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5 greatest Super Bowls of all time

By Kevin Hanson, Contributing writer
Published On: Dec 28 2011 10:00:51 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 29 2014 08:15:44 AM MST
Vince Lombardi Trophy Super Bowl Packers Steelers

Brian Snyder / Reuters

An increasing number of people watch the Super Bowl for the diversions surrounding the actual game, such as the pregame show, the halftime show and, of course, those ridiculously overpriced commercials.


This article is for those of you at the Super Bowl party who are actually watching the game, holding in bodily fluids until play is suspended for the latest nauseatingly cute talking baby commercial. It's all about the play on the field, because without that, none of the other stuff would exist.

John Elway at Super Bowl XXXII

No. 5: Super Bowl XXXII - Jan. 25, 1998, in San Diego

In order to truly grasp the significance of this game, you need to remember that until Super Bowl XXXII against the Packers, John Elway and the Denver Broncos had lost three previous Super Bowls, including a 55-10 disgrace against Joe Montana and the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV.

The play: It's a tie game, 17-17, in the third quarter. The Broncos face third-and-six from the Packers' 12. Elway drops back to pass. Finding no one open he decides to run.

A burst of speed reminiscent of his younger days propels Elway toward the first-down marker, but he's on a collision course with Green Bay's LeRoy Butler. Elway dives for the first down; Butler dives for Elway. The ensuing collision launches Elway into a chopper-blade-like spin, but his heroic effort gives the Broncos a first down. They go on to win the game 31-24.

Scott Norwood Buffalo Bills at Super Bowl XXV

No. 4: Super Bowl XXV - Jan. 27, 1991, in Tampa, Fla.

"Wide right," will forever summarize Super Bowl XXV. Imagine you're an NFL kicker, just a pencil-necked geek who couldn't make it in soccer. You pray for the day when you can prove you belonged with the real footballers.

Of course, we have no way of knowing if these were Scott Norwood's thoughts going into Super Bowl XXV, but it makes for a good story, just ask "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective."

It's 1991. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and the Buffalo Bills are in the Super Bowl playing against the New York Giants. It's a close game.

With about two minutes remaining, the Giants lead is only 20-19. Kelly drives the Bills to the Giants' 29. The clock stops with only eight seconds left. Norwood trots out to attempt a 47-yard field goal to give Buffalo its first Super Bowl victory. The snap is good; the kick is up; and it's ... well, you know.

David Tyree New York Giants Super Bowl XLII

No. 3: Super Bowl XLII - Feb. 3, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz.

Franco Harris' dubious catch in a 1972 AFC playoff game is called "The Immaculate Reception" purely because of its dubiousness. However, David Tyree's catch in Super Bowl XLII could also hold that moniker for a different reason.

Back in 2007, the Giants were all that stood between the Patriots and a perfect season -- ending those insufferable 1972 Dolphins' reign as the only undefeated team.

The Pats led 14-10 with 1:15 remaining. It was third-and-five for the Giants inside their 50. Eli Manning dropped back to pass. He squirmed away from three Patriots and flung a prayer downfield. Tyree -- who had only four receptions all season -- answered.

He beat Pats' safety Rodney Harrison to the ball, pinned it against his helmet and kept it off the ground: First down. Plaxico Burress' touchdown catch with 35 seconds left completed the Giants upset and killed New England's perfect season.

Joe Montana San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl XXXIII

No. 2: Super Bowl XXIII - Jan. 22, 1989, in Miami

Super Bowl XXIII will forever be known as the (Joe) Montana-to-(John) Taylor game. The year was 1989. Ickey Woods and the Bengals had "Ickey Shuffled" their way into the Super Bowl, only to face the iconic Montana and the dynasty that was the 49ers in the '80s.

San Francisco had dominated Cincinnati into the fourth quarter, putting up 453 yards to the Bengals' 229. Ickey and his shuffle already seemed kitschy. The scoreboard, however, read 16-13 in favor of the Bengals with only 3:10 remaining.

The Niners offense took possession at their own 8. Legend has it that it was in this nerve-wracking moment that Montana serenely gazed into the stands and wondered aloud, "Hey, Isn't that John Candy?"

Then he orchestrated an 11-play, 92-yard drive, capping it off with the winning touchdown pass to Taylor and leaving only 34 seconds left on the clock. Final score: 49ers 20, Bengals 16.

Joe Namath New York Jets Super Bowl III

No. 1: Super Bowl III - Jan. 12, 1969, in Miami

The history of professional sports is spattered with athletes guaranteeing a victory. Some have come to fruition, some have not.

So it's likely that people rolled up their eyes in unfettered skepticism when Joe Namath predicted that his Jets would defeat the heavily favored Colts in Super Bowl III. His words, however, would prove to be prophetic.

Namath led the Jets to a stunning 16-7 win, giving the AFL its first-ever Super Bowl title and cementing his name in history. Matt Snell rushed for 121 yards that day and the Jets defense had three interceptions in the first half, keeping Baltimore scoreless until late in the fourth quarter.

These performances were paramount to making Namath's prediction come true, but the Jets' quarterback helped himself as well with a stellar performance. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards.

After the game, Broadway Joe jogged off the field with his index finger waving "No.1" in the air.

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