To wrap up the fifth and final playoff edition of Pick-Six, I figured I’d focus on the highlights of the season’s final game to end the series on a high note. One year ago today, we witnessed one of the craziest plays in Super Bowl history by Malcolm Butler, and who knows what we could see this coming Sunday in Santa Clara with the Broncos and Panthers facing off. In that spirit, here are the top six plays in Super Bowl history.
(Note: Some of these video clips are not the best quality due to how dated some of these games are.)
6. Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI
This one is huge for both its immediate and long-term effects. A young and unproven Tom Brady took the field for the Patriots with 1:21 left in regulation in a tied game against one of the most talented teams the NFL had ever seen. Everyone watching expected New England to run down the clock and take the game into overtime, but Brady calmly led one of the best drives in Super Bowl history to set the team up for a game-winning kick with seven seconds left. Enter Adam Vinatieri, who had already hit two clutch field goals in the divisional game against the Raiders, to kick one of the most historic field goals in Super Bowl history. He made it as time expired, giving New England their first Super Bowl win and in the process began one of the biggest dynasties in NFL history. He would do it again two years later, but this kick began it all and propelled the Patriots to the spotlight.
5. Kevin Dyson stopped at the one-yard line by Mike Jones in Super Bowl XXXIV
This play upsets me when I watch it and I’m not even a Titans fan. Kevin Dyson caught a slant pass in the redzone from Titans quarterback Steve McNair, and, with one of the most impressive tackles I’ve ever seen, Rams linebacker Mike Jones singlehandedly saved St. Louis’ Super Bowl win. Tennessee came up one yard short of a Super Bowl win, as time expired and fans were left in shock as to what they had just seen. Like I said, it pains me to watch this and I’m not even a Titans fan, so I can’t imagine how it would feel to go down like that.
4. Mario Manningham catch on the sideline in Super Bowl XLVI
I think this play is very underrated when football fans look back at some of the best plays in Super Bowl history, as it is one of the wildest catches I’ve seen in all the time I’ve been watching the sport. I don’t know what was more impressive between Manningham’s actual catch of the ball, the fact that he kept his feet inbounds, or Eli Manning’s throw to even give him a chance. The play completely jumpstarted the Giants’ comeback hopes with three minutes left in the game, and took the wind out of New England’s sails. The Giants won the game in the end, and Eli Manning can thank Mario Manningham for coming down with the key first play of the game-winning drive.
3. James Harrison’s 100-yard pick six in Super Bowl XLIII
I know the catch by Santonio Holmes in the endzone won the Steelers this game and it very easily could’ve made this list, I personally believe this play was actually more important. James Harrison is a big man, and the idea of him being able to make the catch at the goalline and somehow make it 100 yards without fainting was baffling. A big part of this play’s importance was how it swung the entire game to Pittsburgh’s side. Instead of the Cardinals taking a lead into halftime, Harrison gave his team a key 10-point lead going into the locker room, which they needed to even give Holmes the chance to make his big play late in the fourth. Also, it’s cool to say a pick-six made this week’s Pick-Six, so to any NFL players looking to make these lists, that always helps.
2. Malcolm Butler’s goal line interception in Super Bowl XLIX
It’s funny how history can be changed in the matter of just a minute. The last drive in Super Bowl XLIX went from the Patriots playing solid defense and stopping the strong Seattle defense, to Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse making one of the most incredible catches the game has ever seen and setting Seattle up for a go-ahead touchdown that would’ve won them the game. If Malcolm Butler doesn’t make his play, Kearse’s catch easily makes this list and might even take this number two spot. However, Butler made the biggest defensive stop in Super Bowl history, picking off Russell Wilson’s pass at the goal line to save the win for New England and make a name for himself. As a Patriots fan, I wanted to put this number one on the list, but I think everyone knows what’s about to come next.
1. David Tyree’s helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII
This one stings, but it’s tough to argue against this play. If I wasn’t a Patriots fan, I would’ve loved to watch this play just because of the seismic impact it had in one of the most famous Super Bowls of all-time. It set the tone for the biggest upset the game has ever seen, and is the sole reason New England is unable to say it made history and went 19-0. As if all those crazy facts weren’t enough for you, just look at the catch itself. Patriots safety Rodney Harrison played it almost perfectly, but just couldn’t jar the ball away from Giants receiver David Tyree’s helmet. And as if that wasn’t enough, Eli Manning made an insane recovery to even give the play a chance, as he could’ve been sacked multiple times before making the desperation throw. It was one of those plays you used to watch unfold in a backyard football game, but it just so happened to take place on the NFL’s biggest stage in a now-historic game, and is well-deserving of taking the number one spot on this list.