Super Bowl 2011: The Top 15 Biggest Plays in the History of the Big Game

Nathaniel UyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2011

Super Bowl 2011: The Top 15 Biggest Plays In The History of the Big Game

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  A fan holds a sign 'XLV'  for the Super Bowl in two weeks in Arlington, Texas in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Super Bowl XLV is creeping up on us as the Pittsburgh Steelers will go head-to-head against the Green Bay Packers in Dallas, Texas on February 6.

    Both teams have strong offenses and superior defenses which means many of us are expecting quite a treat on Super Bowl Sunday.

    With 44 years of championship games behind us, we're taking a look back at some of the best plays in Super Bowl history.

    There have been plenty of big plays in the Super Bowl's history.  Here are the top 15.

15. Super Bowl XLI: Devin Hester 92-Yard Opening Kickoff Return

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    This is why you don't kick the ball off to Devin Hester to start the game.

    Hester was responsible for the fastest score in Super Bowl history.   It took him 14-seconds and 92-yards to put the Bears on the scoreboard.

    Although the Bears didn't win the game, Hester's huge play gave the Bears early momentum in the game.

    Final Score: Colts 29, Bears 17

14. Super Bowl XXXI: Desmond Howard 99-Yard Kickoff Return

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    This kickoff return from Howard (at the 38 second mark) cemented the Packers victory and locked him in as the Super Bowl XXXI MVP.

    Howard became the first-ever special teams player to win MVP honors.

    Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

13. Super Bowl XVIII: Marcus Allen's 74-Yard Run

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    This was a dominating performance by the Los Angeles Raiders over the Washington Redskins.

    The Raiders were keyed by the remarkable play of Marcus Allen, who made this memorable 74-yard run in the third quarter.

    At the time, it was the longest Super Bowl run in history.  Allen ran the ball for 191 yards and two touchdowns, earning Super Bowl MVP honors.

    Final Score: Raiders 38, Redskins 8

12. Super Bowl XXXIV: Kurt Warner To Isaac Bruce

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    With the game tied up at 16-16 and the ball deep in their own territory with around two minutes left to play, the St. Louis Rams need a big play.  And NFL MVP Kurt Warner complied.

    Warner found Isaac Bruce on the outside and the two connected for what would turn out to be the winning pass for Super Bowl XXXIV.

    Final Score: Rams 23, Titans 16

11. Super Bowl XIV: Bradshaw To John Stallworth 73-Yard TD

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the game as heavy favorites to defeat the Los Angeles Rams going into the Super Bowl.  But they entered the fourth quarter playing from behind 19-17.

    It all turned around for the Steelers after quarterback Terry Bradshaw found John Stallworth for a big 73-yard touchdown.

    This play would turn out to be difference maker in the game.

    Final Score: Steelers 31, Rams 19

10. Super Bowl XXV: Scott Norwood Missed Field Goal

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    With time running out, Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills drove his team to the Giants' 29-yard line to set up a 47-yard field goal for Scott Norwood.  However, he missed wide right and that was history.

    The Bills would make the Super Bowl four straight seasons and lose each and every time.  This was the closest they ever came to winning.

    It was also the only game in Super Bowl history that was decided by one point.

    Final Score: Giants 20, Bills 19

9. Super Bowl XLIV: Tracy Porter Pick-Six On Peyton Manning

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    This pick-six by Tracy Porter on Peyton Manning effectively ended the Super Bowl hopes of the Indianapolis Colts.

    With the Colts only a touchdown behind, they needed a scoring drive to tie up the score.  But Porter clinched a Saints win with this interception return.

    Final Score: Saints 31, Colts 17

8. Super Bowl XVI: Dan Bunz Goal-Line Tackle

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    Although this happened in the third quarter, this defensive stop showed the 49ers will to win.

    Jim Bunz tackled Bengals running back Charles Alexander inches from the goal line and the defense locked them down on the following 4th-and-goal play when the Bengals decided to go for it.

    The 49ers had a 20-7 lead at the time.  But had the Bengals scored, it would have potentially changed the game's turnout.

    This has to be the greatest goal-line stand in Super Bowl history.

    Final Score: Niners 26, Bengals 21

7. Super Bowl XXXVI: Adam Vinatieri Game Winning Field Goal

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    The St. Louis Rams were heavy Super Bowl favorites going into this game but needed two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 17-17 with 1:30 left in the game.

    While the experts expected the Patriots, which had no timeouts, to simply run out the clock and head to overtime,  Bill Belichick's team played to win.

    Tom Brady moved the ball with precision and set up a 48-yard field goal for Adam Vinatieri.

    It was a big playoff moment for Vinatieri, who kicked the ball squarely between the posts with plenty of room to spare.  The kick earned him the reputation of being one of the NFL's best clutch postseason kickers of all-time.

    Final Score: Patriots 20, Rams 17

6. Super Bowl XXXII: John Elway Helicopter Run

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    On a third down play on the Green Bay 12-yard line with the score tied 24-24, Broncos quarterback John Elway scrambled for an 8-yard run that earned the Broncos a first down.

    Elway was hit so hard he flew in the air sideways like a helicopter propeller.

    The run by Elway set up a touchdown run by Terrell Davis.

    Final Score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

5. Super Bowl XLIII: James Harrison 100 Yard INT Return

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    This play from the Steelers' James Harrison came early in the game but is still very impressive.

    It was a Super Bowl record-breaking interception return for 100 yards.

    The Steelers needed every single point in this game, which was ultimately decided by a Roethlisberger-Holmes touchdown play with seconds left on the clock.

    Final Score: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

4. Super Bowl XXXIV: Mike Jones Tackle

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    As memorable as the earlier touchdown play between Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce was, the Titans were oh so close to coming away with the win.

    However, it was stopped by a big tackle by Mike Jones

    So close, but yet so far.

    Final Score: Rams 23, Titans 16

3. Super Bowl XLII: David Tyree Helmet Catch

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    Eli Manning was nearly sacked by Patriots defenders and the Giants would have been forced to punt the ball late it in the game.  But he somehow managed to escape.

    After a long scramble he found David Tyree downfield who caught the football by pinning it to his helmet.

    The Giants would eventually score and upset the Patriots for the win.

    Final Score: Giants 17, Patriots 14

2. Super Bowl XLIII: Roethlisberger To Holmes

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    Ben Roethlisberger had to throw the ball where only Santonio Holmes could catch the ball and that's exactly what he did.

    Holmes made an acrobatic play and got his toes inbounds before being pushed out of bounds.

    It was a spectacular play for both Roethlisberger and Holmes.  The Steelers managed to come back against the Cardinals who put up 16 fourth quarter points to take a 23-20 lead.

    Final Score: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

1. Super Bowl XXIII: Joe Montana to John Taylor

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    The Montana to Taylor 10-yard touchdown pass was the last play of a 92-yard drive that totaled 11 plays.

    As much as Montana is credited for the big win, it was the playmaking of Jerry Rice that was key in helping put the 49ers in a position to win the game.

    Rice scored the touchdown that tied the game at 13-13 in the fourth quarter and made big plays in the eventual game-winning drive.

    With 38 seconds remaining, Montana completed the pass to Taylor to give the 49ers a big come-from-behind victory.

    Final Score: Niners 20, Bengals 16