The 1985 New England Patriots: Worst Super Bowl Team Ever?

I’ve heard talk that the Arizona Cardinals are the worst team to make it to the Super Bowl.

That is laughable.

Even if they get blown out by the Pittsburgh Steelers, that doesn’t mean they are the worst team to get there. While they were 9-7 in the regular season, it doesn’t mean they are the worst team to earn the right to play in football’s biggest game.

I understand why people might believe this. The Cardinals looked horrible on the road this year and got blown out more than once on the East Coast. They didn’t even appear to show up for the game in the snow against the New England Patriots.

It’s hard to say that any team that actually makes it to the Super Bowl does not deserve it. Thankfully, only 12 teams get into the postseason, and then each team has to prove itself against the best in the league. But winning three playoff games to get to the big dance is hard to do.

With that said, I will give you my pick for the worst team to make it to the Super Bowl. I am not going to throw a lot of stats or analysis in this. This is mostly from my feeble memory.

1985 New England Patriots

Yes—my beloved New England Patriots. New England’s best years prior to getting to Super Bowl XX were in the 1970s. Many said the Patriots of that era were one of the most talented teams never to get to the Super Bowl. In 1976, they got robbed on a terrible roughing the passer penalty in a playoff game against Oakland that handed the Raiders the game. A few years later, head coach Chuck Fairbanks created such a distraction with his bolting the team that they ended up losing to the Oilers in the 1978 playoffs.

The team that made it in 1985 featured several players that were aging and missed out on getting to the Super Bowl when they should have made it.

Steve Grogan was on the bench, while John Hannah was still a great guard but aging. Stanley “Steamer” Morgan was in his ninth year and defensive end Julius Adams was around his 15th year. Cornerback Raymond Clayborn was in his ninth year and linebacker Steve Nelson was in his 12th year.

I loved those guys.

Of our younger guys, the Patriots had the wimpy Tony Eason at quarterback. In addition, the team had the solid but not flashy Craig James at fullback. They also had who should have been the best running back on the team, but he was too busy snorting coke. Yes, I’m talking about Tony Collins. They also had a young Irving Fryar, who at that time was NOT a preacher but an immature wife beater and drug user.

The best player on the team other than John Hannah was linebacker Andre Tippet.

Yes, the Patriots went 11-5 that year, but the Chicago Bears were clearly the best team in the league and the 12-4 Dolphins—the only team to beat the Bears that year—were probably the second best.

The Patriots beat the Jets in the wild card game, which was not a surprise. They beat the Raiders in Oakland but were aided by six turnovers.  Lastly, the Patriots had Miami’s number—because they were division rivals—so they were smoked in the AFC Championship game. I was ecstatic, but maybe a little fearful of those Chicago Bears.

Up to Super Bowl XLII, the 46-10 embarrassment against the Chicago Bears was the worst, most depressing sporting event I ever witnessed in my life. I just wanted them to make a game of it.

Sadly, the Patriots didn’t. I will never forget seeing Richard Dent drag Craig James around like he was a rag doll. I felt sick after the game. It took a long time to get over that game—not the loss, but the way that New England lost.

I will never forget when William “Refrigerator” Perry tried to throw an option pass late in the game to rub it in and Tippet stepped up and put an end to that nonsense.

Nor will I forget seeing my childhood hero, Steve Grogan, throwing his first and only touchdown pass in a Super Bowl to Irving Fryar.

But otherwise, this is a game I would like to forget ever happened.

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2 thoughts on “The 1985 New England Patriots: Worst Super Bowl Team Ever?

  1. You have my sympathies for this memory. As a kid, I sat through three of these gut wrenching losses in four years: a 39-20 loss to the Giants in ’86, a 42-10 loss to the Redskins in ’87, and a 55-10 loss to the 49ers in ’89. Each loss was more humilating than the previous one. That said, I don’t think those Broncos teams could necessarily make a case for “worst Super Bowl team ever” because each of those teams just stumbled badly at the wrong time. I would throw in the ’94 Chargers as an entry for that category, but it’s hard to argue with the case you made for the ’85 Patriots.

  2. I totally agree on the ’94 Chargers. They would be #2 on my list, or maybe even #1.

    Your Broncos 1977 team would possibly be #3.

    I want to say the ’79 Rams would be in the top five but looking at some stats I’m not so sure.

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