Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All Time

Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-Time

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

Note: This article was written in 2013. Please accept our apology if another memorable moment since then has happened that is not included on this page.

1. David Tyree (Super Bowl XLII): At 3rd and 5 with a minute and change remaining down 14-10, Tyree made this improbable catch. It would have been unforgettable if it were just a regular season game, but in a Super Bowl–forget about it. Unquestionably, the greatest and most thrilling play in Super Bowl history, Tyree skied high to snag the ball, clinging to it with the ball pressed against his helmet. And the fact that Manning barely got the ball off after escaping a mad pass rush makes it more amazing. And to think, it would be the last ball Tyree ever caught in the NFL. Jeez.

2. James Harrison (Super Bowl XLIII): There are times when players seem overcome by some otherworldly force. Such was the case when Harrison intercepted the ball on the goal line and then channeled his inner Jim Brown as he rampaged the length of the field for a touchdown. Cardinals’ quarterback Kurt Warner made a bad throw, but when Harrison took the ball, it seemed unlikely that he would make much of it. That was before he burst upfield like a missile. Simply incredible.

3. Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII): Another unforgettable image. Roethlisberger’s pass barely escaped the outstretched hands of defenders. Holmes jumped up and somehow grabbed hold of the ball. But the hard part wasn’t over. He still needed to get both feet down and hang onto it as he fell hard to the ground–a tall order considering the spot he was in. The game-winning catch gave the Steelers the win over Arizona, 27-23.

4. Marcus Allen (Super Bowl XVIII): Allen was incredible in this game and no play embodied his dominance more than his 74-yard touchdown romp. He took the ball, but was met with resistance by the vaunted Redskins’ defense. He reversed field and shot up the middle like a lightning bolt, leaving the Skins “D” to wonder what the heck just happened. Allen would run for 191 yards in this game.

5. John Elway (Super Bowl XXXII): Who will ever forget his “Helicopter” play, where Elway showed a total disregard for his well-being, laying out head-first and getting spun around dramatically to convert a crucial 3rd down? It was an infectious play that pumped up the team. Who couldn’t help but be inspired at the old guy putting it all on the line like that. It set up the Broncos for 8-yard touchdown run by Davis.


6. John Riggins (Super Bowl XVII): It was the embodiment of this Redskins team. A huge block flattened a defender, opening up the way for the hard-chugging Riggins to romp down the left side for a 43-yard touchdown run.

7. Desmond Howard (Super Bowl XXXI): New England was hanging in there with Green Bay, but when Howard opened the 4th quarter with a 99-yard kickoff return, it was a dagger in the heart of New England. Howard looked like an Olympic sprinter, as the Super Bowl MVP blew everyone on the field away in an explosive display of speed.

8. Julian Edelman (Super Bowl LI): Down by 8 points with just over two minutes left, the Pats were on their own 36-yard line, looking for a game-tying drive. A pass came in to Edelman, who was surrounded by Atlanta defenders, around the Atlanta 40. It was tipped, before falling into the hands of Edelman, who was on the ground in a game of Twister with the ATL defense, with interlaced limbs everywhere. The ball came out of Edelman’s hands, before he clasped his hands back on the ball a split-second before it hit the ground in as memorable a catch as you can ever see.

9. Jack Squirek (Super Bowl XVIII): It might be pushing it to include two plays from Super Bowl XVIII, but this was a “whoa” moment for those who remember it. The Redskins were still in it and hoping to get some business done on their last drive of the first half. Theismann threw it up and out of nowhere came Jack Squirek, who took it home for six points.

10. Joe Montana (Super Bowl XXIII): There is something just so picturesque about Montana’s 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor. The camera angle, catching Taylor is stride, and the whole sequence is just ultimate Montana and serves as the perfect highlight. It also didn’t hurt that the touchdown pass culminated a 92-yard drive that put the Niners up 20-16 with 34 ticks left.

Honorable Mention:

1. The first play of Super Bowl 48 where the Denver Broncos received a safety. This play seemed to set the tone for a complete defensive shutdown by a young and hungry Seattle Seahawks team.

Jermaine Kearse, Super Bowl XLIX: With a little over a minute left and Seattle needing a touchdown, quarterback Russell Wilson let it fly down the right sideline. New England safety Malcolm Butler tipped the ball, which then rolled along the inset of a befallen Kearse’s legs before popping up in the air. Kearse stabbed at it with his right hand unsuccessfully. It stayed in the air, somehow settling in the receiver’s hands at the 4-yard line. If not for the Patriots winning, this play might have been the greatest of them all.

Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl XLIX: The criticism the Seahawks received for the late play-call received a lion’s share of the attention, but it was the play of safety Malcolm Butler that saved the day for the Patriots in as big an interception as a player can possibly have. With Seattle receiver Ricardo Lockette zeroing in on a short goalline pass by Wilson, Butler snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, stepping in front of Lockette, and physically imposing himself on the game with a great play at just the right time.