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Let’s get real here. The best team doesn’t always win the Super Bowl. Look no further than the No. 1 entry on our list for proof of that.

But such is the beauty of the NFL.

Unlike the NBA, NHL, or Major League Baseball, where a team can lose a game as part of a series and still win a title, the Super Bowl is one game for all the marbles. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been the better overall team throughout the season. If you’re not the best team that day, you don’t take home a trophy.

With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the five best teams to lose the Super Bowl. And surely you’ve guessed who No. 1 is already, right?

5. 2001 St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl 36

Coming in at No. 5 are the 2001 St. Louis Rams, otherwise known as the last hurrah of “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, who won NFL MVP for the second time in three years, running back Marshall Faulk, who’d won NFL MVP a year earlier, and the dynamic receiving duo of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, the Rams averaged 31.4 points per game en route to an NFL-best 14-2 regular-season record.

After wins over the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles to open their postseason, the Rams entered Super Bowl 36 as heavy favorites over the surprising New England Patriots. The Pats, of course, made their way to the Big Game behind a dream season from a young backup quarterback named Tom Brady, who stepped in when Drew Bledsoe legit almost died after taking a massive hit early in the season.

Everyone expected St. Louis to take an easy win over New England at the Superdome in New Orleans, but Bill Belichick & Co. didn’t get the memo as the Patriots took a 20-17 upset victory on a 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired.

4. 1983 Washington Commanders, Super Bowl 18

Coming off a Super Bowl victory following the strike-shortened 1982 season, the team now known as the Washington Commanders was out to prove its championship wasn’t a fluke in 1983. And Joe Gibbs’ group certainly accomplished that, at least for most of the season.

Behind an MVP season from quarterback Joe Theismann and an All-Pro campaign from running back John Riggins, who were part of an offense that averaged a league-leading 33.8 points per game, Washington went 14-2 in the regular season. And those two losses were only by one point each. So they were legit only a few points away from a perfect year.

After decimating the Rams, 51-7, in the Divisional Round and defeating Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game, Washington entered Super Bowl 18 against the Los Angeles Raiders as three-point favorites.

But Washington certainly didn’t look like the better team that day in Tampa as the Raiders, behind a 191-yard, two-touchdown performance from game MVP Marcus Allen, took an easy 38-9 victory.

3. 1968 Baltimore Colts, Super Bowl 3

Despite losing reigning MVP Johnny Unitas to an injury in the preseason, the Baltimore Colts still went 13-1 during the 1968 NFL regular season behind a solid season from backup quarterback Earl Morrall, who won an MVP of his own that year.

Of course, it certainly helped to have a defense that allowed just 10.3 points per game. And that defense was on display in the NFL Championship Game as the Colts avenged their only loss of the season as they blanked the Cleveland Browns, 34-0, to earn a trip to Super Bowl 3, which was then still called the AFL-NFL Championship Game.

Facing the AFL champion New York Jets, the Colts were heavy favorites that day in Miami. We’re talking 19.5-point favorites here.

But just as AFL MVP Joe Namath guaranteed, the Jets shocked the world with a 16-7 upset in the Orange Bowl, giving the AFL its first winner in the Super Bowl in three tries.

2. 2015 Carolina Panthers, Super Bowl 50

lt’s often easy to forget just how good the 2015 Carolina Panthers were.

With a high-octane offense led by NFL MVP Cam Newton, who threw for 35 touchdowns and rushed for another 10, and an underrated defense, the Panthers went 15-1 during the regular season, taking only a seven-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16.

After averaging a league-best 31.3 points per game during the regular season, Carolina averaged 40 in victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals to open the postseason, setting up a Super Bowl 50 matchup with the Denver Broncos.

Unfortunately for Panthers fans, in what remains one of the most-watched Super Bowls of all time, Carolina couldn’t do a thing against the Denver defense and took a 24-10 loss.

1. 2007 New England Patriots, Super Bowl 42

Tom Brady during the Super Bowl 42 matchup between the New England Patriots and New York Giants
Quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots looks on during Super Bowl 42 against the New York Giants on February 3, 2008 | Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As if the No. 1 spot could belong to any other team besides the 2007 New England Patriots.

Behind an NFL MVP-winning season from Tom Brady, who completed 68.9% of his passes for 4,806 yards with 50 touchdowns against just eight interceptions, and a strong defense that allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league, the Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season.

And following victories over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers on the AFC side of the postseason bracket, it was almost a formality that the 18-0 Patriots would stomp the New York Giants, who went 10-6 in the regular season, in Super Bowl 42.

But Eli Manning & Co., who were 12-point underdogs, had other plans and wrecked the Patriots’ perfect season, taking a 17-14 victory in Glendale in what is arguably the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.


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