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It's The Storylines, Not Stats, That Stand The Test Of Time

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Joe Namath and the New York Jets shocked the world in Super Bowl III. Photo by Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images.
Joe Namath and the New York Jets shocked the world in Super Bowl III. Photo by Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images.

The Super Bowl statistics get all the play at the time they're produced.

But as the years go by, it’s the storylines that we remember the most.

With that, then, as Sunday night’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks approaches, here are the main storylines coming out of every game in Super Bowl history:

*Super Bowl I – Jan. 15, 1967 – at Los Angeles (61,946) -- Green Bay Packers (NFL) 35, Kansas City Chiefs (AFL) 10 – It is a close game at halftime before the Packers pull away and save the reputation of the “bigger” league.  

*Super Bowl II – Jan. 14, 1968 – at Miami (75,546) – Green Bay Packers (NFL) 33, Oakland Raiders (AFL) 14 – By winning their second straight Super Bowl championship and third NFL (NFC) title overall, head coach Vince Lombardi’s team established itself as a dynasty.

*Super Bowl III – Jan. 12, 1969 – at Miami (75,389) – New York Jets (AFL) 16, Baltimore Colts (NFL) 7 – Joe Namath brashly guarantees that he, the Jets and the best the AFL has to offer will beat the NFL’s best, and when he’s proven correct, it moves mountains and changes the pro football world.

*Super Bowl IV – Jan. 11, 1970 – at New Orleans (80,562) – Kansas City Chiefs (AFL) 23, Minnesota Vikings (NFL) 7 – As head coach Hank Stram’s Chiefs matriculate their way up and down the field and dominate a Vikings team that had smashed its way to the Super Bowl, they put an exclamation point behind the Jets’ feat from the year before and prove it was no fluke.

*Super Bowl V – Jan. 19, 1971 – at Miami (79,204) – Baltimore Colts (AFC) 16, Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 13 – Yes, the AFC champions win the Super Bowl, but the members of the pro-NFL crowd had already pointed to the fact that the game featured two teams from the league’s old guard.

*Super Bowl VI – Jan. 16, 1972 – at New Orleans (81,203) – Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 24, Miami Dolphins (AFC) 3 – After being denied for five straight years, the Cowboys finally vault to the top of the league.

*Super Bowl VII – Jan. 14, 1973 – at Los Angeles (90,182) – Miami Dolphins (AFC) 14, Washington Redskins (NFC) 7 – The Dolphins become the only perfect team in NFL history.

*Super Bowl VIII – Jan. 13, 1974 – at Houston (71,882) – Miami Dolphins (AFC) 24, Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 7 – There were a few blemishes this time, but the Dolphins establish themselves as the league’s first dynasty since the Packers.

*Super Bowl IX – Jan. 12, 1975 – at New Orleans (80,997) – Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 16, Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 6 – The team that went its first 39 seasons without a playoff appearance uses an unyielding defense to sink the Vikings.

*Super Bowl X – Jan. 18, 1976 – at Miami (80,187) – Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 21, Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 17 – They might not be “America’s team,” but the Steelers are the NFL’s best team – again.

*Super Bowl XI – Jan. 9, 1977 – at Pasadena (103,438) – Oakland Raiders (AFC) 32, Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 14 – The AFC has the winning Super Bowl team for the fifth straight season and continues to establish itself as the dominant conference at the expense of a Vikings club that loses the title game for the fourth time in eight years.

*Super Bowl XII – Jan. 15, 1978 – at New Orleans (75,583) – Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 27, Denver Broncos (AFC) 10 – Their new QB, Roger Staubach, outplays their old QB, Craig Morton, as the Cowboys crush the “Orange Crush” defense.

*Super Bowl XIII – Jan. 21, 1979 – at Miami (79,484) – Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 35, Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 31 – The Steelers prove that a power team can beat a finesse team, and in this case, for the second time in four seasons.

*Super Bowl XIV – Jan. 20, 1980 – at Pasadena (103,985) – Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 31, Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 19 – The ’70s Super Steelers win it all for the fourth time in six years, and do it before a Super Bowl-record crowd.

*Super Bowl XV – Jan. 25, 1981 – at New Orleans (76,135) – Oakland Raiders (AFC) 27, Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 10 – After having been tossed onto the scrap heap, former No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick (1971) Jim Plunkett resurrects his career by taking a wild card team all the way to a championship.   

*Super Bowl XVI – Jan. 24, 1982 – at Pontiac, Mich.(81,270)  -- San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 26, Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 21 – After losing for years, the 49ers win it all.

*Super Bowl XVII – Jan. 30, 1983 – at Pasadena (103,667) – Washington Redskins (NFC) 27, Miami Dolphins (AFC) 17 – This Joe Gibbs guy must be a pretty good coach, huh?

*Super Bowl XVIII – Jan. 22, 1984 – at Tampa (72,920) – Los Angeles Raiders (AFC) 38, Washington Redskins (NFC) 9 – The Redskins are big favorties and then get flattened big-time.

*Super Bowl XIX – Jan. 20, 1985 – at Stanford, Cal. (84,059) -- San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 38, Miami Dolphins (AFC) 16 – Both teams have great offenses, but it’s still defense that wins championships.

*Super Bowl XX – Jan. 26, 1986 – at New Orleans (73,818) – Chicago Bears (NFC) 46, New England Patriots (AFC) 10 – If the Bears defense were a gang performing that kind of mugging on a city street, those players would all go to prison.

*Super Bowl XXI – Jan. 25, 1987 – at Pasadena (101,063) – New York Giants (NFC) 39, Denver Broncos (AFC) 20 – See the stuff from Super Bowl XIX about defense.

*Super Bowl XXII – Jan. 31, 1988 – at San Diego (73,202) – Washington Redskins (NFC) 42, Denver Broncos (AFC) 10 – Doug Williams makes history by becoming the first African-American QB to win a Super Bowl – and very impressively so.

*Super Bowl XXIII – Jan. 22, 1989 – at Miami (75,129) – San Francisco (AFC) 20, Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 16 – Joe Montana and the 49ers drive the length of the field for the deciding touchdown in the closing moments to edge the Bengals for the second time in eight seasons.

*Super Bowl XXIV – Jan. 28, 1990 – at New Orleans (75,919) – San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 55, Denver Broncos (AFC) 10 – When it comes to the Super Bowl, nobody can stop the 49ers, and the Broncos can’t stop anybody.  

*Super Bowl XXV – Jan. 27, 1991 – at Tampa Bay (73,813) – New York Giants (NFC) 20, Buffalo Bills (AFC) 19 – The underdog Giants live it up, and Scott Norwood will never live it down.

*Super Bowl XXVI – Jan. 26, 1992 – at Minneapolis (63,130) – Washington Redskins (NFC 37), Buffalo Bills (AFC) 24 – The Redskins win their third Super Bowl in 10 seasons.  

*Super Bowl XXVII – Jan. 31, 1993 – at Pasadena (98,374) – Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 52, Buffalo Bills (AFC) 17 – From 1-15 in 1989 to a Super Bowl crown three years later.

*Super Bowl XXVIII – Jan. 30, 1994 – at Atlanta (72,817) – Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 30, Buffalo Bills (AFC) 13 – The Cowboys are first for the second time in a row, and the Bills are second for the fourth time in a row.

*Super Bowl XXIX – Jan. 29, 1995 – at Miami (74,107) – San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 49, San Diego Chargers (AFC) 26 – Joe Montana is gone, but Steve Young proves that he’s iconic, too.

*Super Bowl XXX – Jan. 28, 1996 – at Tempe, Ariz. (76,347) – Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 27, Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 17 – Tom Landry, Chuck Noll and their players from that era are long gone, but the Cowboys finally get some payback for those two Super Bowl losses in the 1970s.

*Super Bowl XXXI – Jan. 26, 1997 – at New Orleans (72,301) – Green Bay Packers (NFC) 35, New England Patriots (AFC) 21 – Brett Favre, the Packers’ first great quarterback in 30 years, leads them to their first championship since the Bart Starr days.

*Super Bowl XXXII – Jan. 25, 1998 – at San Diego (68,912) – Denver Broncos (AFC) 31, Green Bay Packers (NFC) 24 – After being denied three times in four years in the 1980s, John Elways finally gets his Super Bowl ring.  

*Super Bowl XXXIII – Jan. 31, 1999 – at Miami (74,803) – Denver Broncos (AFC) 34, Atlanta Falcons (NFC) 19 – And now Elway has one for the other hand.

*Super Bowl XXXIV – Jan. 30, 2000 – at Atlanta (72,625) – St. Louis Rams (NFC) 23, Tennessee Titans (AFC) 16 – “The Greatest Show on Turf” survives by inches, literally and figuratively.

*Super Bowl XXXV – Jan. 28, 2001 – at Tampa Bay (71,921) – Baltimore Ravens (AFC) 34, New York Giants (NFC) 7 – The Ravens don’t have much of an offense, but with a defense like that, they don’t need it.

*Super Bowl XXXVI – Feb. 3, 2002 – at New Orleans (72,922) – New England Patriots (AFC) 20, St. Louis Rams (NFC) 17 – After failing miserably with the Cleveland Browns, Bill Belichick proves his worth as a coach.

*Super Bowl XXXVII – Jan. 26, 2003 – at San Diego (67,603) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) 48, Oakland Raiders (AFC) 21 – By leading the long-suffering Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title, Jon Gruden becomes the hottest coaching commodity in the league.

*Super Bowl XXXVIII – Feb. 1, 2004 – at Houston (71,525) – New England Patriots (AFC) 32, Carolina Panthers (NFC) 29 – That is, until Bill Belichick gets his second Super Bowl championship.

*Super Bowl XXXIX – Feb. 6, 2005 – at Jacksonville (78,125) – New England Patriots (AFC) 24, Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 21 – After winning by a whisker for the third time in four seasons, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady elevate themselves to one of the greatest head coach-QB combinations in NFL history.

*Super Bowl XL – Feb. 5, 2006 – at Detroit (68,206) – Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 21, Seattle Seahawks (NFC) 10 – The Steelers get their first Super Bowl crown in three decades, and Bill Cowher gets his first, period.

*Super Bowl XLI – Feb. 4, 2007 – at Miami (74,512) – Indianapolis Colts (AFC) 29, Chicago Bears (NFC) 17 – After being derailed so many times by Tom Brady and the Patriots, Peyton Manning finally has a title to call his own.

*Super Bowl XLII – Feb. 3, 2008 – at Glendale, Ariz. (71,101) – New York Giants (NFC) 17, New England Patriots (AFC) 14 – The Patriots aren’t perfect, just perturbed.

*Super Bowl XLIII – Feb. 1, 2009 – at Tampa (70,774) – Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 27, Arizona Cardinals (NFC) 23 – With their sixth championship, the Steelers surpass the 49ers to become the most super franchise of the modern era

*Super Bowl XLIV – Feb. Feb. 7, 2010 – at Miami (74,059) – New Orleans Saints (NFC) 31, Indianapolis Colts (AFC) 17 – They ain’t calling them the Aints anymore.

*Super Bowl XLV – Feb. 6, 2011 – at Arlington, Tex. (91,060) – Green Bay Packers (NFC) 31. Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 25 – Aaron Rodgers once sat behind Brett Favre, and now he stands above him.

*Super Bowl XLVI – Feb. 5, 2012 – at Indianapolis (68,658) – New York Giants (NFC) 21, New England Patriots (AFC) 17 – The other Manning QB, Eli, and head coach Tom Coughlin take another step toward the Hall of Fame with their second close win over Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in five years.  

*Super Bowl XLVII – Feb. 3, 2013 – at New Orleans (71,024) – Baltimore Ravens (AFC) 34, San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 31 – Ray Lewis gets to end his long and distinguished career as a world champion.

*Super Bowl XLVIII – Feb. 2, 2013 at 6:25 p.m. – at East Rutherford, N.J. (capacity of 82,566) – Denver Broncos (AFC) vs. Seattle Seahawks (NFC) – Can Peyton Manning get rid of the “can’t-play-in-cold-weather” rap and win a Super Bowl with his new team, or will the Seahawks capture only Seattle’s third pro sports championship ever, and first in 35 years?