Photo courtesy of Tennessee Titans
The Kansas City Chiefs will be looking for their second straight Super Bowl title on Sunday and third overall. Their opponent for Super Bowl LV, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be looking for their second.
Since the inception of the Super Bowl however, there are 12 franchises who have never hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Four have never been.
Here’s a look at those franchises:
Franchises that Have Never Been to the Super Bowl
The Cleveland Browns were an NFL power in the 1950’s and 60’s, but have never reached the Super Bowl. Cleveland has been to the conference championship five times, but have been unable to win during the Super Bowl era. Three of those losses came to the Denver Broncos in a 4-year span during the late-1980’s. This past season, the Browns won their first playoff game since 1994.
The Detroit Lions won three NFL Championships in the 1950’s. The Super Bowl era however, has not been kind to the Lions. Detroit’s lone NFC Championship appearance came in 1991, but it was throttled by the Washington Redskins, 41-10. The Lions haven’t won a playoff game since.
The NFL’s youngest franchise, the Houston Texans have made the playoffs six times in their 19-year history. Houston however, has never advanced past the Divisional round.
Another young franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars have seven playoff appearances in 26 years. Jacksonville reached the AFC Championship in 1996, 1999 and 2017, but was unable to get over the hump. The Jaguars held a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in the AFC Championship against the New England Patriots in their last appearance, but couldn’t hold it in a 24-20 loss.
Franchises That Have Been To, But Never Won the Super Bowl
The Arizona Cardinals have just one Super Bowl appearance, but lost in a thriller. After rallying from 13 points down to take a late 23-20 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII, Ben Roethlisberger marched the Steelers down the field before finding MVP Santonio Holmes for the game-winning touchdown. The only other NFC Championship appearance for Arizona came during the 2015 season — a 49-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The Atlanta Falcons have reached the Super Bowl twice, but each time, it ended in defeat. After falling to the Denver Broncos 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII, the Falcons let a 28-3 lead slip away in a 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
The Buffalo Bills are tied for the record for most Super Bowl appearances without a victory. The Bills made four straight Super Bowls from 1990-93, but lost each time. A 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV was the only one of those decided by single digits.
In just 26 years, the Carolina Panthers have reached the Super Bowl twice, but neither appearance resulted in a victory. The Panthers fell to the New England Patriots on a last-second field goal in Super Bowl XXXVIII. In 2015, Carolina finished 15-1 and breezed through the NFC playoffs before falling to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl L, 24-10.
The Cincinnati Bengals have made a pair of Super Bowl appearances, but lost each time to the San Francisco 49ers. Cincinnati’s rally in Super Bowl XVI fell short, 26-21. In Super Bowl XXIII however, the Bengals held a late 16-13 lead. San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana proceeded to march the 49ers 92 yards for the game-winning touchdown, which came on a scoring strike to John Taylor with just 34 seconds remaining. Cincinnati owns the longest active drought without a playoff victory.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers’ lone Super Bowl appearance came while it was in San Diego. The Chargers won a pair of nail-biters to reach Super Bowl XXIX, but ran into the buzz saw that was the San Francisco 49ers. San Diego was handled, 49-26. The Chargers have three other AFC Championship losses with the most recent coming during the 2007 season.
The other franchise with four Super Bowl losses and no wins, the Minnesota Vikings came up short on Super Sunday four times in an 8-year span from 1969 to 1976. Minnesota has lost in the NFC Championship six times since, including twice in overtime.
Formerly the Houston Oilers, the Tennessee Titans have just one Super Bowl appearance. Tennessee rallied from 16 points down to tie the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, but Kurt Warner answered for St. Louis with a 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce. The Titans marched deep into Rams’ territory on the final drive, but on the game’s final play, wide receiver Kevin Dyson was tackled a yard shy of the end zone. The franchise has five other conference title game losses.