The greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history

Profile Picture: Josh Powell

January 12th, 2021

Legends are made at the Super Bowl, where the world's best players make their mark through four quarters of gruelling, intense, high-pressure football.

It's hard enough to win the NFL's championship game, but overcoming a deficit to pull off a victory is particularly special. Join us now as we select the five greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history.

5. Super Bowl XXII: Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10

Some comebacks are more decisive than others. The Broncos held a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but they wouldn’t score a single point more as Washington rattled off an incredible, record-breaking 35 points before halftime.

Doug Williams, who began the season as the back-up QB, threw four touchdowns in the second quarter as Washington turned the Super Bowl on its head.

The second half was quiet with the only points coming from a Tommy Smith run in the fourth quarter to extend the Washington lead to 32 points.

4. Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24

The Patriots and Seahawks were evenly matched heading into the Super Bowl, so it came as no surprise when they entered halftime locked at 14-14. But a Seattle field goal and an interception which led to a Doug Baldwin touchdown gave the Seahawks a 10-point lead going into the final quarter.

Until this game no team had won a Super Bowl after being more than seven points down at the start of the fourth quarter.

With little under eight minutes left of the game, Tom Brady capped a 68-yard drive with a 4-yard pass to Danny Amendola to cut the Seahawks' lead to just three points. The Patriots then got the ball back after a three-and-out for the Seahawks and Brady continued to move the sticks into Seattle territory. With two minutes left on the clock, Julian Edelman caught a three-yard touchdown pass to put New England in front.

Incredibly, the Seahawks came back at New England courtesy of a 31-yard completion to Marshawn Lynch and a 33-yard pass to WR Jermaine Kearse, which was juggled in the air and somehow reeled in.

With 65 seconds left, the Seahawks had a first down on the Patriots five-yard line. Lynch brought them to within a yard, but Malcolm Butler made an interception to secure a remarkable comeback.

3. Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

The Giants built their season in 1991 on a rock-solid defense. However, Buffalo was still able to build a lead, and with less than 30 seconds left of the first half, the Bills were up 12-3.

However back-to-back touchdowns from Stephen Baker and Ottis Anderson gave the Giants a 17-12 lead and the Bills offense didn't touch the ball in two hours of real time. That didn’t stop them advancing 63 yards on just four plays in the fourth quarter, finishing with a 31-yard touchdown run from Thurman Thomas to put the Bills back in the lead by two points.

The Giants came back again though, and a 21-yard Matt Bahr field goal put them ahead 20-19. The Bills ended up having to punt on their next possession, but their defense came up with the goods and got them the ball back on their own 10-yard line with two minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

Buffalo got to the Giants' 29-yard line with just eight seconds to play, but Scott Norwood’s effort from 47 yards sailed wide of the posts, and the Giants' comeback was complete.

2. Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14

Bill Belichick and the Patriots had just completed a perfect 16-0 season, and were 12-point favorites against the Giants.

Although not as dominant as people expected, the Patriots had a 14-10 lead deep in the fourth quarter. The Giants had the ball but were back on their own 17-yard line with just 159 seconds left on the clock. The Giants got up to midfield but were facing a 3rd-and-5 with little over a minute to go before the greatest play the Super Bowl may ever see.

Eli Manning was rushed quickly, but eluded a potential tackle from Adalius Thomas and got away from Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour who both had a handful of the QB. Manning then realigned and threw a 32-yard bomb towards WR David Tyree, who was being shadowed by Rodney Harrison.

Tyree made the leap and caught the ball by pinning it against his helmet to keep the Giants in the game.

The 83-yard drive was capped off with a touchdown pass to Plaxio Burress and the Giants took a 17-14 lead going into the final 30 seconds. The Patriots couldn’t even pick up an extra yard as the Giants sealed a most unlikely comeback.

1. Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28

The greatest comeback of all time, and possibly the greatest Super Bowl ever. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were in their seventh Super Bowl, but when Falcons QB Matt Ryan found Tevin Coleman midway through the third quarter it looked set to end in disappointment as Atlanta went ahead 28-3.

It took Tom Brady just 13 plays and six-and-a-half minutes to respond with a 75-yard drive that ended in a James White touchdown, but going into the fourth quarter the Falcons still had a 19-point lead.

A field goal from Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski cut the lead to 16, but there were less than 10 minutes to go. The momentum continued to shift as Matt Ryan fumbled – his first turnover in two months – and the Patriots cashed in courtesy of a Danny Amendola touchdown and a two-point conversion by James White.

The Falcons came back though, and Julio Jones hauled in a pass from Ryan to give them a first down on the New England 22-yard line with 4 minutes and 40 second on the clock. However, a failed run, sack, offensive penalty, and incompletion left the Falcons punting from the Patriots' 45-yard line.

The Patriots started on their own 9-yard line with three-and-a-half minutes to go. Falcons CB Robert Alford almost had an interception, but somehow Edelman caught a ball that bounced off his shoe to keep the drive alive. With less than a minute left White scored a one-yard TD and Amendola caught a Brady pass for a two-point conversion to tie the game.

The Patriots won the toss, and it took Brady just eight plays to move the ball 75 yards, finishing with yet another James White TD to secure the greatest Super Bowl win of all time.