Yesterday we looked at Super Bowl blowouts, today it’s the fantastic finishes and there have been plenty.
There was a 5-year stretch in the 1980s where the closest margin was 19 points and although we’ve had our share of lopsided games in recent years, we’ve also had some beauties.
Here are 10 of them, starting with perhaps the most dramatic finish, a game-saving tackle on the 1-yard line.
1. Mike Jones Makes ‘The Tackle’
Rams 23, Titans 16 (Super Bowl XXXIV, 2000)
Trailing 23-16, the Titans had the ball at the Rams’ 10-yard line with six seconds to play. Steve McNair threw a pass to Kevin Dyson, but before he could score, Rams’ linebacker Mike Jones made a desperation tackle. Although Dyson stretched the ball towards the goal line, his effort fell short and the Rams won the game.
2. Big Ben Breaks Cardinal Hearts
Steelers 27, Cardinals 23 (Super Bowl XLIII, 2009)
An unbelievable finish. The Cardinals – in their first-ever Super Bowl – took their first lead of the game, 23-20 on a Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald touchdown pass with less than three minutes to play. Ben Roethlisberger then led the Steelers on an 88-yard drive, throwing a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes that had to be looked at in the video booth before being awarded.
3. Wide Right
Giants 20, Bills 19 (Super Bowl XXV,1991)
A sad day for anyone affiliated with the Buffalo Bills, especially kicker Scott Norwood, who missed a 47-yarder (on the broadcast, Al Michaels famously called it ‘wide right’) that would have won the game for Buffalo. The Bills would go on to lose the next three Super Bowls, while Norwood would remain haunted by his blown kick.
4. What Was Pete Carroll Thinking?
Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 (Super Bowl XLIX, 2015)
Seattle fans are still angry about this one. They saw their team build a lead, then lose it to New England, who led 28-24 with two minutes to play. The Seahawks then drove to the Patriots’ 1-yard line, where Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted by Malcolm Butler to preserve the win. Seattle fans to this day blame the coaching staff for not handing the ball to Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch.
5. David Tyree’s Miracle Catch
Giants 17, Patriots 14 (Super Bowl XLII, 2008)
The game is remembered more for David Tyree’s ridiculous helmet catch than the fact that it was one of the Super Bowl’s biggest upsets. The Giants were 14-point underdogs to a New England team that hadn’t lost a game all year. Eli Manning led his team on a last-minute drive that ended with a Plaxico Burress touchdown catch. But it was Tyree’s miraculous grab that kept the drive alive.
6. Brady & Viniatieri Start The Dynasty
Patriots 20, Rams 17 (Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002)
With 1:30 to play, the Rams tied the game on a Kurt Warner to Ricky Proehl touchdown pass. That’s when Brady went to work. With no timeouts left, he drove the Patriots to the Rams’ 30-yard line, setting up Adam Vinatieri for a 48-yard game-winning field goal as time expired, giving the Patriots their first Super Bowl win…the first of many to come.
7. Vinatieri Does It Again
Patriots 32, Panthers 29 (Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2004)
Remarkably similar to the 2002 game, with Ricky Proehl (now playing for Carolina) catching the tying touchdown pass with 1:08 remaining. The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, so the Patriots got the ball at their own 40 and once again, Tom Brady led a clutch drive, setting Adam Vinatieri up for another game-winner, this one from 41 yards out.
8. Montana’s Three Minute Masterpiece
49ers 20, Bengals 16 (Super Bowl XXIII, 1989)
Trailing Cincinnati 16-13 with 3:10 on the clock, Joe Montana led the 49ers on an 11-play, 92-yard drive that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor and a 20-16 San Francisco win.
9. Falcons Fold
Patriots 34, Falcons 28 OT (Super Bowl LI, 2017)
The Falcons had a 21-3 lead at halftime and a 28-9 edge at the end of the third quarter. New England then scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, where Brady led a drive that ended with a touchdown pass to James White. It was one of the biggest collapses in Super Bowl history.
10. Jim O’Brien’s Nerves of Steel
Colts 16, Cowboys 13 (Super Bowl V, 1971)
The closest Super Bowl result until the 1991 game, it was a sloppy, mistake-filled contest with 11 total turnovers. The game-winning field goal was set up by an interception, and when O’Brien calmly slotted the 32-yard kick (a straight-on kick by the way, not ‘soccer style’) the Baltimore Colts had a bit of redemption for their stunning loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III.