The Super Bowl is the most-watched sporting event in America year after year. Every February, the NFL sends an AFC and NFC representative to the championship game to battle it out for NFL supremacy. Over the 50+ years of battles, there have been a number of incredible moments that stand out as the greatest moments in Super Bowl history.
The greatest Super Bowl moments include everything from dazzling runs, electric kickoff returns and clutch catches and field goals to win games. NFL greats such as Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri, Joe Montana, John Elway, James Harrison, Marcus Allen, and Desmond Howard find themselves all over this list of greatest Super Bowl moments ever.
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Santonio Holmes’ Game-Winning Touchdown Catch in SBXLIII
After the Cardinals scored what looked to be the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII, Ben Roethlisberger led his Steelers right down the field to take the victory right from their fingertips. Santonio Holmes closed the drive with an iconic catch in the back corner of the end zone.
The Tennessee Titans Fall One Yard Short in SBXXXIV
The underdog Tennessee Titans were charging towards the end zone in the closing moments of Super Bowl XXXIV. Down 23-16 and with just seconds left, Steve McNair his Kevin Dyson over the middle for what could have been the game-tying touchdown, except he was tackled just one yard short. The image of Dyson extending the ball across the goal line remains one of the most memorable images in NFL history.
Malcolm Butler’s Game-Sealing Interception in SBXLIX
New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler made the play of his life in the waning moments of Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks. With time winding down, the Seahawks opted to throw the ball instead of handing off to superstar running back Marshawn Lynch despite being at the 1-yard line. Butler stepped up and made the pick to seal the win for the Patriots, and an endless wave of criticism followed wondering why Seattle didn’t just run the ball.
David Tyree’s Helmet Catch in SBXLII
Infamously known as the “Helmet Catch,” David Tyree of the New York Giants went down in history as a huge thorn in the New England Patriots’ side. The 18-0 Patriots were cruising towards the NFL’s second undefeated season until Eli Manning dodged multiple sacks and uncorked a ball downfield toward Tyree with a minute left in the game. Tyree pinned the ball against his helmet for a 32-yard gain. The play extended the eventual game-winning drive, bringing the Giants to a 17-14 win. It was the final catch of Tyree’s career.
Adam Vinatieri’s 48-Yard Field Goal Wins SBXXXVI
The first of many huge field goals in Adam Vinatieri’s storied career, the Patriots’ kicker lined up from 48 yards out and split the uprights to defeat the St. Louis Rams 20-17 on the game’s final play. The Rams were 14-point favorites entering the game, and the kick gave New England its first championship.
Scott Norwood Misses Wide Right in SBXXV
One of the most negative moments on this list, Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood lined up to attempt a 47-yard field goal with eight seconds left to win Super Bowl XXV against the New York Giants. Sportscaster Al Michaels announced the kick by proclaiming, “no good…wide right.” The name stuck, and the Buffalo Bills lost their first of what would turn out to be four consecutive Super Bowls.
Marcus Allen’s Touchdown Run in SBXVIII
Oakland Raiders running back Marcus Allen erupted for a Super Bowl record 191 yards and two touchdowns in SBXVIII, the most memorable of which came on a dazzling 74-yarder in the third quarter.
Joe Namath Guarantees Win In SBIII
Joe Namath infamously guaranteed victory in Super Bowl III despite being heavy underdogs, and the New York Jets’ quarterback delivered a 16-7 victory. The image of Namath jogging off the field pointing one finger to the sky remains etched in history.
Adam Vinatieri Does it Again in SBXXXVIII
As if one Super Bowl-winning kick wasn’t enough, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri put away the Carolina Panthers in the closing seconds with a 43-yard field goal in Super Bowl XXXVIII to give the Patriots a 32-29 win and their second Super Bowl.
John Elway Helicopters Into the End Zone in SBXXXII
Facing a 3rd-and-6 in a tie game, Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway took off running in an attempt to extend his team’s drive. In order to get the first down, Elway had to jump instead of slide, and two Green Bay Packers hit him in mid-air to send him helicoptering across the field. When he came down, his Broncos had a first down just four yards from the end zone and would go on to score the go-ahead touchdown. The play fired up the team and brought home a Super Bowl victory for the Broncos.
James Harrison’s 100-Yard Pick-Six in SBXLIII
The Arizona Cardinals were seemingly headed to a 14-10 halftime lead in Super Bowl 43, but Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison had other ideas. He picked off Kurt Warner near the end zone and shockingly ran it back 100 yards for a touchdown before collapsing in exhaustion after dodging numerous tackles along the way. It completely changed the direction of the game, which the Steelers wound up winning.
Tracy Porter’s Game-Sealing Pick-Six In SBXLIV
New Orleans Saints cornerback Tracy Porter made the play of his life when he picked off Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. The play came out of nowhere and gave the Saints their first Super Bowl victory, 31-17 over the Indianapolis Colts.
James White’s Game-Winning Touchdown in SBXLI
Super Bowl XLI is known for the Patriots’ comeback from a 28-3 deficit in the second half. After scoring 25 unanswered points to force overtime, Tom Brady handed off to James White for the first overtime touchdown in NFL history to bring home his fifth Super Bowl. It was White’s third touchdown of the game.
Lynn Swann Makes Diving Catch in SBX
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys put on a show in Super Bowl X, a performance that is often remembered as the most exciting of the first ten Super Bowls. Swann took home MVP honors with a number of highlight plays, the biggest of which was when he leaped over a Cowboys defender to tip the ball to himself and make an iconic diving reception down the sideline. It is known as “The Levitating Leap.”
Joe Montana Hits John Taylor To Win SBXXIII
In Super Bowl 23, the San Francisco 49ers were staring defeat in the face before Joe Montana led them down the field, ultimately connecting with John Taylor in the end zone to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-16.
John Riggins Fourth Down Run In SBXVII
On a 4th-and-1 from the Miami Dolphins 43-yard line, Washington Redskins running back John Riggins decided it was time to make a big fourth quarter play. Despite being hit in the backfield, Riggins steamrolled right through the entire defense to rumble 43 yards to the end zone, giving his Redskins their first lead of the game at 20-17. Washington would go on to win Super Bowl XVII.
William Perry’s Rushing Touchdown in SBXX
William “The Refrigerator” Perry was a defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears in the 1980’s. In Super Bowl XX, the Bears were up big and decided to call in Perry for a handoff, despite employing Hall-of-Fame running back Walter Payton. Perry rumbled into the end zone and spiked the ball with enthusiasm as the Bears went on to win 46-10 over the Patriots.
Devin Hester’s Opening Kickoff Return Touchdown in SBXLI
Rookie Devin Hester took the league by storm, running an NFL record six kicks back for touchdowns in the 2006-07 season. Most kickers began to avoid him altogether, except for Adam Vinatieri in the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI. Vinatieri sent the kickoff deep, and Hester did what Hester does – run it back 92 yards to give the Chicago Bears a 7-0 lead just seconds into the game. It was the first time the opening kickoff had ever been run back for a TD in Super Bowl history.
Desmond Howard Returns Kickoff 99 Yards in SBXXXI
Desmond Howard won Super Bowl XXXI MVP due to amassing 244 return yards, a large chunk of which came on a 99-yard touchdown in the third quarter, which would turn out to be the final score of the game. The Green Bay Packers won 27-21.
Whitney Houston’s Star-Spangled Banner in SBXXV
Just ten days into the Persian Gulf War, Whitney Houston took the field for Super Bowl XXV and delivered a performance for the ages, singing the Star-Spangled Banner alongside the Florida Orchestra. Due to the Gulf War situation, it was the first time the Super Bowl was broadcast in many countries around the world.