Super Bowl: History, All-Time Records & Trends

The Super Bowl serves up a unique blend of drama, excitement, patriotism and pageantry on the second Sunday in February each year. Bud Light-guzzling fans well up as a superstar sings the national anthem, bucketloads of Gatorade are dumped on the winning coach, and everyone is on the lookout for wardrobe malfunctions during the half-time show.

Beneath the razzmatazz, the multimillion-dollar commercials and the celebration of Americana, there is an exhilarating sporting event. It pits the AFC champion against the NFC champion in a straight battle for glory, and it is the defining game in many players’ careers.

It has witnessed all manner of iconic moments over the years, from the 1972 Dolphins completing their perfect season to the Patriots’ stunning comeback win against the Falcons in 2017. Read on to learn more about the history of the Super Bowl, the key records that have been set and the trends that have emerged.

Super Bowl History

The NFL spent decades successfully fending off several leagues following its inception in 1920. However, by the mid-1960s, the AFL had emerged as a credible rival. Both leagues competed for players and fans, and the league owners decided to send their respective champions into battle against one another.

Lamar Hunt, owner of AFL team Kansas City Chiefs, came up with the “Super Bowl” name to describe the championship game. It came into his head after watching his children play with a “Super Ball” toy, an extremely elastic ball. Hunt wrote to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1966: “I have kiddingly called it the ‘Super Bowl,’ which obviously can be improved upon.”

However, the name stuck. The leagues’ owners called it the AFL-NFL Championship Game, but the media preferred the Super Bowl name. It was the unofficial name for the inaugural game in 1967 and the second 1968, but it became the official name for the third game, which is now known as Super Bowl III – a 16-7 win for the New York Jets over the Colts. That was the AFL’s first win against the NFL.

Roman numerals have always been used to identify each Super Bowl. The exception was Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 regular season, with the Roman numerals returning for Super Bowl LI the following year, but it is becoming increasingly common for people to use the standard numeral nomenclature.

At the start of the 1970 season, the NFL realigned into two conferences: the AFC, containing the AFL teams and three NFL teams; and the NFC, which included the remaining NFL franchises. The champions of each conference play every year in the Super Bowl. It would typically take place on the first Sunday in February, but the regular season has now been extended to add in another round of games, so it takes place on the second Sunday. The winner receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the Green Bay Packers coach that won the first two Super Bowl games.

Super Bowl Records

Most Super Bowl Appearances

The New England Patriots hold the record for the most Super Bowl appearances. They have taken part in the season-ending game 11 times. The Pats were first crowned conference champions in 1985, but they lost the Super Bowl that year. All 10 subsequent Super Bowl appearances have come under the tutelage of head coach Bill Belichick since 2001.

Most Super Bowl Wins

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots share the record for the most wins, with six apiece. The Steelers were first crowned Super Bowl champions in 1975. They won it three more times that decade, and further triumphs came in 2005 and 2008, leaving them with a 6-2 record in Super Bowls. The Pats are 6-5, with three wins in the 2000s and three in the 2010s.

Most Consecutive Super Bowl Appearances

The Buffalo Bills hold the record with four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. They lost all four times. The streak began with a 20-19 loss to the Giants in 1981, followed by a 37-24 defeat to Washington the following year. They then lost back-to-back Super Bowls to the Dallas Cowboys, leaving them 0-4 in their Super Bowl history.

Longest Super Bowl Winning Streak

The San Francisco 49ers embarked on a streak of five Super Bowl wins in as many appearances. They beat the Bengals in 1982, the Dolphins in 1985, the Bengals again in 1989, the Broncos in 1990 and the Chargers in 1995.

Highest Scoring Game

The highest scoring game was the 49ers’ victory against the Chargers at Super Bowl XXIX. It finished 49-26 to San Francisco. The Niners went into the game as 18.5-point favourites, and they fully justified that status by blowing their opponents away.

Lowest Scoring Game

The lowest scoring game came in 2019, when Belichick led the Patriots to a drab 13-3 win against the Los Angeles Rams at Super Bowl LIII. New England receiver Julian Edelman was named Super Bowl MVP after catching 10 passes for 141 yards.

Heaviest Win

The 49ers eased to a 55-10 win against the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl XXIV. It is the heaviest winning margin in Super Bowl history, and no team has ever better San Francisco’s 55-point haul. QB Joe Montana was named Super Bowl MVP for the third time after completing 22 of 29 passes – including 14 in a row – for 297 yards and five TDs.

Most Consecutive Points

The Chicago Bears racked up 44 consecutive points against the Patriots in a 46-10 win at Super Bowl XX in 1986. Tony Franklin handed New England the lead with a 36-yard field goal just 1:19 into the first quarter, but it was one-way traffic after that. The Bears scored 44 points unanswered before the Pats finally grabbed a touchdown in the fourth quarter. A late sack for a safety made the final score 46-10. The Pats were held to negative yardage for the entire first half in a heavy defeat, and they finished with just 123 total yards from scrimmage.

Most MVP Awards

Tom Brady holds the record with five MVP awards. Brady won it for the first time at Super Bowl 36, then 38, 49 and 51 during his trophy-laden time in New England, and then he clinched a fifth when he powered the Buccaneers to victory at Super Bowl 55. That is just one of many records that Brady holds, along with most Super Bowl player appearances (10), most wins (7), most TD passes (21), most pass attempts (421), most completions (277), most passing yards (3,039), most pass attempts in a single Super Bowl (62), most pass completions in a single Super Bowl (43), most passing yards in a single Super Bowl (505), most 300-yard passing games in the Super Bowl (4), most game winning drives in a Super Bowl (6), and most decades with a Super Bowl win, having triumphed in the 2000s, the 2010s and the 2020s. He is also the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, having triumphed at 43 years of age.

Most Super Bowl Touchdowns

The only player that comes close to matching Brady’s Super Bowl statistical dominance is San Francisco 49ers receiver Jerry Rice. He holds the record for the most Super Bowl touchdowns (8), most points scored (48), most receptions (33), most receiving yards (589), most receiving yards in a game (215), most receiving touchdowns in a game (3, on two different occasions) and most yards gained (604).

Highest Passer Rating

Montana holds the record for the highest passer rating in Super Bowl history. He played in four Super Bowls, and he averaged a passer rating of 127.83. Phil Simms holds the highest passer rating in a single Super Bowl with 150.92 during the Giants’ 39-20 win against the Broncos in 1987.

Most Rushing Yards

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris holds the record for the most rushing yards in Super Bowl history. He rushed for 365 yards in total during four Super Bowl appearances for the Steelers. Washington’s Timmy Smith set the record for the most rushing yards in a single game when he managed 204 yards in a blowout win against the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl XXII.

Super Bowl Trends

Favourites Dominate

The favourite has won the Super Bowl 66% of the time since the big game was first held in 1967. However, the tide has turned in recent years. Seven underdogs have prevailed in the past 10 years. They also have a 14-7 winning record this century. When it comes to spread betting – also known as line betting – favourites are 28-25-2 against the spread over the years.

A Slight Edge for the NFC

The NFC is 28-27 ahead against the AFC in Super Bowl history. It held a comfortable lead at one point, but AFC representatives have been chipping away at that lead in the modern era.

White Jerseys are Lucky Charms

Teams wearing their home white jerseys have won 14 of the last 17 Super Bowls. The only exceptions were the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles, who both wore green jerseys, and the Kansas City Chiefs, who were in their normal red uniforms.

Defending the Crown is Tough

Reigning champions are 8-6 in Super Bowl history. That means there have been eight back-to-back champions, while six defending champions were vanquished when trying to repeat.

Regular Season Form Counts for Little

The team with the fewest regular season wins has won 13 out of the last 15 Super Bowls. The only exceptions were the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008 and the New England Patriots in 2016. The team with the superior regular season record lost the other 13 times.

Get all the latest betting markets on the NFL regular season and the next Super Bowl at TopSport.