Scoring is all the rage in the modern NFL. Teams are focused on racking up points, quickly and efficiently – whether that means going for two after touchdowns or going for it on fourth down.
But in the postseason, the game tends to change. It slows down, as the spotlight becomes brighter and offenses tense up. The best teams often figure it out offensively in the Super Bowl, though, and that’s been especially true in recent years. Four of the last six Super Bowl winners surpassed 30 points in the game.
Most of the lowest-scoring Super Bowls came much earlier in league history, when teams were focused on running the ball, controlling the clock and playing hard-nosed defense.
Here’s a look at the 10 lowest-scoring Super Bowls in NFL history:
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1. Super Bowl LIII: New England Patriots 13, Los Angeles Rams 3
Tom Brady’s sixth and final Super Bowl victory with the New England Patriots was a memorable one. Led by Dont’a Hightower and Stephon Gilmore, the Pats’ defense totaled four sacks, 12 QB hits and one interception while holding the Los Angeles Rams to three points – tied for the fewest in a Super Bowl. There were no touchdowns in the first three quarters before Sony Michel finally got into the end zone with seven minutes remaining.
2. Super Bowl VII: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington 7
The Miami Dolphins wrapped up the first and only undefeated NFL season with their victory in Super Bowl VII. Don Shula’s squad jumped out to a 14-0 lead at halftime before a scoreless second half. Washington’s only points came on a 49-yard fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter after blocking a field goal attempt. Safety Jake Scott was named MVP of the game after recording two interceptions for Miami.
3. Super Bowl IX: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
After a safety in the second quarter, this game entered the half with the Pittsburgh Steelers leading 2-0 – which is the lowest-scoring first half in Super Bowl history. Franco Harris – who won MVP – scored to make it 9-0 entering the fourth before the teams traded touchdowns in the final frame. Minnesota’s only score came on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.
4. Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
Joe Namath’s famous guarantee ended with a nine-point victory for his New York Jets after they entered as 19.5-point underdogs. Both teams scored just one touchdown in the game, as the Jets used three field goals to jump out to a 16-0 lead. The Colts scored with just over three minutes remaining, but it wasn’t enough as the Jets clinched their first and only title. Namath was named Super Bowl MVP despite not recording a touchdown.
5. Super Bowl VI: Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
One year before the Dolphins’ perfect season, they again participated in a low-scoring Super Bowl. This time, Miami lost to MVP Roger Staubach and the Dallas Cowboys. This was the first time in Super Bowl history where one team failed to record a touchdown, a feat that has happened two more times since (Rams in SB53, Chiefs in SB55). Head coach Tom Landry, in his 12th of 29 seasons with the Cowboys, won his first title with this victory.
6. Super Bowl V: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
The Cowboys’ victory in Super Bowl VI came after a defeat one year prior at the hands of the Colts. Nicknamed the “Blunder Bowl,” this game was marred with miscues – 11 combined turnovers (five in the fourth quarter), 14 combined penalties and a blocked extra point. Baltimore’s seven giveaways are the most by a Super Bowl winner in NFL history, and Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley was the first and only player on a losing team to win Super Bowl MVP.
7. Super Bowl IV: Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
Played on a wet, mushy surface in New Orleans, this game was destined to be ugly. Minnesota entered as 13.5-point favorites before being easily dispatched by Len Dawson and the Chiefs. Kansas City led 16-0 at halftime and, instead of a typical music performance, fans were treated to a reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans. That doesn’t have much to do with the game, it’s just hilarious to look back on.
T-8. Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
The ‘07 Patriots nearly joined the ‘72 Dolphins in undefeated glory, but the Giants had other plans. New England led 7-3 entering the fourth quarter before both offenses finally woke up. MVP Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes in the final frame, including the game-winner to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining to sink the Patriots.
T-8. Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10
It wasn’t exactly the Steel Curtain defense that Pittsburgh made famous in the 1970s, but the ‘05 Steelers performed on the biggest stage. The Seattle Seahawks went just 5 for 17 on third down thanks to stingy secondary defense by Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu. Hines Ward (five receptions, 123 yards and a TD) was named Super Bowl MVP and future Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis won his only ring in his final career game, which was played in his hometown Detroit.
T-8. Super Bowl VIII: Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7
All three of the Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances made this list, and they were all losses. The Vikings matched their largest Super Bowl scoring output in this game, but it was nowhere near enough to win it. Miami led 24-0 after three quarters before Fran Tarkenton’s four-yard touchdown run finally put Minnesota on the board. Larry Csonka was named MVP after rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns.