I get it, this one is a little overdue. Sue me. Anyways the Super Bowl is greatest single day sporting spectacle of all-time. Two weeks of coverage, media day (Opening Night BS whatever now), crazy stories, repeated stories (how many times did we hear about Tom Brady and Roger Goodell just in the two weeks leading up to the game let alone for the past two years), and finally the game itself. There have been now fifty-one of these such games with a good handful being duds (ahem Super Bowl XXXIII) but a good amount of them being great and/or memorable. Yea you’ve probably seen a billion of these things especially around this time but I tell you mine is the best so just shut up and read this thing.
This Super Bowl has to be on any list. No it was not the flashiest of games. No there was no game-defining play or memorable moment you can really take away from the game itself. However, this is arguably the most important game in NFL history. The Colts were favored by an unheard of eighteen points heading into the game. However, as many know, Jets quarterback Joe Namath made his famous guarantee three days before the game and the rest is history. The Jets stymied a Colts offense who had put up thirty-four points in the NFL Championship Game against the Browns. Namath managed the game perfectly and ended with MVP honors, an award that is still debated whether Namath would have won it had it not been for the guarantee. In the end, the game was the first Super Bowl win for the upstart AFL and solidified the reasoning behind the NFL-AFL merger the two leagues agreed upon three years earlier.
This game had a whopping thirteen Hall of Famers on the field and sideline and the game did not disappoint. The teams of the seventies traded scores for much of the game before the defining play, Jackie Smith’s drop of an easy touchdown catch, allowed for Pittsburgh to pull away for good. A late comeback attempt by the Cowboys ran out of time as the Steelers became the first team to win three Super Bowls.
Wide Right forever. Whatever.
Both Super Bowls involving the Bengals and 49ers are grossly underrated Super Bowls. Super Bowl XVI was a great game with the 49ers barely edging out Cincinnati thanks to a San Francisco goal-line stand to give Joe Montana his first Super Bowl. However, it is Montana’s third Super Bowl win and second one against the Bengals that makes the list here. For most of the game it was a back-and-forth defensive struggle with the Bengals leading 16-13 with 3:10 left in the game. However, that was more than enough time for Joe Montana to lead one of his signature game-winning drives as he led San Francisco ninety-two yards to a game-winning touchdown on wide receiver John Taylor’s only catch of the game. The famous story from this game was Montana looking into the stands before the final drive and telling his huddle “Hey, isn’t that [the actor] John Candy?”
Here come the Patriot Super Bowls. A long time ago, the Patriots were actually touchdown underdogs to The Greatest Show on Turf in the St. Louis Rams. However, Tom Brady began to show what he would later become known for for the next two decades. After a furious fourth quarter comeback by Kurt Warner and St. Louis where they scored two touchdowns with final one coming with 1:30 left on the clock. Many thought Brady and the Patriots would sit on the clock and force overtime, but Brady masterfully led New England down into field goal range where Adam Vinitari nailed the game-winning field goal as time expired to give the Patriots their first Super Bowl.
Arguably the most underrated Super Bowl ever to be played, this game had it all. Signature plays, back-and-forth action, and finally a game-winning drive. It seemed like Pittsburgh would run away with the game as linebacker James Harrison intercepted Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner at the end of the first half and returned it one hundred yards for a touchdown. However, Warner and the Cardinals clawed back and eventually took the lead on the game’s second signature play, Larry Fitzgerald’s sixty-seven yard touchdown catch. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers were not done yet as they scored a touchdown with a little more than thirty seconds left on the game’s third and final signature play, Santonio Holmes impressive catch in the back of the end zone to give Pittsburgh their sixth Super Bowl title.
A game that started slow and finished with one of the best endings a Super Bowl could ask for. Little known quarterback Kurt Warner had been bagging groceries five years earlier and suddenly he was now leading the dormant Rams to high-flying offensive numbers with The Greatest Show on Turf. Before he was the walking embodiment of a 7-9 record, Jeff Fisher actually led a team to the Super Bowl with the Tennessee Titans. The game came down to a final drive where the late Steve McNair did everything in his power to get the Titans into Rams territory. On the final play of the game, McNair hit a crossing Kevin Dyson who was tackled one-yard short of the endzone by linebacker Mike Jones.
A great Super Bowl from start to finish. A toss-up game led to the Seahawks taking a ten point lead in the fourth quarter. However, Tom Brady did Tom Brady things and led New England back to take the lead late in the fourth. Russell Wilson would not go quietly as he led Seattle down to the Patriots’ one-yard line thanks to a miraculous, juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse. The most hotly debated playcall of all-time denied Seattle back-to-back titles as Pete Carroll decided to throw on second down with the pass promptly intercepted by the undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler giving Brady his fourth Super Bowl.
Recency bias be damned, however I will preface that these next two might as well be 1a and 1b on the list. The greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time saw Tom Brady once again lead the Patriots on a game-tying and eventually game-winning drive to give him an unmatched fifth Super Bowl title. This was also the first Super Bowl to go to overtime as well.
Call it my bias against the Patriots or just call me stupid, but this is the greatest NFL football game I have ever watched. This game had all the hype in the world. New England was going for the first 19-0 record in NFL history and were expected to roll over the New York Giants and Plaxico Burress who guaranteed a Giants win early in Super Bowl week. Then the game played out and it was tense from beginning to end. The high-flying offense of the Patriots were slowed down by a devastating Giants rush that hit Tom Brady almost every time he dropped back to pass. A low scoring game, the Patriots took the lead 14-10 late in the fourth quarter. Giants quarterback Eli Manning led a game-winning drive for the ages with clutch fourth down conversions, the game’s most memorable play in David Tyree’s helmet catch to preserve the drive, and then finally Manning’s touchdown pass to Burress to win the game and end the perfect season.