Lets Look At The History Of Wild Card Teams Making The Super Bowl


This look at the wild card teams that have made the Super Bowl is prompted by a comment left by “Kelly” who asked:

ok tell me how many wild card teams have made it to the super bowl and not won.

Well, Kelly… we did some research and expanded on your question to cover the history of wild card teams making the Super Bowl. We covered some of this information previously when we talked about wild card teams that had won the Super Bowl.

So, here we go…

The concept of wild card teams (teams with the best records who did not win their division) was introduced in 1970. Although the number of wild card teams allowed into the playoffs has fluctuated, the appearance of wild card teams has not. Since 1970, covering 38 seasons, only nine wild card teams have made it to the Super Bowl. Four wild card teams have won the Super Bowl: The 1980 Oakland Raiders were the first to accomplish this, and another wild card team wouldn’t win the Super Bowl until 17 years later when the 1997 Denver Broncos would do it. This was followed by the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and then the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. So, there are your four Super Bowl winning wild card football teams.

1980 Oakland Raiders
1997 Denver Broncos
2000 Baltimore Ravens
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers

There have been nine wild card teams to make it to the Super Bowl, four of them have won it all, one plays later today, so the answer to Kelly’s question is that there have been four Super Bowl losing wild card football teams.

Let’s look at the Super Bowl losing wild card teams:

1975 Dallas Cowboys
The 1975 Dallas Cowboys were the first wild card team to make it to the Super Bowl. They won at Minnesota and at the Rams (at the time still in Los Angeles), before losing to one of the legendary 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers teams.

1985 New England Patriots
The 1985 New England Patriots were the first wild card team to win three playoff games on the road and make it to the Super Bowl. They won at the Jets, at the Raiders, and at the Dolphins before losing in a blowout (46-10) to the famous 1985 Chicago Bears. An interesting fact about the 1985 Patriots is that they were the first, and so far only, team to make it to the Super Bowl after finishing 3rd in their own division (the Dolphins and the Jets both finished ahead of them).

1992 Buffalo Bills
The 1992 Buffalo Bills beat the Oilers at home and then won at Pittsburgh, and at Miami, on their way to making one of their four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The Super Bowl didn’t go as planned and the 1992 Dallas Cowboys dismantled them by a score of 52-17.

1999 Tennessee Titans
The Titans were still relatively new to Tennessee when they made their Super Bowl run, having recently moved from Houston where they played as the Oilers. The Titans beat the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs, thanks to what has become the Music City Miracle. The Titans then went on to win on the road against the Colts and Jaguars before losing to the St. Louis Rams and their Greatest Show On Turf.

And now we’ve come to the 9th wild card team to make it to the Super Bowl, the 2007 New York Giants. The Giants have joined two other teams in rare company as teams that have won three consecutive road playoff games to make it to the Super Bowl, the 1985 Patriots who lost and the 2005 Steelers who won.

Good luck Giants!

1 comment

  1. Mark says:

    Now that Super Bowl XLII is over, we can add the 2007 New York Giants into the history of wild card teams to make it to the Super Bowl. The Giants join the Raiders, Broncos, Ravens, and Steelers and become the 5th wild card team to win the Super Bowl. This now means that nine teams have made the Super Bowl as wild cards, and a majority have won. the Giants did it with drama though, beating the previosly unbeaten New England Patriots thanks to a game winning 4th quarter drive featuring Eli Manning’s incredible pass to David Tyree who made an equally incredible catch, and then capped by the game winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress. Simply an amazing game.

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