The Highest Rated Super Bowl of All Time (January 24, 1982)
Perhaps helped by a weekend snowstorm and cold wave over the Midwest and Northeast, Super Bowl XVI between the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals (played on Jan. 24, 1982) has the distinction of being the highest rated Super Bowl of them all. The game, which the 49ers won by a score of 26-21, posted a 49.1 household rating/73 share. It still ranks as the 4th highest rated telecast of all time (behind the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983; the "Who Shot J.R?" episode of Dallas in 1980; and the final episode of Roots in 1977). There have been Super Bowls with larger audiences (due to population increase) but no game since has pulled a higher rating.
This game also had the distinction of being the first Super Bowl played in a northern city - Detroit. Luckily for fans and players it was played in a domed stadium (the Silverdome) since the outside temperature was 20 degrees. (44 years later the first Super Bowl to be played in an uncovered stadium in the northern US took place in northern New Jersey.) To read about other fun facts about other Super Bowls, double click here.
I didn't see the big game. That weekend found me in Connecticut visiting my boyfriend Rick who lived in Middletown (the following year he'd move into Manhattan with me). That Sunday afternoon we drove up to the hamlet of Norfolk in snowy Litchfield County (in the northwestern corner of the state) to visit his friends Debbie and Mort (a burly forest ranger). We had a brief delay on the drive there when our car was hit by a pile of snow and ice that crashed down upon us from a snowplow working on a highway overpass. And later that evening my trip back to Manhattan would be delayed because Rick's car became stuck in the driveway, frozen in place.
(Although no books/DVDs for this particular game are available the newly published book The Ultimate Super Bowl Book offers stats & stories about all 43 match-ups while the DVD NFL Films Super Bowl Collection XI-XX recaps highlights of the games played between 1977-1986.)
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