Super Bowl Sunday is one of the greatest days of the year. You eat and drink far more than is appropriate for a normal Sunday, along with almost literally everyone else in the country. It is also accompanied by a football game played between what are usually the two best teams in the NFL that season, but the game isn't always riveting and entertaining. To prepare for this Sunday's Super Bowl LIV battle between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, here is a ranking of every Super Bowl of the previous decade. Hopefully the first of the 2020s will get us off to a great start.
10. Super Bowl LIII -- Patriots 13, Rams 3
This was just a lame game for everyone who doesn't eat defensive tape for breakfast. The score was 3-3 after three quarters. Neither team could move the ball at all, and there weren't even many defensive plays worth getting excited about. The only good thing one can say about this game is that it was close, but it was not enjoyable to watch, and that's why it received one of the lowest ratings in recent memory. A coach's dream, for sure, but not one for any non-Patriots fan.
9. Super Bowl XLVIII -- Seahawks 43, Broncos 8
Seattle fans surely enjoyed their wire-to-wire domination in the first outdoor Super Bowl in a long time, but it was tough for everyone else. Starting from the very first snap (which went flying over Peyton Manning's head and out of the end zone), the Seahawks didn't let up, and the game was over with 11:30 left in the third after Percy Harvin ran back the second-half kickoff to make it 29-0. Looking back, the Legion of Boom was at their peak, and obliterating the Broncos' record-breaking offense will remain one of the most impressive defensive performances of this century. But most of your friends probably stopped watching after two hours.
8. Super Bowl 50 -- Broncos 24, Panthers 10
The Panthers were a young, fun team led by one of the league's premier personalities and playmakers (as well as that year's MVP) in Cam Newton. The Broncos featured a broken-down Peyton Manning and Von Miller on a mission. The less-fun team won as Carolina couldn't do anything against Denver's pass rush and Newton got rattled early on. It was great for Newton haters and those who wanted to see Manning ride off into the sunset with another ring, but otherwise... Underwhelming at best.
7. Super Bowl XLIV-- Saints 31, Colts 17
This Super Bowl's final score wasn't all that close, but it was a fun game to watch throughout. Drew Brees and the Saints were trying to complete a mission that started in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, bringing everyone affected by the disaster together through football. Peyton Manning was only a year removed from an MVP season. Everyone will remember Sean Payton's gutsy, ballsy, borderline insane decision to open the second half with an onside kick, and Tracy Porter pointing at Saints faithful as he ran back the clinching pick-six will live on in Super Bowl lore. It wasn't the best game, but it was far from the worst.
6. Super Bowl XLVI -- Giants 21, Patriots 17
Giants-Patriots part two was rich with storylines every which way. The Patriots only made it because Billy Cundiff missed a chip-shot field goal. The Giants were, once again, unlikely underdogs after winning three road games (including a stunning win over the 15-1 Packers) to earn another chance at history against Tom Brady. New England was unable to do much against the Giants' defensive front (again) with a hobbled Rob Gronkowski. Eli Manning's completion to Mario Manningham in crunch time is the best throw of his career, and it solidifed his status as Patriot-killer and (probably) a future Hall of Famer.
5. Super Bowl XLV -- Packers 31, Steelers 25
Aaron Rodgers' first and only Super Bowl came against the defending champion Steelers in an entertaining back-and-forth matchup. Rodgers played immaculately and Green Bay's defense was all over Ben Roethlisberger. The Packers went up early, but Pittsburgh held on for just long enough to keep the game interesting, and it all came down to a two-minute drill from Pittsburgh that ultimately fell short. A solid game with a lot of legacy impact for the two quarterbacks.
4. Super Bowl XLVIII -- Ravens 34, 49ers 31
This Super Bowl had a Beyonce halftime performance and a subsequent Superdome blackout, so it automatically ranks pretty high. It's this high because the game was pretty good, too. Joe Flacco was on the run of his life and it didn't seem like anybody could stop Colin Kaepernick at the height of his powers. Ray Lewis was on his last legs as a player, and the Ravens wouldn't have even been there if it wasn't for a Jacoby Jones Hail Mary in Denver. It all came down to the final drive, and Kaepernick couldn't quite make the connection to Michael Crabtree on a fade route. This is also notable because of what happened afterwards, for both teams; Flacco was given a gigantic contract that would hamstring the Ravens after he fell back to Earth in subsequent seasons, while Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh was out of the league by 2015, and Kaepernick by 2017. A great game with a ton of implications for both sides that we'll never truly grasp the extent of.
3. Super Bowl LI -- Patriots 34, Falcons 28
The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The only Super Bowl to ever go to overtime. 28-3. Tom Brady. What more can you say? The only reason this doesn't rank higher is that it wasn't a very good game until the Patriots started their comeback. It was great for the people who wanted the Pats to lose (of which there were plenty), but no neutral fan enjoyed watching the Falcons run New England off the field for the first 34 minutes of the game. But it's the game that solidified Brady's status as the GOAT. It sent the Falcons into a tailspin that they have yet to recover from. It was one of the most unbelievable games in NFL history, and it was a Super Bowl.
2. Super Bowl LII -- Eagles 41, Patriots 33
This was a storybook Super Bowl that I still have a hard time believing. A backup QB leads his team on an epic run through the playoffs and faces off against the greatest QB and head coach in football history, fresh off the greatest comeback in football history. Both teams battle back and forth for an extremely intense 48 minutes in an offensive showcase that entertained even the people at your party who were there for the commercials and wings only. There was a baffling coaching decision (Malcolm Butler). There was a trick play involving a pass to a quarterback that will go down in infamy (The Philly Special). There were records broken in nearly every aspect. And the underdogs came out on top. A Hollywood screenwriter legitimately could not have come up with a better script for the story of Nick Foles and the 2016 Philadelphia Eagles. It is one of the best Super Bowls ever, and nearly the best of this decade.
1. Super Bowl XLIX -- Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
But this was, in my opinion, the best football game played on the biggest stage in sports of the 2010s. Falcons-Patriots was an amazing comeback, but at least one team played bad football at any given point throughout. It was incredible watching Nick Freakin' Foles and Tom Brady duke it out, yet the defensive effort by both sides would make a coach puke. But Patriots-Seahawks featured elite players on both sides making big plays when it mattered most. The game was tight until the Seahawks built up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter-- but then Brady led his team back against one of the best secondaries of the century, and probably all-time. Gronk caught a touchdown by toasting a linebacker on a go route, something that happened so often you don't need to have seen the play to visualize it. It featured not one, but two unlikely heroes; Chris Matthews (remember him?) took Kyle Arrington to the bank, catching four passes for over 100 yards and a touchdown before never being heard from again.
And, of course, there was Malcolm Butler. An undrafted rookie free agent not even Patriots faithful had heard of. Everyone watched as he covered Jermaine Kearse like a wet blanket until the ball bounced everywhere other than the ground and Kearse caught it in what could only have been David Tyree reborn. Seattle nearly punched it in with Marshawn Lynch, the best back in the league at the time, until an extraordinary tackle by Dont'a Hightower forced one last play. Then, inexplicably, inexcusably, unfathomably, incomprehensibly, Pete Carroll passed the ball at the one-yard line. Butler stepped in front of the pass and made what may have been the single greatest play in Super Bowl history when accounting for both impact and difficulty. It ending a budding dynasty in Seattle and kick-started the second half of New England's own dynastic run of 5 Super Bowl appearances in six years.
It was an incredible game of football. Both sides played nearly to perfection. And it was the best Super Bowl of the decade.