Having the most Super Bowl losses can still have a silver lining – at least it does for the New England Patriots.

While the Patriots are tied with the Denver Broncos with having a record five Super Bowl losses, they also are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most wins at six each, so they stand alone among NFL franchises when it comes to playing in football’s biggest game – their 11 Super Bowl appearances are three more than anyone else.

Otherwise, such a distinction probably isn’t easy on the players, head coaches (although three are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) and teams with the most Super Bowl losses – some considered the most devasting in history.

We dive into the NFL history book to explore who didn’t raise the Lombardi Trophy the most times, and a lot of the list revolves around the Buffalo Bills, who rather infamously lost four Super Bowls in a row.

Cornelius Bennett – Buffalo Bills (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII); Atlanta Falcons (XXXIII)

A five-time Pro Bowl linebacker, Bennett was part of the Bills squad that fell to the New York Giants 20-19 in the closest Super Bowl (XXV on Jan. 27, 1991), but it was all downhill from there as the franchise lost the next three years by a combined 65 points for the record four in a row. Bennett later suffered a fifth Super Bowl loss with Falcons, 34-19 against the Denver Broncos.


Glenn Parker – Buffalo Bills (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII); New York Giants (XXXV)

Incredibly, Parker, an offensive lineman, had a 12-year NFL career and reached five Super Bowls without playing high school sports (he took up football at Golden West College and later transferred to Arizona). Add in the Giants’ 34-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and Parker’s Super Bowl teams were outscored by a combined 93 points (173-80). Yeah, eek.

Gale Gilbert – Buffalo Bills (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII); San Diego Chargers (XXIX)

Like Bennett and Parker, Gilbert was a part of the four consecutive Bills’ teams to lose on Super Sunday, but unlike them, the quarterback didn’t appear in any of the games. But he took the streak to five straight seasons, and took snaps in the fourth quarter of the Chargers’ 49-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers – the highest-scoring Super Bowl – while becoming the first person in NFL history with five Super Bowl losses.

Bud Grant – Minnesota Vikings (IV, VIII, IX, and XI)

Three of the four head coaches with four Super Bowl losses are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with Grant the first one. His Vikings’ teams fell over an eight-season span, with only his Super Bowl IX squad being within single digits in the fourth quarter before it lost to the Steelers 16-6. His other teams fell 23-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs (IV), 24-7 to the Miami Dolphins (VIII) and 32-14 to the Oakland Raiders (XI)

Don Shula – Baltimore Colts (III), Miami Dolphins (VI, XVII, and XIX)

Shula is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the winningest coach in NFL history and a two-time Super Bowl champion, including his 1972 team that is the only one to finish unbeaten. But he also was the Colts coach when they fell to the New York Jets 16-7 in the biggest point-spread upset (18) in Super Bowl history, and lost three times with the Dolphins: 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys (VI), 27-17 to Washington (XVII) and 38-16 to the 49ers (XIX).

Marv Levy – Buffalo Bills (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII)

The Bills teams that suffered a record four Super Bowl losses in a row played under Levy, who’s also enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Their 20-19 defeat to the Giants in Super Bowl XXV is remembered most for Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt that sailed “wide right” with only four seconds remaining. The Bills then lost in succession to Washington 37-24 and the Cowboys 52-17 and 30-13.

Dan Reeves – Denver Broncos (XXI, XXII, and XXIV), Atlanta Falcons (XXXIII)

Reeves’ Broncos squads, despite having Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, lost three Super Bowls in a four-season span, and their 55-10 defeat to the 49ers on Jan. 28, 1990 is the most-lopsided in the game’s history. Add in the earlier losses – 39-20 to the Giants (XXI) and 42-10 to Washington (XXII) despite having a 10-0 lead after the first quarter – and the 18 Broncos’ players who participated only in those three Super Bowls were outscored 136-40, a 96-point point differential that is the worst in history. Reeves had it worse, though, going on to tie for the most Super Bowl losses by a coach, falling with the Falcons while Bennett earned his fifth defeat as a player.


Denver Broncos – XII, XXI, XXII, XXIV, XLVIII

Bookending the Broncos’ Super Bowl losses with Reeves are two others, the first under Red Miller – 27-10 to the Cowboys (XII) – and the most recent under John Fox – 43-8 to the Seattle Seahawks (XLVIII). While the Broncos are tied for the most Super Bowl losses, they are the only franchise to have three of 20 or more points. Fortunately, they’ve won the Lombardi Trophy three times as well, the first two with Elway behind center.

New England Patriots – XX, XXXI, XLII, XLVI, LII

So many of the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearances have occurred with Tom Brady slinging touchdowns for coach Bill Belichick, but before they built an NFL dynasty, the franchise lost 46-10 to the Chicago Bears (XX) under Raymond Berry and 35-21 to the Green Bay Packers (XXXI) under Bill Parcells. The three Super Bowl losses under Belichick were all by one possession (considered eight points or less) – 17-14 (XLII) and 21-17 (XLVI) to the Giants, and 41-33 to the Philadelphia Eagles (LII) despite Brady’s record 505 passing yards.

Stats Perform research analyst Chase Weight contributed to this story.

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