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12 of the best moments in Super Bowl history

Our team sites weighed in on the most unforgettable plays. What are your favorite memories?

Super Bowl 42 between New York Giants and New England Patrio Photo by Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Everyone has a favorite Super Bowl memory. Maybe it involves your team in an unforgettable win. Maybe you haven’t been lucky enough to see your team win a championship, but there’s still one heart-stopping highlight that is burned into your memory.

We asked our team sites around the SB Nation network to share their best Super Bowl moments with us. Here are our top 12.

David Tyree’s catch against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII

When you think of great moments in Super Bowl history, the 32-yard catch that David Tyree secured by trapping it against his helmet has to be near the top of the list. Hell, it’s arguably the most spectacular catch in NFL history.

It’s still amazing that Eli Manning was able to escape the pressure he was under from the New England defense to heave this one downfield. It’s even more amazing that Tyree managed to haul it in.

Tyree’s catch was one play in an 83-yard, game-winning drive that let the Giants pull off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, a 17-14 win that ruined the Patriots’ hope of a perfect season.

Our friends at SB Nation’s Giants blog, Big Blue View, have four Super Bowl wins and plenty of memories to choose from, including the distinction of being the only team to beat Tom Brady’s Patriots in a Super Bowl — and doing it twice. But this catch trumps them all.

The Texans and Lions have never been to the Super Bowl, but both Battle Red Blog and Pride of Detroit count it as a favorite.

For Jeremy Reisman, it was all about the chaos.

What moment in Super Bowl history is the most chaotic? The toppling of the 16-0 New England Patriots, of course.

Dolphins fans love this one for a different reason. The Patriots’ loss meant the 1972 Dolphins remain the only team to complete a perfect season.

From The Phinsider:

How Eli Manning was not sacked on that play is amazing. How Tyree caught the ball by sticking it to his head makes it a miracle. And, the game ended the Patriots attempt at matching the Dolphins’ Perfect Season.

The Tackle saves the day for the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV

The Rams had a 23-16 lead with just under two minutes to play thanks to a 73-yard Kurt Warner pass to Isaac Bruce. But the Titans drove down to the Rams’ 10-yard line. Steve McNair connected with Kevin Dyson, who had a good angle on linebacker Mike Jones to get into the end zone. But Jones managed to drag Dyson down inches from the goal line on the very last play of the game, preventing a potential game-tying score and giving us one of the lasting images in Super Bowl history.

Kevin Dyson #87 Photo by: Tom Hauck /Getty Images

From Turf Show Times:

Were it not for such a heartstopping finish, I could point to WR Isaac Bruce’s 73-yard touchdown just minutes prior as the franchise’s greatest Super Bowl moment. But this was the moment that the Rams became champions. This was the moment that wrote the Rams’ name in history.

Reveling in a rival’s misery is part of the fun. The Jaguars haven’t won a Super Bowl ... but Big Cat Country enjoyed seeing the Titans lose this one.

Malcolm Butler’s pick seals a Patriots win in Super Bowl XLIX

Patriots fans have countless memories from their favorite team’s five Super Bowl wins (so far) with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Super Bowl XLIX might have ended differently for New England if not for Malcolm Butler.

Everyone remembers this play. The Seahawks were trailing 28-24 with just 26 seconds to go in the game. Instead of having Marshawn Lynch run it from the 1-yard line, Seattle opted to pass. Butler picked Russell Wilson off, and the Patriots got another Super Bowl ring:

From Pats Pulpit:

The Patriots had reached the Super Bowl twice since they toppled the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX and both ended in heart-breaking fashion. The Patriots had comeback to take the lead against the Seattle Seahawks, but Kearse caught that ball on his back and every single Patriots fan, including team owner Rob Kraft, thought to themselves, “Oh no, here we go again.”

Except it was different. Butler intercepted the pass on the goal line and the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl title.

Joe Montana’s touchdown pass to John Taylor in Super Bowl XXIII

The Niners were trailing the Bengals when Montana led a 92-yard drive to hit Taylor with a 10-yard pass with 34 seconds left in the game to seal a 20-16 win.

Bettmann Archive

From Niners Nation:

Dwight Clark making The Catch got the dynasty going, and thus will remain the biggest play in franchise history for the foreseeable future. However, Joe Montana-to-John Taylor in Super Bowl 23 remains the second biggest play in franchise history, and the biggest in the team’s Super Bowl history. The goal line stand against the Bengals in Super Bowl 16 is an underrated moment in 49ers history, but Montana-to-Taylor remains the biggest.

Santonio Holmes’ TD breaks Cardinals’ hearts in Super Bowl XLIII

The Steelers were down 23-20 with two and a half minutes to play. Ben Roethlisberger marched the offense 78 yards, capped off with Holmes’ miraculous catch in the end zone. He had three defenders bearing down on him, but Holmes somehow managed to keep his toes down inbounds for the score.

From Behind the Steel Curtain:

To this day, there are several Cardinals fans who don’t think Holmes got his feet down, but anyone who watched the game probably elevated into the air just as I did when the play occurred.

The drive, capped off by a tremendous pass from Roethlisberger into triple coverage where only Holmes could catch it, was truly remarkable. For that reason, I believe Holmes’ touchdown catch was the best Super Bowl moment for me.

Desmond Howard’s 99-yard return touchdown in Super Bowl XXXI

The Packers gave up a touchdown on the ground to Patriots running back Curtis Martin, which cut their lead to 27-21. Desmond Howard snatched that momentum back for Green Bay by running the ensuing kick all the way back for the touchdown. He then celebrated with a robot dance about 10 years after it stopped being cool to do the robot.

From Acme Packing Company:

That’s when Desmond Howard put the game out of reach. After he shook one tackle, Don Beebe’s block freed him up to get to the end zone and do the robot. Reggie White’s back-to-back sacks on the next drive truly put the game out of reach, but Howard’s play will go down as one of the biggest in Super Bowl history.

John Riggins’ game-sealing touchdown in Super Bowl XVII

Washington needed just one yard to keep a drive going against the Dolphins while trailing 17-13. They decided to go for it. Riggins rushed for 166 yards — a record at the time — but this touchdown came from the most important 43 yards of the day. It earned him the Super Bowl MVP nod, and Washington beat Miami 27-17.

From Hogs Haven:

If you listen hard enough, you can still hear the entire DC region going nuts.

Tracy Porter’s pick-six of Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV

The Saints have exactly one Lombardi Trophy, and this is the play that sealed it. New Orleans was trailing 10-6 at the half, and shocked the Colts with an onside kick to start the third quarter. The Saints had a 24-17 lead with just over three minutes left in the game. But Peyton Manning drove the Colts down to the Saints’ 31. A pass intended for Reggie Wayne was picked by Porter, who ran it back 74 yards for a touchdown to put the game on ice.

From Canal Street Chronicles:

For the New Orleans Saints, there might have been only one appearance, but they sure did make it count. Needless to say, Tracy Porter’s pick-six of Peyton Manning to seal their first Lombardi Trophy from the 2009 season ranks as the best Super Bowl moment. It still gives me chills, and this sums it all up.

Marcus Allen’s 74-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XVIII

Washington never had a chance in this one. The Raiders dominated throughout, beating Washington 38-9. Allen ran all over them, putting up 191 yards and two touchdowns. This 74-yard score set a record for the longest touchdown run in Super Bowl history at the time.

From Silver and Black Pride:

It doesn’t get any better than Marcus Allen running left, cutting back right, barely evading tacklers to streak 74 yards for the score. And as called by the iconic voice of Bill King. Holy Toledo indeed.

Bruce Smith sacking Jeff Hostetler for a safety in Super Bowl XXV

The Bills had a chance to win this one, but kicker Scott Norwood sent the potential game-winner wide right, handing the Giants a 20-19 win. This was one of four consecutive Super Bowl losses Bills fans have had to suffer through, but at least they have this badass play to fondly remember.

From Buffalo Rumblings:

Hostetler stumbled as the running back was getting his footing to block Smith and placed the ball on the ground to keep him upright. If he had lost his grip on the ball, even for a split-second, Smith would have been there and it may have been a 17-3 lead instead of a 12-3 margin. The nine-point lead was the largest the Bills ever had in a Super Bowl.


Devin Hester runs back the opening kick in Super Bowl XLI for a TD

Hester is the best return specialist in NFL history. So it was pure hubris when Tony Dungy decided to kick to him on the opening play of Super Bowl XLI. He made them pay, running it back 94 yards to give the Bears a 7-0 lead just 14 seconds into the game. The Bears added another score to lead 14-6, but the Colts outscored Chicago 23-3 over the next three quarters, getting the 29-17 win.

From Windy City Gridiron:

The other Super Bowl the Bears were a part of, Super Bowl XX, was full of exciting plays, and the moment they actually hoisted the Lombardi Trophy was incredible, but for a single moment, I can’t remember being as excited back in 1986 as I was watching Hester run into the record books.

Julio Jones makes a superhuman catch in Super Bowl LI

This one is fresh in everyone’s minds. The Falcons, in the midst of blowing a 25-point lead against the Patriots, were clinging to an eight-point lead with just under five minutes in the game. On second-and-8, Matt Ryan hit Jones for a 27-yard gain with this beautiful sideline grab.

If this game had gone differently, we’d be mentioning this play in the same breath as Tyree’s catch against the Patriots. Instead, Falcons fans are just suffering through endless 28-3 jokes.

From The Falcoholic:

Somehow he leaps, corrals the ball, and gets two feet down despite having microseconds to consider how he’ll do all of those things, and despite having a defender just inches away from him. It’s the kind of catch that makes Julio Julio, and had the universe been more just and the outcome of the game different, it’s one that would go down as one of the most legendary receptions in Super Bowl history. Instead, it’s a footnote, sadly.

What were the rest of our team sites’ favorite moments and memories? You can check them out here.