Part of the excitement of the Super Bowl is that nobody knows what is going to happen. We come in with expectations only for unexpected heroes to emerge and unexpected teams to be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the night. As we wait for the kickoff to Super Bowl LVII, here is a look back at a few of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl III: Jets def. Colts, 16-7
It’s hard to believe the AFL’s Jets were 19.5-point underdogs as a Super Bowl participant, but that’s exactly where Joe Namath & Co. found themselves in Super Bowl III. Namath, of course, made his famous guarantee and then backed it up on the field, going 17-for-26 for 206 yards while building a 16-0 lead, which ultimately was enough. The Colts, who had defeated the Browns 34-0 in the NFL Championship Game, were stunned and in Namath, a legend was born.
Super Bowl IV: Chiefs def. Vikings, 23-7
Only one year later, the AFL’s champion once again topped the NFL’s champion as a heavy underdog. Minnesota was favored by 13.5 points but found themselves down 16-0 at halftime. Kansas City’s defense was simply too much in the wet conditions as they held Minnesota to just 239 yards of total offense en route to the 23-7 win. The Vikings––who still have never won a Super Bowl––became one of the best teams to not win a title.
Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots def. Rams, 20-17
It’s hard to believe Tom Brady was ever a 14-point underdog in the Super Bowl, but few believed the newly minted starter stood a chance against the Greatest Show on Turf in Super Bowl XXXVI. Brady stayed composed, kept his team in the game, and marched them down the field for the game-winning field goal, giving him his first Super Bowl title and sparking a legacy that is now unmatched in the sport’s history.
Super Bowl XLII: Giants def. Patriots, 17-14
What is not hard to believe is that Brady’s 18-0 Patriots were favored by 12 points against the scrappy Giants in Super Bowl XLII. After all, New England set all sorts of offensive records that season and had yet to lose a game. New York, meanwhile, was just 10-6 in the regular season. But Eli Manning put the team on his back, David Tyree made one of the most famous catches in Super Bowl history, and the G-Men pulled off one of the most unexpected wins in the history of the sport’s marquee event.
This article can also be found in our Ultimate Guide to Super Bowl 57, presented by Frank’s Red Hot.