Ranking the Patriots Super Bowl Calls

We talked about it on The 300s Podcast this week, and I think the time has come to rank the game-winning calls from the five Patriots Super Bowl wins. Here’s my list, and my thoughts on the broadcasters and their calls. Apologies in advance for having to watch some of the clips on YouTube, but at least all the links are in one place now.

5. Super Bowl 38 – CBS – Greg Gumbel

Back in 2003, Jim Nantz was still on studio duty hosting The NFL Today and Greg Gumbel was the lead play-by-play announcer for CBS. Gumbel is a sold broadcaster, but there’s not much here. Neither the call after the field goal nor the call after the kickoff add much. There’s something to be said about letting the moment “breathe” and letting the pictures tell the story, but some narration here would have been great.

4. Super Bowl 39 – FOX – Joe Buck

Joe Buck’s first Super Bowl broadcast. I think Buck takes far more criticism than he deserves, but he falls into the same trap here that Gumbel did at the end of Super Bowl 38. It’s nice to let the moment breathe, but some excitement or commentary would have helped distinguish this interception with nine seconds remaining in the Super Bowl from an interception in Week 9.

3. Super Bowl 36 – FOX – Pat Summerall

This call gets a lot of flack. I remember not liking it much at the time, either, but it has grown on me. Sure, a little more excitement or commentary would have been nice. But this moment benefits the most from the broadcasters letting it breathe and letting the pictures tell the story of complete bedlam after time expired. This was also Pat Summerall’s last game as FOX’s lead football broadcaster. Watching game replays today I half expect him to start talking about the leather helmet days and about when men were men.

2. Super Bowl 51 – FOX – Joe Buck

The easiest call in sports might be the walk-off home run, and this is the closest equivalent in football. Buck does a good job to call the play, shows some excitement, and sums things up pretty well at the end. “Brady has his fifth! What a comeback!”

1. Super Bowl 49 – NBC – Al Michaels

Not the first time Al Michaels has taken the top spot on a “best sports calls” list and hopefully not the last. I love the excitement in his voice, and am very impressed that he was able to spit out the name Malcolm Butler so easily. Butler wasn’t exactly a household name at that point.


Not sure what the NFL television contract situation looks like right now, but I’d love to see ESPN/ABC get another Super Bowl soon. No one beats Sean McDonough in moments like these.

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