The 7 most memorable Super Bowl moments in NFL history

Jan 17, 2023, 5:06 AM | Updated: 7:26 am
A miraculous catch by Giants WR David Tyree that helped beat Rodney Harrison and the Patriots the l...
A miraculous catch by Giants WR David Tyree that helped beat Rodney Harrison and the Patriots the last time the two teams met in the NFL title game. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — State Farm Stadium, formerly University of Phoenix Stadium, has built quite a track record for hosting big games, especially Super Bowls, since it opened in 2006.

On Feb. 12, the title game returns to Glendale, the site where Eli Manning and the New York Giants ended the New England Patriots’ quest for a perfect season in 2008. Seven years later, Tom Brady and the Patriots came back from down 10 in the fourth quarter to win the Lombardi Trophy in another classic in the Valley.

With the NFL title game coming up, let’s take a look at some of the biggest moments in Super Bowl history:

The helmet catch (XLII)

The Giants faced third down, trailing 14-10 with just over a minute to play against New England.

Manning dropped back, faced heat and was grabbed by multiple Patriots defenders, but he spun out and let a jump ball go down the field. David Tyree, a 27-year-old receiver who had made four catches during the regular season, went up with two-time All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison draped over him. Tyree caught the ball and pinned it against his helmet on the way down, completing the catch for a 30-yard gain.

New York scored the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds left to end New England’s quest for 19-0.

Patriots’ 28-3 comeback (LI)

No team has ever faced greater odds than the Patriots when they went down 28-3 in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons. Before that night in Houston, there had been no comeback greater than 10 points in an NFL championship.

But New England’s next four offensive possessions went touchdown, field goal, touchdown and touchdown with a successful two-point conversion to tie the game late and force overtime.

The Pats started with the football to begin the additional period, and Brady did not give it back.

Running back James White, who led the Patriots with 110 receiving yards, muscled his way into the end zone on a toss play to secure the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Joe Namath’s guarantee (III)

The New York Jets in 1968 were underdogs entering the title game against the 13-1 Baltimore Colts. The Colts had steamrolled their way to the finale with two double-digits victories in the postseason, but Jets quarterback Joe Namath was far from bashful entering the matchup. A reporter picked up on the quarterback saying he “guaranteed” a New York victory, something the Colts found humor in.

But lo and behold, the Jets never trailed in a 16-7 victory at the Orange Bowl, as New York controlled the clock and played stellar defense with four interceptions. Namath held up a No. 1 as he ran off the field a champion.

Butler at the goal line (XLIX)

Back to Glendale and the Patriots.

New England had erased a 24-14 deficit with a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, but the Seattle Seahawks were threatening.

Seattle — looking to repeat as champion — drove 79 yards to set up a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. With 25 seconds on the game clock, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took the snap and fired a quick slant to Ricardo Lockette.

Cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in front and picked it off at the goal line in one of the greatest defensive moments in NFL history.

Montana marches downfield (XXIII)

The San Francisco 49ers had 92 yards ahead of them down 16-13 against the Cincinnati Bengals with less than four minutes to go. San Francisco was the favorite entering the matchup but was in danger of suffering a painful playoff loss for the fourth straight season.

Montana was brilliant on the drive, completing five straight passes and seven of eight to set up second down from the Bengals’ 10-yard line.

Montana hit receiver John Taylor through a tight window in the end zone to give the 49ers the lead with 34 seconds left.

San Francisco held on, and the throw was the latest game-winning touchdown scored in an NFL title game at that point.

Santonio Holmes taps his toes (XLIII)

This iteration had a couple of moments that will be forever played in NFL montages. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown at the end of the first half was something the NFL may never see again.

But the Arizona Cardinals held a lead in the final minute of the game until quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pumped, directed traffic and fired a pass to the corner of the end zone. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes caught it with his outstretched hands while tapping the tips of his toes to paydirt and securing the win.

The longest yard (XXXIV)

The Tennessee Titans came back from down 16-0 against the St. Louis Rams to tie the game in the fourth quarter. The Rams, led by quarterback Kurt Warner, regained a touchdown lead with just under a minute remaining.

Titans quarterback Steve McNair led the two-minute drill down to the Rams’ 10-yard line with six seconds to play. He hit receiver Andre Dyson in stride at the 5-yard line, but linebacker Mike Jones made one of the most critical tackles in league history. Dyson reached for the goal line and was ruled one yard short of glory.

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The 7 most memorable Super Bowl moments in NFL history