Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching, but in the mean time I thought it would be fun to look back and reflect on the past. Not every Super Bowl has an iconic play, such as Malcom Butler’s interception at the goal line against the Seahawks last year. Some are just blowouts, a prime example would be the ‘Hawks drubbing of Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII (43-8). My top five Super Bowls focus both on late game heroics, and the significance/circumstances surrounding the result. Here they are in ascending order:
5- Super Bowl XLIV (New Orleans Saints-31 Indianapolis Colts-17)
Saints head coach Sean Payton called for an onside kick to open the second half, his team recovered it, and the rest is history. Drew Brees was named the game’s MVP, completing 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Tracy Porter’s 74-yard pick-six of Peyton Manning with 2:34 left sealed the deal. Along with being a great football game, this Super Bowl goes down as extra special for the city of New Orleans still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina. The “Ain’ts” were no more, Brees and Payton gave the city something to hang their hat on. It was the first, and remains the only title for the New Orleans Saints.
4- Super Bowl XLV (Green Bay Packers 31- Pittsburgh Steelers-25)
The Lombardi Trophy returned home to Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV. Aaron Rodgers was battling in the shadow of Brett Favre, but erased all doubts with the Super Bowl victory and game MVP honors. The Steelers mounted a valiant comeback in the fourth but couldn’t break through against the shorthanded Packers, who lost both Donald Driver and Charles Woodson during the game’s first half. Head coach Mike McCarthy was so certain of his team’s victory he had them fitted for their rings Saturday night before the game. Not surprisingly, no team has made such a bold move since.
3- Super Bowl XLVI (New York Giants- 21 New England Patriots- 17)
Eli Manning, not Peyton, is Tom Brady and the Patriots true kryptonite. Eli led an 88-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter, capped off by a six-yard Ahmad Bradshaw run with 57 seconds left on the clock to earn his second Super Bowl victory over the Pats. The Giants entered the postseason in the sixth seed with a 9-7 record. They were 7-7 in mid-December and never looked back. Eli collected his second Super Bowl MVP award in the process, dealing another gut wrenching loss to the Patriots.
2- Super Bowl XLIII (Pittsburgh Steelers-27 Arizona Cardinals-23)
The Steelers led 20-7 entering the fourth quarter, and showed no signs of slowing down. Then Kurt Warner and the Cardinals scored 16 unanswered points in the final frame before perhaps Ben Roethlisberger‘s finest moment as a pro. He engineered an eight play, 78-yard drive that culminated with wide out Santonio Holmes’ six-yard reception in the back right corner of the end zone with 35 seconds remaining. Holmes was named the game’s MVP after reeling in 9 passes for 131 and the game’s winning touchdown. It was the Steelers sixth SB victory. The total remains the most in league history.
1- Super Bowl XLII (NY Giants-17 NE Patriots -14)
Before Eli won his second Super Bowl, he led arguably the biggest upset in NFL history. The undefeated (18-0) Patriots looked unbeatable throughout the regular and post season, shattering offensive records in the process. The fifth-seeded Giants were given no chance against Bill Belichick and the Pats, entering the game as 12-point underdogs. The “Spygate” scandal was in full effect at this time, shaping the game’s narrative and perception of the Pats. The country seemed to be fully behind Eli and the Giants, and they did not disappoint. The Pats were trailing 10-7 late in the fourth before Tom Brady found Randy Moss for a seven-yard touchdown with 2:45 left. What happened next was the stuff of legends. The unforgettable 33-yard- helmet pinning- reception by David Tyree (after Eli evaded the Patriots blitz in dramatic fashion) was the drive’s signature play, and set up the winning score. Plaxico Burress hauled in a 25-yard pass from Eli with 35 seconds left on the clock. The underdogs won what many call the best Super Bowl ever, and ruined the Pats’ historic pursuit of perfection.
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