Madonna gave "a shot of female brass" to the Super Bowl with her 12-minute half-time show, reviewers have said.
Entertainment Weekly said the pop star was "a bright delight", "plugging her product with such gleeful abandon".
The Los Angeles Times said her show was "arguably more outrageous than the notorious Jackson nipple shot" of 2004.
But the New York Times argued she had taken "a downright benign stance" compared with more shocking Madonna performances of years gone by.
The 53-year-old's half-time performance at the Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, included hits Vogue, Music, Open Your Heart, Express Yourself and Like a Prayer as well as new song Give Me all Your Luvin', from new album MDNA, due out next month.
She entered the stadium on a chariot, led by dozens of Roman gladiators, wearing a black and gold costume topped with an elaborate crown.
Marching bands, tightrope acrobats, gladiators and choirs - as well as guest stars M.I.A, Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo Green and LMFAO - were among the cast in the spectacular show, watched by more than 100 million TV viewers in the US.
Censors have paid special attention to the half-time entertainment ever since the 2004 Super Bowl performance in Houston, Texas, when Justin Timberlake famously exposed Janet Jackson's breast during a duet.
The only controversial moment this year came when British singer M.I.A. was seen gesturing with her middle finger.
Broadcaster NBC later apologised for the "inappropriate" and "spontaneous gesture".
Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker cited interviews with Madonna last week stating she had no plans to incite controversy.
"But instead of resulting in a cautious, tedious performance, Madonna gave a joyous, unironic, open-hearted one," he added.
"Now the carping will begin in living rooms and throughout the internet: Was she lip-syncing? Did she make a few wobbly moves? Was M.I.A. being a naughty girl?
"Me, I don't care - I was happy to see Madonna smiling so much, giving it her all".
Sarah Fitzmaurice, of the the UK's Daily Mail, said Madonna had previously declared she had to put on "the greatest show on earth, during the greatest show on Earth".
The paper added that she "certainly didn't disappoint".
It said that, under "immense" and greatly-felt" pressure, she had only suffered "one small slip-up throughout the show".
"As she was strutting her way across the bleachers to Music, the second song in her set, she was unable to step up onto one of them and had to repeat the dance move to hoist herself up," it said.
"But Madonna proved a true professional and laughed the error off throwing herself into the next sequence of the set."
The star's mis-step came after she revealed she had pulled a hamstring during rehearsals, requiring "a lot of warm-ups, taping and ultrasound".
The New York Times' Jon Pareles noted that Madonna was no longer "the indefatigable trouper of years past".
"The bad girl is a grown-up now, like it or not," he added.
"It's impossible to guess what the Madonna of decades past, fascinated with lust, power, religion and transgression, might have done with this platform."
It said that, while the star was "still lithe, she measured her moves, letting her supporting cast offer distractions".
USA Today's Elysa Gardner, meanwhile, described Madonna as "stylish but hardly provocative in tailored tops and skirts that showed off her yoga-toned gams" saying she had delivered flourishes "with a winking sense of humour".
And she suggested that, if the singer "moved a little less nimbly than usual, it might have had to do with a reported pulled hamstring - or gravity-defying heels".
She added that, in Give Me All Your Luvin' - featuring M.I.A and Nicky Minaj - Madonna had "wisely" chosen "not to join the younger stars or an accompanying ensemble in donning cheerleader outfits".
The Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot complained the song, released on Friday "fell flat".
"Rhyming 'ya wanna' with 'Madonna', recasting herself as a cheerleader for a sport that she's barely noticed in decades past - it was the Material Girl who couldn't deliver the goods," he said.
Referring to the lip-syncing, he said Madonna had "never really been about 'live' performance - her concerts are essentially theatrical exhibitions accompanied by piped in music".