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20 Most Memorable Plays in Super Bowl History [Video]

Jonathan Daniel/Andy Lyons/Rick Stewart, Getty Images

The Super Bowl is the largest spectacle in American sports. Football players who succeed on its grand stage are forever remembered. Here are the 20 most memorable plays in the history of the Super Bowl:


Joe Montana to John Taylor: Super Bowl XXIII

 
 

Trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13 in the fourth quarter, Joe Montana led the San Francisco 49ers on an 11-play, 92-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds to play. The score gave the 49ers, and Montana, their third Super Bowl victory.

 

Eli Manning to David Tyree: Super Bowl XLII

 
 

With New England ahead 14-10, and just moments away from completing an undefeated season, the New York Giants rallied when Eli Manning shrugged off Patriots defenders and threw downfield to David Tyree, who caught the football against his helmet. Manning threw the game-winning touchdown to Plaxico Burress a few plays later to give New York a 17-14 Super Bowl victory.

 

Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes: Super Bowl XLIII

 
 

Down 23-20 to Arizona with just 2:37 to play, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger drove his team deep into Cardinals' territory. He threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone with just 35 seconds to play. Holmes' acrobatic catch came courtesy of his toes tapping down just inside the out of bounds line. The Steelers beat the Cardinals, 27-23, to win the franchise's NFL-record sixth Super Bowl.

 

Scott Norwood: Super Bowl XXV

 
 

Trailing the New York Giants 20-19, quarterback Jim Kelly drove the Buffalo Bills into position for a game-winning field goal. When Scott Norwood missed the 47-yard kick wide right with just seconds to play, the Bills lost the Super Bowl. Buffalo would return to the big game the next three years, losing each time and never coming as close as they did against the Giants.

 

Mike Jones: Super Bowl XXXIV

 
 

With the St. Louis Rams ahead 23-16 and time running out in the game, Steve McNair moved Tennessee downfield within striking distance of a score. Linebacker Mike Jones made a game-saving tackle on wide receiver Kevin Dyson as time ran out, leaving the Titans just short of victory.

 

Adam Vinatieri: Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII

 
 

After the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams scored two late touchdowns to tie Super Bowl XXXVI at 17, the New England Patriots moved down the field and gave placekicker Adam Vinatieri a place in Super Bowl history. His game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired gave the Patriots a 20-17 Super Bowl victory, the franchise's first. Two years later, Vinatieri kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds to play to give New England a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers.

 

Jim O'Brien: Super Bowl V

 
 

Super Bowl V was a mistake-filled game that featured 11 turnovers. The Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, on Jim O'Brien's 32-yard field goal with five seconds remaining. The victory gave the Colts their first Super Bowl title and eased the pain of Baltimore's Super Bowl loss to the New York Jets two years earlier.

 

Lynn Swann: Super Bowl X

 
 

While Steelers receiver Lynn Swann caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw in the fourth quarter that ultimately gave Pittsburgh the victory, his juggling, 53-yard catch while falling down in the second quarter is among the most memorable plays in NFL history. Swann set a Super Bowl record with 161 yards on four receptions, as the Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17.

 

Marcus Allen: Super Bowl XVIII

 
 

The Los Angeles Raiders were already comfortably ahead of the Washington Redskins 28-9, but Marcus Allen's 74-yard run in the third quarter was a spectacular way for L.A. to all but assure the victory. The Raiders beat the Redskins, 38-9.

 

John Elway: Super Bowl XXXII

 
 

After losing all three of his previous Super Bowl starts, Denver quarterback John Elway would not be denied in Super Bowl XXXII. His spinning run helped give the Broncos an important first down on the way to a go-ahead touchdown. Denver went on to beat Green Bay, 31-24, to claim its first Super Bowl tittle.

 

John Riggins: Super Bowl XVII

 
 

The Washington Redskins trailed the Miami Dolphins, 17-13, when John Riggins broke loose on a 43-yard run with under five minutes to play to pave the way for Washington's 27-17 victory and the franchise's first Super Bowl title.

 

Desmond Howard: Super Bowl XXXI

 
 

Super Bowl XXXI was a game filled with big plays, including touchdown passes of 54 and 81 yards by Packers quarterback Brett Favre. Just after New England had rallied to within 27-21, Packers return specialist Desmond Howard took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to give his team a commanding lead. Green Bay beat the Patriots, 35-21. Howard was the first-ever special teams player to win a Super Bowl MVP.

 

James Harrison: Super Bowl XLIII

 
 

Though trailing 10-7, the Cardinals drove deep into Steelers territory near the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII. Arizona was poised to either tie or take the lead, when Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and returned it a Super Bowl-record 100 yards for a touchdown as time ran out in the half. The Steelers eventually beat the Cardinals, 27-23, to win the franchise's sixth Super Bowl.

 

Tracy Porter: Super Bowl XLIV

 
 

With the Saints clinging to a 24-17 lead over the Colts late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV, Tracy Porter picked off Peyton Manning's pass and returned it for a touchdown to seal New Orleans' 31-17 victory over Indianapolis.

 

Terry Bradshaw to John Stallworth: Super Bowl XIV

 
 

The Steelers were down 19-17 to the Los Angeles Rams early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XIV when Terry Bradshaw hit John Stallworth in stride for a 73-yard touchdown that gave Pittsburgh the lead for good. The Steelers beat the Rams, 31-19, for their fourth Super Bowl.

 

Devin Hester: Super Bowl XLI

 
 

While the Indianapolis Colts eventually beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, Devin Hester wasn't blamed for the loss. Hester scored the fastest touchdown in Super Bowl history when he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score.

 

Leon Lett: Super Bowl XXVII

 
 

The Cowboys were well on their way to what would become a 52-17 dismantling of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII when Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett recovered a Frank Reich fumble and headed to the end zone for a sure touchdown. As Lett started celebrating before he crossed the goal line, Buffalo's Don Beebe slapped the ball out of his hand and through the end zone, giving the ball back to the Bills and creating a lifetime of infamy for Lett.

 

Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce: Super Bowl XXXIV

 
 

With Super Bowl XXXIV tied at 16 in the fourth quarter, Isaac Bruce, one of the main attractions of the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" offense, put St. Louis ahead with a 73-yard touchdown from Kurt Warner. The Rams held off the Tennessee Titans, 23-16.

 

Butch Johnson: Super Bowl XII

 
 

The Dallas Cowboys forced eight turnovers in Super Bowl XII, but Cowboys wide receiver Butch Johnson hauled in a Roger Staubach pass for a 45-yard score that gave his team a 20-3 lead. Dallas beat the Denver Broncos, 27-10, to win the first Super Bowl to be played indoors at the Superdome in New Orleans.

 

Jack Squirek: Super Bowl XVIII

 
 

The Los Angeles Raiders had a 14-3 lead on Washington with just 12 seconds to go until halftime of Super Bowl XVIII. Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann tried to move his team downfield, but linebacker Jack Squirek picked off the pass and all but decided the game's outcome. The Raiders beat the Redskins, 38-9.

 

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