In January of 2016, we celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the Super Bowl, playing the 50th edition of the game. As we embark on the 51st Super Bowl in a mere few weeks away, could this be the first time that the NFL’s championship game goes into overtime? One of the interesting quirks of the Super Bowl is that it’s never gone into overtime in any of the 50 games played. Sure, there have been some incredibly close games, nail-biting moments, and last minute heroics. But, we’ve never actually had a real overtime period.
To that end, here are the three Super Bowl games that got the closest to being sent into overtime, but obviously never did:
- Super Bowl V: Super Bowl V, featuring the Baltimore Colts taking on the Dallas Cowboys, was an “interesting” game, all the way around. The game featured 12 Hall of Fame players combined between the two rosters, including two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time: Johnny Unitas of the Colts (who got injured in the second quarter of the game), and Roger Staubach of the Cowboys (who backed up starter Craig Morton). The game also featured a Super Bowl-record 11 turnovers between the two teams, leading the game to sometimes be referred to as “the Blunder Bowl.” The Cowboys nursed a 13–6 lead over the Colts about halfway through the fourth quarter. Morton threw a pass that was intercepted by Colts safety Rick Volk, who returned the ball 30 yards to the Cowboys’ 3-yard line. The Colts scored two plays later, tying the game at 13 all. Later in the fourth quarter, Morton threw another pass that was intercepted, which set up the 32-yard field goal by Colts’ kicker Jim O’Brien, with five seconds left in the game.
- Super Bowl XXXVI: Entering the game as the third-biggest underdogs in the NFL history, the New England Patriots were not supposed to be any match for the St. Louis Rams, who boasted an offense nicknamed “the greatest show on turf,” thanks to their incredible array of talent and prolific scoring ability. The Rams actually out-gained the Patriots 427–267 in total yards during the game, but thanks to the Patriots game plan built around battering and bullying the Rams skill position players, the Patriots were able to hold the Rams offense to only 17 points. With the game tied 17–17 with only 1:30 remaining, the Patriots got the ball back, and many people presumed they’d just run the clock out and send the game into overtime. Instead, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led the team on a nine-play, 53-yard drie that got them into field position for a potential game-winning field goal. Kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked the 48-yard game-winner as time expired.
- Super Bowl XXXVIII: Coming off two Super Bowl wins in three years, the Patriots were now on the verge of becoming a full-fledged NFL dynasty. The Patriots were coming off an NFL-best 14–2 record in the regular season, winning their last 12 games in a row. Conversely, the Carolina Panthers were only two years removed from finishing with a 1–15 record, and the entire franchise was born only eight years prior. The heavily-favored Patriots jumped out to a 21–10 lead early in the fourth quarter, but the two teams battled tooth-and-nail in the exciting final period, with Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme throwing a touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl with 1:43 left, tying the score at 29–29. But once again, instead of letting the game go into overtime, it was time for Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri to do their magic. Brady drove the Patriots 37 yards on six plays, and with four seconds left in the game, Vinatieri booted the 41-yard game winning field goal.