Skip to main content

The biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history

There haven't been as many big comebacks as you'd expect.

The New England Patriots set a Super Bowl record by coming back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. Prior to Super Bowl LI, no team had ever come back from more than a 10-point deficit to win, so it's safe to say that the Patriots' comeback was the best in Super Bowl history, by far.

Falling behind in the Super Bowl is not a death sentence—17 teams have won despite not scoring first, and 27 of 51 Super Bowl champions trailed at some point during the game. Tom Brady has trailed at some point in each of his five Super Bowl victories.

Note: Upsets were ranked in order of largest deficit faced. In case of ties, the team facing the deficit with less time left was deemed to have made a bigger comeback.

6. Super Bowl XLVI: Giants overcome 8-point deficit, beat Patriots 21-17

In the rematch of Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez (yikes...) for a 12-yard score to push the Patriots' lead to 17–9. Two Lawrence Tynes field goals brought the Giants within 17–15, and the Giants forced a Patriots punt with 3:53 remaining. Eli Manning led an 88-yard drive that culminated in an Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown with 1:04 remaining. Brady couldn't answer, and the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years.

5. Super Bowl XXV: Giants overcome 9-point deficit, beat Bills 20-19

It wasn't looking very good for the Giants after quarterback Jeff Hostetler got sacked in the end zone. The safety put the Bills, who were making their first of four consecutive unsuccessful Super Bowl appearances, up 12–3 with a chance to push the lead even further. The Bills went three-and-out on that possession, and the Giants pulled a touchdown back to go into halftime down just 12–10. In the second half, Giants kicker Matt Bahr knocked in a 21-yarder to put the giants up 20–19. Bills quarterback Jim Kelly set up his kicker, Scott Norwood, for a 47-yarder with :09 left, but his kick famously missed to the right. 

4. Super Bowl XXII: Redskins overcome 10-point deficit, beat Broncos 42–10

The John Elway-led Broncos led 10–0 after the first quarter, but things went horribly for Denver after that. Elway threw two picks in the second quarter and the Redskins scored 35 unanswered points before halftime. Content to essentially run the clock out, the Redskins scored a single touchdown in the second half, but the damage had been done. By the game's end, Redskins quarterback Doug Williams had thrown for 340 yards and four touchdowns, and the Redskins' 32-point margin of victory is the fourth most in Super Bowl history.

3. Super Bowl XLIV: Saints overcome 10-point deficit, beat Colts 31–17

Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts jumped out to a 10–0 lead in rainy Dolphins Stadium, but Drew Brees's Saints scored 13 unanswered to take a 13–10 lead with 11:41 left in the third quarter. Joseph Addai put the Colts back ahead 17–13 before a Garrett Hartley field goal and a Jeremy Shockey touchdown put the Saints up 24–17. Manning was marching the Colts down the field for a potential game-tying touchdown before he threw a pick-six to Tracy Porter to seal the Saints' lone Super Bowl victory. 

2. Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots overcome 10-point deficit, beat Seahawks 28–24

Doug Baldwin caught a wide-open touchdown pass to put the Seahawks up 24–14, and the Patriots seemed dead in the water. All of the momentum was on the Seahawks' side, and the Patriots would have to score twice in the fourth quarter on the Seahawks' Legion of Boom defense. That's exactly what Brady did; he found Danny Amendola for a 4-yard touchdown with 7:55 left and threw Julian Edelman another touchdown pass with 2:02 left. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looked to have led his team to victory when running back Marshawn Lynch ran to the Patriots 1-yard line, but the Seahawks elected to throw rather than feed Lynch with 26 seconds remaining in the game. Malcolm Butler intercepted Wilson's endzone-bound pass to give Brady his fourth Super Bowl. 

1. Super Bowl LI: Patriots overcome 25-point deficit, beat Falcons 34-28

When the Patriots faced a 4th-and-3 at their own 46 yard line down 28-3 with 6:04 left in the third quarter, they seemed absolutely dead in the water. Per Pro Football Reference, the Patriots odds at that point of pulling off the comeback were 0.5 percent. But Brady found Danny Amendola to convert the 4th down, and the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history was underway. After scoring just 3 points in the first half, Brady led five consecutive scoring drives after halftime, including two touchdown drives (both followed by successful two-point conversions) in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. Once the Patriots won the toss, few doubted they would score a touchdown and seal the victory. That's exactly what they did; Brady completed five straight passes to get into the red zone before James White scored on a 2-yard touchdown to give Brady his fifth Super Bowl and cap off the best comeback in Super Bowl history.