NFL

In 54 Super Bowls, 1 Kind of Touchdown Has Never Occurred

Through the first 54 Super Bowls, touchdowns have been scored every which way — on the ground, through the air, by pick-six, by kickoff return, all of them. Except one. To date, there have been no punt returns for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Close calls

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To date, 54 Super Bowl games have been played. You would think that would be more than enough time for every kind of basic football occurrence to have happened, but you would be surprised. It took 51 years for a Super Bowl to reach overtime, after all.

While no one has yet returned a punt for a touchdown in a Super Bowl, there have been a few close calls. The closest of all came in Super Bowl 50, when the Broncos’ Jordan Norwood took a Panthers punt 61 yards, all the way to the Carolina 14-yard line. If it weren’t for Panthers defensive end Mario Addison, who somehow chased him down, Norwood “wood” be in the record books.

Before Norwood, the previous record went to 49ers wide receiver John Taylor. Taylor set his record during Super Bowl XXIII when he returned a Bengals punt 45 yards. Of course, this wasn’t his most memorable play of the game; later that day he would catch the game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana with 34 seconds left.

Kickoff returns are different

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There have been no punt returns for touchdowns in Super Bowl history, but 10 players have returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the big game. The first was Fulton Walker of the Miami Dolphins, who returned a Washington kickoff 98 yards to the end zone in Super Bowl XVII.

Super Bowl XXXV saw two consecutive kickoffs returned for touchdowns. What made this even more remarkable was that this immediately followed a pick-six from the Baltimore Ravens’ Duane Starks, making this a streak of three consecutive touchdown returns. After Starks’ interception, Ron Dixon of the New York Giants answered with a 97-yard kickoff return, which turned out to be the Giants’ only points of the game. The Ravens’ Jermaine Lewis answered with an 84-yard touchdown return of his own, which effectively sealed the game.

Only one player has returned the Super Bowl’s opening kickoff for a touchdown. That player was Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears, one of the greatest return specialists in NFL history. Hester took the opening kick of Super Bowl XLI for a 92-yard touchdown in a game the Bears eventually lost.

Other things that have never happened

A punt return for a touchdown is not the only thing that has never happened in Super Bowl history.

In 54 games, no team has been shut out. The fewest points recorded by a team has been three, a record-low which has been set twice. The Miami Dolphins set this low bar with their 24-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI. Nearly a half-century later, the Los Angeles Rams matched it with their 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Throughout the Super Bowl era, no team has won three championships in a row. Multiple teams have repeated as champions but come up short in their quest for a “three-peat”. The last team to win two consecutive championships is the New England Patriots, who won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX in 2004 and 2005.

The Kansas City Chiefs will go for their second straight title in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 6.