Biggest Super Bowl comebacks in NFL history (Updated 2022)

With Super Bowls providing the backdrop for some of the biggest moments in sports, these are the biggest Super Bowl comebacks in history.

In a game never short on theatrics or drama, Super Bowl comebacks live on for years to come and have produced some of the best memories in the history of the NFL. Here, we take a trip down memory lane and go over some of the biggest comebacks in NFL Super Bowl history.

Biggest Super Bowl comebacks in NFL history

While close, wire-to-wire games are exciting, there is nothing quite like watching a comeback in the Super Bowl. Whether via one team collapsing or the other finally getting their act together, these games take on a life of their own and define how we view those teams.

Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

I mean, did you expect me to start with any other game? 28-3. That’s all that needs to be said. Down 28-3 with 8:31 to go in the third quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots would go on to score on five consecutive drives, including two touchdown drives with two successful 2-point conversions to take the game to overtime.

Once the game went into overtime, we already knew who was winning well before James White scored from 2 yards out. Atlanta’s offense and defense made critical mistakes at the end of the game, along with questionable decisions by the coaching staff. It is just as much an incredible comeback as it was an epic collapse. New England ran 93 offensive plays to Atlanta’s 46, gassing the Falcons’ defense. It was the perfect storm.

One team executed their game plan to perfection, and one sputtered out when it needed it the most. Without a doubt, no Super Bowl comeback conversation can start without mentioning the simple phrase: 28-3.

Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

While Super Bowl LI is remembered for arguably the greatest comeback in not just Super Bowl but NFL history, it was not even the first by the Patriots. Just two short years prior in Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, the Patriots pulled off a 10-point comeback on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle was going for back-to-back Super Bowls victories for the first time since the Patriots did it in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX (2004 and 2005).

An interception by Bobby Wagner in the second half allowed Seattle to take advantage, and they drove 50 yards on 6 plays. A touchdown pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin made the score 24-14 in favor of Seattle and stood this way into the fourth quarter. Until this point, no team in Super Bowl history had come back to win after facing a fourth-quarter deficit of more than 7 points.

Yet, as history tells us, the Patriots did just that. But not without some controversy. In a play call that will live in infamy, with the ball on the 1-yard line with 26 seconds to go and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield down just 28-24, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll did the unthinkable and called a pass. Patriots CB Malcolm Butler read the play and saw the pick route coming.

Butler got around the would-be block and intercepted Wilson at the 1-yard line. Butler would go on to win Super Bowl MVP honors as his heads-up play secured, at the time, the biggest Super Bowl comeback in NFL history.

Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts

In 2009, the Indianapolis Colts were the team to beat. They even had a shot at history as they started the season 14-0. However, they opted to rest their starters and ended the regular season 14-2. Did they ever look the same?

That is up to interpretation, but if you listen to most players, they say it did impact them as it never seemed they got back to where they were heading into Week 16.

The Colts did come out of the gates hot against the Saints, going up 10-0 in the first quarter. Down 10-6 out of the half, head coach Sean Payton pulled off one of the gutsiest calls in Super Bowl history, spurring the comeback. On the second half’s opening kickoff, New Orleans attempted an onside kick and recovered.

A 16-yard touchdown to Pierre Thomas put the Saints up 13-10. After a Joseph Addai 4-yard TD as the Colts attempted to claw back momentum, the Saints would have none of it. They scored 18 straight points to cap off the Super Bowl comeback, defeating the Colts 31 to 17.

Super Bowl XXII: Washington Commanders vs. Denver Broncos

We have to go all the way back to 1988 for this Super Bowl comeback. Oddly enough, the comeback is hardly ever talked about as two larger narratives dominated the season. For one, this was the year of the replacements. Labor disputes forced the start of the season to be delayed.

Replacement players then played three games until it was finally settled. The second and larger topic surrounded Washington QB Doug Williams. He became the first Black quarterback to start an NFL Championship Game and the Super Bowl.

With a young John Elway at the helm of the Broncos, they came out and scored 10 points in the first quarter. They held the 10-point lead into the second quarter. This was also where Denver’s scoring ended. What happened next was an absolute onslaught by Williams, Gary Clark, Timmy Smith, and Ricky Sanders. Washington scored 42 unanswered points, including a still-standing record of 35 points in the second quarter alone.

Williams was named the Super Bowl MVP and became the first player in Super Bowl history to pass for 4 touchdowns in a single quarter and in a half. Williams was the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills

Bills Mafia, I love you, but you can click away now as you already know where this is going. “Wide Right” or “The Miss,” call it what you want, but we all know what happened. The Giants overcame a 12-3 deficit in the second quarter and made a 75-yard touchdown drive. Yet, no one remembers the Super Bowl comeback for good reason.

With 8 seconds left to go in the game, the Bills lined up for a 47-yard field goal. This would have given them the likely win. Scott Norwood lined up on the right-hash and prepared for the kick, yet this was not a comfortable spot for him. Norwood was 1-of-5 on field-goal attempts of 40-plus yards on grass in his career at that point. His longest field goal was just 48 yards that season, considerably below the NFL average.

In one sweep of the leg and a “No good … wide right” call by Al Michaels, Norwood’s miss still echos in the minds of Bills fans. It also started a stretch of four straight Super Bowl losses for Buffalo, a record that still stands. While the Giants made a comeback to win the Super Bowl, it is hardly the most memorable part.

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