Every year, millions of Super Bowl fans gear up for the Big Game, whether by being lucky enough to get their hands on a ticket, to attend a Super Bowl party or to throw a party themselves. While there are great plays at every Super Bowl, there are some plays that could very well be classified as the greatest in Super Bowl history. There may be some debate as to which plays should actually be called the greatest, but these plays will definitely make the cut.
1. Super Bowl XLII – David Tyree Catch
Super Bowl XLII was played on February 3, 2008. The New York Giants were the underdog, going up against the New England Patriots, with many fans and players hoping New England was going to end the season with a Super Bowl win and 19-0 record. The Giants had other plans and took the lead in the 4 th quarter. Eli Manning would be named MVP, but it was the pass he threw to #85, David Tyree, that would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and still be talked about years later.
The Patriots were leading with only 1:15 left to play. Eli Manning had the ball and was under siege by Patriot’s Jarvis Green who had Manning by the shoulder, while defensive lineman Richard Seymour grabbed onto Manning’s jersey and tried to pull him down in a sack. Manning, the NFL says, “ripped out of Green’s grasp” and threw the ball. Tyree leaped to make the catch and held on to the ball by pressing it tightly against his helmet with his right hand after the Patriot’s Rodney Harrison swiped at the ball, making Tyree lose grip with his left hand. Even as Harrison pulled Tyree down, the ball was still pressed firmly against his helmet. While Tyree re-enacted his play, nothing was like the picture of the moment, which graced sports magazines and newspapers across the country after the Giants beat the 12 point favorite Patriots in a final score of 17-14.
2. Super Bowl XXIII – Joe Cool to John Taylor TD
The underdog Cincinnati Bengals may have surprised many fans, perhaps even themselves, on January 22, 1989 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, when they took the lead in the 4 th quarter over the San Francisco 49ers with just over three minutes left to play. But even Cincinnati wide receiver would later admit that 3:20 on the clock was just too much time to seal the deal against “Joe Cool” Montana. A 92 yard drive and a pass from Montana to John Taylor resulted in the winning touchdown with only 35 seconds left in the game, according to Fox Sports. The 49ers won the Super Bowl with a final score of 20-16.
3. Super Bowl IV – 65 Toss Power Trap
One of the biggest Super Bowl upsets of all time came in Super Bowl IV, with the Minnesota Vikings being the favorite over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, which one announcer referred to as a “Wild West variety show” that came to town. But on January 11, 1970 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, the Chiefs would deal a crushing blow to the Vikings’ dream of winning Super Bowl IV. A three point field goal was scored by the Chiefs and then another just minutes later. The Chiefs dominated at the end of the first quarter, 6-0. At the end of the second quarter, the Vikings remained scoreless. It was not until the 3 rd quarter that the Vikings finally scored on Dave Osborne’s 4 yard touchdown run. The enthusiasm of coach Hank Stram, wearing a microphone for the first time, no doubt contributed to the enthusiasm of the Chiefs throughout the game. Cory Weaver says in “65 Toss Power Trap, boys” that the play is “The most iconic play in Chiefs history.” Stram instructed wide receiver Gloster Richardson to tell QB Len Dawson to run the play. “The 65 toss power trap might pop wide open, rats,” Stram is heard to say.
Weaver explains what happened next – Hike! Dawson collected the snap and sold the fake pitch to FB Wendell Hayes who took off for the left sideline. Then halfback Mike Garrett came around from the right for the handoff and trotted into the end zone without a scratch thanks to a big block by tight end Fred Arbanas.
“65 toss power trap, boys!” he yelled from the sidelines. Stram and 65 Toss Power Trap would be immortalized into Super Bowl history.
4. Super Bowl XLIV – Porter runs 74 Yards for Saints
As Fox Sports explains, the New Orleans Saints weren’t even supposed to be in the Super Bowl. Yet, on February 7, 2010, they went up against the Indianapolis Colts. With only five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Saints took the lead over the favorite-to-win Colts. Although Saints quarterback, Drew Brees would be named MVP after the Saints 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, it was Tracey Porter who “picked off a key third-down pass,” and ran 74 yards to take New Orleans to their first Super Bowl victory.
5. Super Bowl III – A Joe Namath Promise
It was before the Big Game that Joe Namath made a promise to a heckling fan. The New York post quotes Namath’s comeback to the heckler, “I think we’ll win it. In fact, I’ll guarantee it.” Namath would deliver on that promise throughout the entire January 12, 1969 game. But he did it without a single touchdown pass. The New York Daily News explains that “Namath went 17-for-28 for 206 yards, still the only QB to win Super Bowl MVP without throwing a touchdown pass.” Going down fast, the Colts put an already-injured Johnny Unitis in the game, but not even he could rescue the Baltimore Colts from the promise Joe Namath had made three days before the Super Bowl. As the Jets led 16-0 going into the 4 th quarter, the Jets just “ran time off the clock” with Namath not throwing even a single pass in the fourth. The New York Daily News says that “for years” Colts player Bubba Smith refused to believe that the Jets had won Super Bowl III fairly, going so far as to call the game “fixed.” Joe Namath merely kept his promise that his team would win and he did so without throwing a single touchdown pass the entire game.