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One Day Away From Biggest Game In Four Years

The Super Bowl is the annual final playoff game of the National Football League (NFL) to determine the league champion. It has served as the final game of every NFL season since 1966, replacing the NFL Championship Game. Since 2022, the game is played on the second Sunday in February. Prior Super Bowls were played on Sundays in early to mid-January from 1967 to 1978, late January from 1979 to 2003,[a] and the first Sunday of February from 2004 to 2021. Winning teams are awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named for the coach of the Green Bay Packers who won the first two Super Bowls. Due to the NFL restricting use of its "Super Bowl" trademark, it is frequently referred to as the "big game" or other generic terms by non-sponsoring corporations. The day the game is played is often referred to as "Super Bowl Sunday" or simply "Super Sunday".

One Day Away From Biggest Game in Four Years

Of the NFL's current 32 teams, 20 (11 NFC, 9 AFC) have won a Super Bowl and 15 (8 AFC, 7 NFC) hold multiple titles. The AFC's Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots have the most Super Bowl titles at six each; the Patriots also have the most appearances at 11. Among NFC franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have the most titles with five each and the Cowboys have the most appearances with eight. The Patriots and the Denver Broncos of the AFC hold the record for the most defeats in the Super Bowl, with five each. The Baltimore Ravens of the AFC and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFC are the only franchises to be undefeated in multiple Super Bowls, having each won two. Among the 12 teams who have not won a Super Bowl, the AFC's Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars, and the NFC's Detroit Lions are the only four to have not appeared in the game.

The Super Bowl was held in January from its inception until 2002, when the week of games following the September 11 attacks were postponed and rescheduled, extending the season by a week and causing Super Bowl XXXVI to be played on February 3. Beginning with Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, the Super Bowl was scheduled for the first Sunday in February until the schedule expansion of the 2021 season moved the game to the second Sunday.

Eight teams have appeared in Super Bowl games without a win. The Minnesota Vikings were the first team to appear four times without a win, while the Buffalo Bills played in a record four consecutive Super Bowls, losing in each. The Patriots and Broncos are tied for the most Super Bowl losses (five).

The Baltimore Colts, now a member of the AFC, would start the decade by defeating the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, a game which is notable as being the only Super Bowl to date in which a player from the losing team won the Super Bowl MVP (Cowboys' linebacker Chuck Howley). Beginning with this Super Bowl, all Super Bowls have served as the NFL's championship game.

In the late 1970s, the Steelers became the first NFL dynasty of the post-merger era by winning four Super Bowls (IX, X, XIII, and XIV) in six years. They were led by head coach Chuck Noll, the play of offensive stars Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster, and their dominant "Steel Curtain" defense, led by "Mean" Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, and Jack Lambert. Many of the team's key players were selected in the 1974 draft, in which Pittsburgh selected four future Hall of Famers, the most for any team in any sport in a single draft.[citation needed] A fifth player, Donnie Shell, was signed by Pittsburgh after going unselected in the 1974 NFL Draft; he too was later enshrined in the Hall of Fame.[13] The Steelers were the first team to win three and then four Super Bowls and appeared in six AFC Championship Games during the decade, making the playoffs in eight straight seasons. Pittsburgh still remains the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice and four Super Bowls in a six-year period.

Following several seasons with poor records in the 1980s, the Cowboys rose back to prominence in the 1990s. During this decade, the Cowboys made post-season appearances every year except for the seasons of 1990 and 1997. From 1992 to 1996, the Cowboys won their division championship each year. In this same period, the Buffalo Bills had made their mark reaching the Super Bowl for a record four consecutive years, only to lose all four. After Super Bowl championships by division rivals New York (1990) and Washington (1991), the Cowboys won three of the next four Super Bowls (XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX) led by quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin. All three of these players went to the Hall of Fame. The Cowboys' streak was interrupted by the 49ers, who were the first team to win their league-leading fifth title overall with Super Bowl XXIX with a dominant performance featuring the Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young (who threw a Super Bowl record 6 touchdown passes), Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders; however, the Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl XXX the next year also gave them five titles overall and they did so with Sanders after he won the Super Bowl the previous year with the 49ers. The NFC's winning streak was continued by the Packers led by Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, won Super Bowl XXXI, their first championship since Super Bowl II in 1968.

The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched annual sporting events in the world, with viewership overwhelmingly domestic.[18] The only other annual event that gathers more viewers is the UEFA Champions League final.[18] For many years, the Super Bowl has possessed a large US and global television viewership, and it is often the most-watched United States originating television program of the year.[19] The game tends to have a high Nielsen television rating, which is usually around a 40 rating and 60 shares. This means that, on average, more than 100 million people from the United States alone are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment.

Super Bowl XLIX holds the record for average number of US viewers, with 114.4 million, making the game the most-viewed television broadcast of any kind in American history.[19][23] The halftime show set a record with 118.5 million viewers tuning in.[24] Super Bowl XLIX peaked at 120.8 million viewers.[24] The game set a record for total viewers for the fifth time in six years.[citation needed]

The highest-rated game according to Nielsen was Super Bowl XVI in 1982, which was watched in 49.1% of households (73 shares), or 40,020,000 households at the time. Ratings for that game, a San Francisco victory over Cincinnati, may have been aided by a large blizzard that had affected much of the northeastern United States on game day, leaving residents to stay at home more than usual.[citation needed] Super Bowl XVI still ranks fourth on Nielsen's list of top-rated programs of all time, with three other Super Bowls (XVII, XX, and XLIX) in the top ten.

The NFL has broken the traditional broadcasting rotation if it can be used to bolster other major sporting events a network airs afterwards.[32][33][34] For example, CBS was given Super Bowl XXVI (1992) after it won the rights to air the 1992 Winter Olympics, with NBC subsequently airing Super Bowl XXVII (1993) and Super Bowl XXVIII (1994) in consecutive years. Likewise, NBC aired Super Bowl LVI (2022) instead of CBS during the 2022 Winter Olympics, which were also aired by NBC.[34] CBS received Super Bowl LV (2021) in return.[34] Under the four-network rotation that will take effect beginning in 2024, the league will award NBC the Super Bowl during Winter Olympic years.[31]

Note: Years listed are the year the game was actually played (will be played[ˇ]) rather than what NFL season it is considered to have been.^ *: The current TV contract with the networks expires after the 2022 season (or Super Bowl LVII in early 2023). Under the deal, the Super Bowl is currently rotated annually between CBS, Fox, and NBC in that order. ABC will return to the rotation in the upcoming contract, which is scheduled to take effect at the start of the 2023 season.[31]^ **: The first Super Bowl was simultaneously broadcast by CBS and NBC, with each network using the same video feed (from CBS), but providing its own commentary.

Early Super Bowls featured a halftime show consisting of marching bands from local colleges or high schools; but as the popularity of the game increased, a trend where popular singers and musicians performed during its pre-game ceremonies and the halftime show, or simply sang the national anthem of the United States, "America the Beautiful" or "Lift Every Voice And Sing" emerged.[38] Unlike regular season or playoff games, thirty minutes are allocated for the Super Bowl halftime. After a special live episode of the Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color caused a drop in viewership for the Super Bowl XXVI halftime show, the NFL sought to increase the Super Bowl's audience by hiring A-list talent to perform. They approached Michael Jackson, whose performance the following year drew higher figures than the game itself.[39][40] Another notable performance came during Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, when U2 performed; during their third song, "Where the Streets Have No Name", the band played under a large projection screen which scrolled through names of the victims of the September 11 attacks.

The halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII attracted controversy, following an incident in which Justin Timberlake removed a piece of Janet Jackson's top, briefly exposing one of her breasts before the broadcast quickly cut away from the shot. The incident led to fines being issued by the FCC (and a larger crackdown over "indecent" content broadcast on television), and MTV (then a sister to the game's broadcaster that year, CBS, under Viacom) being banned by the NFL from producing the Super Bowl halftime show in the future. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the incident, the NFL held a moratorium on Super Bowl halftime shows featuring pop performers, and instead invited a single, headlining veteran act, such as Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen. This practice ended at Super Bowl XLV, which returned to using current pop acts such as The Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga.[44][45]

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