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The 10 Worst Super Bowls of All-Time According to Ratings

Super Bowl

As the Super Bowl has grown to become an unofficial national holiday in the United States, many people tune in solely to catch a glimpse of the game's most memorable ads. The Super Bowl is a much-appreciated professional football game. While competitive matches have emerged as the norm over the last decade, they were the exception in the 1980s and 1990s.

Now that Super Bowl LVI has come and gone, football fans have witnessed and participated in almost four dozen iterations of the NFL's championship game. A good game is not guaranteed because it is the Super Bowl. You are required to be the least average to make it this far in the NFL playoffs, so both teams are usually strong contenders.

That being the case, it's so disheartening when a star performer in America's national pastime flubs his lines in the championship game. Even quarterbacks, and perhaps especially quarterbacks, must face this unfortunate reality. However, once the Super Bowl rolls around, anything can happen.

However, with 50 seasons of the NFL's greatest game on record, there is a sizable sample to rate and re-rank per the quality. There have been several genuinely terrible Super Bowl quarterback performances, ones that would barely be worth remembering if they didn't stand out for a slew of wrong reasons. According to ratings, here are the 10 worst super bowls of all time.

10. Super Bowl XX- Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10 (1986)

The 1985 season saw "The Monsters of the Midway" on a quest, nearly going undefeated thanks to a strong defense commanded by linebackers coach Buddy Ryan. Jim McMahon was in charge of the offense, and Walter Payton was in charge of the rushing assault.

After Payton fumbled deep in Chicago territory, Tony Franklin kicked a 36-yard field goal for the Patriots less than a minute into the game. Bears' defense swiftly stifled Patriots' quarterbacks Steve Grogan and Tony Eason, limiting them to minus yards in the first half and 123 total yards for the game.

William "Refrigerator" Perry, a defensive tackle for the Bears, scored a humorous one-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Chicago's defense was outstanding, as they allowed zero points in each of their two playoff victories en route to the Super Bowl. The oddsmakers gave the Patriots ten points of a disadvantage because they did not stand a chance. This super bowl has a rating f 48.3 and a viewership of 92.57 million.

9. Super Bowl XLVIII- Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8 (2014)

Seahawks ran up a 36-0 lead late in the third quarter instead of the anticipated close matchup between the two No. 1 seeds, only the third such matchup in Super Bowl history at that point. The Broncos won the AFC Championship in Peyton Manning's second season in Denver, thanks to the top offense he brought with him.

However, facing a dominant Seattle defense in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium seems to have been a rude awakening. The Broncos' season was derailed by a series of misfortunes that began with a poor shotgun snap on the game's first offensive play, which resulted in a safety for the Seahawks.

If the Seahawks' 22-0 halftime lead wasn't enough, Percy Harvin's 87-yard reception of the second-half kickoff was enough to end the game. The 36-8 lead only at the end of the third quarter rendered the outcome a formality, ending any realistic possibility the Broncos had of mounting a comeback.

After losing Super Bowl XLVIII, examination of Manning's big-game record resumed. The 48th Super Bowl was lopsided from the outset and is unquestionably among the worst game versions. With a television viewership of 112.19 million, this super bowl is rated at 46.7.

8. Super Bowl 50 – Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10 (2016)

The game between Denver and Carolina, played on the subpar turf at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, had the third-largest broadcast audience in American history because it was an anniversary game so exceptional that it serves as the sole modern Super Bowl that was not indicated by Roman numerals.

According to Bleacher Report, the game had six turnovers, and the Broncos prevailed despite being outscored in both total yardage (315-194) and first downs (21-11). Only four of twenty-nine (3%) third downs were successful between the two teams, the lowest proportion in Super Bowl history.

Peyton Manning threw for 141 yards and an interception in his final game while completing 13 of 23 passes. Cam Newton was hardly a savior, though, going 18 for 41 for 265 yards and one interception and then storming out of his postgame press conference in a huff. Evidently, the Super Bowl 50 was completely controlled by Denver's defense, which kept the Broncos in charge for most of the contest. With 11.86 million, this super bowl possesses a 46.6 rating.

7. Super Bowl XV- Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10 (1981)

Most people recognize Ron Jaworski now for his role as an ESPN analyst that watches movies obsessively despite how he jokes about not having enough time in the day. He was a quarterback in the NFL for a lengthy time, much less that he won a Super Bowl with the Eagles.

Nonetheless, the Raiders were the superior team on January 25, 1981, in New Orleans, as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the completion of the first quarter and have never looked back. QB Jim Plunkett passed for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and he was named the game's most valuable player after Raiders linebacker Rod Martin picked Jaworski a Super Bowl record three times.

Plunkett is the only quarterback in Pro Football Hall of Fame eligibility who started and won several Super Bowls yet does not have a bust. According to Franchise Sports, the first of those two victories on the NFL's largest stage came in Super Bowl XV against the Eagles, but the second of several Super Bowls in the Superdome sticks out as a true downer. For the super bowl XV, the rating was 44.4.

6. Super Bowl XXII- Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10 (1988)

The Denver Broncos, led by quarterback John Elway, got off to a better start in their second Super Bowl appearance than they did in their first. They led 10-0 after the first quarter. The Redskins scored 35 in the second quarter, setting a Super Bowl record for just a quarter and eventually winning the game.

According to Men's Journal, the triumph of Washington in January 1988 was the result of numerous noteworthy individual accomplishments. The game's most valuable player, Doug Williams, made history by becoming the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Running back Timmy Smith also made history by setting a Super Bowl record with 204 rushing yards, and wide receiver Ricky Sanders also broke a Super Bowl record by catching nine passes for 193 yards. After losing his third Super Bowl as a player, Elway went on to win the championship in his final two years in the league.

Super Bowl XXII merits its firm position on our list, as there was genuine hope for a Broncos triumph against the Redskins at one point until a blowout unfolded as Washington scored 42 unanswered points. It stands at a 41.9 rating, and this super bowl is quite low.

5. Super Bowl V- Baltimore Colts, Dallas Cowboys 13 (1971)

In this situation, a team is well past its prime. The 1971 Colts team had already achieved great success. This group, though, was getting on in years and was losing steam. In terms of age, Johnny Unitas was 37. With 14 touchdown passes and 18 picks, Unitas' age was starting to show. Norm Bulaich amassed 426 yards as Baltimore's best rusher, but he scored just three times.

The Colts played the Bills to a home tie. Weirdness abounded in Super Bowl V. In the first Super Bowl played on artificial turf, the Colts prevailed on a field goal from 32 yards out. There were 11 turnovers in this game, and Chuck Howley was voted the winners' MVP. In the Cowboys' defense, Howley played as a linebacker. As for this super bowl, the rating was 39.9 and 41.66 million viewers.

4. Super Bowl XL – Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10 (2006)

There's a wide range of feelings associated with February 5, 2006, from nostalgia to sorrow, depending on where your championship allegiances lay. Starting in Week 13, when their record was 7-5, Pittsburgh won eight straight games. As the number six seed, the Steelers made history by becoming the first club in league history to win the Super Bowl by away-game elimination of the top three seeds. From the standpoint of the Seahawks' fanbase, the officials called a lot of bad calls during the game.

The winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for just 9 of 21 possible passes for 123 yards and two interceptions. He is only in his second season in the NFL. Midway in the fourth quarter, game MVP Hines Ward scored on a 43-yard pass from Steelers wide receiver (and former college quarterback) Antwaan Randle El. Willie Parker, the running back for the Steelers, scored on a 75-yard run that was impressive but not unforgettable.

This was the 40th Super Bowl, and it deserved much better than what people got from the Steelers and the Seahawks. Super Bowl XL in Detroit was a huge disappointment, but it now appears to be a watershed event in the game's history. The super bowl rating for this was 41.6.

3. Super Bowl LIII- New England Patriots 13, Los Angeles Rams 3 (2019)

The outcome of this game was still up in the air far into the final period, when it should have been at its most riveting. According to CBS News, the Rams wowed people with their explosive attack all season long, but in the playoffs, they stalled. New England's offense, led by Tom Brady, wasn't any better.

Starting pressure from the Los Angeles defense seemed like it would be too much for quarterback Brady to handle. However, it wasn't the case. As the game dragged on, the Patriots eventually prevailed 13-3 over the Los Angeles Rams to set a record for the fewest points scored in a Super Bowl. It's the first time in Super Bowl history that an older quarterback-coach tandem has beaten a younger one.

The Patriots scored first with a field goal in the second quarter, and the Rams responded with their own field goal in the third. However, for the first time in Super Bowl history, the very first three-quarters of the match passed without a touchdown being scored by either team. To sum up, this is considered among the worst Super Bowl history because the game ultimately achieved nothing and did it at an exceptionally slow pace. For this super bowl, the rating was 41.1.

2. Super Bowl XXIV- San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10 (1990)

Both the 49ers' 55 points and their 45-point victory margin are Super Bowl records. After the Broncos' humiliating loss in the Super Bowl, it appeared like John Elway would never win a championship. But as history would show, he took a mediocre team to three Super Bowl victories in four years and won another two in a row with better players at his disposal.

At the close of his tenure Super Bowl XXIV was won by the San Francisco 49ers over the Denver Broncos because Denver's defense couldn't keep up with the 49ers' high-powered attack. There has never been a Super Bowl with a higher combined point total and a larger margin of victory. The super bowl received a viewership of 73.85 million and a rating of 39.0.

1. Super Bowl LV- The Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs (2021)

Both of these clubs had become Super Bowl mainstays. The 49ers were playing their second consecutive appearance and eighth overall, while the Broncos were representing the AFC again for the third time in four seasons. According to Touch Down Wire, the 49ers got a fast start, capping up their opening play with a touchdown pass from Joe Montana to Jerry Rice that covered 20 yards.

Denver responded with only a field goal; however, the team's strategy of responding with a field goal and scoring a touchdown ultimately failed. The Broncos were already playing from behind when they committed four turnovers. Montana threw for five touchdowns, a Super Bowl record, and was named MVP for the third time in his four Super Bowl triumphs.

Unfortunately, the game with The Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs brought dismay among supporters. Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady would have had the opportunity to carry the win to one another in a memorable way. However, Mahomes could not accomplish this due to the weak Kansas City offensive line. Sadly, the Chiefs were not even successful in achieving a touchdown.

Even so, only after the third quarter is when everyone was confident that Kansas City's offense was doomed. During the game, the fans had some excitement and hope as zero points were scored throughout the fourth quarter. The game ended with The Buccaneers dominating the game as the score was 31-9. The rating of this game was 38.2, with 5.7 million people streaming online and 91.63 million television viewers.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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