What Was the Lowest Scoring Super Bowl in NFL History?

One of the oldest cliches in sports is that defense wins championships. The underlying idea is that while explosive offenses may be exciting, there are built-in inconsistencies. What if bad weather makes it impossible to throw the ball? Or what happens if a freak injury takes the top running back out of the action?

Defense, on the other hand, feels more controllable. Even if you’re struggling to score, keeping the game close provides an opportunity; a one-possession game, after all, can change on a single play.

But how does that trend manifest in the Super Bowl? If we’re talking about winning championships, the Big Game would put the platitude to the test.

With that (plus the relatively quiet start to Super Bowl LVIII) in mind, let’s consider the lowest-scoring Super Bowls we’ve ever seen.

Brandin Cooks #12 of the Los Angeles Rams misses a pass attempt against Duron Harmon #21 of the New England Patriots during the second half during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03,…

Al Bello/Getty Images

3. Super Bowl IX – 22 points:

Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6

Thanks to a famous commercial, Mean Joe Greene has earned a place in popular culture. But the Steelers great was more than just an actor; he was part of a stout defense.

That unit stepped up in Super Bowl IX, shutting down the Vikings. In fact, Minnesota’s only points came on special teams when a blocked punt was recovered in the end zone.

Two touchdowns (one from Franco Harris and another from Larry Brown) and a safety were enough to give Pittsburgh the win.

2. Super Bowl VII – 21 points:

Miami Dolphins 14, Washington 7

While the Miami Dolphins had plenty of talent on offense, including Bob Griese and Larry Csonka, they didn’t really need them. Their defense blanked Washington, with the NFC club’s only points coming on a fumble recovery.

And beyond being a low-scoring contest, the victory also confirmed Miami’s place in history; the club ran the table, lifting the Lombardi Trophy at the conclusion of an undefeated season, earning a place in NFL history.

1. Super Bowl LIII – 16 points:

New England Patriots 13, Los Angeles Rams 3

When you think of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady probably springs to the front of your mind. In this Super Bowl, though, the living NFL legend didn’t need to do much.

That evening, New England kicked two field goals and punched the ball into the end zone on a two-yard Sony Michel run, but they could have gotten away with less. Bill Belichick’s defense held the Rams, who torched the opposition during the regular season, to a meager three points.

Was the game an instant classic? Not really, but it did prove that the hoodie-wearing head coach could cook up a game plan with the best of them.