Super Bowl XLIV: The Greatest Moments in 44 Years of Championship Games
With Super Bowl Sunday less than 24 hours away, the 44th edition of the NFL's storied championship game will again host two teams. The NFC champion New Orleans Saints and the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts, led by three-time NFL MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, will do battle for the right to become world champions and hoist the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.
For the Colts, this is not their first trip to the big game, as they captured Super Bowl XLI with a 29-17 decision over the then-NFC champion Chicago Bears, led by quarterback Rex Grossman.
As for the Saints, this game culminates a 2009 campaign which saw them rocket through the gate to start the season going 13-0, until a 24-17 setback to the Dallas Cowboys in the Superdome brought them back down to earth.
That started a disappointing conclusion to the season, as they finished 13-3 and won the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, culminating with a victory over the No. 2 seed Minnesota Vikings to secure the franchise's first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
While this Super Bowl may produce its own reel of highlights and the stories that will be told through the ages, I am going to share five of some the greatest moments from 44 years of championship games in preparation for this edition of the NFL's championship game.
No. 1: Patriot Games
Super Bowl XXXI's play to remember featured Packers' KR Desmond Howard taking a third-quarter kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown thus setting a Super Bowl record, ending the scoring and clinching the Packers' first Super Bowl title victory since Super Bowl II. Patriots' coach Bill Parcells and most of his staff left that following year to the New York Jets.
No. 2: Delivery Guaranteed
In Super Bowl III, Jets QB Joe Namath had said, "We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it." And boy he delivered, as Namath had a day for the ages as he went 17-for-28, good for 206 yards through the air as his Jets beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7, and was named Super Bowl MVP.
Joe Namath's signature index finger in the air is going to be forever linked to his epic prediction. This matchup can no longer be repeated, as both the Jets and the relocated Indianapolis Colts are now members of the AFC.
No. 3: Day Late, Yard Short
In a last ditch critical drive with St. Louis leading 23-16, WR Kevin Dyson catches a McNair pass at the Rams' 10-yard line, and then goes all the way down to the three-yard line where he is met by Rams' LB Mike Jones and is stopped a yard shy of the dramatic game-winning touchdown.
No. 4: Wide Right
Super Bowl XXV featured the Buffalo Bills, who would eventually win four-straight AFC championships and become the only team to lose four Super Bowls and the New York Giants. With the Giants leading 20-19, Jim Kelly drove the Bills' offense to the Giants' 29-yard line and lined up for a chip shot field goal for PK Scott Norwood. With eight seconds left, the Bills line up for a 47-yard field goal, and the kick has plenty of distance, but is wide to the right.
No. 5: Catch Me If You Can
In Super Bowl XVIII, with the Los Angeles Raiders leading the Washington Redskins 28-9, Super Bowl MVP RB Marcus Allen takes a handoff from QB Jim Plunkett 74 yards for a touchdown after initially appearing to be stopped for a loss in the backfield, which proved to be the back-breaking score in a game in which the Redskins and Raiders fans alike would call "Black Sunday" after the favored Redskins were destroyed on the biggest stage of them all.
Thanks to ESPN.com and Kevin Jackson, Jeff Merron & David Schoenfield and Google for contributing to this article, and here's to another successful Super Bowl Sunday!
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