Greatest NFL dynasties of all-time

Terry Bradshaw in the pocket
Several franchises have enjoyed dynasties in the NFL. Photo from Behind The Steel Curtain.
  • Discussing the greatest ever NFL dynasties
  • Listing the most successful teams in NFL history
  • Here are five teams who dominated the Super Bowl over a sustained period

As Super Bowl LV approaches, there are two men who are being discussed more than any others, as they try to lead their team to one more victory at the end of a very unique season.

The Kansas City Chiefs are looking to assert themselves as they grow into a Super Bowl dynasty, with young superstar Patrick Mahomes at the helm. As the Chiefs continue their dominant journey, we will look at those who have come before them, including an opponent they are familiar with, and that they will face again on February 7th – but more on him later.

Here are the top 5 greatest Super Bowl dynasties of all-time.

5. Joe Gibbs’ Redskins: 1982-1992

3 Super Bowls with 3 different QBs in 11 years, 1981-1992

The most likely forgotten dynasty on our list, the Washington Redskins were a true force in the ‘80s under the reign of head coach Joe Gibbs.

He became head coach in 1981, and during his tenure of 11 years, they won all three of their organisation’s Super Bowls. Their Super Bowl wins came with 3 different starting quarterbacks across the period.

The first win was SB XVII, where John Riggins stole the show and carried the team on his back, setting the NFL record for the most rush attempts with 38, which he turned into 166 yards and a TD.

They beat the Dolphins 27-17.

In SB XXII, they had their most dominant performance, winning 42-10 against the Denver Broncos. Doug Williams threw for 340 yards and 4 touchdowns, with all four TDs coming in the best quarter in Super Bowl history. In that same game, running back Timmy Smith rushed for a record 204 rushing yards and 2 TDs, too. In Gibbs’ final Super Bowl appearance, in 1992, they defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-24. This game ended close, but Washington never lost their lead, and the comeback efforts from Buffalo fell short.

Washington won the Super Bowl 3 times during HC Gibbs’ efforts, and they appeared in one more, with great success spread amongst a rotating door of different starting QB’s.

4. Early ‘90’s Cowboys

3 Super Bowls in 4 years, 1992-95

If you want to find a team that was absolutely dominant in a short period, look no further than the Dallas Cowboys of the early ‘90s.

The organisation had already won the Super Bowl twice in the 1970s, but it was from ’92-’95 that they truly cemented themselves as one of the winningest franchises in the league.

With Troy Aikman at quarterback and the duo of RB Emmitt Smith and WR Michael Irvin dominating, all three Hall of Famers, the Cowboys offense outscored everyone. Their first win was over the Buffalo Bills in SB XXVII – when Michael Jackson performed at halftime, the score was just 28-10, but after a brutal second-half and the highest-scoring fourth quarter of all-time, they decimated them 52-17.

They won again the year later, once again over the Buffalo Bills. This time the scoreline was 30-13.

Aikman won the MVP in the first win, but this time Smith took over and ran for 132 yards and 2 TDs. After one year out of the big game, they returned at the end of the ’95 season and Super Bowl XXX pitted them against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who they defeated 27-17. This final win had a rarer MVP winner, in Larry Brown – the Cowboys CB was the first to ever win the award at his position, making two interceptions. Both came in the second half and led to TDs.

Dallas sits tied in second place with 5 all time championships, but it is clear that their success in the early 1990s they built a powerhouse that represents one of the greatest Super Bowl dynasties of all time.

3. The 1980’s and ‘90s 49ers

5 Super Bowls in 13 years, 1981-1994

Being able to dominate for a few years is impressive but the San Francisco 49ers spent the best part of two decades as one of the best football teams of all time. They drafted legendary quarterback Joe Montana in ’79 and his dominance lasted through into the early ‘90s.

He headed to his first Super Bowl at the end of the 1981 season and won 26-21 over the Cincinnati Bengals, where he earned the MVP despite a fairly uninspiring statline.

It was in his second Super Bowl, SB XIX, that he started to earn the reputation he now has as one of the greatest postseason performers ever. He threw for 331 yards and 3 TDs and won his second MVP in as many trips to the big game. Directly after winning the Super Bowl, the Niners traded up and acquired a new wide receiver to pair with ‘Cool Joe’ at the ’85 draft. That wide receiver was named Jerry Rice.

After drafting Jerry Rice, the San Francisco team was near enough just unfair. Rice got his first chance at a Super Bowl after the 1988 season, and he didn’t disappoint – putting up a record 215 receiving yards and a TD in a 20-16 win over the Bengals. Rice was awarded the SB MVP for a change, but Montana’s third ring was secured, and the Niners’ too.

This is the game that concluded with ‘The Drive’, one of the most iconic sequences in NFL history.

They went back again the next year, and went back-to-back, when they dished out the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history, winning 55-10. Montana had his best Super Bowl performance in his final one, throwing 297 yards and 5 touchdowns, including 3 to Rice.

Within the next few years, Montana’s time with the 49ers ended, but his replacement was no less capable of leading the team to great success. Steve Young, filling the biggest shoes the franchise had ever known, took the team back to the big game in January 1995.

In a 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers, Steve Young put on what I believe to be the greatest individual performance in Super Bowl history. He threw 325 yards and 6 passing touchdowns, as well as rushing for another 49 yards. While they are still one short of the top spot for total Super Bowls, San Francisco was truly dominant in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and only one team has ever been more successful over such a long, sustained period of dominance – more on them later, though.

2. Terry Bradshaw and the Steel Curtain

4 Super Bowls in 5 years, 1974-1979

There are only 2 NFL franchises who have won more than the Niners and Cowboys. Those two teams will finish off our list.

The first team to reach the impressive milestone of 6 Super Bowls was the Pittsburgh Steelers, and four of those championships were earned in an absolutely remarkable five-year window in the mid-late 1970’s.

Terry Bradshaw and a dominant Pittsburgh defense, featuring the ‘Steel Curtain’, won it all four times within 6 seasons. Super Bowl IX started it off, after the 1974 season, when they pulled out a gritty 16-6 win against the Minnesota Vikings, with just 2 points in the first half, and the MVP was fullback Franco Harris.

The Steelers D took care of the Vikings, and Harris ground out 158 yards and a TD on 34 carries. The next year, in SB X, they beat the Cowboys 21-17 off the back of a memorable performance from WR Lynn Swann. He caught just four passes but each of them was iconic, and he ended with 161 yards and a TD, earning MVP.

After a couple of years out of the contest, they returned in SB XIII, once again facing a Tom Landry coached Cowboys team. While the Steelers D was still very much at the heart of the team, their offense showed up in this one, and Bradshaw played his best championship game, throwing for 318 yards and 4 TDs. They beat Dallas 35-31.

Then, for the second time in a row, they repeated with another back-to-back Super Bowl win in SB XIV. Bradshaw won the MVP again despite throwing 3 interceptions, with 309 yards and 2 TDs to offset the turnovers. The Steelers were dominant in the ’70s, and they won four of the now 6 trophies which the franchise holds within just a stretch of six seasons.

You can argue between whether the Niners’ 5 wins or Steelers 4 wins were more dominant, and factoring in the non-SB statistics will make that even more subjective, but everybody knows who is number one on this list, and that isn’t up for debate.

1. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Patriots

6 Super Bowls in 17 years with the same QB Coach duo, 2001-2019

There is no question to the magnitude of the dynasty that the New England Patriots became in the 19 seasons that Tom Brady was with the organisation. When he was drafted in the 2000 NFL Draft, nobody had any idea that he would single-handedly take an organisation with 0 Super Bowl victories, and match the Pittsburgh Steelers’ record.

But by the end of the 2018 season, that’s what he did. Head Coach and GM Bill Belichick took over and Brady came out of his first draft. In the second season, the starting QB Drew Bledsoe got injured, and there started the beginning of a dynasty.

Second-year QB Brady took the Patriots to the Super Bowl and won it that year, defeating the heavy favourite St. Louis Rams 20-17, sealed by an Adam Vinatieri game-winning field goal.

This wasn’t just the first of six rings, but the first of 4 Super Bowl MVP’s, too. During this 18-year period, the Patriots only failed to make the playoffs twice, and one of those seasons was because Brady got hurt and missed the majority of the year.

The second and third wins came back-to-back in 2003 and 2004. Super Bowl XXXVIII was a dramatic 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers and concluded with yet another Vinatieri game-winner.

The next year in SB XXXIX, they beat the Eagles 24-21, when wide receiver Deion Branch won the SB MVP for a change. He matched Jerry Rice’s record for 11 receptions and turned them into 133 yards. For the third time in a row, the final New England points came from Vinatieri, but this time he didn’t have to walk it off. This four-year stretch made the Patriots the second team in history to win 3 times in such a period, with the first team being featured earlier in our list. This would have – evidently – been enough to secure the Patriots among the elite Super Bowl teams in history, but they went far and beyond the previous entries after a few years out of the big game.

In the years from 2005-2013, the Patriots were a force to be reckoned with, but they did not capture another championship. They made the Super Bowl twice in that period, including their campaign as the infamous ‘best team to not win a Super Bowl’ when they went 16-0 but then lost on the biggest stage at the end of the 2007 season. After 9 years fighting to win their fourth championship, they caught fire again.

In Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks and the ‘Legion of Boom’ 28-24. Malcolm Butler made the most iconic defensive play in the franchise’s history to win the game.

This unlikely win, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter and making the most unlikely of goal line stands, the Patriots Super Bowl dynasty re-awoke.

Two years later in SB LI, the greatest comeback in sporting history took place, resulting in a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Brady picks up his fifth ring and another Super Bowl MVP – although James White deserves a shoutout for scoring 3 TDs and catching the ball 14 times for 110 yards as a running back.

New England lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in another iconic game in SB LII the next year, but bounced back, and won Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. This was the lowest-scoring championship game of all-time, but that isn’t the way to remember it. This was the 6th Super Bowl victory for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and the final step in becoming the greatest Super Bowl dynasty in NFL history.

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About Tyler Arthur 36 Articles
Tyler is an NFL writer who has had a love for American Football since he discovered the sport when he attended De Montfort University, where he studied Journalism, and played wide receiver and eventually quarterback. While at QB, he led the DMU Falcons to a division title in his final year before graduating. His passion for the game, and enjoyment of learning and understanding the nuances and details of the sport led him to start writing about it. Years later he has taken advantage of numerous opportunities involving writing, attending games and events and co-hosting a podcast. More of his work can be found on The Touchdown, Gridiron Hub and Read American Football. Tyler is a Las Vegas Raiders fan and he also enjoys baseball, in which he is a Chicago Cubs fan. He loves fantasy football and his other hobbies include video games and chess.

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