Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Plays in Super Bowl History: Patrick Mahomes’ Game-Winning TD Pass in OT Cracks List

The Super Bowl is synonymous with many things, including the national anthem, halftime entertainment, commercials and, of course, food. When it comes to the actual game, big plays have played an integral role in making the Super Bowl the massive event it is today.

Many big plays have been made in Super Bowls that helped change the course of history. Those plays include Max McGee’s one-handed catch in Super Bowl I, Jim O’Brien’s game-winning field goal in Super Bowl V, Lynn Swann’s levitating leap in Super Bowl X and, in recent years, Donta Hightower’s strip-sack that started the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Helped to do.

As great as each of those plays were, they didn’t crack my list of the top 10 plays in Super Bowl history. The plays below have done that, but first, here’s a look at the criteria I used when putting this list together.

  • The real greatness of the play
  • Impact on the outcome of the game
  • A lasting legacy

Honorable Mention: Mark Ingram, Super Bowl XXV

Ingram’s Herculean efforts are largely forgotten, but not here. It came in a contest that was decided by one point, so it’s safe to say the Giants would have lost the game if not for Ingram’s 14-yard gain on a third-and-13 play midway through the third quarter.

Ingram caught the ball 7 yards from the marker. He broke four tackles before launching himself into the sticks to give the Giants a first down. Otis Anderson gave Big Blue the lead five plays later.

Buffalo regained the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Giants responded with what turned out to be the game-winning field goal. New York then exhaled when Buffalo attempted its game-winning, 47-yard field goal with just seconds left.

9. John Stallworth, Super Bowl XIV

Champions three of the last five years, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in serious danger of being upset by a Rams squad entering the fourth quarter. They trail 19-17. Lynn Swann was injured and is no longer in the game. Pittsburgh’s formidable running game was nowhere to be found and Terry Bradshaw had already thrown three interceptions.

However, one play changed everything. Facing third-and-8 from his own 27, Steelers coach Chuck Noll instructed Bradshaw to throw a deep pass to Stallworth that Bradshaw had had no success with during practice that week. Undaunted, Bradshaw called the play, then executed it to perfection. He picked off a perfectly thrown pass to Stallworth, who caught it on Rod Perry’s outstretched arm before running the rest of the way to pay the dirt.

The 73-yard score gave Pittsburgh the lead for good.

Sure enough, the Patriots had already started their comeback when Edelman made the catch at his fingertips. The catch, however, was the moment when I, and probably millions of others, came to the conclusion that New England was about to accomplish the impossible.

Down 28-3 early in the half, the Patriots cut their deficit to 28-20 when Brady lofted a pass to Edelman with 2:28 left. A pass was made before Edelman managed to corral the ball before it had a chance to hit the turf.

Edelman’s incredible catch set up the Patriots’ game-tying touchdown. New England completed a historic comeback in the first Super Bowl decided in overtime.

7. John Riggins, XVII

Super Bowls have had longer, flashier runs. But no one had an impact on Riggins’ 43-yard touchdown run that gave Washington the lead for good over Miami.

Locked in a defensive battle, Joe Gibbs decided to face a fourth-and-1 when his team was down 17-13 with 10:28 remaining. Because of the design of the play, Riggins knew he would have a one-on-one matchup with the defensive back, who would be the only man standing between him and the first down.

As you can see below, Riggins won the matchup with Dolphins cornerback Don McNeil, who then watched helplessly as Riggins ran toward the end zone and into the history books. The touchdown (which at the time was the longest touchdown run in Super Bowl history) punctuated an MVP performance for Riggins, whose 38 carries on the day held a Super Bowl record.

6. Mike Jones, Super Bowl XXXIV

Jones came up with a game-saving tackle on one of the most intense moments in Super Bowl history. Down 16-0 at one point, the Titans stormed back to tie the score, only to see Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce return on a 73-yard touchdown run to give the Rams the lead again.

Tennessee, led by the indomitable will of quarterback Steve McNair, drove furiously to the Rams’ 10-yard line with the game clock ticking down. On the final play of regulation, McNair threw a dart at Kevin Dyson, who would have had an easy path had Jones taken the bait and followed closely behind Frank Wychek, who ran past him in an attempt to clear the middle. Field for Dyson.

Jones started to follow Wychek, but turned back at the last second to see what was happening. He turned and tackled Dyson 1 yard short of the end zone, preserving the Rams’ 23–16 win.

5. John Elway, Super Bowl XXXII

After coming out in his previous three Super Bowls, Elway was just hoping that Super Bowl XXXII would still be up for grabs deep into the second half. It was, and Elway took advantage by making the play that set up one of the all-time Super Bowl upsets.

With the score tied late in the third quarter and facing a third-and-6, Elway dropped back and couldn’t find anyone open. As he had done hundreds of times before, Elway took off, but his running lane was quickly swamped by several Packers defenders. Elway, however, was determined to get the sticks. He got there, but first he had to leave the Packers defense.

Elway absorbed several hits that resulted in his body literally spinning in the air before he landed back on earth. When he did, he overtook the first-down marker and the Broncos were in position to regain the lead over the favored Packers.

The jump not only helped give Denver the lead, it gave the Broncos momentum they wouldn’t relinquish. The Broncos eventually won 31–24, knocking off the Packers while ending the NFC’s 13-year Super Bowl winning streak.

5. Patrick Mahomes, Super Bowl LVIII

Well, it wasn’t a crazy play, but it was notable in that it ended the longest Super Bowl run of all time. It also put an exclamation point on the Chiefs’ dynasty while ending the NFL’s 19-year drought without a repeat champion.

The play featured the brilliance of Mahomes, who immobilized Fred Warner before throwing the ball to McCall Hardman, who slipped under the 49ers’ defense before hauling in the historic touchdown.

4. David Tyree, Super Bowl XLII

It might be No. 4, but Tyree’s catch might be the most jaw-dropping play in Super Bowl history. His helmet catch came at a critical juncture in helping the Giants upset the previously undefeated Patriots.

It was a great play by both Tyree and Eli Manning. Manning somehow managed to avoid several Patriots pass rushers before unloading the ball downfield giving Tyree a chance to make a play. Tyree made the most of that opportunity.

Adding to the importance of the catch was the fact that it was on a third-and-5 play. If things had gone differently, the Super Bowl — and the Patriots’ date with destiny — would have come on a fourth down play.

Manning didn’t let Tyree’s catch go to waste. He hit Plexico Buress for the game-winning score moments later, as New York led 17–14.

This is the first of two Super Bowl plays that cracked the list. Holmes capped off his MVP performance with a spectacular, fingertip catch in the back of the end zone that gave the Steelers a 27-23 win over the Cardinals. What makes Holmes’ catch even more impressive is that he somehow managed to keep both his feet in bounds.

It was also a fantastic play by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who displayed his always-dangerous pump fake before pointing out Holmes’ route and throwing the ball to a spot where only Holmes could get it. The fact that Roethlisberger attempted such a risky throw is notable given that the Steelers were only down by three points at the time.

The play helped the Steelers become the first franchise to win six Super Bowls.

Harrison’s pick is epic for many reasons, one of which is that it is the longest pick six in Super Bowl history. Harrison’s 100-yard return is also notable in that he needed help from each of his 10 teammates to reach the opposing end zone. This play embodies the unselfish and determined attitude of one of the NFL’s all-time great defenses.

It was also a great individual play by Harrison, who dropped back into coverage before catching Kurt Warner’s pass and immediately heading downfield.

Harrison’s pick six didn’t decide the outcome, but it was a huge point swing before halftime. Instead of possibly trailing 14-10, the Steelers took a 17-7 lead into intermission.

1. Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl XLIX

I can already hear the boos from Pittsburgh. Yes, Harrison’s play was probably the greatest single play in Super Bowl history. But Butler’s play decided the outcome, which is why he sits at No. 1.

It was also an incredible play by Butler, whose perfect anticipation of Russell Wilson’s pass resulted in him jumping the route and making the game-winning interception.

From a legacy standpoint, Butler’s selection prevented the Seahawks from joining an elite company of teams that have won back-to-back titles. However, it did seal the fourth Super Bowl win during the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era and the first in 10 years.

It is also the most controversial play in Super Bowl history. Seahawks fans are still wondering why Seattle didn’t just give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who would have certainly gotten the yardage the Seahawks needed to repeat as champs.

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