by Will Overton
Tonight we are going to witness the Super Bowl 47 and the storylines are in place for a legendary game. We have Brother vs. Brother in the coaching matchup which, while overdone at times, really is a fantastic story. We also have one of the greatest defensive players of all-time in the last game of his career. On the other side we have a Quarterback who took over, despite the previous starter owning a 20–6 record over the past two seasons.
Storylines are part of what makes super bowls great, and the table is set for this to be a great one if it lives up to the hype. However, in 46 years of Super Bowl history there have been some memorable games that this one has to compete with.
Trying to narrow down my list to just five games was a grueling task, as there are some really great games left off this list. These are the five games that stood out to me as having the best mix of being a great game and a memorable one, which are two different things.
5) Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35 – Dallas Cowboys 31
These are two of the most storied and winningest franchises of all-time. In the 70’s they were the elite of the elite in the NFL. These two teams have done battle three times in Super Bowl’s, but no matchup was more memorable than this one was.
Part of what makes this game so memorable is the fact that it ended up in a shootout, something not common in this era. Part of it is the play that wasn’t made as Jackie Smith dropped a sure touchdown in the third quarter that would’ve tied the game, perhaps the biggest non-play in Super Bowl history. Part of it was the Cowboys valiant comeback late, scoring two touchdowns in two minutes to cut the lead to four and giving them a chance to win. And a part of it was the great play of Terry Bradshaw, who threw for 318 yards and 4 TD’s in the most impressive game he’s ever played.
In all it was a great game between two great teams on the biggest stage, it doesn’t get much better than that.
4) Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16 – Baltimore Colts 7
The score may not indicate a great game, but the significance is huge. The Jets victory in this game rivals the Giants win over the Patriots in 2008 as the biggest Super Bowl upset of all-time. The NFC was supposed to be the far superior football conference and no one gave the Jets much of a chance to win.
That didn’t stop Broadway Joe Namath from making the most historic guarantee of all-time, though, as guaranteed victory in the Super Bowl. He went out and backed it up by completing 17 passes for 206 yards, numbers that looked a lot more impressive back in that day. The game itself might not be memorable, but the significance and the bravado won’t ever be forgotten.
3) Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23 – Tennessee Titans 16
This one might not be remembered for its storylines, but they were still there. The Rams were one of the worst teams in the NFL the year before. A few weeks into the season this quarterback from the Arena League is starting for them because of an injury and the next thing we know they’re being dubbed, “The Greatest Show on Turf” and on their way to their first Super Bowl win.
Even if the storylines didn’t do anything for you, this was perhaps one of the most entertaining second halves of a football game ever. The Rams jumped out to a 16–0 lead part way through the third quarter and it looked like it was already over. However, the Titans weren’t done yet and marched back to score 16 unanswered points. The Rams took the lead again with just under two minutes.
This led to what might be the most memorable play in Super Bowl history. The Titans drove the length of the field with less than two minutes. On the final play of the game Kevin Dyson was tackled by Mike Jones and with the ball outstretched came up less than a yard short of the end zone. As far as finishes go they don’t come any more exciting and on the edge of the seat as this one.
2) Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20 – Cincinnati Bengals 16
This game marked what was possibly the greatest moment of the career of the greatest Quarterback ever. To the surprise of many the Cincinnati Bengals held the 49ers and Joe Montana down for much of the game.
The score was just 3 – 3 at the half. The 49ers didn’t have the lead at all in the second half of the game, until the very end that is. The Bengals took the lead 16–13 with a field goal with 3 minutes and 20 seconds left on the clock. The 49ers began their final drive from their own 8 yard line. With just one chance left Joe Montana led what I think is the greatest single drive in NFL history. Montana surgically moved the 49ers down the field with ease going 92 yards on 11 plays and throwing a TD strike to John Taylor with 32 seconds remaining. This was the most legendary moments of a legendary career and a Super Bowl that will never be forgotten.
1) Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17 – New England Patriots 14
I feel bad for the Patriots fans that might be reading this right now. The Patriots led by Bill Belicheck and Tom Brady have played in some fantastic Super Bowls over the last ten years, and they have won their share of them. Their loss is this game stands out the most though, and stands out as the greatest Super Bowl ever played.
You can’t write a better storyline than this one. The Patriots were undefeated going into the game and were as dominant as any team in the history of football, destroying nearly every team in their path to the title game. The Giants however squeaked into the playoffs and had to win three road games to get to the Super Bowl.
The Giants defense managed to stifle the Patriots ultra-effective offense by pressuring Tom Brady, getting five sacks, and imposing their will. Still, with two and a half minutes to go Tom Brady threw a go ahead touchdown and left the Giants with their backs against the wall. This was the moment Eli Manning defined his career though.
The Giants went 83 yards on 12 plays in just 2:07 to shock the world. The drive was complete with one of the most amazing catches we’ve ever seen in a Super Bowl, coming from David Tyree to extend the drive on third down. With the way no one gave the Giants a chance, the Patriots undefeated season on the line and the way the game ended it is very hard for any Super Bowl to measure up to this one.
Super Bowl XXLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – Arizona Cardinals 23
This game was the hardest one to cut from my list of way too many games. From the James Harrison touchdown to end the first half to the Santonio Holmes back of the end zone spectacular catch, this was one of the more entertaining games in Super Bowl history. The fact that this didn’t crack my top five is a testament to how great the other five games on this list were.
What are your thoughts of this list? Which game do you think should’ve been included? What is your Top 5?
Make sure to check out our other Super Bowl rankings:
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