Ranking the 50 Best Super Bowl Plays of All Time

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIFebruary 5, 2012

Ranking the 50 Best Super Bowl Plays of All Time

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    Super Bowl XLVI is certainly one for the ages as the New York Giants did it again with a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots—much like Super Bowl XLII. 

    Throw in Super Bowl XLVI with all the other 45 Super Bowls in NFL history, and we have seen our share of highlights. 

    There have been so many memorable moments and we're going to celebrate those right now.

    In that spirit, here are the 50 best Super Bowl plays of all time. 

50. Tom Brady to David Givens in Super Bowl XXXVIII

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    (Fast-forward to about 1:40)

    Tom Brady finds David Givens on a 3rd-and-1 with just 18 seconds left in the half to give the New England Patriots a 14-7 lead over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. 

49. Doug Williams to Ricky Sanders in Super Bowl XXII

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    It appeared to be just a soft-little pass to Ricky Sanders out of the hands of Doug Williams, but Sanders turned it into an incredible 80-yard touchdown as the Washington Redskins scored 35 second-quarter points against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. 

48. Thurman Thomas' Touchdown in Super Bowl XXV

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    The Buffalo Bills took the lead on Thurman Thomas' epic 31-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XXV as the Bills held a 19-17 lead over the New York Giants early in the fourth quarter.

    However, this lead did not last, as the Giants ultimately won Super Bowl 20-19. 

47. Steve Young's First Touchdown in Super Bowl XXIX

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    Steve Young could not be stopped in Super Bowl XXIX.

    On just the third play of the game, Steve Young connected with Jerry Rice for a 44-yard touchdown strike. This was the first of Young's record six SB touchdown passes versus the San Diego Chargers. 

46. Eli Manning to Victor Cruz in Super Bowl XLVI

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    Following a Tom Brady safety in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLVI, Eli Manning marched the New York Giants down the field and hooked up with Victor Cruz for the team's first touchdown on the game. 

    With the score, the Giants held a 9-0 lead. 

45. Mark Ingram's Epic Reception for a First Down

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    On 3rd-and-13 on the Buffalo Bills' 32 yard-line.

    Mark Ingram Sr. defined his career with this catch, as he absolutely willed himself to the first down. 

44. Roger Craig Is Too Much for the Miami Dolphins

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    Roger Craig simply dominated in Super Bowl XIX against the Miami Dolphins with three touchdowns on the day.

    One of those touchdowns came when Craig caught the ball across the middle and then high-stepped his way into the end zone for a touchdown. 

43. Bob Griese Gets Sacked in Super Bowl VI

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    In the Dallas Cowboys' dominating 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI, the first quarter ultimately ended with a Bob Lilly sack on Bob Griese, which resulted in a 29-yard loss. 

42. Willie Parker's Touchdown in Super Bowl XL

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    Willie Parker goes a long way for this 75-yard score against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. 

41. Adam Vinatieri's 41-Yard Field Goal in Super Bowl XXXVIII

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    Adam Vinatieri does it again in Super Bowl XXXVIII to give the New England Patriots their second Super Bowl in three seasons. 

40. Leon Lett's Strip in Super Bowl XXVIII

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    Leon Lett may be best known for his infamous Super Bowl XXVII fumble just prior to crossing the goal line, but he had a monster day against the Buffalo Bills the following year. 

    Lett stripped Bills running back Thurman Thomas as James Washington picked it up and ran it back for 46 yards to score the game-tying touchdown. It was all Cowboys from that point on.

39. Pittsburgh's Blocked Punt in Super Bowl X

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    Early on in the fourth quarter with the Pittsburgh Steelers trailing 10-7, fullback Reggie Harrison blocked a Dallas Cowboys punt for a safety.

    Pittsburgh went onto win Super Bowl X 21-17. 

38. Joe Theismann Plays Some Defense in Super Bowl XVII

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    The Miami Dolphins were up 17-13 early in the third quarter when Dolphins linebacker Kim Bokamper deflected a Joe Theismann pass.

    Luckily Theismann knocks the ball loose prior to it becoming free and a potential touchdown for Miami. 

37. Larry Csonka Bulldozes the Washington Redskins

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    The Washington Redskins defense wanted nothing to do with Larry Csonka as he rumbled his way 49 yards down field. He broke several tackles before ultimately being dragged down. 

36. Ricky Proehl's Game-Tying Touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI

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    With just 1:30 left in the game, the St. Louis Rams tied up Super Bowl XXXVI with a 26-yard strike from Kurt Warner to Ricky Proehl.

    Unfortunately for St. Louis, the New England Patriots ended up winning Super Bowl XXXVI thanks to the leg of Adam Vinatieri. 

35. Joe Montana to Jerry Rice

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    Joe Montana and Jerry Rice keep the drive alive in Super Bowl XXIII as Montana found Rice in double-coverage on 2nd-and-20.

    Rice snags the ball in between defenders and scampers his way for a 26-yard gain. 

34. Terrell Davis' Uncontested Touchdown

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    With 1:45 left in Super Bowl XXXII, the Green Bay Packers let Broncos running back Terrell Davis score a touchdown on the 1-yard line in order to get the ball back.

    However this ended up being the game-winning touchdown as the Denver Broncos held onto the lead and won Super Bowl XXXII 31-24. 

33. Mike Vrabel's Touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVIII

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    Did you know that linebacker Mike Vrabel caught 10 passes in his New England Patriots career with all 10 of them being touchdowns?

    One of those came in Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers. 

32. Terry Bradshaw to John Stallworth in Super Bowl XIV

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    This play hadn't worked all game but Terry Bradshaw and John Stallworth made it work this time in Super Bowl XIV against the Los Angeles Rams. 

31. The Fridge Scores in Super Bowl XX

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    When massive defensive lineman William "Refrigerator" Perry scores a touchdown against you, then you know you're having a bad day. Just ask the New England Patriots.

    Perry punched in a one-yard score in Super Bowl XX against the Patriots as the Chicago Bears embarrassed New England. 

30. Neil O'Donnell Had a Bad Day Against the Dallas Cowboys

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    Neil O'Donnell came into Super Bowl XXX with the lowest interception percentage in NFL history, but imploded for three interceptions on Super Sunday.

    His worst interception, and moment, had to be the pass thrown directly to Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown as he returned it 33 yards to the 6-yard line. 

29. Steve McNair's Scramble in Super Bowl XXXIV

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    With 22 seconds left in Super Bowl XXXIV, Steve McNair did everything he could to keep the game alive as his Tennessee Titans were trailing 23-16 against the St. Louis Rams. 

    This is what made McNair so great: his ability to stay alive in the pocket. 

28. Antwaan Randle Connects with Hines Ward

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    Antwaan Randle El is the only wide receiver in NFL history to complete a touchdown pass.

    Randle El tossed a bomb to Hines Ward for a touchdown as the Pittsburgh Steelers went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10. 

27. Leon Lett's Fumble in Super Bowl XXVII

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    This is what happens when defensive linemen try to carry the football. They simply can't do it. 

    Way to go, Leon Lett...Luckily the Dallas Cowboys ended up beating the Buffalo Bills in this one, 52-17. 

26. Jermaine Lewis' Kick Return in Super Bowl XXXV

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    Jermaine Lewis added some insurance with his 84-yard touchdown return in Super Bowl XXXV against the New York Giants.

    Lewis weaved his way in and out of traffic on his way to the end zone as the Baltimore Ravens destroyed the Giants, 34-7. 

25. Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad in Super Bowl XXXVIII

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    The Carolina Panthers faced a 3rd-and-10 with 7:06 left in the fourth as Jake Delhomme tossed an 85-yard strike to Muhsin Muhammad to give the Panthers a 22-21 lead over the New England Patriots. 

24. Jim O’Brien’s Field Goal in Super Bowl V

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    With just five seconds to go in Super Bowl V, the Dallas Cowboys and the Baltimore Colts were tied up at 13, and the game was sure to be headed to overtime. 

    However, Colts kicker Jim O'Brien drilled a field goal for the ages to win it for Baltimore. 

23. Garo Yepremian’s Attempted Pass

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    Why? Why in the world would Garo Yepremien try to attempt a pass in this situation?

22. Jack Smith's Drop in Super Bowl XIII

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    Bless Jackie Smith's heart. 

21. Max McGee's One-Handed Touchdown

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    This is an oldie as it dates all the way back to Super Bowl I. 

    Max McGee had only four receptions all season, but snagged seven passes for 138 yards in this one, including a wonderful one-handed snag. 

20. Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress to Win Super Bowl XLII

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    18-1.

    That's all I need to say. 

19. Devin Hester's 92-Yard Opening Kickoff Return for a Touchdown

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    You could not start a Super Bowl any better than this. 

    Devin Hester shows why he's the greatest return man to ever play in the NFL with this play in the game's biggest spotlight.

    Too bad the Chicago Bears ended up losing this one against the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17. 

18. Marcus Allen's 74-Yard Touchdown Run

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    Super Bowl XVIII was just a field day for Oakland Raiders running back Marcus Allen.

    Allen finished the day with a total of 191 yards and two touchdowns, with one of his scores being this outstanding 74-yard dash. 

17. John Elway's Epic Helicopter

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    John Elway leaped his way to a Denver Broncos first down, which led to a Terrell Davis touchdown run to win Super Bowl XXXII. 

    Seeing Elway sacrifice his body like this gives me chills. 

16. Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce in Super Bowl XXXIV

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    This is why the Rams were known as the "Greatest Show on Turf." 

    With the game tied up at 16 with two minutes to go in Super Bowl XXXIV, Kurt Warner threw the game-winning touchdown to Isaac Bruce to give the St. Louis Rams the win. 

15. Desmond Howard's 99-Yard Kick Return

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    This was the dagger in the New England Patriots' heart as Desmond Howard returned a 99-yard kickoff for a touchdown to start the fourth quarter, which earned him the honor of being named Super Bowl MVP

    The Green Bay Packers went on to beat the Patriots 35-21. 

14. Tracy Porter's Pick-Six

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    You can bet that Peyton Manning still has nightmares about Tracy Porter ending his bid for a second Super Bowl title in Super Bowl XLIV. 

13. Lynn Swann's Catch

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers faced a 3rd-and-6 on their own 36-yard line with 2:50 left in the second quarter, and quarterback Terry Bradshaw dialed up Lynn Swann for the touchdown strike. 

12. John Riggins' Touchdown Run Against the Miami Dolphins

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    John Riggins took the Washington Redskins and put them on his back with his epic 43-yard touchdown run against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. 

11. Sean Payton's Onside Kick

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    This took a whole lot of guts. 

    When this happened live, I was stunned that Sean Payton actually had enough guts to call an onside kick to open the second half. 

10. Jack Squirek's Pick-Six

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    Jack Squirek came out of nowhere to pick off Joe Theismann to return it for a touchdown as the Oakland Raiders jumped out to a 21-3 lead just before halftime. 

9. The San Francisco 49ers' Goal-Line Stand

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    The San Francisco 49ers needed a goal-line stand—and they got one. 

    The 49ers were able to deny the Cincinnati Bengals here in Super Bowl XVI, a 26-21 victory for San Fran.

8. Ahmad Bradshaw's Game-Winning Touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI

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    With 57 seconds left in Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants stood at the New England Patriots' 6-yard line with the game in their hands. 

    New York attempted to run out the clock and New England purposely let Ahmad Bradshaw score the (eventual) game-winning touchdown.

    At the time it looked like Bradshaw had made a costly mistake by not running out the clock, but it ended up being the game-winner. 

7. Santonio Holmes' Game-Winning Catch

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    This is by far one of the most incredible catches that I have ever seen in my entire life.

    I am still in shock that Santonio Holmes was able to get both of his feet in bounds. 

6. Scott Norwood's Wide Right

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    Wide right...That's all I need to say. 

5. James Harrison's 100-Yard Interception Return for a Touchdown

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    Kurt Warner and the Cardinals were on the verge of putting up some points just prior to halftime, but James Harrison put the Pittsburgh Steelers on his back and returned this interception 100 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII. 

4. Joe Montana's Touchdown Pass to John Taylor to Win Super Bowl XXIII

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    Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers took the field on their own 8-yard line trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13 late in the fourth quarter.

    Montana took the 49ers on a 92-yard drive as he tossed a 10-yard strike to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game. 

3. Adam Vinatieri's Game-Winning Field Goal

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    This was the start of the dynasty. 

    Tom Brady methodically marched the New England Patriots down the field in Super Bowl XXXVI and Adam Vinatieri drilled the game-winning field goal to knock off the St. Louis Rams.

2. One Yard Short for the Tennessee Titans

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    Just one more yard—that's all the Tennessee Titans needed to win Super Bowl XXXIV.

    St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones stopped Titans wideout Kevin Dyson right before the goal line as time ran out.

1. David Tyree's Helmet Catch

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    This is a play that New England Patriots fans will never forget—and it's certain that New York Giants fans will never forget it either.

    The catch by David Tyree and his helmet is not the only amazing aspect of this play, but how Eli Manning escaped New England's pass rush and was actually able to get the ball off just adds to the play's lore. 

    This play right here is why Super Bowls are so great.