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Ranking the 5 BEST Super Bowls of all-time

Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 06, 2016

As we gear up for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, this seems like a good time to sift through the previous 49 and answer the question: Which Super Bowl was the best of the best?

There are plenty to choose from, but here's our list of the five greatest Super Bowls ever played.

See also: 3 questions and a prediction for Super Bowl 50

5. XXXVIII (Patriots 32, Panthers 29) – Houston, Feb. 1, 2004

This was the Super Bowl that saw the coining of the term “wardrobe malfunction” due to an unfortunate halftime "accident," but the game itself -- especially the fourth quarter -- was pretty memorable, too.

Tom Brady and the Patriots led 21-10 after three quarters, but the Panthers exploded for three fourth-quarter TDs. Former Cardinal Ricky Proehl’s 12-yard TD catch with 1:08 to play tied the game at 29-29.

But that just set the stage for kicker Adam Vinatieri, who was coming off a Super Bowl-winning field goal just two years earlier against the Rams. This time, Vinatieri’s 41-yard kick gave the Pats the victory.

4. XXIII (49ers 20, Bengals 16) – Miami, Jan. 22, 1989

Legendary 49ers QB Joe Montana had to work some late-game heroics in order to secure his third Super Bowl victory. Trailing 16-13 to Boomer Esiason’s Bengals in the final minutes, Montana engineered a game-winning drive, capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 39 seconds to play.

Montana threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns, and fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Rice notched 215 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

3. XLIX (Patriots 28, Seahawks 24) – Glendale, Feb. 1, 2015

The Seahawks were looking for back-to-back Super Bowl championships and appeared to be on their way after taking a 24-14 lead via a TD pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin late in the third quarter.

But after seeing a fourth-quarter comeback go against them seven years earlier in a Super Bowl in Glendale (more on that later), Brady engineered a late comeback of his own with a pair of TD tosses to put New England ahead.

The Seahawks’ attempt to win in the final minute was thwarted by Pete Carroll’s famous decision to pass rather than throw at the 1-yard line, leading to a game-winning interception by Malcolm Butler.

2. XXV (Giants 20, Bills 19) – Tampa, Jan. 27, 1991

This game is best remembered for Scott Norwood’s missed 47-yard field-goal attempt as time expired to give the Giants the win, but many fans fail to remember just how entertaining and competitive this matchup was for a full four quarters.

This game saw a pair of second-half lead changes and two outstanding efforts from running backs Thurman Thomas (135 rushing yards, TD) and Ottis Anderson (102 rushing yards, TD). Giants backup QB Jeff Hostetler out-dueled future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, and Matt Bahr's late 21-yard field goal was the game-winner.

Super Bowl XXV is also remembered for Whitney Houston's emotional rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

1. XLII (Giants 17, Patriots 14) – Glendale, Feb. 3, 2008

It had a game-winning touchdown in the final minute and one of the most incredible catches in NFL history. Oh, and it was the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.

The 18-0 Patriots ended the season 18-1 thanks to Eli Manning’s improbable throw – and David Tyree’s even more improbable catch – followed by Plaxico Burress’ 13-yard TD catch with 35 seconds to play to give the Giants the most unlikely Super Bowl victory ever.