Super Shootouts: The Highest-Scoring Super Bowls of All Time
Just admit it – you want points.
Maybe you’re a smart football fan who appreciates the nuances of elite defenses during the regular season. And, yes, sometimes it’s fun watching them get sacks, pressures and takeaways.
But when playoff games roll around, are you hoping for a 3-0 game at halftime? A game in which there’s only one touchdown? No. Deep down, you know what your heart desires.
A 70-yard touchdown drive followed by a kick return touchdown. Scoring upon scoring. The casual fans and the diehards can both appreciate touchdowns galore.
No matter how much fun defense can be, we all want some fireworks to finish off the season. And here are the Super Bowls that have brought us the most total points in NFL history.
1. 75 Points: San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26 in Super Bowl XXIX (Jan. 29, 1995)
There was a time when the NFC dominated the Super Bowl every year. San Francisco’s blowout win was the 11th consecutive victory for the conference, which would go on to win two more for 13 in a row.
The Chargers had no answer early for the 49ers’ explosive passing game, as Steve Young hit Jerry Rice for a 44-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game and Ricky Watters for a 51-yard touchdown the second time San Francisco got the ball. Young had two more touchdown passes in the first half to pace the 49ers to a 28-10 lead.
It got even uglier for the Chargers in the third quarter, as the 49ers scored the first two touchdowns in the second half to go up 42-10. The Chargers were able to make the score look a little closer by scoring two of the final three touchdowns of the game and converting two-point conversions on both of them.
Young finished the day with 325 yards passing, a Super Bowl-record six touchdown passes, and five rushing attempts for 49 yards on the way to Super Bowl MVP honors. He broke Joe Montana’s previous record of five TD passes in a 55-10 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.
Rice had 149 receiving yards, which are the eighth most in a Super Bowl and 66 behind the record held by… Rice. That guy was pretty good.
2. 74 Points: Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33 in Super Bowl LII (Feb. 4, 2018)
Super Bowl LII didn’t start off as a high-scoring game. The two teams traded field goals on their respective opening drives, and then traded missed kicks on the ensuing possessions. Jake Elliott missed an extra point after an Alshon Jeffery touchdown catch, and Stephen Gostkowski missed a 26-yard field goal to spoil a long Patriots drive.
But then things kicked into high gear. After 12 points in the opening quarter, every other quarter had at least 19 points of scoring. Three different Patriots had over 100 yards receiving. Tom Brady threw for the most yards in a Super Bowl (505) and still couldn’t pull out the victory. The all-time great wouldn’t be down for long, however, leading the Pats to a Super Bowl win over the Los Angeles Rams the following season and guiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the Kansas City Chiefs two years later.
But in Super LII, Nick Foles bested him by throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns and caught another one from Trey Burton that went down in history as the Philly Special. LeGarrette Blount had a revenge game against his former team, rushing 14 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. And five different Eagles had at least 49 yards receiving.
It was a high-scoring, highly competitive game with big plays on both sides. Hard to ask for much more out of a Super Bowl.
3. 73 Points: Kansas City Chiefs 38, Philadelphia Eagles 35 in Super Bowl LVII (Feb. 12, 2023)
Patrick Mahomes added to his legacy with his second Super Bowl title and MVP, rallying the Chiefs past the favored Eagles after trailing 24-14 at halftime.
After Jalen Hurts rushed up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown to tie the game with just over five minutes left, Kansas City went on a 12-play drive that took 5:09 and led to Harrison Butker’s 27-yard field goal to give Mahomes, Andy Reid, Travis Kelce and Co. the lead with 11 seconds remaining.
Hurts accounted for one passing and three rushing scores, while Mahomes finished with three passing touchdowns. One of those scoring tosses went to Kelce, who set the career postseason record for TDs by a tight end with No. 16.
T-4. 69 Points: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21 in Super Bowl XXXVII (Jan. 26, 2003)
This was another game that started off slowly, with only six points in the first quarter. But the Buccaneers made sure to make the most of the rest of the game, scoring multiple touchdowns in each of the final three quarters. And the Raiders, who had just three points at halftime, put up a respectable 18 points in the second half, although it was far too late to get back in the game.
This game is most notable for its defensive scoring. The Buccaneers had three interceptions returned for touchdowns, part of a Super Bowl-record five interceptions overall.
The Raiders added a special teams touchdown, with Eric Johnson returning a blocked punt 13 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
With all the defensive scoring, the offenses didn’t have to do much to get the score up in this one. In fact, the two quarterbacks combined to throw for just 487 yards, or 18 less than Brady did on his own against the Eagles in 2018.
Michael Pittman did have a good day on the ground as the Buccaneers were in clock-wasting mode most of the second half. He rushed for 124 yards on 29 carries. But it was fullback Mike Alstott who got the lone rushing score of the day with a 2-yard run in the second quarter.
T-4. 69 Points: Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17 in Super Bowl XXVII (Jan. 31, 1993)
This is another Super Bowl that came during the NFC’s dominance of the AFC, and it was one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl History.
We’ve seen other games on this list look like blowouts early, only for the losing team to mount a late effort to make the score more respectable. This game followed the opposite script, with the Bills taking a 7-0 lead after blocking a Cowboys punt on their first possession. Four Thurman Thomas rushes and a defensive penalty later, the Bills opened the scoring.
But the Cowboys evened the score later in the first quarter with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Troy Aikman to Jay Novacek and took a lead they’d never relinquish on the first of two defensive touchdowns on the ensuing drive. Charles Haley sacked Jim Kelly, and Jimmie Jones returned the fumble for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead.
After the Bills kicked a field goal to cut the lead to four, Aikman connected with Michael Irvin for two touchdowns in the second quarter to put the Cowboys up 28-10 heading into halftime. The third quarter was quiet, with the Bills outscoring the Cowboys 7-3.
But the fourth quarter is when the Cowboys pulled away for good, scoring the last 21 points of the game. The Cowboys scored via the pass (45-yard reception from Alvin Harper), run (10-yard rush from Emmitt Smith) and defense (9-yard fumble return from Ken Norton).
The two teams would meet again the following Super Bowl, which the Cowboys won 30-13. It was the fourth straight Super Bowl loss for the Bills after falling to the New York Giants and Washington, and the team hasn’t been back since.
6. 66 Points: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31 in Super Bowl XIII (Jan. 21, 1979)
The team of the 1990s was the Dallas Cowboys, but the team of the 1970s was the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the Steelers proved that by beating the Cowboys for their third Super Bowl win of the decade in 1979.
It was a matchup between two elite quarterbacks and both came out throwing darts early in the game. Terry Bradshaw found John Stallworth for a 28-yard touchdown to open the scoring, and Roger Staubach answered with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Tony Hill.
After a Dallas defensive touchdown, Bradshaw threw two more touchdowns in the first half to give the Steelers the lead for good. The third quarter was quiet, with the Cowboys getting the only score with a field goal. But the fourth quarter had two touchdowns for each team, with the Steelers pulling away with a Franco Harris rushing touchdown and one more Bradshaw touchdown pass, this time to Lynn Swann to make it 35-17.
Staubach answered with a pair of late touchdown passes (one each to Billy Joe DuPree and Butch Johnson), but the latter came with just 26 seconds left. When the Steelers recovered the final onside kick attempt by the Cowboys, Bradshaw just had to kneel twice for victory.
The Cowboys set a record for the most points in a Super Bowl loss that was eventually tied by the 49ers in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, beaten by the Patriots in their loss to the Eagles in 2018 and then the Eagles in their loss to the Chiefs at the end of the 2022 season. The 2004 Carolina Panthers and 2017 Atlanta Falcons, who blew a 25-point lead to Brady and the Pats, round out the top five.