The Top 10 Super Bowl Blunders of All Time

Thomas CopainCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2011

Top 10 Super Bowl Blunders of All-Time

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    It's the biggest game of the football year.

    One game for the World Championship, the Lombardi Trophy, the diamond-encrusted ring and the label of Super Bowl Champion the rest of your life. 

    It doesn't mean that the biggest football game of all isn't immune from blunders. And the Super Bowl has had some of the biggest blunders of all time, whether it's dropped passes, botched plays, fumbled snaps and perhaps one of the most famous blunders of all time.

    So as we close in on Conference Championship Weekend and the two week bonanza that is the Super Bowl looming, it's time to look back at the 10 Biggest Blunders in Super Bowl history. And don't worry, everybody's favorite Dallas Cowboys' lineman will be on the list.

10. Hank Baskett and the Onside Kick

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    As the second half of Super Bowl XLIV got underway, New Orleans coach Sean Payton decided to take a gutsy chance and call for an onside kick.

    The strategy looked like it was going to backfire as Hank (Mr. Kendra) Baskett was in perfect position to recover the kick for the Colts. But he bobbled the ball and Chris Reis recovered for the Saints. New Orleans got the ball, the momentum and eventually, their first Super Bowl title.

9. An MVP's Super Bowl to Forget

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    The Raiders had a good chance of winning Super Bowl XXXVII, considering they had the league's MVP at quarterback in Rich Gannon and one of the best offenses in the NFL.

    But the Buccaneers had a major trump card—the Raiders old coach.

    Jon Gruden was able to teach the Bucs the Raiders' unchanged hand signals on offense, and what occured was one of the worst performances by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. Gannon threw a record five picks (three of them returned for touchdowns) and the Raiders were dismantled 48-21.

    Oakland hasn't had a winning record since.

8. Willie Brown's Gallop To Glory

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    Fran Tarkenton had appeared in two previous Super Bowls before Super Bowl 11, but neither one had resulted in a victory.

    His final appearance in Super Bowl 11 didn't fare so well either, but Tarkenton was still trying to lead the Vikings back, down 26-7 in the fourth quarter. That's before he threw a pass that Raiders cornerback Willie Brown stepped in front of and took off for a 75-yard touchdown.

    Brown's interception was the longest in NFL history before James Harrison's 100-yard return in Super Bowl XLIII, and the slow-motion, close-up footage of Brown running towards the endzone became prolific.

7. The Phantom Holding Call

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    Super Bowl XL might be most remembered for Jerome Bettis and Bill Cowher finally winning a ring, but in the Pacific Northwest, it'll always be remembered for the officiating.

    The Seahawks were the victims of a questionable pass interference call that wiped out what would've been the first touchdown of the game and gave Ben Roethlisberger a touchdown when it looked like he was short, but the Seahawks were still in the game in the second half.

    Matt Hasselbeck thought he completed a pass to Jerramy Stevens that brought the Seahawks down to the Pittsburgh one-yard line with a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown. But instead, the play was called back on a holding call referee Bill Leavy later said he missed on Sean Locklear.

    One play later, Hasselbeck was intercepted and the Seahawks' title hopes went down with it.

6. The Failed "Rocket Screen"

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    Joe Gibbs had a trick play he ran with the Redskins called the "Rocket Screen," which was a screen pass from Joe Theismann to running back Joe Washington. The Redskins had run the play against the Raiders earlier in the season and it had worked. 

    So, with the Redskins pinned back at their own 12 late in the first half of Super Bowl XVIII, Gibbs called the Rocket Screen. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the Raiders thought they play might be called, so John Madden replaced Matt Millen with Jack Squirek to cover Washington.

    And when the play came, Squirek stepped in front of the pass and walked into the endzone.

    He strolled into the endzone and the Raiders strolled to a championship.

5. The Pick Asante Didn't Catch

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    Asante Samuel is one of the better ball-hawking and route-jumping corners in the game today. But the one he might be remembered for is the interception he didn't make.

    Late in Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots were trying to finish off the 19-0 season against the Giants. During the final drive on a second down, Eli Manning threw a quick route to David Tyree on the sideline, Samuel jumped the route and had an easy game-clinching interception, but it bounced off his hands and fell incomplete.

    It wouldn't have mattered much, if Manning didn't find Tyree on the next play in one of the most famous catches in Super Bowl history, setting up the game-winning score and sealing one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

4. Garo's Gaffe

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    Garo Yepremian was the kicker for the 1972 Dolphins in Super Bowl VII, trying to secure the Dolphins' Super Bowl win with Miami up 14-0.

    Unfortunately for him, the kick was blocked.

    But compounding the problem, Yepremian tried to throw the ball. What ensued was something resembling a pass (but was more like a serve) that landed in the hands of Washington's Mike Bass, who took it all the way for a touchdown.

    Washington cut the lead to 14-7, but Miami held on to preserve the win and the undefeated season. Ironically, if Yepremian made the kick, the score would've been 17-0.

3. Who Else but Leon Lett

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    Did you really think we would go through this list and not come across everyone's favorite defensive lineman from the Dallas Cowboys?

    This time, Lett had pounced on a fumble and started to run down the field and was on his way to an easy touchdown. Thinking as such, he held the ball out and slowed down as he neared the goal line.

    Little did he know, Buffalo's Don Beebe was racing down the field trying to catch him.

    Well, Beebe did catch him before he made it to the endzone, and was able to knock the ball out of his hands and out of the endzone for a touchback. It didn't cost the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII, but it's one of the more infamous moments in sports history.

2. "Bless His Heart, He's Got To Be the Sickest Man in America"

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    Jackie Smith had a 15 year career in the NFL, but he'll always be remembered for the biggest dropped pass in Super Bowl history.

    It was the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII, one of the great Cowboys-Steelers Super Bowls. The Cowboys were driving in the third quarter down 21-14 when Roger Staubach found Smith wide open in the endzone. It was a perfect play for the Cowboys.

    Perfect, except for the ending.

    Smith dropped the pass and the Cowboys settled for a field goal. Pittsburgh ended up winning the game 35-31, and Smith's drop became one of the signature moments of Super Bowl history. It also led to one of the most memorable calls in NFL history by the legendary Verne Lundquist.

1. Scott Norwood

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    Scott Norwood.

    That's really all you have to say, at least in Buffalo.

    Everyone's heard of it by now: Super Bowl XXV, time running out, Giants leading the Bills 20-19, Norwood lining up for a 47-yard field goal. Marv Levy would tell Sports Illustrated later that less than 50 percent of those field goals were made, and we also knew that 47 yards was the end of Norwood's range on grass.

    Either way, we all know the ending. The ball sails wide right, the Giants win. The Bills lose this and three consecutive Super Bowls afterwards and never get closer than that kick.