Friday, January 31, 2014

Top 10 Super Bowl Games of All Time

Looks like the weather is going to hold up on Sunday, when the Broncos and Seahawks take the field, with reported temperatures climbing over 45 degrees. That is perfect weather for this time of the year, especially in New Jersey. So with the weather becoming less and less of a factor, the attention goes right back to the game itself. But before we preview Super Bowl XLVIII, let's take a trip down memory lane. With Super Bowl XLVIII just days away it is time to take a look back at Super Bowl's past and reflect on some of the greatest games in the history of this championship game.

1) Super Bowl XLII: GIANTS 17, PATRIOTS 14
No Super Bowl has ever had as much on the line and contained as much drama as Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots came into the game undefeated (18-0), and with a win in the Super Bowl, they would have punched their ticket to immortality. As for the Giants, nobody expected them to be there. A team, that earlier in the year was playing for their coach's job, turned it on big time in January. They beat the Bucs, Cowboys and Packers all on the road before heading to Arizona for the Super Bowl.

The game of course was a classic. After the Giants took a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter, the Patriots responded with a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Randy Moss. With time running out on the Giants, Eli Manning heaved the Hail Mary of all Hail Mary's to David Tyree, who trapped the ball with his hand and helmet. The "Helmet Catch" led to the game winning touchdown to Plaxico Burress with :35 to go.

2) Super Bowl XXXII: BRONCOS 31, PACKERS 24
A match-up of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, John Elway vs. Brett Favre. At the time, Favre and the Packers were defending Super Bowl champions, while Denver was still looking for its first ever world championship. At 37, and still gunning for a ring, Elway and Broncos had an incredible evening. Helped out of course by MVP Terrell Davis, the Broncos kept pace with Green Bay in a back and forth affair. Denver finally took the lead when Davis scored a late touchdown, that Green Bay allowed intentionally. With one last gasp Favre drove the Packers to mid field before the drive stalled on fourth down. Elway and Broncos finally had their Super Bowl triumph.


3) Super Bowl XXV: GIANTS 20, BILLS 19 
The Giants were heavy underdogs to the Buffalo Bills, who featured the number 1 offense in football. Yet, Big Blue was able to stymie the Buffalo attack. Still it wasn't easy, the Giants trailed by a score of 12-3 midway through the second quarter. The Giants closed the gap when Jeff Hostetler hit Stephen Baker for a touchdown to make it 12-10. Big Blue eventually took the lead on a Otis Anderson touchdown run.

However, Buffalo came back to take a slim 2-point lead, setting up a dramatic finish. The Giants ate 7:32 off the clock in a 14 play 74 yard drive that culminated in a field goal to make it 20-19. With 2:32 to go the Bills would have one last shot at winning the Super Bowl. They got close, moving the ball all the way to the Giants 29-yard line. With time running out, Buffalo had to kick and put the game in the hands of Scott Norwood. We all know what happened next. Norwood missed. Giants won.

4) Super Bowl XXIII: 49ERS 20, BENGALS 16
In the 1980's and 1990's there weren't too many Super Bowl games that were competitive. Super Bowl XXIII was the exception to the rule. This was the second time the 49ers and Bengals met up in the Big Game, and this one was certainly the better of the two. The Bengals had leads of 13-6 and 16-13, only to watch San Fran come back twice on them. First Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice for a touchdown that tied the game at 13.

After Cincinnati regained the lead 16-13, the 49ers finished the Super Bowl off with an incredible 92-yard scoring drive, culminating in Montana's 10-yard touchdown to John Taylor with seconds remaining in the contest.

5) Super Bowl XIII: STEELERS 35, COWBOYS 31
The first ever rematch in Super Bowl history, and a game that cemented the great championship rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. One team became known as the team of the 70's after this game, the other was better known as America's Team; a franchise with great success under Tom Landry with a pair Super Bowl titles of their own.

This was also the first high scoring Super Bowl of its time, a game that would become a bench mark and preview of what the NFL would become years later. Case in point, this game featured seven touchdown passes, four by Terry Bradshaw, and three by Roger Staubach.

However, this game is probably best remembered for the touchdown catch that wasn't. With Dallas trailing 21-14 in the third quarter, Staubach had Jackie Smith open in the end zone, but the tight end dropped what would have been a touchdown. The Cowboys were forced to settle for a field goal to make it 21-17. Dallas trailed by as much as 35-17, before storming back with two fourth quarter touchdowns to make it 35-31, but that was a close as they would come. What if Smith caught that touchdown?

6) Super Bowl XXXIV: RAMS 23, TITANS 16
A game that started off as a dud, had one hell of a fourth quarter that will forever put it as one of the best Super Bowl's played. The Rams were supposed to be the highest scoring team in the NFL that year, but held a slim 9-0 lead at the half. St. Louis built their lead to 16-0 when Kurt Warner hit Tory Holt for a touchdown.

Then the Titans came to life. Three heroic drives would follow in the second half, led by quarterback Steve McNair and running back eddie George. The Titans tied the Super Bowl at 16 with 2:12 to go. The Rams needed a big play out of their big play offense to avoid overtime, and they got it, when Warner hit Isaac Bruce down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown to take a 23-16 lead.

However with 1:48 to go, it was enough time for McNair to stage one last rally. He pushed the Titans all the way to the Rams 10 yard line. With six seconds to go, NcNair hit Kevin Dyson at the five, but the receiver was  pulled down short of the end zone by a yard, ending the game, and giving the Rams their first Super Bowl title.

7) Super Bowl XLIII: STEELERS 27, CARDINALS 23
For the third time in his career Kurt Warner was going to the Super Bowl, and for the second time he took a once down-trodden franchise to the big game. The Cardinals never knew what a Super Bowl was like until this day, and thanks to a monster touchdown pass and catch between Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, they were minutes away from winning it all.

That was until the Steelers had something to say. Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 78 yards in 8 plays with 2:02 for the winning score. The game winner was a thriller, as Santonio Holmes (yes, Jets fans Santonio Holmes) made an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone for the winning score, handing the Steelers their sixth title, and sending Arizona home empty.

8) Super Bowl X: STEELERS 21, COWBOYS 17 
The original match-up of the Steelers and Cowboys. At its time, was considered the most exciting Super Bowl of the first 10 Championship Games played. While the final score would be laughed at by today's standards -- remember it was 1976. The game was a back and forth tilt that was favoring Dallas, who held a 10-7 lead through three quarters. Pittsburgh would rally with a safety and two field goals to take a 15-10 lead. The Steelers then put the nail in the coffin on a 64-yard touchdown catch by Lynn Swann to the put the game out of reach.

9) Super Bowl XXXVI: PATRIOTS 20, RAMS 17
This was supposed to be the coronation of the St. Louis Rams as the team of the new decade. Instead it was the beginning of another dynasty: the Patriots. While this game is probably best known for spy-gate, as the Rams have claimed over the years that the Patriots were stealing their signals, you can't take away the fact that this game was thriller.

The Patriots were 18-point underdogs, (yes, Tom Brady was an 18-point underdog back in the day), and were expected to roll over for the Rams. It didn't happen. The Patriots held a 17-10 lead, before the Rams tied it late in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady then etched his name into the history books, engineering a final minute drive to set up Adam Vinateiri with a game winning field goal with :04 to go. The Patriots defeated the Rams, and a new era was born in the NFL.

10) Super Bowl III: JETS 16, COLTS 7
Call this a cop out if you will. The game was never close. The Jets dominated this football game for their first and only Super Bowl title. Yet this contest will be remembered for two things. 1) Joe Namath guaranteed New York would win the Super Bowl -- something unheard of at the time, and he delivered, winning game MVP. 2) The Jets victory was a huge lift for the dying AFL. Remember this game was played at a time where the NFL and AFL were two separate leagues. The game issued the merger and the current format of AFC vs. NFC that we have today.


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