Super Bowl LI had the makings of a tight contest, as the Falcons were listed as 3-point underdogs against a Patriots team that was hoping to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Foxborough for the fourth time in 15 years.
However, it looked like the oddsmakers had seriously botched the forecast based on the absolute beatdown Atlanta put on New England over the course of the first half to head into the locker room with a very comfortable 21-3 lead.
Things got even more out of hand midway through the third quarter when Matt Ryan connected with Tevin Coleman on a short touchdown pass before Matt Bryant trotted out to kick the extra point that gave the Falcons a seemingly insurmountable 28-3 lead.
As virtually every football fan on the planet knows, “seemingly” is the key word in that last sentence. When everything was said and done, Atlanta had fallen victim to one of the biggest choke jobs in NFL history on the league’s biggest stage as the Patriots mounted the 25-point comeback that ended with them walking away with the 34-28 overtime victory.
While that game featured what was far and away the largest and most memorable comeback in Super Bowl history, its epic nature has overshadowed some other notable showdowns where the eventual champs have managed to crawl back from a double-digit hole—specifically the three occasions where the victor has overcome a 10-point deficit to win The Big Game.
Taking a look back at the biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history (that didn’t involve the Patriots and the Falcons)
Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots vs. Seahawks
The Patriots were also involved in what is arguably the second-most iconic comeback to ever unfold in the Super Bowl courtesy of what went down when they faced off against the Seahawks in 2015.
By that point, almost 15 years of history had shown virtually no lead was safe when you were playing a New England offense helmed by Tom Brady. Seattle was able to take a 24-14 lead courtesy of Russell Wilson’s TD pass to Doug Baldwin with a little under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, but that development shouldn’t have made Patriots fans particularly worried (or Seahawks fans particularly relieved).
The G.O.A.T. did what he did best by tossing two unanswered touchdown passes that put the Pats ahead by a score of 28-24 with just over two minutes to go. There was still plenty of time for the Seahawks to answer, and it seemed like they were going to do exactly that before Malcolm Butler snagged the interception that ensured he’ll never have to pay for a drink in the state of Massascussetss for as long as he lives.
Super Bowl XLIV: Saints vs. Colts
This game featured two Hall of Fame quarterbacks going at it in their prime in the form of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees; the former was hoping to win his second Super Bowl ring while the latter was hoping to secure a title for a Saints franchise that had never appeared in The Big Game prior to this matchup.
The contest marked the end of Manning’s second consecutive MVP season, and the QB helped the Colts pull out to a 10-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. New Orleans was able to answer with a couple of field goals while keeping Indianapolis scoreless in the second, but they were still facing an uphill battle when they headed into the locker room.
Manning may claim he never made a halftime adjustment during his career, but the Saints seemed to use that break to their advantage based on what transpired in the second half. The guys in black and gold only needed around three minutes to take a 13-10 lead, and while the Colts responded with a TD of their own, New Orleans posted 18 unanswered points en route to the 31-17 win.
Super Bowl XXII: Redskins vs Broncos
You can be forgiven for not remembering this contest as vividly as the others that have already been mentioned when you consider it took place in 1988. However, it’s also one that most Broncos fans would likely prefer to forget due to the nature of the comeback that crescendoed into a stunning blowout.
Denver was favored by three points heading into the game thanks in no small part to John Elway, who opened up the scoring on the Broncos’ first play from scrimmage with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel.
A field goal would give them a 10-0 lead heading into the second quarter, but that frame saw the team now known as the “Washington Commanders” score a staggering 35 points. They’d add another TD for good measure in the fourth quarter before walking away with the 42-10, which remains the fifth-biggest blowout in Super Bowl history.