The Top Five Super Bowl Choke Jobs

Chris YowAnalyst IJanuary 27, 2008

In a numerical list in descending order, I will attempt to rank the biggest chokes in Super Bowl history from fifth to first. There is an honorable mention, however. 

People choke in sports all the time.  In fact, choking in big games can make you famous.

What about Chris Webber and the infamous time out? Or how about Phil Mickelson? 

While in sports, choking is almost inevitable at some point, just don't be like these guys (or teams) and do it when it really counts.


Honorable Mention

Ray Finkle (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)—missing the Super Bowl winning field goal and blaming Dan Marino in the film.

Speaking of choking kickers, let's get right into the countdown.


No.5 - Super Bowl XXV - "Wide Right" for Scott Norwood

Scott Norwood has a special place in my mind, as he was the placekicker for the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL. However, Norwood holds a special place in sports history as well. Norwood remains the only kicker in Super Bowl history to MISS a game-winning field goal.

Trailing the Giants 20-19 in the closing seconds of the game, the Bills were at the Giants’ 29-yard line. Even though the kick had plenty of distance, the ball sailed way right to end the Bills hopes of a title. 

BUT--I want to point out that the very next year, he nailed a 31-yarder, but the Bills got hammered, so it didn't matter too much.


No. 4 - Super Bowl XXIV - "Elway Crushed by Niners"

In what could be considered the least competitive Super Bowl of all time, John Elway stands to bear the blame of most sports fans.

In the Broncos’ 55-10 loss to the 49ers, Elway was 10-of-26 with two picks and only 106 yards.  It would only be fair to place at least some blame on the future Hall of Fame quarterback. 

The NFL Rookie of the Year that season, Bobby Humphrey, led the Broncos in receiving with 36 yards—27 coming on Elway's longest completion, which was a shovel pass.  This performance made Elway's two previous Super Bowl performances look almost spectacular!

While Elway did finally get that trophy, this will always be one of the biggest chokes in SB history. 


No. 3 - Super Bowl XXXIX - "McNabb Turns Over the Super Bowl to the Patriots"

Four turnovers in the Super Bowl. Good job, Philly. Even though one interception was a last second Hail Mary—it counts.

McNabb threw two picks inside the Patriots’ territory and one from inside the red zone.  he may have also puked in the huddle, from a report by Freddie Mitchell.  You don't get tired on the last drive of the Super Bowl. Are you kidding me?!


No. 2 - Super Bowl XX - "Cinderella Chokes at the Ball"

The Patriots were the Cinderella story of 1985. They lost three of their first five games before reeling off six victories in a row, a feat that isn't nearly as impressive now.

 The Patriots finished third in the conference with an 11-5 record. The Patriots had to travel every week in the playoffs and came out victorious in every game.

The success of the Patriots set up the Super Bowl as a match-up of Cinderella against the Dancing Super Bowl Shuffle.  It wasn't long before the game got out of hand and the Pats ended up on the plane back to Boston.

46-10 was the final tally, but the Bears had ruined any hopes of Cinderella becoming a princess.


No. 1 - Super Bowl III - "Broadway Joe Guarantees and Delivers"

After Johnny Unitas went down to an elbow injury early in the year, the Baltimore Colts had to turn to 12-year vet Earl Morrall.  Unfortunately, those 12 years had been with four teams, for none of which he was ever the permanent starter.

However, Morrall led the Colts to a surprising 13-1 record and he earned NFL MVP honors. The Colts only loss came to the Cleveland Browns.  The Colts avenged this loss and dismantled the Browns 34-0 in the NFL Championship game.

This Colts team was regarded as one of the best, if not the best, football teams in NFL history. Problem was, one guy didn't get the memo. His name is infamous around the sports world, especially here in Alabama: Joe Namath. 

Namath is one of only three people to become a Super Bowl MVP without actually scoring a touchdown.  In fact, during the season, he had thrown more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (15). 

Broadway Joe had a plan, however—stand up to the mighty NFL Champions. The AFL Champions had not had great showings in the two prior Super Bowls, but Namath would have none of it. 

Despite being 18-point underdogs, the Jets came out and defeated the Colts 16-7—just as predicted by Joe Namath himself.