Super Bowl LIV: The Best Five Miami Super Bowls Ranked

Miami will make history when it hosts Super Bowl LIV this weekend, as the NFL's biggest game returns to South Florida for the first time in a decade.

Sunday's game will mark the 11th time the Miami Metropolitan Area has hosted the Super Bowl, more than any of the 14 other locations that have staged the NFL championship game (New Orleans should draw level in 2024, when it is scheduled to host Super Bowl LVIII).

The 10 Super Bowls played in Miami include three of the first five Super Bowls, the first of the post-merger NFL in 1971 and the one that arguably created the modern-day tradition of the Super Bowl as an event that transcends football.

Newsweek has picked the five best NFL championship games ever played in South Florida.

Super Bowl XXIII—San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, January 22, 1989

Off the field, Super Bowl XXIII arguably marked the game transition from pinnacle of the football season to full-blown pop-culture mega event. The pregame entertainment featured a tribute to NASA and Billy Joel singing the national anthem, while Coca Cola distributed 3-D glasses to allow viewers to watch the first-ever 3-D commercial aired in the U.S.

On the field, the entertainment was even better. Down 16-13 with just over three minutes left in the game, Joe Montana marched the 49ers 92-yard upfield over an 11-play drive—to calm his teammates just before the final drive, he famously pointed to the crowd asking: "Hey, isn't that John Candy?"

Montana then capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor in the end zone for the crucial score as San Francisco won the game 20-16 and clinched back-to-back Super Bowls.

The Super Bowl was the first in Miami not held at the Orange Bow, and the last outdoor Super Bowl to begin in daylight.

Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers
Bill Walsh, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, gets carried off the field by his players after they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII on January 31, 1989 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida. Focus on Sport/Getty

Super Bowl XLIV—New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts, February 7, 2010

The last Super Bowl played in Miami will always be remembered for Saints head coach Sean Payton's decision to begin the second half with an onside kick.

Thomas Morstead's 15-yard kick bounced off Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Hank Baskett's face and into the arms of Colts linebacker Jonathan Casillas. The tone for the second half was set and the Saints, who had trailed 10-6 at halftime, took a 13-10 lead.

The Colts responded to take the lead, before the Saints scored 18 unanswered points to win 31-17. Drew Brees delivered a performance for the history books, completing 32 of 39 passes—matching a record set by Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVIII—for 288 yards and two touchdowns.

Brees was named MVP and the Saints won their first-ever Super Bowl, capping an emotional run that had begun five years earlier when the team had been forced to play all its home games away from New Orleans as the city recovered from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Super Bowl XIII—Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys, January 21, 1979

"Oh, bless his heart. He's got to be the sickest man in America."

The words of Cowboys' radio broadcaster Verne Lundquist are part of NFL lore, but Jackie Smith must be sick of hearing them.

With Dallas trailing 21-14 late in the third quarter, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach found Smith wide open in the end zone. What looked like a routine catch for the tight end became one of football's most infamous drops.

The Cowboys, who were reigning champions, had to settle for a field goal and the drop proved crucial, as the Steelers held out to win 35-31.

Pittsburgh became the first team to win the Super Bowl three times, while Dallas rued a second loss in the NFL championship game to the Steelers in three years.

Super Bowl XLI—Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears, February 4, 2007

The second Super Bowl featuring the Colts on this list had a far better ending, as far as Indianapolis fans are concerned.

Both teams returned to the Super Bowl after a long wait, with the Colts making their first appearance since the 1970 season—the franchise only moved to Indianapolis in 1984—while the Bears returned to the NFL title game for the first time since 1985.

It was also a game of firsts, as Tony Dungy and Love Smith became the first African American head coaches to coach in the Super Bowl, with the former becoming the first African American head coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Devin Hester became the first man to return the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for a touchdown, with Chicago taking the lead after just 14 seconds. The Bears scored another touchdown in the first quarter but could only muster a combined three points in the next three periods.

Meanwhile, Peyton Manning clinched his first ring. The Colts quarterback was named the game's MVP after throwing for one touchdown and 247 yards, leading Indianapolis to a 29-17.

In between all of this came arguably the greatest halftime show in Super Bowl history, as over 140 million viewers watched Prince deliver a performance for the ages.

Super Bowl II—Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders, January 14, 1968

The second-ever AFL-NFL World Championship Game was the first played in Miami and would retroactively become known as Super Bowl II.

While Miami made its Super Bowl debut, the game marked Vince Lombardi's final act as the legendary Green Bay Packers coach retired after the game.

Green Bay won its second consecutive Super Bowl after defeating the Raiders 33-14, further cementing Lombardi's place in football's history.

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