Top 10 Super Bowl Moments in History

The most iconic plays, moments and honorable mentions

It’s incredibly rare for tens of millions of folks to come together at the exact same time to enjoy the same thing, but we can say with certainty that it’ll happen at least once a year. Super Bowl Sunday is when, and it’s an event like no other.

While it’s not an official holiday, it certainly feels like one. The five F’s — family, friends, food, fun and football — are all present as we get set to enjoy the spectacle of what’s known as the big game.

That’s a well-deserved moniker that has been steadily earned from the first edition all the way up to the last Super Bowl. Sure, there have been some blowouts or overall snoozers along the way, but the sum is absolutely greater than its parts in this case.

Greatest moments in Super Bowl history

The Super Bowl has been filled with a number of iconic moments through the years. We’ve sorted through all of the biggest to select our top 10 Super Bowl moments of all time. The criteria are pretty simple, as these are the ones that give people something to talk about for years and years on end.

As you would expect, landing on just 10 is challenging and we wouldn’t want to miss any of the iconic moments. To prevent that from happening, we have some honorable mentions and other memorable moments from Super Bowl lore tucked in.

Just like you, we continue to count the days to the next edition of the big game when the list of memories will grow even longer. Join us as we revisit the most famous and iconic Super Bowl moments of all time.

10. The night the lights went out at the Super Bowl

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party and the lights go out, the mood of your guests will suddenly change to frustrated. Now picture that scenario playing out all across the nation. While homes didn’t lose power, Super Bowl XLVII did.

In the third quarter, the Baltimore Ravens had built up a 28-6 lead over the San Francisco 49ers. All of a sudden, there was a partial power outage at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the host site for the contest.

Play was suspended for 34 minutes as a result, and it was a pretty remarkable scene to say the least. The lull in play seemed to be a good thing for the 49ers, as they actually came back and made a game of it.

A Super Bowl that was looking like a blowout suddenly became interesting, but the Ravens would go on to prevail by a score of 34-31. The nearly unbelievable power situation sparked a flood of conspiracy theories and left folks with plenty to talk about.

While the game is most remembered for that, it should also be immortalized for another remarkable set of circumstances. Jim and John Harbaugh became the first set of brothers to ever coach against each other on the NFL’s biggest stage.

9. Allen has a run for the ages on the grandest stage

On Jan. 22, 1984, Tampa Stadium in Florida was the venue for Super Bowl XVIII between the Los Angeles Raiders and the club that’s now known as the Washington Football Team. Washington was a field goal favorite for what was expected to be a close game.

The Raiders were the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a mark of 12-4, and marched on through with convincing wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. At 14-2, Washington secured the top seed on the NFC side.

After a blowout win over the Los Angeles Rams, Washington squeaked by the San Francisco 49ers with a 24-21 win on a Mark Moseley field goal. The stage was set for what appeared to shape up as a solid game, but it turned out to not be the case.

The Raiders took Washington out to the woodshed and stormed to a 21-3 lead at the half. It was more of the same after the break. As the beatdown continued in the third quarter, Marcus Allen showed the world how to create something out of nothing.

After taking a handoff and looking destined for a loss with nothing but defenders ahead, Allen switched directions and turned on the jets for a 74-yard score. The iconic run was the rubber stamp on a 38-9 victory for the Raiders.

8. Peyton gets his Hollywood ending

Peyton Manning missed the 2011 season due to injury, and there were legitimate concerns that his career was over. That turned out to not be the case, but he and the Indianapolis Colts went their separate ways anyway.

He landed in Denver after a mad scramble to land his talents. That would prove to be a wise decision for all parties involved. From 2012-14, Manning lit up the league, and he nabbed the 2013 NFL MVP Award after throwing a record-setting 55 TDs.

In 2015, Father Time began to catch up. Injuries led to him missing some games, and Brock Osweiler took his place. The Broncos did fine without him, and there were questions about whether he would get back the starting gig.

It was Manning at the helm when the Broncos began postseason play. Coming off the worst statistical season of his career, he was still serviceable. The Broncos made it to Super Bowl 50 and were listed as 5.5-point underdogs to the Carolina Panthers.

That line proved to be way off as Denver won by a score of 24-10. It would turn out to be Manning’s final game, and he got to ride off into the sunset with another ring. The game itself wasn’t great, but the image of Manning leaving on top was magical.

7. Wide right leads to pain in Buffalo

As the 1980s came to a close, it was becoming pretty clear that the Buffalo Bills were on to something. The club closed out the decade with two straight playoff appearances, and the team’s potent no-huddle offense became kind of a big deal.

The New York Giants also enjoyed the ’80s, with five playoff appearances over the decade. The team won it all in Super Bowl XXI over the Denver Broncos, but they had some trouble getting over the hump after that point.

Following an exciting 1990 NFL season and an equally enjoyable postseason, these were the two teams left standing. The Bills and Giants squared off in Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium with the former installed as 7-point favorites.

For the Giants to have a shot, conventional wisdom suggested they needed to keep the Bills’ offense off the field. That they did as New York controlled time of possession by a 2-1 margin in what turned out to be a tight game.

Buffalo trailed 20-19 with just seconds left. After the Bills drove into range, Scott Norwood stepped up to the plate for a 47-yard field goal, but his attempt sailed wide right. It was a thrilling ending to a great game, and also the first of four straight Super Bowl losses for the Bills.

6. Vinatieri kickstarts the Patriots dynasty

The New England Patriots entered the 2001 season with a sense of optimism, but that quickly went by the wayside. The club lost its first two games, and starting QB Drew Bledsoe went down to injury in the second contest.

Second-year pro Tom Brady was thrust into starting duty. He exceeded expectations, so much so that he kept the job even when Bledsoe was healthy enough to return. The club wrapped up the season with a mark of 11-5 and an AFC East title.

After defeating the Oakland Raiders at home in the Divisional Round, the club traveled to Pittsburgh and stunned the Steelers in the AFC title game. That set up a date with the high-powered St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI at the Superdome in New Orleans.

The Rams were big 14-point favorites as they stepped onto the field, and prevailing wisdom said that the clock was about to strike 12 for Brady and the Patriots. However, New England had a vastly different perception of things.

It was all tied up at 17 near the end of regulation. The Patriots had the ball and a chance to win. They proceeded to march right into field goal range. Adam Vinatieri hit a 48-yard game winner as time expired for a shocking victory that marked the beginning of the New England dynasty.

5. The Philly Special is no longer a cheesesteak

If you’re going to slay the beast and take over as king of the mountain, then there’s a real good chance that you will need to take some risks along the way. Such was the situation at hand for the Philadelphia Eagles as they approached Super Bowl LII.

The game was held at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and Philadelphia entered the festivities as 5.5-point underdogs to the New England Patriots, a team that looked poised to add to its collection of hardware.

The game kicked off, and we were all treated to an entertaining first half. The Eagles found themselves with a 15-12 lead and the ball as time was winding down. Rather than rest on their laurels, it was time to show the Patriots and the world that they were for real.

In what would turn out to be one of the most legendary play calls in Super Bowl history, running back Corey Clement took a direct snap from center. Clement pitched the ball over to Trey Burton, who found QB Nick Foles wide open in the end zone for a score to extend the lead.

Philadelphia would go on to hang on for a 41-33 win. Would it have turned out differently in the absence of the play that came to be known as the Philly Special? We can’t say for certain, but we can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was one of the greatest Super Bowl plays in NFL history.

4. Broadway Joe walks the walk

In the runup to Super Bowl III, the NFL’s Baltimore Colts were widely expected to have their way with the AFL’s New York Jets. Oddsmakers agreed wholeheartedly, to the tune of installing Baltimore as 18-point favorites.

Jets QB Joe Namath was among those who had a different perspective. He boldly and publicly proclaimed New York was going to win the game. For good measure, he added on his personal guarantee of the outcome.

After a scoreless first quarter at the Orange Bowl in Miami, the Jets would strike first. A 4-yard TD run by Matt Snell put the underdogs on top, marking the first time that an AFL team had held a lead over the NFL in the Super Bowl.

New York kept Baltimore off the scoreboard and entered the half with a 7-0 lead. The Jets added on six more points in the third quarter off a pair of field goals, while a goose egg remained on the Colts’ side. Suddenly, Namath’s proclamation wasn’t looking so outlandish.

The Jets would walk off the field with a stunning 16-7 win. The win put the AFL on even footing with the NFL and helped smooth a merger between the rival leagues. Namath took plenty of heat for his prediction prior to the game, but he responded by walking the walk to back it up.

3. Montana really does have ice water in his veins

When the discussion turns to the greatest QBs in the history of the game, it’s not too long before the name Joe Montana comes up. The two-time league MVP and four-time Super Bowl champion was responsible for a ton of iconic moments.

This is the one that perhaps cemented his legacy most of all. The scene was Super Bowl XXIII at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. The San Francisco 49ers were paired with the Cincinnati Bengals with the former entering as a 7-point favorite.

The meeting of a pair of talented offensive teams was expected to result in an entertaining Super Bowl with lots of points posted. However, the game broke much differently than that as the teams entered the halftime break with matching field goals to show for their efforts.

Cincinnati took control in the second half and held a 16-13 lead with just minutes left to play. The 49ers took over on their own 8-yard line and saw lots of field and Bengals defenders standing in their way.

Montana, living up to his Joe Cool nickname, calmly marched the team 92 yards down the field and hit John Taylor for the game-winning score. The drive itself was a thing of beauty and the stuff of legends, and it was all executed to precision by one of the best to ever play QB.

2. Elway helicopters Broncos to victory

When you want something bad enough, to what lengths will you go to achieve it? If your name is John Elway, the answer is whatever it takes. He emphatically proved that to a captivated viewing audience in Super Bowl XXXII.

Elway spent the ’80s and ’90s filling the role of one of the top signal callers in the NFL. However, there was a rather big cloud hanging over him as he entered the twilight phase of his career. As critics were all too happy to argue, he couldn’t win the big one.

There was a valid argument to support that theory. The Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl three times with Elway at the helm, but they were served a cold dish of comeuppance each time. Following the third loss, it would be a while before the team got another crack at the ring.

It was Super Bowl XXXII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Broncos were 11-point underdogs to the Green Bay Packers. Toward the end of the third quarter, the score was tied at 17 all. On third-and-6, Elway took a snap and dropped back to pass, but nothing was there.

Desperate for a first down, Elway took off and launched himself to the marker, where he was met by three Packers defenders. The collision resulted in Elway spinning into a helicopter dive for a first down. Denver scored on the drive and held on for a 31-24 win as Elway finally got his ring.

1. Wait a second — he caught that?

After a mesmerizing 16-0 regular season in 2007, the New England Patriots entered the playoffs as the overwhelming favorites to win it all. They would go on to knock off the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers in the AFC playoffs to advance to Super Bowl XLII.

As they walked on the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, there was one thing standing between the Patriots and a nearly unfathomable 19-0 record and a Super Bowl title. That was the New York Giants, a team that was a huge 12-point underdog.

The two clubs had squared off in the final game of the regular season, with the Patriots escaping with a 38-35 win. New York entered the postseason as a wild card and scored road wins over the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers to advance to the big game.

The Giants weren’t viewed as having much of a chance to win. Eli Manning and David Tyree were in the camp of those who saw things differently. Late in the game, New England was up 14-10. The Giants had the ball and were facing third-and-5 in their own territory.

Manning somehow spun out of a sack and found Tyree, who made a catch that had to be seen to be believed while pinning the ball to his own helmet. A few plays later, a Manning to Plaxico Burress TD gave the Giants an improbable win and vaulted Tyree into Super Bowl lore.

Honorable mentions

As we compiled our list, there were dozens that ultimately didn’t make the final cut. Some of those that came up short also go down as some of the most iconic moments in NFL history. Here’s a trio that fall into that category.

  • The first world championship game: Known retroactively as Super Bowl I, this was the official title for the first meeting of the champions of the rival AFL and NFL, and also the game that started off something truly special. The Green Bay Packers, the team of the decade for the 1960s, marched to a 35-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1967.
  • Dolphins cap off perfect season: There has only been one perfect season that was topped off with a Super Bowl victory. The Miami Dolphins turned the trick with a 14-7 win over Washington in Super Bowl VII. The game itself wasn’t particularly spectacular or thrilling, but there was something truly special about the 1972 Dolphins.
  • That time the Super Bowl went to overtime: The Atlanta Falcons were having their way with the New England Patriots and held a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI. Then Tom Brady and company woke up. The Patriots stormed back to tie, and capped it off with a thrilling game-winning TD from Brady to James White to seal the deal in OT and add more hardware to the trophy case.

Three Super Bowl moments that changed history

While there have been a number of close calls in the Super Bowl, there are also a handful of moments in which the course of NFL history could’ve been altered if things swung the other way. Nope, that’s not hyperbole. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most dramatic Super Bowl moments of all time.

The end zone drop that continued a dynasty

In the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII, the Dallas Cowboys were trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 21-14. Roger Staubach hit an open Jackie Smith in the end zone for the tying score, but he couldn’t haul it in. The Steelers would go on to win the third of four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s with a 35-31 win.

Things would be different in Tennessee with another yard

In the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXIV, the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans were knotted up at 16 apiece. Kurt Warner hit Isaac Bruce for a 78-yard TD to put the Rams on top 23-16. The Titans had their chance to tie it up as Kevin Dyson took a pass from Steve McNair and headed toward the end zone, but he was tackled a yard short.

Did they really call a pass on second and goal?

Just 26 seconds remained in Super Bowl XLIX. The New England Patriots held a 28-24 lead over the Seattle Seahawks, who were at the goal line. On second and goal, the Seahawks called a pass play instead of trying to punch it in. The Patriots read the play perfectly as Malcolm Butler iced the game with an interception of a Russell Wilson pass.

How you can bet on big Super Bowl moments

Before we get down to business, just a quick reminder that you can make the Super Bowl that much more exciting. You can place your wagers legally and safely on the big game in a number of betting states across the nation, and the list of where you can do so will only continue to grow.

You can be up and running to bet online or via a betting app in mere minutes. Just make sure you click on our exclusive links to begin the process. The reward will be even more to cheer about when the Super Bowl rolls around.

Super Bowl prop betting

Props are a big betting feature for regular NFL games, but it goes to a whole other level for the Super Bowl. Sportsbooks release hundreds of choices for you to consider, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something that’ll tickle your fancy. You can make your call on Super Bowl MVP as well as a number of different player performances.

Super Bowl live betting

Once the ball kicks off, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. However, we can bet throughout the game as it’s happening. The live betting market for the Super Bowl will be incredibly active. Calling a TD on the next play and having it come true will lead to plenty of high fives at your big game party, and you can cash in to boot.

For further confirmation on how awesome the Super Bowl is, remember that even casual fans and those who don’t generally follow the NFL get pumped for it. It truly is a special day. Here’s to hoping that the list of greatest ever Super Bowl moments will grow even larger at this year’s edition.

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