Several previous "wild card" teams have won their conferences before going on to lose in the Super Bowl. Each club that has reached the Super Bowl as a legitimate wild card squad is listed below. Lester Hayes' 13 interceptions helped the Oakland Raiders win 11 games during the regular season in 1980. They went on to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-21 in the Super Bowl.
The 1985 Chicago Bears were given no chance of making it to the Super Bowl. They finished first in the NFC Central with an 8-8 record, earning them a spot in the playoffs as a wild card team. In one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever played, the Bears defeated the New York Giants 27-17 at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Stadium. With their victory, the Bears became the first eighth-place finisher to reach the big game.
In 2014, two wild card teams made it to the Super Bowl: The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. The Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers 30-22 in Game 5 of their playoff contest to advance to their second Super Bowl appearance in three years. The Broncos took down the Patriots 41-25 in another exciting Game 5 to claim their first championship in the form of gold jewelry.
There are currently two wild card teams in the NFL: The Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens. The Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints 28-24 in Week 17 to clinch their spot in the postseason.
1970 Since the inception of the wild card format in 1970, ten wild card teams have advanced to the Super Bowl. Six of those ten players have won the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl has been won by the past four wild-card winners.
Ten Wild Card Teams That Made It To The Super Bowl
1970 Miami Dolphins vs San Diego Chargers - Miami wins 20-17
1973 Washington Redskins vs Oakland Raiders - Washington wins 27-10
1974 Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles - Cowboys win 21-16
1975 Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals - Steelers win 17-14
1976 Kansas City Chiefs vs Denver Broncos - Chiefs win 23-7
1977 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets - Bills win 19-17
1978 Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears - Lions win 24-17
1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Atlanta Falcons - Buccaneers win 16-6
1980 San Francisco 49ers vs Cleveland Browns - 49ers win 23-17
1981 Washington Redskins vs Miami Dolphins - Redskins win 21-12
1982 Baltimore Colts vs Los Angeles Rams - Rams win 26-11
There are ten wild card teams. Since the inception of the wild card format in 1970, ten wild card teams have advanced to the Super Bowl. Two of the ten games ended in ties, and the other two games required overtime to determine who would advance.
The wild card system was created by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in order to give all non-division winner an equal chance of making the playoffs. Previously, the three division winners with the best records were guaranteed spots in the post-season while the others went home. Under this new system, everyone had a chance - even the lowly 0-10 Cleveland Browns. The only stipulation was that each team must be within one game of a first-place team at week's end to qualify. If there is a tie at the top, then the following week's game between the two tied teams decides which ones make the postseason.
In its first four seasons, the wild card system worked as planned. From 1970 to 1973, all non-division winners made the playoffs. In 1974, the Baltimore Colts finished second in the AFC East behind Miami but still got a first-round bye because they had a better record than Oakland. That same year, Dallas finished first in their division but lost out on the right to play in the Super Bowl because they didn't have a winning record.
Raiders The Raiders beat the Eagles 27-10 to become the first wild card playoff team to win a Super Bowl. They had also been the first wild card team to make the playoffs, so they were now 2-0 after winning their first postseason game.
The Patriots weren't the only New England team in the Super Bowl: The other was the New York Giants, who played New England in the NFL Divisional Playoff Game on January 12, 2012. The Patriots won that game too, 28-21.
New England and New York City are about 250 miles apart, but they don't know how to play nice with each other. In fact, the two teams have been in conflict since the beginning of the American Football League and NFL merger in 1970. New England wanted nothing to do with Philadelphia ownership (who owned the Eagles at the time) because they felt like it was a bad business move. Instead, they joined the AFC which allowed them to meet up with their favorite rival Boston College every year for football season.
New England has dominated the rivalry since then with five out of six Super Bowls wins. The only loss came when Tom Brady was suspended for four games due to his role in the "Deflategate" scandal.