clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The last 17 attempts to repeat as Super Bowl champions: What went wrong?

The Rams are trying to run it back, something that hasn’t happened in almost 20 years

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams want to “run it back” as Super Bowl champions, obviously, but the real goal here is not to repeat. The goal for the Rams is the same as it was in 2021: To be that season’s Super Bowl champions.

This may be semantics. If the Rams do win the Super Bowl next season, then by definition they will repeat. But winning the Super Bowl in 2022-23 is in itself a singular goal. One does not have anything to do with the other. If Los Angeles is able to win the Super Bowl next season — DraftKings Sportsbook currently gives the Rams the third-best odds to do so — then “repeating” will merely be a technicality.

A historic technicality, no question, but the journey is different with each new season and it would be a waste of time and energy for Sean McVay and the Rams to worry about the fact that they are the reigning champions. Once Week 1 kicks off against the Buffalo Bills, the new season is officially underway and LA’s only concern should be the opponents on this schedule, the players on this roster, and the pressure of this season.

Let time take care of the pressure of becoming a dynasty. Time is one thing that you can’t rush.

Not since the 2004 New England Patriots has a team won two Super Bowls in a row. What are the reasons for this? None is more important than the fact that it is difficult to be the last team standing out of 32 once, let alone twice in two seasons. It’s not like being a dominant boxer in the middle of his prime, laying out opponent after opponent; in the NFL, not only is there usually at least a half-dozen dominant boxers, but their strengths and weaknesses are constantly in flux because a team is a living organism.

That organism changes dramatically year over year, as do the other organisms that are directly working to combat what worked for that “dominant boxer” in the past.

It’s a constant game of cat and mouse, with a significant factor of LUCK, as well.

What happened to the last 17 Super Bowl champions in the following season?

2005 New England Patriots

Record: 10-6

Final game: 27-13 loss to Broncos, divisional round

The ‘04 Patriots had a 14-2 record and steamrolled the AFC before beating the Eagles 24-21 in a Super Bowl that wasn’t even as close as the final score. After winning three of four Super Bowls, the Patriots lost offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to Notre Dame and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to the Cleveland Browns.

The defense lost safety Rodney Harrison early in the season, Willie McGinest may not have been quite as dominant at age 34, and New England went from second in scoring defense to 17th. Only one team allowed more passing yards in 2005 than the Patriots and after waving away the Jaguars in the wild card round 28-3, Tom Brady fell to Peyton Manning’s Broncos in the divisional round.

Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots - November 5, 2006 Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Super Bowl loser story: The Eagles had made four straight NFC Championship games from 2001 to 2004, but Donovan McNabb’s wheels fell off in 2005 and Philadelphia went 6-10.

2006 Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 8-8

Final game: 23-17 OT win over Bengals in Week 17

The Steelers were a wild card Super Bowl champion team in 2005, beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Detroit. Pittsburgh started the season 7-5 before winning the next eight games in a row behind second-year QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Despite bringing back pretty much everyone who they would have wanted for a repeat, including head coach Bill Cowher, both coordinators, and the majority of their star players, the Steelers scored fewer points, allowed more points, and started 4-7 in 2006 before rebounding to win four of the last five.

Pittsburgh was shut out not once, but twice during their quest to repeat, including by the Jaguars in Week 2. Roethlisberger finished with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions, signaling that he may have been a significant part of the problem.

Super Bowl XL - Pittsburgh Steelers Media Day Photo by G. N. Lowrance/NFLPhotoLibrary

Super Bowl loser story: The Seahawks had their most dominant season in franchise history at that point in 2005, but Mike Holmgren never recovered from that Super Bowl loss. Seattle lost three games in a row late in the 2006 season, squeaking into the playoffs at 9-7, then needing a Tony Romo botched field goal hold in order to get past the Cowboys in the wild card. The next week, the Seahwks were dispatched by Rex Grossman and the Bears in overtime.

2007 Indianapolis Colts

Record: 13-3

Final game: 28-24 loss to Chargers, divisional round

The Colts had everything they wanted going into 2007 and they may have been an even better team than the previous season. You can watch the whole game on YouTube, but here it is queued up to the final three minutes...It’s the Colts-Chargers divisional round matchup during the 2007 playoffs.

Peyton Manning has first-and-Goal from the Chargers 9, as Indianapolis trails 28-24 with 2:56 on the clock. (This won’t display on the page, so you’ll have to click to watch.)

Joseph Addai run. Manning incomplete pass (deflected). Manning incomplete pass (deflected). Manning incomplete pass (pressured).

Manning would get another drive after that, but San Diego’s defense came to play** that day and that’s how the Colts’ quest to repeat ended.

Super Bowl loser story: The Bears were the number two scoring team with the number three scoring defense in 2006. They were maniacs in forcing turnovers that season. Chicago couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract with defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, so he left for a job with the Chargers**. The turnover luck ran out and the Bears went 7-9 in 2007, ranking 16th in points allowed.

2008 New York Giants

Record: 12-4

Final game: 23-11 loss to Eagles, divisional round

Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin shocked the world with their Super Bowl victory against the previously-undefeated Patriots in 2007. New York rode that wave into being a much better team in 2008, clinching the top seed in the NFC and a first round bye. But the Eagles were a good team too and they twice beat the Giants in their home stadium in 2008.

Super Bowl loser story: Tom Brady tore his ACL in Week 1 and Matt Cassel helped lead the Patriots to an 11-5 record, but no playoffs.

2009 Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 9-7

Final game: 30-24 win over Dolphins in Week 17

The Steelers won a Super Bowl under Mike Tomlin and brought back most of the key ingredients. Once again, they flopped in the following regular season, including five-straight losses in the second half of the schedule.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Rex Brown/Getty Images

The ‘09 Steelers lost two games in overtime, plus three other games by three points. They didn’t lose any game by more than a touchdown. The margin between getting into the playoffs and missing them was razor thin and Pittsburgh could have been a huge threat if they had won one or two more games that season.

Super Bowl loser story: The Cardinals nearly became another shocking Super Bowl winner in 2008, but fell just shy. They went 10-6 with Kurt Warner in 2009 and beat the Packers 51-45 in a legendary wild card win. But then lost 45-14 to the eventual champion Saints in the next round.

2010 New Orleans Saints

Record: 11-5

Final game: 41-36 loss to Seahawks, wild card

Like the ‘99 Rams, few teams have had more of an influence on the NFL than the 2009 Saints. The way that Drew Brees and that offense motored through the league for years has helped transform passing into what we see today, and despite that, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has never had a strong desire to be a head coach. He still remains with the Saints and on Sunday, Drew Brees even hinted at a return to New Orleans for next season.

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Saints went from 32 points per game in 2009 to 24 points per game in 2010. They were still a good team, but not as good and Brees’s 22 interceptions that year did not help. New Orleans fell to a 7-9 Seattle team in the wild card round after a touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch created an actual earthquake in the city.

Super Bowl loser story: The Colts went from 14-2 in 2009 to 10-6 in 2010. Unbeknownst to anybody, it would be Manning’s final season as a player for Indianapolis, as he missed all of 2011 and left in free agency in 2012. Indy lost to the Jets in the wild card round.

2011 Green Bay Packers

Record: 15-1

Final game: 37-20 loss to Giants, wild card

What else is there to say other than, you can be the NFL’s most dominant team by a mile and all it takes is one bad day to ruin your journey.

Divisional Playoffs - New York Giants v Green Bay Packers Set Number: X86761 TK1 R7 F15

It’s hard to believe, but Aaron Rodgers’ most recent Super Bowl appearance was now 12 years ago. He’s never had a more dominant team around him than this one and yet Green Bay didn’t even get close to repeating.

Super Bowl loser story: The Steelers went 12-4 in both 2010 and 2011, but their efforts to get back to the Super Bowl were thwarted by TIM TEBOW in the wild card round.

2012 New York Giants

Record: 9-7

Final game: 42-7 win over Eagles, Week 17

Another surprising Super Bowl win over Tom Brady. Another repeat effort that fell short. The great find of 2011 was receiver Victor Cruz, an undrafted free agent who had 1,536 yards in his first season as a starter, but then he wasn’t quite as dominant in year two. Injuries soon robbed Cruz of the rest of his career, unfortunately.

Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora were also far less effective as pass rushers for that one season, after dominating the line of scrimmage in 2011.

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants

Super Bowl loser story: Just like Weis once upon a time, the Patriots lost an offensive coordinator to college as Bill O’Brien took a job with Penn State in 2012. He was replaced by Josh McDaniels after his failed trip with the Broncos. New England went 12-4 that season but lost 28-13 to the Ravens in the AFC Championship. Nobody knows how to approach each season better than Bill Belichick and whether New England wins the Super Bowl, loses the Super Bowl, or fails to reach the Super Bowl, they always seem to come back.

2013 Baltimore Ravens

Record: 8-8

Final game: 34-17 loss to Bengals, Week 17

Nobody expected Joe Flacco to do what he did, including the Ravens, who held off giving him a contract extension until they saw if he could get them to the finish line in 2012. He got them there and the Ravens won their second Super Bowl championship in franchise history. The down side to that is that Baltimore then decided to make Flacco the highest-paid player in the game when what they should have done is tag and traded him.

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Flacco threw 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in 2013, as the Ravens went .500 and failed to make the playoffs. Ray Rice also struggled immensely and the team was in its first year without Ray Lewis.

Super Bowl loser story: The other Harbaugh had the 49ers at 12-4 and back in the NFC Championship game once again in 2013. There, San Francisco fell to the eventual champion Seahawks after a tipped interception by Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith in the final seconds. This would be one of the final career NFL games for Jim Harbaugh, and the last playoff game for Colin Kaepernick.

2014 Seattle Seahawks

Record: 12-4

Final game: 28-24 loss to Patriots, Super Bowl

The first team since the ‘04 Patriots to make the Super Bowl again after winning it, Seattle eventually fell to Belichick in their quest to repeat. The Seahawks held a 10-point fourth quarter lead but Brady led New England back to take a lead and ultimately Russell Wilson’s Super Bowl legacy will always end in “that interception” to Malcolm Butler.

Seattle wasn’t as dominant in 2014 as they were in 2013, the Legion of Boom slowly but surely fell apart, and now Wilson is playing for the only team he ever beat in a Super Bowl. This ending alone may have indeed torn apart the Seahawks’ hopes of becoming a dynasty.

Super Bowl loser story: Manning helped guide the Broncos to the NFL’s top scoring offense in 2013 and they were ranked second in 2014. Denver went 12-4 but lost to his former team, the Colts, in the divisional round. It wouldn’t take him long to get his revenge though.

2015 New England Patriots

Record: 12-4

Final game: 20-18 loss to Broncos, AFC Championship

I really don’t have much to say about the Patriots. They keep showing up on the list. They’re consistently “in it” and they either come close to getting back to the Super Bowl or they fall a round or two shy. Belichick and Brady always had the Patriots in contention. If Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford can do that for even the next three years, it’ll be special.

Super Bowl loser story: The Seahawks were 4-5 midseason, but then Wilson had arguably the most dominant stretch of his career as a passer and Seattle won six of their final seven games. Then after another extremely lucky wild card win (Blair Walsh missed a chip shot field goal that would have given the Vikings a win), the Seahawks fell behind 31-0 in the divisional round to the Panthers and a comeback bid fell just shy.

2016 Denver Broncos

Record: 9-7

Final game: 24-6 win over Raiders, Week 17

Other than maybe the Flacco situation, this is the only time on the list that the team that won the Super Bowl knew for sure that the window was about to close. Manning was finished but gutted through the playoffs and Von Miller’s defense is what guided the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory.

Denver next turned to Trevor Siemian and first round pick Paxton Lynch in 2016, and while a winning record is admirable with those players under center, the Broncos weren’t nearly good enough. Head coach Gary Kubiak temporarily retired after the 2016 season, returning in 2019 as an assistant with the Vikings.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Daniel Brenner/Getty Images

Super Bowl loser story: The Panthers were simply not as good as their 15-1 record from 2015. They had the easiest schedule in the NFL, Cam Newton’s MVP season was not repeatable, turnover luck ran out, and Carolina went 6-10.

2017 New England Patriots

Record: 13-3

Final game: 41-33 loss to Eagles, Super Bowl

As I said before, they are consistent.

Super Bowl loser story: The Falcons led the NFL with 34 points per game in 2016 but their meltdown to the Patriots is something that they never recovered from. Sound familiar, Seahawks? Atlanta scored 22 points per game in 2017, after Kyle Shanahan left for the 49ers, and the Falcons lost 15-10 in the divisional round to the eventual champion Eagles.

2018 Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 9-7

Final game: 20-14 loss to Saints, divisional round

Carson Wentz had been a frontrunner for MVP in 2017, then a devastating injury wiped out the rest of his season and arguably his career. There was much debate if the Eagles should keep Nick Foles (Super Bowl MVP) and start him over Wentz, if they should trade Foles, or if they should keep Foles around as insurance. Philadelphia chose option three, wisely, and nearly made it back to the NFC Championship game despite being much worse overall:

From third in scoring offense to 18th and from fourth in scoring defense to 12th. The Eagles also lost offensive coordinator Frank Reich to the Colts in 2018.

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Super Bowl loser story: The Patriots came back the next season and won the Super Bowl.

2019 New England Patriots

Record: 12-4

Final game: 20-13 loss to Titans, wild card

It’s hard to be memorable when you win the Super Bowl 13-3, but that’s how Brady and Belichick got their final Lombardi Trophy together, as you all know. At least in the three seasons since this, the Rams have been the better team.

There was certainly talk of this being near the end of Tom Brady’s career, as New England struggled immensely in the playoff loss to the Titans, scoring zero points in the second half and Brady finishing with 209 yards on 37 passes with one interception.

NFL: JAN 04 AFC Wild Card - Titans at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Super Bowl loser story: You know it well. The Rams extended Jared Goff and prayed for the health of Todd Gurley. Neither of those things worked out but ultimately McVay found a way back.

2020 Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 14-2

Final game: 31-9 loss to Bucs, Super Bowl

Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium Nhat V. Meyer/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Everybody fell in love with the Chiefs as soon as Patrick Mahomes became this dominant force of a passer in 2018. Their first bid to win a Super Bowl with him ended in a close AFC Championship loss to the Patriots in 2018. Then Mahomes led comebacks against the Texans, Titans, and 49ers to win the Super Bowl in 2019. Kansas City then came back in 2020 and was their best version yet, except that by the Super Bowl, the offensive line was decimated to such a degree that Mahomes’ value was somewhat neutralized by the Bucs’ dominant pass rush.

Super Bowl loser story: After going 13-3 in 2019, the 49ers fell from second in scoring offense to 21st, and dropped to 6-10. It’s a familiar yo-yo season by Shanahan.

2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 13-4

Final game: 30-27 loss to Rams, divisional round

Brady wasn’t done, winning a Super Bowl in his first season away from Belichick. The Bucs had an even better record in 2021, and won the division, then beat the Eagles 31-15 in the wild card.

Brady attempted another amazing comeback effort in last season’s divisional round game to the Rams, tying the score after a 27-3 deficit, but Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Matt Gay gave L.A. a 30-27 win in the final seconds.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Brady retired after the loss, but announced a return shortly thereafter.

Super Bowl loser story: The Chiefs went 12-5 and lost 27-24 in the AFC Championship game to the Bengals. KC should be right back in contention again in 2022.

Super Bowl teams: 17

Got back to the Super Bowl: 3

Got back to the Conference Championship (no Super Bowl): 1

Got to the divisional round (no conference champ): 5

Missed the playoffs: 5

Will the Rams post a better record in 2022 than they did in 2021?