Records are made to be broken, the old saying goes, but that’s not always true. Some records, in fact, cannot be broken. There’s no way, for example, to score a touchdown in the NFL longer than 99 yards.
The Super Bowl record book is rewritten a little bit every year, but some of the names in it are safe. This edition of Super Bowl Trivia is about those records, the ones that will stand the test of time.
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What was the final score of the closest Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl cannot be a tie. There has to be a winner to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. A few Super Bowls have been decided late. One even went to overtime. As an unbreakable record, obviously, this is about a Super Bowl decided by one point.
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Giants 20, Bills 19 in Super Bowl XXV
Had Scott Norwood made his field goal to lift the Bills to a 22-20 victory, this still would have been the closest Super Bowl, but the record would be breakable.
The other Bills appearances in the Super Bowl were, uh, not so close, but the Giants have made a habit of playing tight ones for the title. New York has one of the six three-point victories, 17-14 over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, plus a 21-17 triumph over New England in XLVI.
The other games decided by three points were Super Bowls V (Colts 16, Cowboys 13), XXXVI (Patriots 20, Rams 17), XXXVIII (Patriots 32, Panthers 29), XXXIX (Patriots 24, Eagles 21), and XLVII (Ravens 34, 49ers 31).
The overtime game, Super Bowl LI, obviously was the closest game after 60 minutes, but it wound up not even being in the top 10 closest Super Bowls because the Patriots beat the Falcons, 34-28, on James White’s two-yard touchdown run.
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What was the shortest touchdown play in Super Bowl history?
There have been plenty of one-yard touchdowns in Super Bowl history, including a pass from Tom Brady to Antonio Brown last year… 17 years after Brady’s first one-yarder to Mike Vrabel against the Panthers. From Joe Montana to Refrigerator Perry to Franco Harris to Natrone Means, one-yard scores are a great way to tie a record that can never be broken — the shortest offensive touchdown.
There is, however, a way to score a touchdown by advancing the ball less than a yard, and that’s happened twice in the Super Bowl… but, here’s a hint, not for a long time.
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Terry Brown and Derrick Jensen share this record, both on blocked punts that were recovered in the end zone.
Matt Blair needs to get some credit here, too, because he blocked the punt to set up Brown’s recovery in the end zone for the Vikings’ only points of Super Bowl IX, a game in which Minnesota had 119 yards of total offense and committed five turnovers. It’s a testament to how good the Purple People Eaters were on defense that Brown’s touchdown made it a 9-6 game, and the Steelers were only able to score a 16-6 victory late thanks to Terry Bradshaw’s four-yard touchdown pass to Larry Brown.
Jansen’s touchdown, recovering a punt that he himself blocked in Super Bowl XVIII, was an almost entirely opposite story. It was also his team’s first touchdown of the game, but far from the only one, as the Los Angeles Raiders pummeled Washington, 38-9 — with Chris Bahr making that extra point, four more PATs, and a field goal for good measure.
There’s been one other punt blocked for a touchdown in the Super Bowl — also by the Raiders, though for Super Bowl XXXVII they were back to representing Oakland, and like the Vikings, their blocked punt came in a losing effort. After Tim Johnson blocked Tom Tupa’s punt, though, it didn’t go all the way to the end zone. Eric Johnson had to pick it up and run 13 yards for the score.
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Who was the only team not to punt in an entire Super Bowl?
Punting records don’t tend to be a good sign for a team.
Johnny Hekker had the longest punt in Super Bowl history, 65 yards in Super Bowl LIII, but that meant the Rams were backed up deep in their own territory to have that much room for a punt to go.
Tom Rouen averaged 50.2 yards on his six punts in Super Bowl XL, which of course meant that the Seahawks were regularly failing to get across midfield against the Steelers.
About the only positive punting record is Steve Weatherford’s three punts inside the 10-yard line to help the Giants pin the Patriots deep and make Tom Brady’s life difficult in Super Bowl XLVI.
One punter never had a chance to challenge any of these records, because he didn’t punt at all.
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New England Patriots, Super Bowl LII
Yes, it’s another punting record that came in a loss, even though Ryan Allen didn’t punt at all for New England.
The Patriots’ drives in that 41-33 loss went: field goal, missed field goal, turnover on downs, field goal, touchdown, end of half, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, fumble, end of game.
Allen didn’t have a completely lonely night on the sideline in Minneapolis, since he also served as the Patriots’ holder — so he was in on the three field goal tries and four extra points.
Super Bowl LII also featured breakable records for fewest punts by the winning team and fewest combined punts. Donnie Jones’ 41-yard boot in the second quarter was fair caught by Danny Amendola at the New England 37-yard line. The Patriots quickly got into Philadelphia territory on a 23-yard pass from Tom Brady to Brandin Cooks, but after Brady’s famous drop of a pass from Amendola on 3rd-and-5, New England had its turnover on downs when Brady threw incomplete for Rob Gronkowski.
Later in that game, of course, Nick Foles did something else that can be equaled but never exceeded, becoming the first player to both throw and catch a touchdown pass in the same Super Bowl.
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What was the shortest field goal in Super Bowl history?
This is a record that was set, and then tied. But it not only stands as an unbreakable record, it’s a record that nobody can tie.
There’s a reason for that, and if you need a clue, Adam Sandler’s got your help.
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“In 1974, the uprights were right on the goal line, but some of the players were running into them and getting hurt. So screw the kicker. Who cares about the kicker?”
You can’t kick a 9-yard field goal anymore, but Jim Turner did it for the Jets in Super Bowl III, having already made kicks from 32 and 30. Turner also missed from 41 and 42 yards in the game, while Colts kicker Lou Michaels missed from 27 and 46. Kicking, half a century ago, was not nearly as reliable as it is now.
In Super Bowl VI, kicker Mike Clark was perfect for the Cowboys, hitting all three of his extra points… plus one field goal that was even shorter than that, his record-tying 9-yarder. Garo Yepremian — poor Garo Yepremian, he really did not have the best time in Super Bowls — missed a 49-yarder for the Dolphins, but was responsible for Miami’s only points of the 24-3 contest, a 31-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Cowboys have been to several more Super Bowls and had several more field goals in the half-century since Super Bowl VI. Dallas also has the record for the longest field goal allowed, 54 yards by Steve Christie in Super Bowl XXVIII. Not that America’s Team minded it on the way to a 30-13 rout.
The Jets… it says a lot about the Jets that their last Super Bowl field goal was a 9-yarder, which would be impossible now because it would have to be kicked from a yard inside the end zone.
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What was the fastest score in Super Bowl history?
This has been a tough quiz, so this question has two possible answers. There is, however, one man who serves as a common thread between the two.
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Devin Hester’s kickoff return OR the safety on the first snap of Broncos-Seahawks
Peyton Manning was on the wrong end of both of these — directly in Super Bowl XLVIII when Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over his head and into the end zone for a safety when Knowshon Moreno dived on it, and indirectly when he was on the Colts’ sideline watching Hester run back the opening kick 92 yards for a score.
Hester would be the answer as far as an unbreakable record goes: you can’t score before the opening kickoff. Indianapolis learned its lesson and didn’t kick to him for the remaining 59:46 of the game, going on to beat the Bears, 29-17.
Seven years later, the inauspicious beginning for Manning’s team wound up being much more of a harbinger, as the safety started Seattle’s 43-8 drubbing of Denver. Because Trindon Holliday didn’t get a chance to run as much as Hester did on his return, the Broncos started the first play from scrimmage with 14:53 on the clock, and the safety came five seconds later, making 12 seconds the new record for earliest points on the board, beating Hester by two seconds.
It’s possible to get a faster score than that, and even a faster safety, if a returner fielded the opening kickoff at the 1-yard line and had a brain fart to down the ball in the end zone. It’s probably more likely that someone could run back a kickoff for a touchdown in under 12 seconds, as Hester’s dash covered a lot more ground than the 92 yards he got credit for — he went from one side of the field to the other along the way.
But as far as “number of plays into the game” goes, you can’t beat zero.