Competitive Super Bowls of late

February 2, 2009

Daniel Drezner notes something that I was reflecting upon after last night’s game: The Super Bowls of late have been quite competitive compared to those of my childhood.  I recalled how one columnist referred to 1988’s Super Bowl XXII as “yet another Super Bore”  (the 42-10 win for the Redskins was the fifth in a series of blowouts).  To check my memory on this point, I went back and reviewed all of the Super Bowls going back to the first one I remember (Super Bowl XVII, 1983) and divided them in two.  Indeed, the games have been closer lately.

In the last fourteen games, only two were decided by more than 15 points. Both were by 27 points, and one of those (Tampa Bay over Oakland) was an upset. In the thirteen games prior, there were only five games decided by less than 15 points and there were as many decided by more than 27 points.

Year Margin of Victory Year Margin of Victory
2009 4 1995 23
2008 3 1994 17
2007 12 1993 35
2006 11 1992 13
2005 3 1991 1
2004 3 1990 45
2003 27 1989 4
2002 3 1988 32
2001 27 1987 19
2000 7 1986 36
1999 15 1985 22
1998 7 1984 29
1997 14 1983 10
1996 10

As far as rating the game, I side with those like American Spectator’s Philip Klein against the likes of Florida Times-Union’s Gene Frenette in believing that the game was good, but not the greatest due to the excessive number of penalties.  There’s something about 1st and 20 (due to holding penalties by the same guy!) that kills one’s enthusiasm .

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