Super Bowl 47: The 10 Greatest Super Bowl Moments of the 21st Century

Aashish SharmaCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2013

Super Bowl 47: The 10 Greatest Super Bowl Moments of the 21st Century

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    Since the turn of the century we have seen 12 Super Bowls, with number 13 taking place this Sunday. From pick-sixes to game-winning touchdown catches, sports fans have seen it all. But this list is reserved for only the most glorious and memorable moments on the sport's biggest stage. 

    Here are the 10 most epic Super Bowl plays of the 21st century.

10. Ty Law Intercepts Kurt Warner

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    Super Bowl 36 (2002): New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams

    Moment: Ty Law returns pick-six 47 yards for go-ahead TD

    With about nine minutes remaining in the first half, the St. Louis Rams commanded a 3-0 lead over the New England Patriots and were driving from their own 39-yard line. As Kurt Warner dropped back to pass on 1st-and-10, he was pressured from the right side by Patriots outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. In an attempt to avoid the sack he made an ill-advised pass that was picked off by cornerback Ty Law. Law returned the interception 47 yards for the go-ahead touchdown—the sixth pick-six in Super Bowl history. 

9. Nick Collins' Pick-Six off Roethlisberger

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    Super Bowl 45 (2011): Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers

    Moment: Nick Collins returns INT 37 yards for TD

    Down a touchdown and with just over three and a half minutes to play in the first quarter, the Steelers started a drive from their own 7-yard line. Ben Roethlisberger attempted to hit Mike Wallace down the left sideline, but underthrew the pass due to pressure from nose tackle Howard Green. Free safety Nick Collins intercepted and returned it 37 yards—while dodging six Pittsburgh Steelers—for the touchdown to give the Packers a 14-0 lead. 

8. Hester Returns Opening Kickoff for TD

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    Super Bowl 41 (2007): Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears

    Moment: Hester returns opening kickoff 92 yards for TD

    It's not often fans get to see a kick/punt return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. It's even rarer to see it happen on the first play of the game—but that's exactly what happened in Super Bowl 41. Bears kick/punt return specialist Devin Hester returned Adam Vinatieri's opening boot from the 8-yard line and took it to the house 92 yards, marking the eighth kick return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.  

7. Larry Fitzgerald 64-Yard Go-Ahead TD

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    Super Bowl 43 (2009): Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals

    Moment: Larry Fitzgerald 64-yard go-ahead TD

    Trailing 20-16 with 2:48 remaining in Super Bowl 43, the Arizona Cardinals faced a 2nd-and-10 from their own 36-yard line. Kurt Warner dropped back in the pocket and found Larry Fitzgerald on a crossing pattern. Fitzgerald broke the the Steelers defense, going 64 yards for the touchdown without even being touched. The score and extra point gave Arizona a 23-20 lead with just over two-and-a-half minutes remaining.  

6. James Harrison Longest Play in Super Bowl History

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    Super Bowl 43 (2009): Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals

    Moment: James Harrison 100-yard pick-six

    With 18 seconds remaining in the first half, the Cardinals had a 1st-and-goal at the Steelers' 2-yard line. After the snap Kurt Warner dropped back and looked for Anquan Boldin, but instead found Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, who dropped into coverage. Harrison—who is listed at 6'0", 240 pounds—took the interception back 100 yards for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 17-7 lead going into the half. It was the longest play in Super Bowl history. 

5. Tracy Porter Pick-Six off Peyton Manning Seals Win

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    Super Bowl 44 (2010):  New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts

    Moment: Tracy Porter game-winning pick-six

    Down 24-17 with 3:24 left in the game, the Colts faced a crucial 3rd-and-5 at the Saints' 31-yard line. Peyton Manning dropped back and tried to hit Reggie Wayne on a short comeback route. Saints cornerback Tracy Porter read the route perfectly, undercut it, came up with the interception and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown. The score gave New Orleans a 31-17 lead with just over three minutes remaining, effectively ending the game. 

4. Eli Manning Connects with Mario Manningham

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    Super Bowl 46 (2012):  New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

    Moment: Eli Manning hits Mario Manningham for 38-yard gain

    Leading 17-15 with 4:06 to go, the New England Patriots had a chance to end the game on their terms. On their second-to-last drive, Tom Brady targeted an open Wes Welker. Welker infamously dropped the ball that would have given New England a fresh set of downs at the Giants' 20-yard line. Instead the Patriots failed to convert on their next play (3rd-and-11) and were forced to punt.

    The Giants started the ensuing drive from their own 12-yard line. On the first play, Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham on an incredible 38-yard gain down the left sideline. Manningham caught the ball in traffic and fell out of bounds to stop the clock. The play put the Giants at midfield in a span of about six seconds. The Giants eventually scored the game-winning touchdown on an Ahmad Bradshaw goal-line run, marking the second time they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl in five years. 

3. Santonio Holmes Game-Winning TD Reception

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    Super Bowl 43 (2009):  Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals

    Moment: Roethlisberger finds Holmes on fade route for game-winning TD

    Directly following Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard touchdown reception (see Slide 7) which gave Arizona the 23-20 lead, the Steelers got the ball back at their own 22-yard line with 2:37 left in the game. Ben Roethlisberger engineered a miraculous eight-play, 88-yard drive that ended with Santonio Holmes' game-winning catch in the back-right corner of the end zone with 35 seconds remaining.

    Under the circumstances, it was one of the most brilliant throw-and-catch plays in Super Bowl history. Roethlisberger's pass was on the money, going just over the fingertips of Cardinals corner Ralph Brown. Holmes' catch was equally impressive—he was being triple-teamed yet was able to catch the ball, keep both feet in bounds and retain possession as he fell to the ground. An absolutely remarkable play.

2. Adam Vinatieri Game-Winning Field Goal: Super Bowl 36

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    Super Bowl 36 (2002):  New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams

    Moment: Adam Vinatieri game-winning field goal

    Tied at 17 and with less than 1:30 remaining in the game, the Patriots started a drive from their own 17-yard line. As can be heard in the video above, John Madden expected New England to concede the drive and head for overtime since they had no timeouts. The Patriots had other ideas.

    Tom Brady manufactured a magnificent drive, advancing the ball into field-goal range, before spiking it with seven seconds to go. Adam Vinatieri—who made two clutch kicks during the Snow Bowl—trotted out to the 30-yard line to attempt the game-winning field goal from 48 yards out. He hit it as time expired, and the Patriots knocked off the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams 20-17 for the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

1. David Tyree

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    Super Bowl 42 (2008):  New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

    Moment: David Tyree makes incredible 32-yard catch against helmet 

    After Tom Brady found Randy Moss for a touchdown to take a 14-10 lead, the Giants got the ball back with 2:39 left on the clock.  

    The Giants almost lost the game on two occasions—one, when they faced a 4th-and-1 (which they converted) and the other when Asante Samuel nearly intercepted Eli Manning.

    With 1:15 left on the clock the Giants faced a 3rd-and-5. Manning snapped the ball and was nearly sacked by New England's ferocious three-man rush. Despite nearly being brought down by his jersey, Manning somehow escaped and bombed a deep pass over the middle of the field, which essentially became a jump ball.  

    It seems like every Super Bowl-winning drive includes a miraculous play that will be embedded in the memories of sports fans for years. This was one of them.

    A relatively unknown player named David Tyree gained instant fame when he out-battled Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison for the ball, making a one-handed grab and clamping the ball to his helmet. 

    This became arguably the most iconic play in Super Bowl history.

    It gave New York a first down at the Patriots' 24-yard line with under a minute to go. A few plays later Eli Manning found Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown. 

    The game is widely regarded as the greatest upset in Super Bowl history (and maybe of all time). It was a classic case of David vs. Goliath. And of course, David won.