Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
How important is it to be the first team to score in the Super Bowl? In the previous 46 Super Bowl games, the team that scored first has won 30 times (65.2% winning percentage). Note: In four of the last five Super Bowls, the team that has scored first has won four of those games.
In last year’s Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, we saw something that had happened only once previously in the Super Bowl: the first score was a safety. In last year’s game, Pats QB Tom Brady was called for intentional grounding about six minutes into the game, thus giving the Giants the first score in the game in the form of a safety.
The only other time a Super Bowl game started with a safety was in Super Bowl IX between Pittsburgh and Minnesota. In that game, the Steelers got on the board first in the second quarter when they sacked Vikings’ QB Fran Tarkenton for a safety.
Here’s a few more stats regarding the first score in the Super Bowl.
1. The first score in the Super Bowl has been either a field goal or touchdown pass in 80.4% of the games (37 of 46).
2. The first score has been a field goal in 22 games (47.8%). Of those 22, nine have been field goals of 40 yards or more. The first score has been a touchdown pass in 15 of the 46 Super Bowls (32.6%). Only four of those 15 TD passes were of 40 yards or more.
3. The first score has been a TD run in only five Super Bowl games. None of those five TD runs were longer than five yards. The last time a rushing TD was the first score in a Super Bowl was 1993 when Buffalo’s Thurman Thomas scored on a two-yard run. The first score has been a blocked punt for TD and kick return for TD once apiece.
4. The NFC has been the first team to score in 25 of the 46 games and in 13 of the last 18.
5. The first score in the Super Bowl has happened in the first quarter in 40 of the 46 games (87%) and in 16 of the last 18 contests. No Super Bowl game has been scoreless at halftime. The lowest scoring Super Bowl game at halftime was Super Bowl IX between Pittsburgh and Minnesota when the Steelers scored a safety in the second quarter on their way to a 2-0 lead at halftime.
6. Three different players have scored the first points in two different Super Bowls. Kicker Mike Clark of Dallas did it with field goals in Super Bowl 5 and Super Bowl 6; the 49ers Jerry Rice put the first points on the board in Super Bowls 24 and 29 with TD receptions (in Super Bowl 24 from Joe Montana and in Super Bowl 29 from Steve Young); and Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins made field goals in Super Bowl 34 and Super Bowl 36 for the first scores in those games.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp