With each Super Bowl, America’s most-watched sporting event offers a new slate of memorable plays that enshrine themselves into history. But only a few can stand the test of time.
Here are five of the most memorable moments in Super Bowl history.
Malcolm Butler’s Game-Winning Interception: Super Bowl XLIX
Before we get into things, let me poll the room.
You made it to the Super Bowl following the 2014 season. Congratulations!
But after giving up 14 points in the fourth quarter, things aren’t necessarily going your way. You’re down four points with 25 seconds left, but thanks to a great offensive drive, you manage to get all the way down to the one-yard line.
You’re three feet away from taking the lead in the Super Bowl, with only seconds left in the game. So do you:
- Hand the ball off to your All-Pro Running Back, who led the league in touchdowns and is known for bulldozing defenders?
- Pass the ball
Now it doesn’t take a football genius to know that choice “A” is, nine times out of 10, the right move. However, Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll thought it was the one time out of 10 that running the ball would not work.
Well, he was wrong.
Down four to the Patriots with just seconds left in the game, Carroll decided to throw the ball on the one-yard line. A Malcolm Butler interception in the end zone resulted, and it secured Tom Brady and the Patriots their fourth Super Bowl ring.
David Tyree’s Helmet Catch: Super Bowl XLII
The Patriots are back! But this time, they’re on the losing side of things.
Super Bowl XLII in 2008 saw the New York Giants take on the undefeated New England Patriots, who were pursuing the second-ever unbeaten season in NFL history – and things were looking good.
With only 1:15 left in the game, the Patriots were up by four. The Giants had the ball on their own 44-yard line and were staring down a 3rd and 5, which probably felt like a 3rd and 35.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning hiked the ball and immediately felt the pressure of the Patriots’ pass rush. However, the infamously immobile quarterback avoided what could have been four sacks and heaved the ball 30+ yards downfield.
On the receiving end of things was Giants WR David Tyree, who before this Super Bowl had only made four catches all season. Tyree was surrounded by two Patriot defenders but managed to leap in the air and catch the ball by pinning it to his helmet.
The Giants then called a timeout and capped off the last-minute drive with a game-winning touchdown. Without Tyree’s helmet catch, none of this would have been possible. As a result, this remains highly regarded as one of the best catches in Super Bowl history.
The Titans Come Up Short: Super Bowl XXXIV
The 2000 contest was a nail-biter for anyone with money on the Tennessee Titans. The St. Louis Rams got out to an early lead in this one, leading the Titans 16-0 in the middle of the third quarter. However, the Titans managed to rally and tie the game with just 2:12 remaining.
But after a 73-yard bomb from Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce put the Rams back up 7, the Titans had 88 yards to go in less than two minutes.
In a miraculous drive led by Steve McNair, the Titans were able to get all the way down to the Rams 10-yard line, calling their final timeout with only 5 seconds left on the clock. So, they had one play to try and score the game-tying touchdown.
All they needed was 10 yards.
And all they got was 9.
McNair completed his final pass of the game to Kevin Dyson, who did all he could to get the ball across the goal line. However, Rams linebacker Mike Jones was able to bring Dyson down just one yard short.
This secured the Rams’ win and broke up one of the best comebacks in Super Bowl history.
Julian Edelman Catches It Inches Off The Ground: Super Bowl LI
This is my last Patriots one, I promise.
To everyone’s surprise, the Falcons were up 28-3 in this one late in the third quarter of the 2017 renewal. But in typical Tom Brady fashion, the Patriots had come back and were now down 28-20 with just 2 minutes to go.
From their own 37-yard line, Tom Brady aired out a 25-yard pass to Julian Edelman, and a Falcons cornerback tipped the ball. If you freeze the video the moment the ball is tipped, you would think Edelman has no chance at grabbing this one.
However, Edelman dove for the ball and barely gets his fingers on it. He then tapped it up to himself, just INCHES off the ground, thus keeping the ball alive and securing the catch.
This would set up a last-second touchdown for the Patriots, who would end up completing the comeback with a game-winning touchdown on the opening drive of overtime.
John Elway’s Helicopter Ride: Super Bowl XXXII
Before Super Bowl XXXII, John Elway was known as the man who could never win a Super Bowl. 0-3 in the big game coming into it, Elway was taking on the defending champion Green Bay Packers in his fourth try at glory – and 37 years old at the time, Elway wasn’t sure if he was going to get this chance again.
So he made the most of it.
Late in the third quarter on the Packers 12-yard line and facing a 3rd and six, Elway scrambled for 8 eight and gained the first down by leaping into the air and diving for it. Mid-flight, Elway was slammed by three Packers defenders, causing him to do a full 180°, spinning like a helicopter rotor.
The much-needed first down set up Terrell Davis’s second score of the game, which eventually helped them grab the win, 31-24.