When it comes right down to it, Super Bowl XLVI featured two teams that weren't really all that, well, super. The New England Patriots, despite being the AFC's No. 1 seed, sported the second-worst defense in the NFL—their collection of undrafted free agents and castoffs finished No. 31 in the league in yardage allowed. The New York Giants, meanwhile, won the most mediocre division in football—the NFC East—with a 9-7 record. They actually gave up six more points on the season than they scored. So after winning a seemingly epic battle, 21-17, Eli Manning and the G-Men may someday be considered among the worst Super Bowl winners in history. Here's a look at their competition.
2000 Baltimore Ravens (12-4) If you like offense, the 2000 Ravens were excruciating to watch. This team is the reason the term “game manager” is associated with certain QBs. We're referring, of course, to game manager extraordinaire Trent Dilfer, who replaced the equally-awe-inspiring Tony Banks at midseason. At the time, the team hadn't scored an offensive touchdown in five games. The Ravens offense ranked 16th in total yards and 23rd in passing in 2000. They scored less than 20 points seven times during the season. Fortunately, they had the best defense in the league and perhaps one of the best of all time. The Ravens D was first in points allowed and second in yards allowed during the regular season. Luckily, Baltimore met an overmatched Giants team in the Super Bowl and won 34-7. Dilfer threw for 153 yards and the team mustered one offensive touchdown.
1980 Oakland Raiders (11-5) The '80 Raiders started the season 2-3 before finishing 9-2, which was good enough to get them into the playoffs as a wild card. They own the distinction as the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl, after dispatching an equally-uninspiring Philadelphia team, 27-10. To say this was a rag-tag bunch that had as much luck in their corner as skill would be an understatement. Starting quarterback Dan Pastorini broke his leg five games into the season, forcing the Raiders to dust off 33-year-old Jim Plunkett. The veteran hadn't started a game since 1977 with San Francisco. He led an offense that put up 5,045 yards on the season, finishing a perfectly average 16th in the NFL. The Raiders defense gave up exactly seven fewer yards. The team's divisional playoff game against Cleveland sums things up perfectly. The Browns had the ball at the Raiders' 13 with less than a minute to go, down by two. Inexplicably, they put the ball in the air and the Raiders intercepted it.
2007 New York Giants (10-6) If you want to talk about an average team, statistically, the 2007 Giants are it. They just happened to get hot at the right time, much like last season's Super Bowl winner, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were particularly strong in several areas, though (second in points allowed, point differential and fourth in turnover differential). The Giants were pretty much ho-hum everywhere, with the exception of their Super Bowl win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots. That, of course, came largely because of David Tyree's miracle helmet catch. The Giants, who started 0-2, were the first NFC wild card to win the Super Bowl and only the second six-loss team to win a title. They were a perfectly-average 14th in points scored and 17th in points allowed during the regular season. The team featured only a single Pro Bowler – defensive end Osi Umenyiora. There's a reason their win over New England is considered one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
1970 Baltimore Colts (11-2-1) To say the 1970 Colts did it with smoke and mirrors might be an understatement. Looking at their stats, they don't look like an 11-win team in any season. The Colts has -2 turnover differential on the season. Thirty-seven-year-old Johnny Unitas – obviously past his prime – threw 14 touchdowns and 18 interceptions on the season. The team's leading rusher, Norm Bulaich racked up an intimidating 426 yards in 1970. In the big game, Baltimore earned the distinction of being the only Super Bowl winner to commit seven turnovers. They beat Dallas 16-13 in a game dubbed “The Stupor Bowl” and the Colts were so bad the Cowboys Chuck Howley walked away with MVP honors.
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) After dropping a 38-31 decision to the Cincinnati Bengals in week 13, this team was 7-5. They should be at the top of this list just for losing a game to the Bengals, though Cincy was good in 2005. The Steelers, after losing a tiebreaker for the division crown to their aforementioned rival, went into the playoffs as a wild card and the No. 6 seed. Oh, they were also led by a rookie quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger, who was just getting his feet wet in the NFL. It somehow didn't matter when they met the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl because, let's face it, had the Seahawks won the game, they'd be at the top of this list. Roethlisberger threw for 123 yards and two picks in the game. In fact, Antwaan Randle El threw the only Steelers touchdown pass. What's more amazing is Seattle outgained Pittsburgh, had more first downs and fewer turnovers and still lost the game. They essentially beat themselves by committing more penalties and giving up two big plays – in addition to Randle El's touchdown pass to Hines Ward, which covered 46 yards, Willie Parker also had a 75-yard run. We call that poor execution by shoddy competition.