10 Biggest Surprise Stars in Super Bowl History

Gordon BlockContributor IIIFebruary 2, 2012

10 Biggest Surprise Stars in Super Bowl History

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    Football is a team game, and that fact is never more clear than during the Super Bowl. Winning or losing, when things get crazy it's good to get strong performances from players from both the top and bottom of a roster.

    When lesser known players can find a way to impact a game, it can make all the difference. Making their mark in either the scoreboard or the box score, these players' efforts are remembered long after the game is over.

    Here are 10 of the biggest surprise stars in the history of the Super Bowl.

Don Beebe

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    It may not have changed the outcome, but the effort of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Don Beebe will not be forgotten as he hustled his way into the collective memories of football fans everywhere.

    His memorable moment came in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXVII, well after the outcome had been decided. The Cowboys were able to force a fumble on quarterback Frank Reich, which was recovered by defensive lineman Leon Lett.

    Lett had a seemingly untouched path to the end zone, and began to hold the ball out as he moved toward the goal line. As he showboated near the line, he was caught from behind by a charging Beebe, who knocked the ball from his hands. The ball trickled out of bounds, resulting in a touchback that would give the Bills the ball back.

    It may not have been a game changer, but it was a inspiring sight to see somebody put it all out there and not give up in a bad circumstance. 

Max McGee

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    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Max McGee pulled off one of the least likely Super Bowl performances ever, dominating while nursing a nasty hangover from the night before.

    McGee reportedly drank heavily and skipped curfew the night before the game, barely making the team's 7:30 a.m. breakfast.

    However, when starter Boyd Dowler separated his shoulder on the Packers' first series (the second play of the game), McGee was called into action.

    He managed to put together a pretty impressive game, catching seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns (including a very nice one-handed catch for the first touchdown in Super Bowl history). 

    McGee died in 2007 after falling from the roof of his house.

Larry Brown, Jr.

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    Dallas Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown Jr. was a major factor in Super Bowl XXX as he became the first cornerback to win Super Bowl MVP honors.

    The 12th round pick in the 1991 draft had two interceptions of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell, both of which were converted on the following Cowboys' drives for touchdowns.

    The Cowboys would win 27-17.

Chuck Howley

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    The only player on the losing side awarded the Super Bowl MVP award, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley was a beast in holding off the effective Baltimore Colts offense.

    While most defensive stats weren't tabulated at that point, Howley ended Super Bowl V with two interceptions. The game had so many turnovers, many people called it the "Blunder Bowl."

    It may not come as too much of a surprise, but Howley refused to accept the award, calling it meaningless in light of the team's loss (they would fall 16-13).

Randy White and Harvey Martin

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    This list may have added a few more names had the voters gone with their initial plan to award each member of the starting defense with a combined MVP award. However, the league said no to that idea, and instead voters made defensive back Randy White and Harvey Martin the co-MVPs of Super Bowl XII.

    Between the two of them, they contributed to five turnovers from the Denver Broncos that would become 17 points.

    Their play, as well as their willingness to share the award, is something I can't imagine happening again any time in the foreseeable future. 

Timmy Smith

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    Washington Redskins running back Timmy Smith did the unthinkable in Super Bowl XXII, dominating action as a rookie.

    Rushing for 204 yards (a record that has not been broken since) and two touchdowns, Smith was unstoppable throughout the day.

    Despite this success, not all went well for Smith after the game. Injuries would slow down his career, and he would never have a repeat of his Super Bowl performance.

Jermaine Lewis

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    With the Baltimore Ravens looking to hold off a New York Giants rally (they had just scored a kickoff return touchdown), they got a clutch return of their own from wide receiver Jermaine Lewis.

    Weaving through traffic with a devastating burst of speed, the Giants had no answer as he put the game officially out of reach.

    The Ravens would win 34-7. 

Mike Jones

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    The difference between winning and losing can be just a few feet.

    That was the case in Super Bowl XXXIV, as St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones won the game with his clutch tackle of Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson on the one yard line with time expiring.

    The Rams would win 23-16.

David Tyree

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    New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree made the ultimate heads-up play as he secured a pass on his helmet late in the New York Giants win over the then-perfect New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

    The catch, which came on a long fourth down, would be followed only a few plays later by the game winning touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Plaxico Burress.

    While he will be forever tied to the win, things didn't go so well after the game. He would find himself slowed by injuries, which would force the Giants to cut him before the start of the 2009 season.

    He also garnered some press attention for his staunch opposition to gay marriage.