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Which NFL team has lost the Super Bowl the most times?

In the history of the Super Bowl, there are a handful of teams who have the dubious honor of losing the big game a record number of times. This is their story.

In the history of the Super Bowl, there are a handful of teams who have the dubious honor of losing the big game a record number of times. This is their story.
Michael ValeriGetty Images

When it comes to competition, there really isn’t any league in the nation that sees as many twists and turns as the NFL. That’s saying nothing of the Super Bowl itself which is extremely hard to make it too and even harder to win. Indeed, as strange as it may sound, losing the big game is as much a part of the history for many teams, as it is winning it. Let’s take a look at those who were good enough to get there, but not quite enough to take it home.

Which teams have lost the most Super Bowls?

To be clear, this isn’t about ridiculing the teams that fell short at the NFL’s final hurdle. In truth, the very idea that these teams played in the prestigious game should tell you that they were forces to be reckoned with. This is perhaps a tribute, to that age old adage: ‘Close but no cigar.’ With that, let’s take a look at those teams who were within touching distance, but couldn’t manage to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy when the final whistle blew.

New England Patriots51986, 1997, 2008, 2012, 2017
Denver Broncos51978, 1987, 1988, 1990, 2014
Minnesota Vikings41969, 1973, 1974, 1976
Buffalo Bills41990, 1991, 1992, 1993

New England Patriots

1985 should have been a special year for the Patriots. It was their very first ever appearance in the Super Bowl following a stellar 11-5 regular season record. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Chicago Bears hadn’t read the script. You could in fact say, they tore it up after they rolled over the Pats in a 46-10 Super Bowl XX victory. The next time New England lost, would be 11 years later when they squared off against the Green Bay Packers. Sadly, a then Drew Bledsoe led offense fell to a 35-21 loss. The 21st century was a much better time for New England, as they picked up a total of six Super Bowl wins in an 11-year span. Tom Brady of course had a lot to do with that. They did, however, lose three against the Giants in both 2007 and 2011, as well as one to the Eagles in 2017.

Denver Broncos

As they are tied with the Patriots for the most Super Bowl losses, the Broncos know all too well the bitter taste of defeat. The first of their heart breaks came way back in 1977, when they made it all the way to the grand finale for the very first time, but lost 27-10 to the Dallas Cowboys. It would take a little while to right themselves, but in 1983 the Broncos drafted a young quarterback by the name of John Elway. With Elway under center, it didn’t take long for the Broncos to get back to the summit. Indeed, they would go to three Super Bowls between 1986 and 1989, but they lost all three to the then Washington Redskins, the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers respectively. We should mention, that Elway and Co. finally got their hands on the trophy in 1997 and 1998.

Minnesota Vikings

Like the Bills who we will get to in a moment, the Vikings are the only team to have made it to four Super Bowls and lost all of them. Football fans will remember the “Purple People Eaters,” the Vikings’ brutal defensive line that included Alan Page, Gary Larsen and the notorious Carl Eller, along with Jim Marshall. Yet, despite possessing the most terrifying defense in the league for a decade (lates 60s to 70s) they weren’t able to bring home football’s biggest prize. In each of their four appearances (1969, 1973, 1974 and 1976) they couldn’t score more than two touch downs.

Buffalo Bills

As mentioned above, the Bills have the ‘honor’ of being the other team with four losing appearances in the Super Bowl. Yet, what makes it even more eye opening is the fact that they did so consecutively, playing in four straight Super Bowls between 1990 and 1993. With the legendary Jim Kelly at quarterback, they never quite managed to cross the line. From the heart break of their first appearance in 1990, when they lost 20-19 courtesy of a missed field goal by Scott Norwood, to the Redskins the following year and then a pair of defeats at the hands of the Cowboys, it’s fair to say the Bills are often considered the “nearly” team.


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