One of the talking points in the time leading up to the Super Bowl this Sunday has been how can the Denver Broncos prevent the Carolina Panthers from getting off to a fast start. Over their previous two playoff games, the Panthers have jumped off to a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter in their playoff contest against the Seahawks, and to a 17-point first-quarter lead in the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago versus Arizona.
Let’s take a look at the previous Super Bowls and how well teams did when they had substantial leads after each of the three quarters.
10-point or more lead after the first quarter
There have been nine Super Bowl games where one team had a lead of 10 points or more after the first quarter. Those teams won seven of the nine games. The two teams that lost: Indianapolis had a 10-point lead in the 2009 Super Bowl games versus New Orleans; the Saints came back to win that game 31-17… Denver had a 10-point lead over Washington in their 1988 Super Bowl contest; the Redskins came back to overwhelm the Broncos and won the game 42-10. The biggest first quarter lead in the Super Bowl was 14 points; that was accomplished by three teams (Miami, 1973, Oakland, 1981, and Green Bay, 2011).
14-point or more lead at halftime
There have been 15 Super Bowls where one team had a lead of 14 points or more at halftime. Those teams went on to win all 15 of those games. The last time a team had a 14-point or greater lead at halftime was in 2014 when the Seahawks had a 22-point lead over the Broncos. The biggest halftime lead was in 1988 when the Redskins had a 25-point lead over the Broncos at half.
17-point or more lead after three quarters
There has been 14 Super Bowls where one team had a lead of 17 points or more going into the fourth quarter. All 14 of those teams went on to win the Super Bowl. The last time a team had a 17-point or greater lead after three quarters was in 2014 when Seattle had a 28-point lead over Denver. The biggest lead going into the fourth quarter of any Super Bowl was in 1986 when the Chicago Bears had a 41-point lead over New England. There has been only one time in Super Bowl history that a team lost the game after having a lead of 10 points or more going into the final period. It happened last year when Seattle led the Patriots by 10 points after three quarters but lost the game 28-24.
The takeaway from this piece: You certainly don’t want to get behind in the Super Bowl, especially by two touchdowns or more.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp