The Best Football Team to Lose the Super Bowl Isn’t the 2007 Patriots

The 2007 Patriots were poised to make history. They were the first team in NFL history to go 16-0 in the regular season, and they won their first two playoff games rather easily. When it came time for Super Bowl XLII, though, they fell short — losing to the Giants, 17-14.

Given their historic regular season, you may think the 2007 Patriots are the best team to lose the Super Bowl. But they’re not. Here’s the team that is.

The Baltimore Colts’ 1968 season

The Baltimore Colts steamrolled through opponents in 1968. They ended the regular season 14-1, with their only loss coming to the Browns in Week 6. In their next seven games, they gave up a total of 32 points — with three shutouts during that stretch. None of those seven opponents scored more than 10 points.

The Colts were a dominant team throughout the season. QB Earl Morrall was even named MVP by the Associated Press. The team’s dominant performance even extended to the NFL Championship game — this was before the NFL and AFL combined to form a single league — when the Colts dominated the Browns, 34-0 to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl, which didn’t go as planned.

Super Bowl III disappointment

Even more than 50 years after the game took place, anytime a football fan hears the name Super Bowl III, they know what happened. The Colts were heavy favorites over the Jets — Vegas had the line as Colts -18 — but this didn’t stop Jets QB Joe Namath from guaranteeing his team would win the game.

His promise came just days before the game, making headlines across the country. Jets coach Weeb Ewbank was upset with the bold claim, later saying he “could have shot [Namath] for saying it.” But things worked out for Namath. The Jets’ defense stifled the Colts’ offense, holding them without a touchdown until late in the game and forcing five turnovers.

Morrall started the game. He went 6-for-17 for 71 yards with three interceptions before being pulled and replaced by Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, who was 11-for-24 for 110 yards and an interception. Namath was 17-for-28 for 206 yards, and he didn’t throw any touchdowns or interceptions.

The Jets’ best offensive performer was RB Matt Snell, who gained 121 yards on 30 carries and scored the Jets’ only touchdown en route to a 16-7 victory in the franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance to date.

More surprising loss than the 2007 Patriots

The Colts were dominant on both sides of the ball in 1968, finishing the regular season second in points scored and first in points allowed. Their point differential was +258 — well ahead of the rest of the teams in the league.

The ’07 Patriots had the league’s best offense and the fourth-best defense in terms of points allowed. While the Patriot scored had a higher-scoring offense, they also gave up significantly more points to their opponents. (They allowed opponents to score at least 27 points more often than they held opponents to 10 or fewer.)

Perhaps the biggest reason the Colts’ Super Bowl loss was more surprising was because of the respective opponents. The Patriots lost to the Giants, who beat them in Week 17, while the Colts lost to a Jets team even though they were heavy favorites in the Super Bowl. The Colts’ MVP quarterback threw three interceptions and had to be benched during the game.

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