Superbowl XLV and The 20 Most Unlikely Heroes in Superbowl History
In every Superbowl unsung heroes step up to help their teams claim a championship. Some have been the stars and captured MVP trophies, while others have made big plays to turn a game around. Who will be this year's Timmie Smith, Doug Williams or Deion Branch.
Here are the 20 most unlikely heroes in Superbowl history.
Max McGee, Green Bay Packers WR: Super Bowl I
Nearing the tail end of his career, Max McGee caught only four passes for 91 yards and one touchdown during the 1966 season.
The night prior to Superbowl I, McGee partied a bit too much and even violated curfew. He told starting wide receiver Boyd Dowler, “I hope you don’t get hurt, I am not in very good shape.”
McGee was called into service after Dowler separated his shoulder on the second drive of the game. He proceeded to catch seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. McGee's first touchdown was the first in Superbowl history as the Packers defeated the Raiders 35-10.
Matt Snell, New York Jets RB: Super Bowl III
Snell rushed for 747 yards during the 1968 season. In the Superbowl, Snell’s 121 yards and a touchdown helped Joe Namath backup his words as the Jets upset the Colts in what still stands as the biggest upset in NFL History.
Jim O’Brien, Baltimore Colts K: Super Bowl V
O’Brien connected on only 55.5 percent of his field goals as a rookie in 1970. From 30-39 yards he made an even worse four of nine. He became the first kicker to win a Superbowl when his kick from 32 yards out gave the Colts a 16-13 win with five seconds remaining.
Earl Morrall, Baltimore Colts QB: Super Bowl V
Morall’s came off the bench in relief of an injured Johnny Unitas to help the Colts win Superbowl V. Morrall threw for 147 yards, one interception and no touchdowns. He did just enough for the Colts to capture their first Superbowl.
Jake Scott, Miami Dolphins S: Superbowl VII
Scott had two interceptions, including one in the end zone, as the Dolphins capped the NFL’s only perfect season with a 14-7 victory over the Redskins. He finished his career with 49 interceptions.
Rod Martin, Oakland Raiders LB: Super Bowl XV
Martin intercepted three passes as the Raiders claimed their second Superbowl with a 27-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans. Martin’s three picks are still a Superbowl record.
Jack Squirek, Oakland Raiders LB: Super Bowl XVIII
Squirek was a backup linebacker on the 1983 Raiders. Inexplicably, with seven seconds remaining in the first half, the Redskins called a screen pass.
Squirek intercepted Joe Theisman’s pass and returned it five yards for a touchdown to expand the Raiders lead to 21-3. They never looked back as they posted a 38-9 victory. It was the Raiders’ third Superbowl title.
Doug Williams, Washington Redskins QB: Superbowl XXII
Williams started only two regular season games during the 1987 season, both Redskin losses. Williams was called on after starter Jay Schroeder was injured.
Williams led a Redskin explosion on offense as Washington defeated Denver 42-10. Williams passed for 340 yards and four touchdowns as Washington broke the game open with 35 points in the second quarter.
Timmy Smith, Washington Redskins RB: Super Bowl XXII
Smith was the Redskins fifth leading rusher in 1987. He rushed for just 126 yards during the 1987 season and 602 in his career. His record setting performance in Superbowl XXII almost defies logic. He rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
The Redskins exploded for 35 second quarter points and defeated the Broncos 42-10 to capture the franchise’s second Superbowl Title.
John Taylor, San Francisco 49ers WR: Super Bowl XXIII
Taylor had only 14 receptions for 325 yards and two touchdowns during the 1988 season. He was used primarily as a punt returner and led the NFL in return average, touchdowns and had the longest return that season.
With 34 seconds remaining, Joe Montana found Taylor over the middle for his only reception of the game. It put San Francisco in front 20-16 and gave the Niners their third Superbowl title in eight seasons. With their fourth title a year later, SF claimed the undisputed title of the team of the eighties..
Ottis Anderson, New York Giants RB: Super Bowl XXV
Anderson was at the tail end of his career in 1990 when he rushed for 784 yards during the regular season. Against the Buffalo Bills Anderson rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown in the game made famous by Scott Norwood’s miss on the last play that would have given Buffalo the win.
Larry Brown, Dallas Cowboys CB: Super Bowl XXX
Brown was in the right place at the right time in Superbowl XXX. His two interceptions of Pittsburgh Quarterback Neil O’Donnell sparked the Cowboys and allowed them to overcome a 201-61 deficit in total yardage in the second half.
Desmond Howard, Green Bay Packers WR/KR: Super Bowl XXXI
Howard became a star when he won the 1991 Heisman Trophy at Michigan. Howard had high expectations after being the fourth pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. For most of his career, his success came on special teams instead of as a receiver.
After the Patriots had cut the lead to 28-21 on a Curtis Martin touchdown run in the third quarter, Howard returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The return dashed any hopes of a Pats comeback. It pushed the Packers lead back to 14 and capped the scoring. Howard remains the only special teams player to be named MVP of a Superbowl.
Bruce Wilkerson, Green Bay Packers OT: Superbowl XXXI
Wilkerson started only two games for the Packers during the 1996 season. He was given the task of protecting Brett Favre’s blindside. In three post-season games Wilkerson did not allow a sack as the Pack won their first superbowl in 29 years.
Mike Jones, St. Louis Rams LB: Super Bowl XXXIV
The 1999 St. Louis Rams were re-knowned for their greatest show on turf offense. It was a defensive play that ultimately secured victory. Jones stopped Kevin Dyson on the one yard line on the final play with the Rams leading the Titans 23-16.
Jones had a long, but not spectacular career. He played 12 seasons in the NFL, but was never named to a Pro-Bowl or All-Pro. He concluded his career in 2002 by playing for Oakland and Pittsburgh.
Adam Vinatieri, New England Patriots K: Super Bowls XXXVI & XXXVIII
Some people have suggested that kickers are not really part of football team. Tom Brady was the driving force behind putting Vinatieri is a position to be a hero. Vinatieri is considered one of the greatest clutch kickers in NFL History. His Field Goal against the Rams in Superbowl XXXVI provided the winning margin as the Patriots pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Superbowl history. Two years later, Vinatieri kicked a 41 yard field goal with four seconds left to win SB XXXVII.
Dexter Jackson, Tampa Bay CB, Superbowl XXXVII
Jackson was named the MVP of Superbowl XXVIII after intercepting two passes. Jackson’s int’s were just two of the five total picks that the Buccaneers had. Jackson’s backfield mate Dwight Smith had two pick sixes after the Bucs had the game in control.
Deion Branch New England WE,Superbowl XXXIX
Branch earned the Superbowl MVP without scoring a touchdown. He caught 11 passes for 133 yards to help the Patriots win their third Superbowl in four seasons.
David Tyree, Giants WR, Superbowl XLII
Tyree played six seasons in the NFL, the majority of his success occurred on special teams. In Superbowl XLI Tyree made one of the most memorable plays in American Sports history. With the Giants driving and trailing 14-10, Tyree pinned Eli Manning’s pass to his helmet and held on on third and five for a first down. Manning threw the Superbowl winning pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining to secure one of the biggest upsets ever.
Tracy Porter, New Orleans CB, Superbowl XLIV
Porter returned a Peyton Manning pass 74 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter with the Colts driving for the game tying touchdown. His play with the biggest in a game that featured two of the NFL’s best Quarterbacks.