Leon Lett and the Top 10 Super Bowl Miscues
It is the grandest stage in sports. A one-day celebration of what is supposed to be the two best teams in the NFL. Despite all of the talent on display, there have been a plethora of boneheaded plays made in the Super Bowl.
For the sake of this list, it is important for me to define what I am going to consider a miscue. I will not count something that happened in what was essentially the normal flow of play.
An example would be Peyton Manning's interception against the Saints. It was a huge miscue but was something that happens normally in a football game.
So here goes, the Top 10 Super Bowl Miscues...
10. The "Catch"
Skip ahead to 28 seconds to watch Butch Johnson "catch" the touchdown pass.
The Cowboys were ahead 13-3 in the third quarter of a sloppy Super Bowl XII. Roger Staubach launched a 45-yard touchdown to Butch Johnson who dove, and for a short time possessed the ball but lost it as he rolled over.
I would not suggest showing this video to Calvin Johnson, as I feel he would have something to say about it given what happened to him and the Lions last year in Week 1 against the Bears.
9. Let Them Score
Super Bowl XXXII was tied at 24 with under two minutes left in the game and the Broncos were knocking on the door. Instead of trying to keep them out, Packers coach Mike Holmgren decided to let them score to give Brett Favre enough time to respond.
Terrell Davis got the handoff and jogged through a massive hole for the go-ahead score. Favre failed to make his coach look like a genius and the Broncos and John Elway got their first championship.
8. Rex Grossman Starts for the Bears
Rex Grossman was atrocious in Super Bowl XLI. He was an embarrassment and the main reason that the Bears lost the game.
He fumbled not one but two snaps during the game. High school quarterbacks rarely do that during games and Grossman was playing at the highest level possible in the most important game of his life.
The first fumble was recovered by the Colts and almost led to Peyton Manning adding three points before halftime. The second one killed a second-half drive that started out well. They had 2nd-and-1 when Grossman was sacked. Then on the key 3rd down, trailing 19-14, he fumbled yet another snap and though he recovered it this time, the damage was done.
To finally and completely bury his team, down 22-17, Grossman tossed up a duck that was picked and returned for a touchdown, giving the Colts the win and entrenching Rex as the game's goat.
7. Scott Norwood's Kick Goes Wide Right
Scott Norwood has the dubious distinction of having kicked the most famous missed field goal in NFL history.
Super Bowl XXV was a remarkable game. There were big plays on both sides and incredible effort from all involved. The Giants had two drives, one at the end of the first half and the other to start the second half, that kept the Bills offense on the sidelines for almost two hours.
The Giants had heroic performances from MVP Otis Anderson and backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler, while the Bills countered with Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas leading them back into position for the winning kick.
Down 20-19, Norwood lined up 48 yards away from immortality. Unfortunately, make or miss nobody would ever forget that kick. He had the distance but not the accuracy and the kick missed, boiling down his seven-year career with the team to one disappointing night.
6. Neil O'Donnel Gives the Game Away
That picture says it all. Steeler fans are still trying to figure out just who Neil O'Donnell was throwing to on either of Larry Brown's interceptions.
The first one came in the third quarter, setting up a Troy Aikman touchdown pass that extended Dallas' lead to 20-7.
The second one happened after the score had been cut to 20-17 and the Steelers defense had gotten the ball back for the offense with over four minutes left to play. O'Donnell then threw away the game as his pass was nowhere near anybody resembling a Pittsburgh receiver.
Brown got the ring and the MVP award, for which he should be thanking Neil O'Donnell.
5. John Kasay Kicks the Game Away
With the score tied at 29 and 1:08 left on the clock in Super Bowl XXXVIII, John Kasay made the biggest mistake of his life. His kickoff went out of bounds giving the Patriots, and Tom Brady, the ball at the 40-yard line only needing a field goal to win.
Now, it is highly possible that Brady, who already had a track record of leading a game-winning Super Bowl drive, would have gotten his team into position to win anyways, but Kasay made it easier.
The Panthers were in position to take the reeling Patriots to overtime if they could stop them. Having lost both starting safeties to injury, the Patriots would have been in grave danger in overtime. Unfortunately for Carolina, they never got a chance to take advantage, as Kasay's kick made repeat heroics from Brady virtually inevitable.
4. Jack Squirek's Pick-6
Simply mind-boggling. That is the only way to describe Joe Gibbs' decision to run a screen pass on the 12-yard line with 12 seconds left in the half down 14-3.
The rationale was that they had successfully run the play against the Raiders earlier in the season in a similar situation. The difference then was that the Raiders were not ready for it. This time they were more than ready and made the Redskins pay.
Washington would get slaughtered 38-9 in the game, never really recovering from this play that put them down 21-3 at halftime.
3. The Sickest Man in America
Skip ahead to 2:45 to watch Jackie Smith earn the unfortunate nickname as the sickest man in America.
Trailing by a touchdown in Super Bowl XIII late in the third quarter, the Cowboys were driving for a tying score. Jackie Smith, a Hall of Fame tight end for the Cardinals and Cowboys, was wide open in the back of the end zone but could not make the catch. Dallas had to settle for field goal, now trailing 21-17.
The Steelers went on to score a touchdown which put the Cowboys in a deep hole they could not climb out of. Had Smith held on to this easy catch, the game would have been tied going into the fourth quarter and anything would have been possible.
Instead, the Cowboys lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl again and a long successful career was remembered only for one enormous drop.
2. Leon Letts a Record Get Away
Leon Lett and Don Beebe will be forever linked because of one play in one of the most lopsided Super Bowls ever played.
Leading 52-17, Leon Lett recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter and was rumbling towards a touchdown that would have given the Cowboys the record for most points scored in a Super Bowl. Don Beebe had other plans and hustled to catch him. Outside of the end zone, Lett held the ball out in celebration and Beebe swatted it from his grasp and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a touchback.
Perhaps it was Beebe's frustration, as he and the Bills were on the cusp of losing their third straight Super Bowl, that drove him to make such a fantastic hustle play when the game was way out of reach. Whatever it was, it was one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history and links the two men together forever.
After losing four Super Bowls with the Bills, Beebe would finally win the big game with the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. Just another show of his perseverance and will that refused to give up no matter what.
1. Garo's Perfect Mistake
Skip ahead to 41 seconds to watch what may be the most comical play in NFL history.
The 1972 Dolphins, the only team in the Super Bowl era to go undefeated, was so close to becoming the only team to record a shutout in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, their kicker had something to say about that.
Late in the fourth quarter, up 14-0 Garo Yepremian made three huge mistakes that allowed the Redskins to score and get right back in the game. First of all, his field goal was blocked—not necessarily his fault but never good for a kicker. Next, after picking up the kick Garo thought he would be a hero and throw the ball. His kicking skills did not translate and the ball went nowhere.
His final mistake was to try and catch his poor pass which he proceeded to bat into the air, allowing Mike Bass to catch it and take it the other way for six points.
Luckily for Yepremian, the Redskins' final drive to tie the game failed to convert and the perfect season was preserved. Had the Redskins gone on to win, Garo's gaff, as many call it, would have gone down not only as the biggest miscue in Super Bowl history, but in football history and perhaps in sports history.