, leading the NFL with 37.9 points per game. But on the other side of the field sat the Seattle Seahawks, who posted a 13-3 record and were the top-rated defensive team in the league.
On the opening play of the game, the ball was hiked well over Manning’s head and into the end zone, where Denver running back Knowshon Moreno recovered it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it out before he was tackled, resulting in a Seahawks safety. Seattle carried on, taking a 36-0 lead heading toward the end of the third quarter before the Broncos finally scored a touchdown. The game finished with a final score of 43-8 in favor of the Seahawks. Ouch.