Super Bowl XLV and The 20 Most Unlikely Heroes in Super Bowl History

Alan Rubenstein@@uarubyAnalyst IIIFebruary 6, 2011

Superbowl XLV and The 20 Most Unlikely Heroes in Superbowl History

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 30:  The logo for Super Bowl XLV outside of Cowboys Stadium on January 30, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Cowboys Stadium will host Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers in Arlingto
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    22 Jan 1989:  Wide receiver John Taylor #82 of the San Francisco 49ers makes a catch as defensive back Ray Horton #20 of the Cincinnati Bengals moves in during Super Bowl XXIII at the Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida.  The 49ers won the game 20-16.
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    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

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    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27:  Running back Ottis Anderson #24 of the New York Giants carries the ball against linebacker Cornelius Bennett #97 of the Buffalo Bills during Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991 in Tampa, Florida. The Giants defeate
    George Rose/Getty Images

    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

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    TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 28:  Cornerback Larry Brown #24 of the Dallas Cowboys returns an interception for a forty four yard touchdown return during Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sun Devil Stadium on January 28, 1996 in Tempe, Arizona.  Bro
    George Rose/Getty Images

    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

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    26 Jan 1997:  Wide receiver Desmond Howard of the Green Bay Packers gets tackled during Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Packers won the game, 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello  /Allsport
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    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

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    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

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    ATLANTA - JANUARY 30:  Kevin Dyson #87 of the Tennessee Titans reaches for the end zone with the ball as Mike Jones #52 of the St. Louis Rams tackles him on the last play of the game during the Super Bowl XXXIV Game at the Georgia Dome on January 30, 2000
    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    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

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    HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1: Place kicker Adam Vinatieri #4 of the New England Patriots kicks the game winning field goal in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas.
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    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

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    SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 26:  Safety Dexter Jackson #34 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returns the interception against the Oakland Raiders during the second quarter of Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  Jackson h
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - FEBRUARY 6:  Wide receiver Deion Branch #83 of the New England Patriots receives a pass over Matt Ware #21 of the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Patriots d
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    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

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    GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  David Tyree #85 of the New York Giants catches a 32-yard pass from Eli Manning #10 as Rodney Harrison #37 of the New England Patriots attempts to knock it out in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07:  Tracy Porter #22 of the New Orleans Saints returns a interception for touchdown against of the Indianapolis Colts during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Ezra S
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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.