Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood, California, is fast approaching with only four weeks left in the NFL regular season.
This year, the game at SoFi Stadium, home of the LA Rams and LA Chargers, will be the 13th Super Bowl played in the state. And while there have been several memorable matchups, only one game can be crowned the best.
PlayUSA takes a look at the top five greatest Super Bowl games to take place in the Golden State.
But remember, this is the opinion of a writer who was raised on the blood of the Dallas Cowboys but over the past decade has embraced the blue-collar work ethic of the Chicago Bears. So, take this with a grain of salt.
Nonetheless, here we go!
#5 Super Bowl 50 – Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA
Feb. 7, 2016: Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-10.
Coming into this game, Carolina was 15-1, quarterback Cam Newton had just been named league MVP, and the team had the top offense in the NFL.
Newton had thrown for an impressive 3,837 yards, rushed for an additional 636 yards, had a league-high 45 total touchdowns (35 passing, 10 rushing). The Panthers’ defense was anchored by Pro Bowl safety Kurt Coleman and shutdown cornerback Josh Norman, also a Pro Bowl selection.
Even though the 12-4 Broncos had the gunslinger Peyton Manning on its roster, the team was led by their No. 1 ranked defense. On the defensive side of the ball, you might recall such names as Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Danny Trevathan, Brandon Marshall, Aqib Talib, and Chris Harris Jr.
While the game itself might not have featured many memorable moments, it ranks in the top five for one reason. It happened to be the final game of Manning’s career. Manning became the first quarterback to lead two teams to multiple Super Bowls and was – at the time- the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl (39).
#4 Super Bowl XIX – Stanford Stadium in Stanford, CA
Jan. 20, 1985: San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins, 38-16.
This game was all about star power. It featured two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever step on the gridiron, Dan Marino and Joe Montana.
In 85′, Marino led the Dolphins to a 14-2 record and the team’s fifth Super Bowl appearance. The 49ers were riding high after becoming the first team to win 15 regular-season games and posting a 15-1 record.
The 49ers’ dominant offense was led by Montana, who had thrown for 3,630 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and fullback Roger Craig. Craig rushed for 649 yards and seven touchdowns that season while catching 71 passes for 675 yards.
Miami was led by Marino, who was only in his second year. He had thrown for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns while also setting the record for most completions in a season (362). The young signal-caller spread the ball around to a wealth of talent in wide receivers Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, and Nat Moore.
Although the game eventually became a lopsided affair, its place in history still stands as one of the best displays of on-field talent.
#3 Super Bowl XXVII – Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA
Jan. 31, 1993: Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills, 52-17.
This game is etched in stone not because of what the winning team accomplished but more so what Buffalo managed to do.
Sure, Dallas won its third Super Bowl in team history, but Buffalo became the first team to lose three Super Bowls in a row. They would add a fourth to the list the following year.
Buffalo was led by eventual Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas. That year, Thomas rushed for 1,487 yards and nine touchdowns. Signal collar Jim Kelly hoped to lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl after failing to do so the previous two years.
While this era of Dallas dominance is remembered for Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin, this game specifically featured a wealth of defensive talent. The Cowboys had the 2nd best defense in the league, led by Jim Jeffcoat, Tony Tolbert, Charles Haley, and Robert Jones.
Making it to four Super Bowls in a row should not be overshadowed. There are some teams still trying to make it to their first. But losing four in a row — ouch.
#2 Super Bowl I – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA
Jan. 15, 1967: Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.
The one that started it all.
Led by the legendary Vince Lombardi, Green Bay entered the Super Bowl with a 12-2 record. Bart Starr won the NFL MVP and passed for 2,257 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only three interceptions.
Kansas City came into its match with an 11-2-1 record and a high-powered offense that scored 448 points. Their trio of running backs, Mike Garrett, Bert Coan, and Curtis McClinton, totaled 2,274 rushing yards and ranked among the top 10 rushers in the AFL. Commanding the offense was future Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson who in 67′ passed for 2,527 yards and 26 touchdowns.
This game started it all and, to this day, is the only Super Bowl to have been broadcast by two television networks simultaneously. Because of Super Bowl I, teams compete for the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy each year. And it’s because of this game that we as fans huddle around a tv screen for eight hours talking about how our team should be playing in the game each season.
#1 Super Bowl VII – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA
Jan. 14, 1973: Miami Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins, 14-7.
And we have arrived at the best Super Bowl matchup to take place in sunny Southern California.
Why is it No. 1 on the list? Because the ’72 Miami Dolphins ran the gauntlet and finished the regular season 14-0 before capping off the season with a Super Bowl victory. And to this day, they remain the only undefeated team in NFL history with a perfect 17-0 record.
Washington, which was the oldest team in the league, earned the nickname “The Over-the-hill Gang” due to the average age of their starters being 31 years old. Heading into the Super Bowl, the team finished 11-3 and was led by 38-year-old quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and running back Larry Brown.
And there was Miami. Other teams have tried and failed to accomplish what the Dolphins had done. Although Bob Griese began the season as the starter, a leg injury forced 17-year veteran Earl Morrall into the starting role. Morrall led the Dolphins to nine straight victories on his way to the 1972 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. Their backfield featured Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Eugene “Mercury” Morris.
Csonka, the legendary Dolphins halfback, led the team with 1,117 yards and six touchdowns. Miami recorded 2,960 total rushing yards and became the first team to have two players rush for over 1,000 yards in one season.
In the end, the best Super Bowl set in California had to be this one.