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The Superbowl is the pinnacle of all sporting events in the Western world, and arguably, the entire globe. Although American football is primarily played in America, millions of people from around the world join together to watch the Superbowl. Their reasons for watching this hollowed sporting event vary; perhaps they only watch it for the classic commercials or maybe the consistently pop-oriented halftime show. Regardless, it is an event that brings us together, and a game that brings out the highest level of competition among its contenders.
The Super bowl is one of the largest annual marketing events for companies, but it also brings together our North American culture on one hallowed day, to sit, and enjoy the game with family and friends. Personally, I am a huge fan of NFL Football; I have played football since I was nine, and I’ve had the pleasure to play almost every position on the field, except for the offensive line (which I don’t have too many regrets about.)
For this reason, making this article was a ton of fun for me; I love re-living the past Superbowl triumphs because they are inspiring and entertaining. This article will be focusing on the top ten most ‘clutch’ Super bowl performances.
By clutch, I’m referring to the phenomenon of athletes to perform under pressure, often in the last minutes of a game, to summon strength, concentration and whatever else necessary to succeed, to perform well, and perhaps change the outcome of the game. Being ‘clutch’ doesn’t just apply to sports, however; I can list countless times I have exuded miraculously clutch behaviour off the football field, to which I surprised myself and my peers – like that time I drained a paper ball in a garbage can from across the class room: just insane.
That’s what I love about sports: about football. Playing it teaches you how to perform under immense pressure, and watching it makes you respect the men who are on the field, fighting for their team, their city, and the sport they’ve grown to love
Without further adieu, here’s a list of the top ten ‘clutch’ Superbowl performances in history, in my highly informed opinion of course.
Number 10: Super Bowl Trickery
Game: Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10
Date: Feb. 5, 2006
Location: Ford Field, Detroit
Kelly Herndon’s Super Bowl record 76-yard interception return (this record would be broken by James Harrison in Super Bowl XLIII) set up a Seahawks score that trimmed the Steelers’ lead to 14-10 and provided Seattle hope in what had been a sloppy game. Shortly after, however, Pittsburgh dug into its bag of tricks and utilized receiver Antwaan Randle El’s full complement of skills. Antwaan Randle El — who played quarterback in college at Indiana — collected the ball from running back Willie Parker on a reverse and heaved a long pass to receiver Hines Ward for the game-clinching touchdown.
The win gave the Steelers a fifth Super Bowl win, tying the team with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers for most in Super Bowl history (of course, three years later, the Steelers collected a sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy). With the win in Super Bowl XL, the Steelers also became the first No. 6 playoff seed to win a Super Bowl.
TD TransPorter and Hester’s Opening TD Return
Game: Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
Date: Feb. 7, 2010
Location: Sun Life Stadium, South Florida
After the Saints took a 24-17 lead, Peyton Manning led the Colts into Saints territory late in the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-5 situation, Manning threw a pass toward receiver Reggie Wayne, but Saints defensive back Tracy Porter stepped in front of the throw and returned it 74 yards for the game-clinching pick six.
The Super Bowl win gave a Saints franchise — one for most of its history had only known disappointment — its first NFL championship in 43 years of existence.
- ‘Joe Cool’ comes through
Game: Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
Date: Jan. 22, 1989
Location: Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami
Down 16-13 with three minutes remaining in the game, the 49ers got the ball at their own 8-yard line. Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana lived up to his “Joe Cool” nickname, deftly driving the 49ers 92 yards for the winning score in a tightly contested Super Bowl rematch with the Bengals, who the 49ers faced in Super Bowl XVI seven seasons prior.
Montana capped the 92-yard drive for victory with a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining. A win the following year — a 55-10 hammering of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV — solidified the 49ers’ status as the “Team of the ’80s.”
7. Vinatieri’s boot kick starts a dynasty
Game: Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
Date: Feb. 3, 2002
Location: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
With an era of success that includes six Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl wins beginning with this game, the Patriots’ win over the Rams doesn’t seem like the historic upset that it was at the time. Not many figured that the upstart Patriots with an unknown quarterback named Tom Brady would be much of a match for the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
However, Brady put the Patriots into position late in the game for the upset, and kicker Adam Vinatieri came through with the game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired to deliver New England its first Super Bowl win. The victory kickstarted the Patriots’ dynasty that lives on to this day.
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6. Big Ben phones Holmes
Game: Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Date: Feb. 1, 2009
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
The Steelers prevailed in this thrilling Super Bowl showdown on a spectacular touchdown catch along the sideline by Santonio Holmes, who dragged his toes in bounds before falling out of bounds for the winning score.
It was an incredible play at a crucial moment, coming with under a minute left in regulation. Holmes had four catches for 73 yards on the Steelers’ game-winning drive, and finished the game with 131 yards, earning Super Bowl MVP honors.
With the win, the Steelers became the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls.
- The easy way or the Elway
Game: Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
Date: Jan. 25, 1998
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
John Elway’s determination helped the Broncos pull off an upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Packers in one of the most thrilling Super Bowls ever played.
After three previous Super Bowl setbacks, Elway finally earned a Super Bowl win and added an iconic moment in the triumph. With the score tied at 17-17 in the third quarter, the Broncos had a 13-play, 92-yard drive to retake the lead. The key play was an 8-yard scramble for a first down by Elway. During the play, Elway dove for the first down, got hit by Packers defenders Mike Prior and LeRoy Butler, and spun through the air. Following Elway’s dramatic “Helicopter” play, running back Terrell Davis scored on a 1-yard run and the Packers were left chasing the game.
- Just Run The Ball!
Game: Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Date: Feb. 1, 2015
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
After the Patriots grabbed a 28-24 lead just before the two-minute warning, the Seahawks still had plenty of time to mount a game-winning drive. When Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse made a ridiculous catch for a big gain, it seemingly set up the Seahawks for the winning score. Instead, on a second-and-goal play from the 1-yard line, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’ quick slant pass was picked off by Patriots rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler. It was shocking development, and a play call that will be debated for as long as the game of football is played.
Butler’s timely interception gave the Patriots a fourth Super Bowl title in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, and helped ease some of the pain that came from New England’s loss in the Super Bowl in the same building seven years prior.
- You Shall Not Score
Game: Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Date: Jan. 30, 2000
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
Like Super Bowl XLVIII after it, this breathtaking Super Bowl featured some career-defining big plays — see No. 22 on this list (Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce for the winner) and No. 32 on this list (Steve McNair’s great escape) — but the greatest tackle in Super Bowl history is the one that sticks out most.
With five seconds remaining in regulation, the Titans faced a first-and-goal situation from the Rams’ 10-yard line after the aforementioned McNair play. McNair connected with receiver Kevin Dyson, who for a brief moment appeared to have a clear path to the end zone, but Rams linebacker Mike Jones stepped up and made an open-field tackle at the 1-yard line, preventing the game-tying touchdown and saving the Super Bowl win for the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams.
2. David Tyree’s Helmet Catch
Game: Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patrios 14
Date: February 3rd 2008
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona
The game is best remembered for the Giants’ fourth-quarter game-winning drive. Down 14–10, New York got the ball on their own 17-yard line with 2:39 left and marched 83 yards down the field. In the drive’s most memorable play, David Tyree made a leaping one-handed catch pinning the football with his right hand to the crown of his helmet for a 32-yard gain. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress then scored the winning touchdown on a 13-yard reception with 35 seconds remaining.
1. The guarantee
Game: Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
Date: Jan. 12, 1969
Location: Orange Bowl, Miami
The third AFL-NFL Championship Game — and first to officially be called the Super Bowl — was expected to be a total boat race like the previous two (courtesy of Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers), with the established NFL showing the upstart AFL which league was superior.
Quarterback of the heavy underdog Jets, Joe Namath, saw things differently and guaranteed a Jets victory. On Super Bowl Sunday, Namath followed through on that bombastic boast to lead the greatest upset in league history.
The Jets’ win validated the AFL and more importantly, the merger of the two rival leagues. On a grander scale, Namath’s guarantee served as the catalyst for the massive, unofficial national holiday event that the Super Bowl is today.
So, there you have it, my top ten list for the most clutch performances in Superbowl history.
Being a ‘clutch’ competitor takes impeccable focus and determination on the task at hand; any individual who has single-handedly taken over a football game at the highest level of competition attainable can indeed say that they have performed at the highest level of football possible — a statement that can only be uttered by a few men.
I hope you found inspiration from this list just as I did. If you have any other clutch moments that you think I should have added, be sure to leave a comment down below.
Also, who do you think is going to be the most clutch competitor in Superbowl LI today? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! and be sure to share this article with friends and family to see what they think.
Thanks for checking out my article, have a great Superbowl Sunday!