The saying goes that everything is bigger in Texas, a state that takes pride in being bigger and better.
But when it comes to Super Bowl champions, California is supreme.
Nine California-based teams have won the Super Bowl, the most for any state. The Super Bowl has a tight bond with the Golden State: The first game was played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In all, 13 Super Bowls have been hosted in California in six different cities.
One could say that the Los Angeles area is the cradle of the Super Bowl. Eight games have been held in either LA or its suburbs of Inglewood or Pasadena.
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Of the nine California teams to win the Super Bowl, many were legendary NFL teams. Let’s rank them first to worst. Of course, no Super Bowl champion can be a bad team, but we make the tough decision to rank them 1-9.
1. San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIV
Jan. 28, 1990: 49ers 55, Broncos 10
The greatest team of the Super Bowl era. The 49ers were at the peak of their powers: 14-2 and the No. 1 offense in the NFL; the best point differential in the league; won by an average of 11.8 points; and the top passing attack (more than a 1,000-yard advantage over their opponents).
The Super Bowl win remains the biggest blowout ever. Joe Montana did Joe Montana things (22-for-29, 297 yards passing, and a Super Bowl-record five touchdowns). The 49ers scored eight TDs in the game, two in each quarter. No team has ever done that, and the yards gained margin (+294) is the highest in the history of the game.
For a second straight year, it was Montana who uttered the iconic postgame, on-field line, “I’m going to Disney World!”
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2. San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XIX
Jan. 20, 1985: 49ers 38, Dolphins 16
The second-ranked offense and first-ranked defense in the NFL. This was the best defensive 11 that coach Bill Walsh ever had. The 49ers went 15-1 and dismantled their opponents in the postseason. In the two NFL playoff games and the Super Bowl, San Francisco’s defense allowed only two touchdowns.
Experts expected a light-up-the-scoreboard, make-the-pigeons-scared football flying battle between Miami’s Dan Marino and Montana. Instead, the Niners defense picked off Marino twice and held him to 29 completions in 50 frantic attempts.
What do you get when you have the most innovative coach in the Super Bowl era, the greatest QB and wide receiver in history, and one of the best defense seasons ever? You get one of the greatest NFL champions in history.
3. San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIII
Jan. 22, 1989: 49ers 20, Bengals 16
Not as dominant in the regular season as the 1989-90 team, but they manhandled opponents when it counted in the NFL playoffs. The Niners outscored the Vikings and Bears 62-12 to advance to their third Super Bowl of the 1980s.
In Super Bowl XXIII, Jerry Rice was named MVP after he gathered a record 11 passes from Montana for a Super Bowl-record 215 yards and a touchdown. It was a big catch by his teammate John Taylor late in the game that was the game-winner, as Montana led the 49ers to a second last-minute, come-from-behind win over the Bengals in a Super Bowl.
4. Los Angeles Raiders, Super Bowl XVIII
Jan. 22, 1984: Raiders 38, Redskins 9
Every owner loves winning the Super Bowl, but when the Raiders won Super XVIII, Al Davis had a smirk on his face that said, “Take that, NFL!”
Davis sued the NFL after being blocked in an effort to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1980. When he won his lawsuit, the NFL had no choice but to allow the self-styled “maverick” to move his team south to LA in 1982. In their second season in SoCal, the Black and Silver rolled all the way to Super Bowl, punishing the Redskins 38-9 in a dominating performance. The Raiders scored on offense, defense, and special teams in the first half, and running back Marcus Allen was named MVP.
“Thanks Pete,” Davis said somewhat sarcastically to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle as he accepted the Lombardi Trophy in the ebullient Raiders locker room following the win. Rozelle was the Bluto to Davis’ Popeye. The two men couldn’t stand each other.
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5. San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX
Jan. 20, 1995: 49ers 49, Chargers 26
Maybe no other Super Bowl champion had to overcome a more imposing rival in their own conference. For two years, in 1992 and 1993, the 49ers lost the NFC Championship game to the Dallas Cowboys. But in the 1994-95 season, the worm finally turned, culminating in a 49-26 blowout for San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
This Super Bowl is best known as the Steve Young Show. The maligned San Fran QB completed 24 of 36 passes for 326 yards, and ran for a team-best 49 yards. The Niners were 18 1/2-point favorites, the second-largest total in Super Bowl history, a figure they easily covered.
“That is a large monkey off my back,” a delighted Young said after the fifth Super Bowl win for the franchise. Young had twice been backup QB to Montana, and only this win could help him out of that legendary shadow.
6. San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XVI
Jan. 24, 1982: 49ers 26, Bengals 21
With a foot of snow on the ground outside in Pontiac, the 49ers won the first Super Bowl played in Michigan. This was the coming-out party for Montana, who calmly guided the young 49ers to an upset victory. His leadership and talents were needed, because the NFL’s second-ranked defense struggled a bit in the playoffs. But Montana tossed for 747 yards and six TDs in the playoffs and Super Bowl XVI. He won the first of three Super Bowl MVP awards.
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7. Oakland Raiders, Super Bowl XI
Jan. 9, 1977: Raiders 32, Vikings 14
For people under 40, John Madden is a name on a video game. But there was a time when the big fella was the best coach in the NFL. For a decade, Madden averaged 10 wins a season and led the Oakland Raiders to the playoffs eight times.
This wasn’t Madden’s best defensive unit (they ranked 14th in the NFL in fewest points allowed), but it was his most mature and efficient offense. The attack was led by veteran quarterback Ken Stabler, who led the league in completion percentage and passing TDs.
Stabler was a raucous, hard-living, trash-talking player, who epitomized the Raiders’ bad guy renegade reputation.
“We were the only team in pro football whose team picture showed both a front and side view,” Stabler said.
8. Oakland Raiders, Super Bowl XV
Jan. 25, 1981: Raiders 27, Eagles 10
The second of three Raiders champions, this was a mix of old and new for Oakland. Stabler was gone, replaced by veteran Jim Plunkett, who was with his third team in five years and had only started four games for the Raiders before the 1980 season.
Davis loved castoffs. His philosophy was to embrace malcontents, miscreants, and misdemeanors. Plunkett had 117 interceptions compared to 84 TD passes when Davis invited him to wear the iconic logo of the Raiders. Hardly the résumé of a superstar. Oakland trailed in each of its first two playoff games, but Plunkett masterfully controlled the passing game and led the team to wins. In the AFC Championship game, he tossed a pair of TDs and had just four incompletions as the Raiders beat the Chargers, 34-27.
In the Super Bowl, the Oakland defense allowed Philly a field goal in the first half and a late TD, and that was it in a ho-hum 27-10 win.
9. Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl LVI
Feb. 13, 2021: Rams 23, Bengals 20
The Rams became the second team to win the Super Bowl in its home park. They also became only the fifth team to win the big game with a first-year quarterback. And what a QB it was: Matthew Stafford was acquired from the Lions in a trade the prior offseason. After years suffering with Detroit, Stafford won the first, second, and third playoff games of his career, sending the high-scoring Rams to Super Bowl LVI.
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It was a stingy defense that paid off for the Rams, who won their first title. In three of their postseason games, LA won by three points and staved off a loss through defensive domination. The Rams ranked just 15th in points allowed, making them one of the weaker defenses to win the Super Bowl. Among this special list of champions from California, the Rams don’t quite measure up. But they were still champions.