Today we'll look at the Super Bowl games that fell into the broad middle class. They weren't memorable routs or thrilling barnburners. To some degree or another, they were interesting games, but you had a good sense of who was going to win in the fourth quarter. Some of these games lean closer to blowout, some lean close to barnburner, others are straight in the middle. Remember, these don't include the four Redskin Super Bowls, who will be covered in the final post in this series.
1974: Pittsburgh 16 Minnesota 6
Modern fans, schooled on offense, see this as a close game. But in a defensive era, this one was decisive. Minnesota blocked a punt to get on the board after it was 16-0, but couldn't get any closer. This game was played in Tulane Stadium, not exactly the place you'd expect the Super Bowl to be played in this day and age.
1978: Pittsburgh 35 Dallas 31
Fans who saw this game are howling that I didn't classify it as a barnburner. But the Steelers pulled to a 35-17 lead, before the Cowboys rallied. But Pittsburgh covered the onside kick with 22 seconds left and Dallas never got a chance to even threaten to take the lead, a core tenet of a barnburner game.
1979: Pittsburgh 31 LA Rams 19
A good game for three quarters, as the Rams held the lead. Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch by John Stallworth on a 73-yard play.
1981: San Francisco 26 Cincinnati 21
Another one that's close to a barnburner. Frisco led 20-0, before the Bengals closed to 20-14. In between Cincy's touchdowns they were stopped four straight times from the 1-yard line. San Fran controlled the fourth quarter and added two insurance field goals, then recovered the final onside kick.
1993: Dallas 30 Buffalo 13
Buffalo came out ready to play in this one for a half, but the Cowboys gradually pulled away behind the power running of Emmitt Smith, winning their second straight. It was the fourth straight Super Bowl loss for the Bills.
1995: Dallas 27 Pittsburgh 17
Definitely an upper-middle class game. Pittsburgh might have won it had there not been some type of miscommunication between Steeler quarterback Neil O'Donnell and his receivers, resulting in two passes going directly into the hands of Dallas corner Larry Brown.
1996: Green Bay 35 New England 21
The Patriots had the lead in the second half, before a kickoff return by Desmond Howard turned the tide. It was the peak of Brett Favre's career, one that ranks higher than another game in the New Orleans Superdome played thirteen years later.
1998: Denver 34 Atlanta 19
To show how middle class this game was, I watched the entire thing with friends and was stone sober. But I don't remember a thing about it. Just that my brother won our in-game pool by guessing the exact ending time of the game. It was Denver's second straight Super Bowl win. It was John Elway's last game. As Redskins' fans, we're hoping Mike Shanahan has another run left in him.
2004: New England 24 Philadelphia 21
The score says barnburner, but in reality the Patriots had the Eagles at arms-length in the fourth quarter. Philly got a late TD against the prevent and then failed to get the onside kick. The win was the Patriots' third and this one completed the city of Boston's triumphant run through the World Series and Super Bowl.
2005: Pittsburgh 21 Seattle 10
This one was very close to a barnburner, but four very tough calls went against the Seahawks. There was a lot of controversy surrounding this, thinking Seattle was robbed. But the calls were close, not bad. On a personal note, I watched this game in an Irish club in Pittsburgh with old-timers who knew the Rooney kids back from their days in the neighborhood and drove back to my apartment amid throngs of cheering fans.
2006: Indianapolis 29 Chicago 17
The game was played in a monsoon in Miami, and the Bears ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. But Indy gradually got control and got Peyton and Tony Dungy over the top for a ring.