In honor of the Super Bowl, I will give my top 10 picks for the greatest Super Bowls ever played. Let’s get it started!
10.) Super Bowl XXIII
Down 16–13, San Francisco got the ball on their own eight-yard line with 3:10 on the clock.
They marched 92 yards down the field and scored the winning touchdown on a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game.
Cincinnati’s only touchdown, a 93-yard kickoff return by Stanford Jennings in the third quarter, was quickly answered by a four-play, 85-yard drive that ended with San Francisco wide receiver Jerry Rice’s 14-yard touchdown catch. Rice caught 11 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, winning Super Bowl MVP.
9.) Super Bowl XXV
Probably the most emotionally charged Super Bowl ever played, Super Bowl XXV was a brief ‘distraction’ from the start of the Persian Gulf War. It turned out to be one of the most memorable games in NFL lore. The New York Giants set a Super Bowl record by having possession of the ball for nearly a staggering 41 minutes (40 minutes and 33 seconds).
They conducted a 75-yard touchdown drive that consumed a Super Bowl-record 9 and a half minutes off the clock. Giants running back Ottis Anderson carried the ball 21 times for 102 yards and one touchdown. He was named Super Bowl MVP. Backup QB Jeff Hostetler played very well also. He completed 22 of 36 passes for 237 yards and 2 TD’s.
The game is best remembered for Bills kicker Scott Norwood’s last-second 47-yard field goal attempt that went wide right of the uprights, leading to a Giants victory.
It was also the first Super Bowl in which neither team committed a turnover.
8.) Super Bowl XXXIV
Despite outgaining the Titans in total yards in the first half, 294–89, the Rams held only a 9–0 halftime lead. St. Louis scored their first touchdown midway through the 3rd quarter to go up 16–0.
Tennessee scored 16 unanswered to tie the game with 2:12 left. However, on the Rams’ ensuing drive, Kurt Warner completed a 73-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaac Bruce to regain the lead.
The Titans then drove to the St. Louis 10-yard line with six ticks left. On the final play of the game, Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson one yard short of the goal line to prevent a potential game-tying touchdown. One Yard Short. The game is briefly summarized by most NFL fans as simply ‘The Tackle’.
Warner was named Super Bowl MVP. He also became the sixth player to win both that award and MVP of the NFL during the same season. His 414 passing yards and 45 pass attempts without an interception were Super Bowl records.
7.) Super Bowl XLV
Green Bay owned the first half of Super Bowl XLV. They jumped out to a 21–3 lead before Pittsburgh cut it down to 11 just before halftime.
The Steelers pulled within 3 points midway through the fourth quarter with wide receiver Mike Wallace’s 25-yard touchdown catch from Ben Roethlisberger and a successful two-point conversion.
The Packers would counter with Mason Crosby’s 23-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining. Green Bay had a final chance to stop the Steelers on their last drive. They did just that, stuffing forcing Roethlisberger into two wild and errant passes that felt harmlessly to the turf and icing the victory.
Aaron Rodgers won Super Bowl MVP, completing 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns in the process.
6.) Super Bowl III
This was the first Super Bowl victory for the AFL. As the story goes, Joe Namath made an appearance three days before the Super Bowl at the Miami Touchdown Club and guaranteed a victory.
The Jets controlled most of the game, building a 16–0 lead off of a touchdown run by Matt Snell and three field goals by Jim Turner.
Colts quarterback Earl Morrall threw three interceptions before being replaced by Johnny Unitas. With the victory, the Jets became the only winning Super Bowl team to score only one touchdown.
Joe Namath completed 17 out of 28 passes for 206 yards and won the Super Bowl’s most valuable player. It was alarming to most due to the fact he did not throw a touchdown pass in the game or any passes at all in the fourth quarter.
5.) Super Bowl XXXII
This was Denver’s first championship after suffering four previous Super Bowl losses. This Super Bowl win also snapped a 13-game losing streak for AFC teams in the Super Bowl. The Broncos converted two turnovers to take a 17–7 lead in the second quarter before the Packers cut the score to 17–14 at halftime. Green Bay tied the game at 24 with 13:32 left.
The most memorable play by far, however was John Elway scrambling out of the pocket for a nine yard gain. He was smacked hard beyond the first down marker, landing in helicopter fashion. Running back Terrell Davis then scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:45 remaining.
Davis was named Super Bowl MVP. He ran for 157 yards and scored a Super Bowl record three rushing touchdowns.
4.) Super Bowl XLIX
This game was tied 14–14 at halftime. The Seahawks built a 10-point lead to end the third quarter.
The Patriots, however, rallied to take a 28–24 lead off of Tom Brady’s 4th TD pass, which went to Julian Edelman with roughly two minutes left in the game.
Seattle drove to New England’s 1-yard line after a miraculous catch on the sideline by Jermaine Kearse. The absolute unthinkable would transpire next. With 26 seconds left, Russell Wilson threw the ball to special teams ace Ricardo Lockette that resulted in Patriots undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler making an interception that ultimately saved the day.
Tom Brady won Super Bowl MVP after a then Super Bowl-record 37 completions on 50 attempts for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns.
3.) Super Bowl XLII
The game is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in the history of professional sports.
Down 14–10, New York got the ball on their own 17-yard line with 2:39 left and marched 83 yards down the field. The most memorable play was David Tyree making a leaping one-handed catch, pinning the football with his right hand to the crown of his helmet for a 32-yard gain.
Wide receiver Plaxico Burress then scored the winning touchdown on a 13-yard reception with 35 seconds remaining. Eli Manning was awarded Super Bowl MVP for his coming of age performance.
2.) Super Bowl LI
The Falcons had a 21–3 halftime lead. They increased their lead to 28–3 midway through the third quarter, with quarterback Matt Ryan completing his second touchdown pass to a wide open Tevin Coleman.
The Patriots then went on a massive rally. They scored 25 unanswered points to tie the game at 28 with 57 seconds left in regulation and forced overtime. New England won the overtime coin toss, received the kickoff and drove 75 yards to win with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back James White.
The most memorable play of the game was a miraculously completed pass by Tom Brady to Julian Edelman at the New England 45-yard line while being surrounded by safeties Keanu Neal & Ricardo Allen and left corner Robert Alford. The pass went for a gain of 18 yards and resulted in a key first down.
More than 30 team and individual Super Bowl records were broken or matched. White, who scored the game winner, had 14 receptions and scored 20 points, which came off of 3 touchdowns and a two-point conversion, were among these broken records.
Tom Brady, who also broke single-game Super Bowl records with 43 completed passes, 62 pass attempts, and 466 passing yards, was named Super Bowl MVP for a record fourth time.
1.) Super Bowl XLIII
In my eyes, this will always be the greatest Super Bowl ever played. Even if I wasn’t particularly fond of the outcome. Pittsburgh jumped to a 17–7 halftime lead after Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s ran back a Super Bowl-record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Nonetheless, the Arizona Cardinals would not die. Trailing 20–7 at the start of the fourth, Arizona scored 16 unanswered, including a Larry Fitzgerald’s 64-yard touchdown reception to take their first lead of the game with 2:37 left in the game.
However, Pittsburgh drove 78 yards to score on wide receiver Santonio Holmes’ improbable 6-yard game-winning touchdown catch with 35 seconds left. Holmes caught nine passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, including four receptions for 73 yards on that final game-winning drive. He also won Super Bowl MVP.