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News » Party crashers Top 10 teams whose Super trip never seemed to be in the cards

Party crashers Top 10 teams whose Super trip never seemed to be in the cards

Party crashers Top 10 teams whose Super trip never seemed to be in the cards
It has been 61 years (and two moves of the franchise) since the Cardinals' last championship. That tells you that Arizona's presence in Super Bowl XLIII is a strange one.

But most surprising ever? Not quite.

The Cardinals do deserve a spot high on the charts, though. Here's a look at the top 10 surprise Super Bowl teams (years represent season, not date of Super Bowl).

10 '03 Carolina Panthers - Just two years removed from 1-15, the Panthers under John Fox won the NFC South at 11-5. After beating Quincy Carter in his only playoff appearance, the Panthers had to win road games over what appeared to be superior 12-4 teams in St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Despite a very wobbly first half in the Super Bowl, Carolina rallied to nearly upset New England before falling short, 32-29.

9 '98 Atlanta Falcons - It's strange to call a 14-2 team a surprise. But for one thing, the Falcons had never made it before and have never been back since.

The Falcons had to win the NFC championship on the road against the highest scoring team of all time (before last year's Patriots).

With 2:07 to play, the Vikings' Gary Anderson (39-for-39 on field goals) missed a 38-yard field goal that would have given Minnesota a 10-point lead.

Instead, Atlanta drove for the tying score and won in overtime.

8 '85 New England Patriots - They made history as the first wild-card team to win three road games (against the Jets, Raiders and Dolphins) to get to a Super Bowl.

And after getting mauled by the powerful Chicago Bears, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX, they might have wished they hadn't.

7 '90 New York Giants - Bill Parcells' second Super Bowl champion began the year with 10 straight wins. Still, after losing to Philadelphia and then the seemingly unbeatable 49ers and losing quarterback Phil Simms down the stretch, no one had this team pegged for the Super Bowl.

San Francisco (14-2) was poised to make it three in a row. But five Matt Bahr field goals and a fourth-quarter injury to Joe Montana helped the Giants steal the NFC title game, 15-13, at Candlestick Park.

6 '81 San Francisco 49ers - Bill Walsh and genius weren't being used in the same sentence after his first two 49ers teams went 8-24. But Montana and Walsh found the magic during the '81 season, even if most experts figured Dallas' veteran team would knock them off in the NFC title game.

But there was this play called "The Catch." Maybe you've heard of it? Anyway, the 49ers won their first of four Super Bowls in that decade, beating even more surprising Cincinnati, 26-21.

5 '75 Dallas Cowboys - Their eight-year playoff run ended with an 8-6 season in 1974. Calvin Hill left for the WFL. Bob Lilly, Walt Garrison and Cornell Green retired.

But a collection of rookies known as the "Dirty Dozen" refueled the team, enabling the Cowboys to earn the NFC's wild card. Then came Roger Staubach's "Hail Mary" pass to Drew Pearson to beat Minnesota.

After crushing the Rams in LA, 37-7, the Cowboys made a game of it before losing to the mighty Steelers in Super Bowl X, 21-17.

4 '81 Cincinnati Bengals - Super Bowl XVI was the first battle of two Cinderella teams as both Cincinnati and San Francisco were coming off of 6-10 seasons. The Bengals were the even bigger Super Bowl surprise, having been a last-place team three years running.

Leaning on rookie receiver Cris Collinsworth and getting a career year from Ken Anderson (29 TDs, 10 interceptions), the Bengals won their first of two AFC championships - events that would both be followed by Super Bowl losses to the 49ers.

3 '08 Arizona Cardinals - They had the weak NFC West pretty much locked up by October, but the Cardinals were so soft defensively and so bad on the road, they weren't viewed as a team bound for Tampa.

Then the run defense rose to life and Larry Fitzgerald established himself as the most dangerous player in the league.

2 '99 St. Louis Rams - The Rams were 4-12 in 1998. Then they lost quarterback Trent Green for the year in the preseason, an injury that forced coach Dick Vermeil to try his luck with an unknown former Arena league player named ... Kurt Warner?

Well, 526 regular-season points later, the Rams had gone from surprise to sure thing. And now Warner is hoping to become the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two teams.

1 '79 Los Angeles Rams - The '70s were supposed to end with a Cowboys-Steelers Battle for the Ages, correct? The defending NFC and AFC champs tied for the best record in the conference. All they had to do was waltz through the playoffs.

The Steelers made it. The Cowboys didn't, suffering a highly unlikely home defeat on a late 50-yard touchdown pass from Vince Ferragamo to Billy Waddy.

Waddy caught all of 14 passes during the season. Ferragamo, a late-season replacement for the injured Pat Haden, had five TD passes, 10 interceptions and a 48 percent completion average entering the playoffs.

But the 9-7 Rams knocked off the Cowboys, then shut out Tampa Bay in one of the more unwatchable NFC title games ever. That 9-0 win sent the Rams to their first Super Bowl, and they actually led Pittsburgh, 19-17, entering the fourth quarter before a Terry Bradshaw touchdown pass, a Jack Lambert interception and a Franco Harris touchdown run answered all questions as to which was the team of the '70s.

5 p.m. Sunday (Ch. 5) LINE: Steelers by 7


GET ANSWERS to your questions about the NFL in a live chat with pro Football writer Rick Gosselin at 11:30 a.m. today. dallasnews.com/sports

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 30, 2009

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