As the world prepares to turn its attention to the New England
Patriots and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII, to be
held Feb. 1 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, it may be useful to
consider some unforgettable moments from Super Bowls past.

Laura Wong

15. Return to Greatness, Super Bowl XXXI (1997)

Green Bay Packers receiver and former Michigan star Desmond
Howard accrues 244 total return yards, including a dramatic 99-yard
kickoff return for a touchdown, in becoming the first special teams
player to win game MVP honors. The touchdown return puts the icing
on the cake in the Packers’ 35-21 victory over the New
England Patriots, giving Green Bay its first title in twenty-nine
years.

14. Young But Dangerous, Super Bowl XXIX (1995)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young hurls a 44-yard
touchdown pass to Jerry Rice on the third play of the game, a 49-26
trouncing of the San Diego Chargers. This is the first of a Super
Bowl-record six scoring throws by Young, who yells, “Somebody
take the monkey off my back!” as the clock winds down. The
49ers become the first team to win the Lombardi Trophy five
times.

13. From Humble Beginnings, Super Bowl I (1967)

In the first official “NFL/AFL Championship Game,”
(it will not be known as the Super Bowl until 1969) the Bart
Starr-led Green Bay Packers dominate the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.
The game is the brainchild of NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle (who
has recently achieved the monumental AFL-NFL merger). Television
rights are sold to both NBC and CBS to foster competition for
viewers.

12. Riggins Runs Rampant, Super Bowl XVII (1983)

Trailing the Miami Dolphins, 17-13, with ten minutes remaining,
and facing fourth-and-1 from the Miami 43, Washington Redskins
coach Joe Gibbs runs “70 chip,” a handoff to fullback
John Riggins. Riggins runs left and never looks back as he rumbles
into the end zone, giving the Redskins a lead they will not
relinquish in a 27-17 victory. Riggins finishes with 166 yards and
a place in Super Bowl lore.

11. Golden Boy Gets His Ring (and a First Down), Super Bowl
XXXII (1998)

With the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers tied at 17 nearing
the end of the third quarter, Denver quarterback John Elway rolls
right on third-and-6. He is hit near the first-down marker by LeRoy
Butler and Mark Prior, sending him “helicoptering” into
the air as he barely keeps the drive alive. Broncos running back
Terrell Davis puts Elway and Co. in front with a touchdown two
plays later. The lead will hold up in Denver’s 31-24 win,
giving the aging quarterback and his franchise their first
championship.

10. Hands of Lead, Super Bowl XIII (1979)

Aging Dallas Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith, wide open in the
end zone during the third quarter, lets a perfect touchdown pass
from Roger Staubach slip through his hands against the Pittsburgh
Steelers. The Cowboys kick a field goal and ultimately lose by
four, 35-31, leaving the Dallas faithful to wonder about what might
have been.

9. As Graceful as a Swann, Super Bowl X (1976)

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Lynn Swann puts together one of the
most remarkable individual performances of all time with four
spectacular catches for 161 yards and a touchdown. Swann, with his
elegant leaps, nimble sideline tip-toeing, over-the-shoulder grabs
and dramatic poise, plays an instrumental role in the 21-17
vanquishing of the Dallas Cowboys.

8. Perfection, Super Bowl VII (1973)

The Miami Dolphins cap their perfect 17-0 season with a 14-7
victory over the Washington Redskins in Los Angeles. A dominating
defense, behind safety Jake Scott’s MVP performance (two
interceptions), leads the Dolphins to glory and a record that has
never been equaled. The University of Michigan Marching Band
performs during pre-game and halftime festivities.

7. The Fridge Gets Leftovers, Super Bowl XX (1986)

With the game long out of reach, Chicago Bears defensive
tackle/fullback and fan favorite William “The
Refrigerator” Perry (weighing somewhere between 320 and 350
pounds) takes a one-yard plunge into the end zone to stake the
Bears to a 44-3 lead. The combined efforts of Chicago’s
stifling defense and efficient offense make for an extremely
lopsided 46-10 contest, with the New England Patriots emerging as
losers.

6. Lett Lets Go, Super Bowl XXVII (1993)

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett recovers a fumble late
in the game (one of nine Buffalo Bills turnovers) and lumbers
toward the endzone, showboating as he nears the goal line. Buffalo
wide receiver Don Beebe knocks the ball out of Lett’s
outstretched hand fractions of a second before the touchdown,
maintaining the already-laughable 52-17 score and preventing
further disgrace to the Bills franchise (it is the team’s
third Super Bowl loss in as many tries).

5. Wide Right, Super Bowl XXV (1991)

With just seconds remaining and the New York Giants ahead of the
Buffalo Bills, 20-19, Bills kicker Scott Norwood lines up for a
47-yard field goal to win the game. The attempt, however, sails
wide right, marking the dramatic finish to perhaps the most
infamous Super Bowl of all time.

4. Vinatieri Knocks Off Goliath, Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)

Though the St. Louis Rams are favored by fourteen points heading
into this seemingly mismatched contest with the New England
Patriots, the underdogs use three turnovers (including a 47-yard
interception return for a touchdown by safety and former Michigan
standout Ty Law) and solid play from quarterback Tom Brady to lead
for most of the game. With the score tied, 17-17, New England
drives down the field and kicker Adam Vinatieri nails a 48-yard
field goal for the 20-17 upset as time expires.

3. The Ultimate Three-Minute Drill, Super Bowl XXIII (1989)

Despite convincingly outplaying the Cincinnati Bengals on the
offensive end, the San Francisco 49ers trail 16-13 with just over
three minutes remaining and the ball on their own 8-yard line.
49ers quarterback Joe Montana drives his team 92 yards for the
winning score, hitting receiver John Taylor from ten yards out with
34 seconds left for the 20-16 win.

2. The Longest Yard, Super Bowl XXXIV (2000)

With six seconds left on the clock and trailing the St. Louis
Rams by six points, the Tennessee Titans need ten yards for the
win. Quarterback Steve McNair hits receiver Kevin Dyson, who is
dragged down by Rams linebacker Mike Jones just one yard short of
pay dirt. Time expires and the Rams win, 23-16.

1. Broadway Joe’s Promise, Super Bowl III (1969)

New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath guarantees victory against
the superior Baltimore Colts, 18-point favorites, on the Thursday
before the game. True to his word, Namath leads his team to
victory, 16-7, in an MVP-worthy effort that surprises everybody
except Namath himself.

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