The Wildest Moments in Super Bowl History
The Super Bowl includes a rich history of memorable moments. From the "Ickey Shuffle" to the "Super Bowl Shuffle," from "Wide Right" to Adam Vinatieri's clutch kicks, there is no shortage of unforgettable championship game lore.
But what are the Super Bowl's wildest moments? These are memorable, to be sure, but in odd, surprising or simply crazy fashion.
10. Marcus Allen's Crazy Touchdown Run
Marcus Allen had a fabulous game in Super Bowl XVIII. He earned himself MVP honors with a then-record 191-yard performance and two touchdowns.
However, it was his iconic 74-yard touchdown run—another Super Bowl record at the time—that we remember today.
The Raiders called "17 Bob Trey O," which apparently means take it to the house. Allen took the handoff to the left, where he was cut off by Redskins defenders. He cut back to the middle while eluding the defense, shot through the center of the line like a cannonball and outraced the rest of the defense for a touchdown.
The spectacular run will live on as one of the wildest, most memorable plays in Super Bowl history.
9. James Harrison's Ballet Classes Pay Off
All right, James Harrison didn't really take ballet classes—as far as we know—but it sure looked like he did when he was tiptoeing down the sideline during Super Bowl XLIII.
The Arizona Cardinals were a Cinderella story heading into the title tilt. Kurt Warner had revived his career, leading his team against the storied and vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers.
It was supposed to be a bloodbath. The Cardinals, who had never played in a Super Bowl, barely made the playoffs, and they were going up against the league's top defense. The Steelers were favored by seven, but the Cardinals were not going to be pushovers.
Warner had driven the Cardinals into the red zone just before halftime when he made a critical mistake. He passed the ball to the goal line—to James Harrison.
The big linebacker rumbled 100 yards down the sideline to the other end zone, improbably staying in bounds while avoiding would-be tacklers. The play was a huge swing in the game—the Cardinals, in essence, went from taking a 14-10 lead to falling behind 17-7 at halftime. Pittsburgh ended up winning the game 27-23.
8. The Swann Dive
Now here is a player who did take ballet classes, and they paid off.
Lynn Swann was known for his gracefulness, so when Terry Bradshaw called his number during Super Bowl X, he delivered in characteristically artistic style.
Bradshaw dropped back to pass at his own goal line and launched a deep ball over the middle of the field. Swann was covered well by Mark Washington, but he jumped over the top of the Cowboys cornerback.
The ball bounced off Swann's chest, but he caught it on his way down to the turf in one of the most sensational plays in Super Bowl history.
7. The Surprise Onside Kick
Most onside kicks are predictable. A team is typically down late in the game when we see one, usually with little chance of catching the opponent unprepared.
Not so in Super Bowl XLIV.
The high-powered Saints were held to six points in the first half by the Colts, and they were kicking the ball off to start the third quarter. In a gutsy call that set the tone for the second half, Sean Payton had Thomas Morstead punch the ball ahead for an onside kick.
If you saw it coming, congratulations on obtaining that sports almanac from your time-traveling future self.
The onside kick surprised everyone—the Colts, the crowd, the announcers, the world—and the Saints recovered.
6. Thurman Thomas Loses His Head
Thurman Thomas made a lot of noise heading into Super Bowl XXVI, mostly about the lack of attention he was getting in the media.
He got his wish at the beginning of the game.
The stud running back was trying to get into the contest, but he couldn't. Why? Because he had misplaced his helmet. Thomas missed the first two plays of the game while he frantically searched for his important headpiece.
To add insult to stupidity, Thomas carried the ball 10 times for just 13 yards in the losing effort to the Washington Redskins.
5. William Perry Scores a Rushing Touchdown
William “The Refrigerator” Perry was only a rookie when the Chicago Bears went on their dominant 1985 run, but he made a memorable name for himself during Super Bowl XX.
Perry was already a good defensive lineman—part of the best defense in NFL history—but that is not where he made waves during the championship game. The Bears were at the goal line when they brought the mammoth lineman in to play fullback.
Instead of blocking for Walter Payton, however, he got the handoff.
After scoring three times in the regular season, Perry rumbled into the end zone in the Super Bowl, and the Bears mauled the Patriots to win it all.
4. Leon Lett's Brain Cramp
The Buffalo Bills were in the middle of their equally impressive and embarrassing run of Super Bowl appearances (all losses) when they ran into the buzz saw that was the Dallas Cowboys.
It was already a 52-17 slaughter in Super Bowl XXVII when Leon Lett scooped up a Frank Reich fumble and rumbled down the field for another Dallas touchdown. Or so he thought.
In perhaps the most famous incident of premature celebration, Lett thought he could cruise into the end zone with his arms raised. Don Beebe, Buffalo receiver and special teams ace, would not let the Bills be further embarrassed, however. He hustled in pursuit of Lett, getting to him just in time to knock the ball out of his hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.
3. The Tackle
St. Louis and Tennessee squared off during Super Bowl XXXIV in one of the more unexpected championship matchups in recent history, and it was scintillating. It ended with one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl lore.
Kurt Warner completed his wild first season as an NFL starting quarterback—he was a 28-year-old AFL import who replaced Trent Green in the preseason—with a Super Bowl victory and MVP honors, but the Titans nearly spoiled it for him.
Steve McNair had some heroics in mind on Tennessee’s final drive late in the fourth quarter. There were six seconds left after his impossible escape to find Kevin Dyson for a 16-yard gain to the St. Louis 10-yard line.
On the final play, McNair dropped back and fired a pass to Dyson over the middle, and Dyson made a beeline for the end zone. Only Mike Jones, an unheralded linebacker, stood in his way. Jones hit Dyson, and the receiver stretched for the goal line in vain as the linebacker wrapped him up for the game-saving tackle.
2. Garo's Gaffe
The legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins were on their way to completing their historic undefeated run, leading the Washington Redskins 14-0 late in Super Bowl V. The game was practically on ice as they lined up to kick a field goal with 2:07 left in the game.
Garo Yepremian had his kick blocked, however, and the ball bounced right back to him. Rather than fall down and take the loss of a down, Yepremian decided he would try to throw the ball.
It was a hilarious mistake.
The ball slipped out of Yepremian's apparently tiny hands as he cocked to throw, bounding off his shoulder pads and into the arms of Redskins cornerback Mike Bass, who took it back for Washington’s only score. Considering the game wasn’t out of reach, the play could have been disastrous for Yepremian and the Dolphins.
There was neither harm nor foul in the end, as Miami went on to complete the only undefeated season in NFL history, but Garo's gaffe lives on in infamy.
1. The Helmet Catch
The Giants were more than holding their own against the mighty Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, but they found themselves down 14-10 late in the game.
It was 3rd-and-5 at New York's 44-yard line with just 1:15 to go in the game. Eli Manning dropped back to pass but was immediately pressured by the Patriots defensive line.
In a highly underrated part of the play, Manning managed to escape Richard Seymour's clutches and scramble outside the pocket, launching a pass to David Tyree, who was coming back to the ball. What happened next defied belief.
Tyree grabbed the ball and pinned it against his helmet as he fell to the ground. The Super Bowl hero managed to hang on to the ball while Rodney Harrison did everything he could to knock it out. The ball came an inch from hitting the turf as Tyree fell to his back, still pinning the ball to his helmet.
The Helmet Catch extended the drive that ultimately won the game for the Giants, and it will forever live as one of the Super Bowl's wildest and most memorable plays.