Losing teams of big games such as Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are rarely remembered. Unless they’ve lost one and won it the next year, or the year after, or have won one, and then lost, a losing team slowly fades into the back of your mind like the last place team in a division or conference.
Of course you may remember the Buffalo Bills, who lost four Super Bowls in a row—1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993. Sentimentalists feel the need to give these Bills a modicum of respect because of how hard it is to get to the Super Bowl. The Bills got there, but to reiterate, they lost it four years in a row.
Last season, the Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos and a retiring Peyton Manning. It was expected, assumed that the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton would return to the Super Bowl this year, but a 6-10 season prevented them from even reaching the playoffs. A disappointing season might have been one of the contributing factors to the NFL’s lower ratings this season.
The Seattle Seahawks who won the Super Bowl in 2014, beating the Broncos, lost it the following year to the Patriots—a game that critics staunchly believe they should have won.
Both the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers have failed to get to the final game since the Ravens won in 2013. It had taken the Ravens 12 years to return after blowing out the New York Giants in 2001. It had taken the Giants seven years to get back, just getting past the Patriots by four points in 2008, and again in 2012, the only two blemishes on the Patriots seven-game Super Bowl win-loss record, from 2002 until now, under current coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
As heralded as the Green Bay Packers’ and Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterbacks are, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 2011. It was a Green Bay defeat of the Steelers who had previously beaten Seattle in 2006, and the Arizona Cardinals in 2009.
The New Orleans Saints haven’t come anywhere near a Super Bowl since beating the Indianapolis Colts in 2010. One of the two Super Bowl defeats of Manning, who got his start there in Indy. He had won his first Bowl game in 2007, defeating the Chicago Bears who’ve only been to the playoffs once since that Bowl appearance.
The Saint Louis Rams, who have moved back to Los Angeles, the place of their origin, started off the new millennium by beating Tennessee were the first team played and beaten by New England in the 2000s (2002) to begin their run.
Neither the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who beat the Oakland Raiders in 2003, nor the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost to the Pats in 2005, have been to a Super Bowl since.
Although many factors go into reaching the final game of the football season, Patriots owner Robert Kraft explains their success this way: “To be successful in football, you have to do things that put the team first. It’s not the great stars that win, it’s the great teams that win.”