The other day I gave you my 6th through 10th favorite Super Bowl memories. Today I will give you my top five. Keep in mind this is my own subjective list. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive ranking of the best moments in the history of the big game.
5./4. Surprise Onside Kicks (Super Bowl XXX and Super Bowl XLIV)
There are few things I love more in a big game than coaches playing to win. I don’t want coaches to take crazy risks, but a calculated and well-timed roll of the dice in the right spot can help spark a team to victory. Most coaches won’t even consider it because they will get ripped to shred if they gamble, and it fails. Some of the great coaches have rolled the dice and watched it pay off, though. Two who come to mind in the Super Bowl are Bill Cowher and Sean Payton. Both tried successful onside kicks that changed their games. Cowher’s came in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXX with his team down 10. The Steelers recovered and scored a big touchdown. Payton’s came at the start of the second half of Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints ripped down the field for a scoring drive to take the lead for the first time in their ultimate triumph. Cowher’s Steelers weren’t so lucky. They ultimately lost to Dallas, but I’ll always respect him for taking a chance to put his team back in the game.
3. The Longest Yard (Super Bowl XXXIV)
Only one Super Bowl has ever ended with the clock running out with the losing team one yard away from the game-tying touchdown. That came in Super Bowl XXXIV as Mike Jones tackled Kevin Dyson, preventing a tying touchdown and the first overtime in Super Bowl history.
2. Helmet Catch (Super Bowl XLII)
This would have been one of the greatest catches ever in any situation, but given the stakes, it has taken on legendary status. It wasn’t just a Super Bowl on the line. The second perfect season in the Super Bowl era was on the line. David Tyree’s helmet catch is a play any football fan knows, but people forget there were actually two spectacular plays here. Eli Manning should have been sacked, but he remarkable evaded what would have been a killer sack to put the Giants in fourth and long. A clutch third down reception that everybody forgets about by Steve Smith followed, setting up the game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress. I’d be lying if I said the Patriots pain this brought didn’t factor into my ranking, but by any objective measure this was one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.
- Tribute to the 9/11 Victims (Super Bowl XXXVI)
I’m not one for Super Bowl halftime shows. I’ve skipped a number of the memorable ones. This one was special, though. Just a few months after 9/11, U2 played this great halftime show with the victims names shown during the show on a screen behind them. The game itself was pretty great with the heavily favored Rams rallying from 14 down in the fourth quarter only to be beaten on a last second field goal by New England. Heck, I couldn’t even hate this Patriots team. This was before they started winning every year. They came out of nowhere with a sixth round quarterback nobody had heard of. Instead of the standard introduction of the players on their offense or defense, they took the field as a team. It was a great game, but above all else I’ll always remember this halftime show.