Super Bowl MVPs are typically given to the player who had the best game. But what happens when you lose? This article discusses how a Super Bowl MVP from a losing team comes and some of the most famous historical examples.
Whether it is because of their stats or their leadership, some incredible players have been named MVP of the Super Bowl despite not winning the game. Here are some of the most notable examples:
Doug Williams – Defeated by San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XXII
In a game that saw the Redskins score 35 points in the second quarter, Doug Williams led his team to victory despite being behind on halftime.
He finished with 340 yards and four touchdowns for an impressive 148.0 passer rating, all of which were Superbowl records at that time. This was also one of the few times that the MVP of the Super Bowl was from a losing team.
Tom Brady – Defeated by Philadelphia Eagles in 2018
In one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots. Despite this, Tom Brady was still named MVP of the game.
He completed 28 passes for 505 yards and three touchdowns, setting a new record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl.
Joe Montana – Defeated by Dallas Cowboys in 1993
The Joe Montana-led, San Francisco 49ers were considered heavy favorites in the 1993 Super Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys. But Montana couldn’t lead his team to victory, and the Cowboys won handily 52-17. Despite this, Montana was still named MVP of the game, thanks to his 297 yards and two touchdowns.
Terry Bradshaw – Defeated by Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978
Bradshaw was the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers when they faced off against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII. The game was close, but the Steelers pulled ahead in the fourth quarter to win 35-31. Bradshaw was named MVP of the game, thanks to his 318 yards and four touchdowns.
Steve Young – Defeated by San Francisco 49ers in 1995
The Steve Young-led San Francisco 49ers, had a history of losing Super Bowls, but the team finally got their win against the San Diego Chargers.
Once again, despite not winning the game, he was named MVP thanks to his six passing touchdowns and 325 yards.
Kurt Warner – Defeated by New England Patriots in 2001
The Kurt Warner-led St. Louis Rams were considered heavy underdogs against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. But Warner managed to lead his team to a dramatic upset, with a final score of 20-17.
Thanks to his 365 yards and two touchdowns, he was named MVP.
Peyton Manning – Defeated by Seattle Seahawks in 2014
The Denver Broncos were favored to win the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, but they ultimately lost 43-8. Despite this, Peyton Manning was still named MVP of the game, thanks to his 280 yards and two touchdowns.
Aaron Rodgers – Defeated by New England Patriots in 2011
The Green Bay Packers were heavily favored to win Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they lost 31-25. Despite this, Aaron Rodgers was named MVP of the game, thanks to his 304 yards and three touchdowns.
John Elway – Defeated by Washington Redskins in 1991
Elway is one of only two players to be named MVP of the Super Bowl from a losing team more than once. His first such victory came in 1987 when his Denver Broncos lost to the Chicago Bears.
But his most famous victory was in 1991 when his Broncos lost to the Washington Redskins. Elway completed 18 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
Donovan McNabb – Defeated by New England Patriots in 2005
The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the New England Patriots 24-21 during Super Bowl XXXIX. Despite this, quarterback Donovan McNabb has been named MVP thanks to his 357 yards and three touchdowns. He also set a record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 54.
Malcolm Smith – Defeated by Seattle Seahawks in 2014
Malcolm Smith was the linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks when they won Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos. He was named MVP of the game thanks to his nine tackles, two interceptions (he returned for a touchdown), and one fumble recovery.
Bob Griese – Defeated by Dallas Cowboys in 1972
Bob Griese was the quarterback for the Miami Dolphins when they played against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI. The game was close, but the Cowboys pulled ahead in the fourth quarter to win 24-13. Griese was named MVP of the game, thanks to his 213 yards and one touchdown.
Chuck Howley – Defeated by Dallas Cowboys in 1971
The only Super Bowl MVP from a losing team is Chuck Howley. He was the linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys when they played and lost to the Baltimore Colts in 1971.
Howley was an incredible player and had five interceptions during that season, but he is most remembered for his performance in the Super Bowl. He was named MVP even though his team lost.
Howley was the first to receive this honor, and he is still the only player from a losing team to be named MVP in history.
Jerry West- Lakers Guard 1969 Defeated By Bill Rissell’s Boston Celtics
West was the Lakers guard who averaged 37.9 points in the 1969 NBA finals where he scored 53 points in a game-winning one. West took a 2-0 lead in the series, but Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics defeated him in seven games.
In four of the seven games, West managed to record 40 points. This included the 42-point triple-double that ranks as the main point in a triple-double in NBA final history. He is the last MVP player from a losing team that closes this list. There many others but these are the top ones from our list.
These are just a few examples of Super Bowl MVP from losing team. Whether they’re playing against overwhelming odds or simply having an off day, these players have shown that it’s possible to be the best even when your team comes up short.
So next time you watch the Super Bowl, don’t forget to root for the underdog – they might be the ones who win MVP and take home the glory.