Richard Martin

Denver Was Bad, But Vikes Have Been Super Bad

Created on Feb. 07, 2014 9:16 AM EST

For every winner there’s a loser. For every team that’s great in the Super Bowl, there are others that stink up the joint.

Which, ladies and gentlemen, bring me to today’s burning question: Which has been the worst Super Bowl team? 

Three teams stand out in putrefaction: the Broncos, who have lost the Super Bowl five times, three of which were true beatdowns; the Vikings, who lost four times and were never close; and the Bills, who lost four times, with one close game and one butt-kicking.

We need to look at the numbers and the context.

First, the Broncos. Factors for a vote for them are that they were annihilated three times:  in chronological order, to Washington, 42-10 in 1988; to the 49ers, 55-10, in 1990; and to the Seahawks, 43-8, on Sunday. Their other two losses were also lopsided: to Dallas in 1978, 27-10 and to the Giants in 1987. 

So in those five games they were outscored 186-58. That comes out to an average of 37.2 to 11.6. Ouch. 

But they won two Super Bowls in a row, in 1998 and ’99, over the Packers and Falcons.  That’s something their two rivals for infamy can’t say.

Next let’s examine the Bills, who made it to four consecutive Super Bowls. They were trounced in all but one. The scores were 37-24, 52-17 and 30-13.

Bills fans recall that one (the first) painfully, as Scott Norwood missed a field goal, and the Giants walked away with the 20-19 win.  

You have to wonder what would’ve happened if the Bills had won that first one. Would it have given them more confidence in the Super Bowls to come? Who knows, but their losses to the Cowboys in ’93 (52-17, ouch) and ’94 (30-13) seemed inevitable.

Finally, let’s look at the Vikings. They weren’t slaughtered in any of the four games, but they were never really close either. 

Like the other two teams, they faced great teams. The Vikings played four teams that were better: the Chiefs in ’70 (23-7), the Dolphins in ’74 (24-7), the Steelers in ’75 (16-6) and the Raiders in ’77 (32-14). 

None of those games hinged on a key play, which might’ve turned the result around. No, the Vikings were outplayed in all those games. 

All three teams happened to be in the weaker conference when they lose. The Vikings were a very good team, but the AFC was flat-out better then. Denver, too, had a very good team heading into the five losses, but faced superior opponents coming out of a more competitive conference. The Cowboys and 49ers were better than everyone else when they won. 

The Bills had one close shave in a game that could’ve gone either way, but were outmatched in the other three games. The NFC was better then, let’s face it.

The Vikings, well, they’ve driven two generations of their fans to drink.

The Vikings had three great teams, none of which reached the Super Bowl. Their best team of the Purple People Eaters era was definitely the 12-2 ’75-’76 team, which lost to the Cowboys in the “Hail Mary” game. (Drew Pearson pushed off Nate Wright, caught the long bomb from Roger Staubach, and that was that.) That was the best offensive team the Vikings had from that era.

Minnesota had a great team in ’98, going 15-1 and needing only a 40-yard field goal from Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed all season, to reach the Super Bowl. That would’ve given them a 10-point lead with two minutes left. He missed, and the Falcons came back and won.

Then there’s the 2009-10 team led by Brett Favre, another painful memory for Minnesota fans. Favre threw an interception rather than run for what would’ve been a decent gain. (Of course, he was hobbling around by the end of that game, at least partly because Saints players had a bounty to injure him). The Saints won on an underwhelming drive that included a borderline (at best) officiating call. 

After that game, the NFL instituted a long-overdue rule change that won’t let a team win based on a win of the coin toss and a drive ending in a field goal. That was too late for the Vikings that season.

Ah, yes, but these are only interesting sidebars. The main story is that the Vikings win the prize for worst Super Bowl team ever. They lost four times, but unlike the Bills were never close. 

We have a winner. I mean, loser. The Vikings are clearly the worst Super Bowl team ever.

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