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10 best Super Bowls of the last decade, ranked

In American football, there is no bigger game than the Super Bowl. For nearly 60 years, the championship game between the top teams from the AFC and the NFC has become a TV event like no other. While it’s true that many people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, there have also been some truly classic showdowns on the football field.

With Super Bowl LVIII arriving this Sunday, February 11, we’re taking a look back at the best Super Bowls of the last decade ranked from worst to first. There are a few blowouts below, starting with our pick for No. 10. But the very best Super Bowls on this list are already legendary in the lore of the NFL.

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10. Super Bowl XLVIII

Players on a football field at the Super Bowl.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: Seattle Seahawks 43–8 Denver Broncos

Blowouts aren’t much fun for anyone but the winning side, and Super Bowl XLVIII belonged to the Seattle Seahawks from the start. Nothing went right for the Denver Broncos, who started the game by giving up a safety to the Seahawks before falling behind 22-0 at the half.

Peyton Manning’s first Super Bowl with his new team quickly turned into a nightmare, as the third quarter began with the Seahawks successfully running back the kickoff for a touchdown in just 12 seconds. Denver’s only score in the game came at the end of the third quarter when Manning connected to Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown pass. Beyond that, this game was an absolute embarrassment for the Broncos, and a testament to the defense of the Seahawks. Fortunately for Manning, he would get a chance to redeem himself two years later.

9. Super Bowl 50

Fans cheer at the Super Bowl 50.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: Denver Broncos 24–10 Carolina Panthers

In sports, it’s a rare thing to go out on top. Peyton Manning had already won a Super Bowl with his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts. And in his fourth season with the Broncos, Manning was finally able to deliver a championship for Denver as well.

The Carolina Panthers barely scored in this game, with their lone touchdown coming in the second quarter. That’s why Super Bowl 50 is most memorable as Manning’s final game as a player. And there was no better way to finish his career than by winning on the game’s biggest stage.

8. Super Bowl LII

Players kick a ball in the Super Bowl.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: Philadelphia Eagles 41–33 New England Patriots

There were only three times in Tom Brady’s 10 Super Bowl appearances that his team didn’t win the big game. In Super Bowl LII, the Philadelphia Eagles had the New England Patriots’ number and they maintained control for most of the game. But by the end of the third quarter, the Patriots had pulled within three points, trailing the Eagles 29-26.

The fourth quarter largely belonged to the Eagles, who pulled ahead by eight points late in the game. Brady’s Patriots still had a chance to tie the game with one last drive as the seconds ticked away. Yet, this was the Eagles’ year, as their defense withstood Brady’s signature late-game heroics and brought a championship home to Philadelphia after a 58-year drought.

7. Super Bowl LIV

Players run on a field in the Super Bowl.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 31–20 San Francisco 49ers

Super Bowl LIV is one of those games where the final score simply doesn’t tell the story of how close this contest was. Through the first half, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers were even with 10 points apiece. It wasn’t until the third quarter that the 49ers pulled ahead by ten points.

However, the fourth quarter was a different story altogether. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and the Chiefs wrote the first chapter of their Super Bowl legend by scoring 21 unanswered points in the final quarter to run away with the game and bring a championship back to Kansas City exactly 50 years after the team last won a Super Bowl.

6. Super Bowl LIII

Night descends on the Super Bowl.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: New England Patriots 13–3 Los Angeles Rams

Dismal low-scoring affairs don’t often make for compelling Super Bowls. And for most of this game, the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams only had a field goal apiece heading into the fourth quarter.

Neither team truly had the advantage until the Patriots were able to score the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. A late interception gave the Patriots the opportunity to put the Rams away with another field goal. This may not have been the most thrilling game, but it was the end of an era for the Patriots. It was Tom Brady’s final Super Bowl with the team, and essentially the conclusion of the Patriots’ two-decade dynasty with their sixth championship.

5. Super Bowl LVI

A football field at the Super Bowl.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: Los Angeles Rams 23–20 Cincinnati Bengals

The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals were both fourth seeds in their respective conferences that managed to power through to the big game. Both teams were also nearly evenly matched, with the Rams holding only a three-point lead at the half.

Cincinnati’s fortunes changed in the third quarter when the Bengals scored 10 points, wand the team held a four-point lead heading into the final quarter. But in the fourth quarter, the Rams defense shut down the Bengals and LA’s Cooper Kupp made a game-winning touchdown catch late in the period. That helped Kupp take home the MVP award for the game as the Rams won on their own turf in Inglewood’s state-of-the- art SoFi Stadium. There isn’t a more Hollywood ending than that one.

4. Super Bowl LV

Helicopters fly over the Super Bowl stadium.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Final Score: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31–9 Kansas City Chiefs

This Super Bowl was decided by the end of the third quarter, and it wasn’t a close game at all. Regardless, Super Bowl LV was memorable because it marked Tom Brady’s 10th and final appearance in the big game and his record seventh win. One year after leaving the New England Patriots, Brady led his new team to their first Super Bowl win in nearly two decades. And the Buccaneers even managed to do it in their own stadium after earning a wild card slot and running the table through the postseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs were the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and one of the top teams in the league. But the Buccaneers’ defense held them to just three field goals in this game. Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs got another chance for redemption two years later, as you’ll see in our next pick below.

3. Super Bowl LVII

The sun sets on the Super Bowl stadium.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 38–35 Philadelphia Eagles

The most recent Super Bowl was an old-fashioned shootout. And for most of the game, it looked like the Philadelphia Eagles had the edge over the Kansas City Chiefs. Especially when the Eagles led by 10 at the half.

It’s still far too soon to call Patrick Mahomes the second coming of Tom Brady, but he led his team all the way back to tie the score at 35 with seconds left to go in the game. Although the margin of Kansas City’s victory was only a field goal, the Chiefs’ time management left the Eagles with no real chance to even the score. This Super Bowl kept us on the edge of our seats throughout, which is the hallmark of an epic game.

2. Super Bowl XLIX

The sun shines on the Super Bowl sign.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: New England Patriots 28–24 Seattle Seahawks

There have been some real thrillers in the big game, but Super Bowl XLIX has to be considered among the very best ever played. For most of the game, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks were very evenly matched, and they were tied at 14 points at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Seahawks jumped out to a 10-point lead. But as they say in football, you have to play a full 60 minutes. During the fourth quarter, the Patriots pulled off a comeback for the ages with 14 unanswered points. However, the most memorable moment in this game came at the end, with the Seahawks in a position at the goal line to take the lead with less than a minute left in regulation. The Patriots’ Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass, and suddenly New England had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

1. Super Bowl LI

The audience applauds at the Super Bowl.
NFL/Wikipedia Commons

Final Score: New England Patriots 34–28 Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl LI wasn’t just the best game of the last decade, it’s among the best Super Bowls, period. Amazingly, it started off as a blowout as the New England Patriots had no answer for the Atlanta Falcons’ offence, which led at the half 21-3. The Patriots’ first signs of life came in the third quarter with a single touchdown, but the team missed the extra point and went into the fourth quarter trailing Atlanta by 19 points.

Then, as they had done so many times before, Tom Brady and the Patriots engineered a comeback. The team put up 19 unanswered points to force the first-ever overtime period in Super Bowl history. From there, the Patriots successfully drove for a touchdown in overtime to put the game away and leave the stunned Falcons wondering how they lost a game that probably should have been theirs.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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