The Super Bowl is the grandest of all sporting events, and it has become nothing less than a cultural phenomenon in America. Over the years, some of the greatest players in the sport’s history have taken part and have made some of the most amazing plays along the way. With that in mind, we’re here to take another look at some of the greatest Super Bowl plays of all.
By the time Super Bowl XIX rolled around in 1985, the game had already become a massive event, for casual fans and sports bettors alike. It would only grow in popularity through the ‘80s and ‘90s. And some of the most iconic plays of all took place during that time period.
With that in mind, we’re here to take a look at some of the best Super Blays of all time. In case you missed it, you can find part one here. We’re starting with Super Bowl XIX and ending with Super Bowl XXXVI. And we’re choosing one per year so that nobody gets left out.
Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16
For a while, Dan Marino, in what would turn out to be his only Super Bowl appearance, traded blows with Joe Montana. But Montana’s second-year touchdown pass to Roger Craig gave the lead to San Francisco for good. Craig would catch two scores on the day.
Super Bowl XX: Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10
Armed with one of the best defenses in NFL history, Chicago mauled New England all game long. Adding insult to injury, the Bears handed the ball to defensive lineman William “Refrigerator” Perry late in the game. The one-yard touchdown plunge by The Fridge was the perfect capper to the brash Bears’ superb season.
Super Bowl XXI: New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20
Denver often started their Super Bowl appearances well before stumbling badly. So, it was expected in this one, as New York scored 26 points in a row in one stretch. That span was capped by Phil McConkey catching a touchdown from Phil Simms on a pass that was deflected by intended receiver Mark Bavaro.
Super Bowl XXII: Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10
The Broncos once again came out hot, leading 10-0 at the end of the first quarter. But that’s when Doug Williams coolly dropped an 80-yard bomb to Ricky Sanders. Washington scored the final 42 points of the game.
Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
As was the case seven years before, the Bengals gamely battled San Fran all night long. But Joe Montana, one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time, had the last laugh.
Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 55, Denver Broncos 10
This time around, Denver didn’t even start well. The Niners took their first possession 66 yards, ending with Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice for a 20-yard touchdown pass. From there, it got really ugly for the Broncos, as Rice ended with three touchdown catches.
Super Bowl XXV New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
It is widely regarded as the greatest Super Bowl game ever, one filled with an endless array of big plays. But it will forever go down as the “Wide Right” game. That’s in reference to Bills kicker Scott Norwood, whose potential game-winning field goal from 47 yards out sliced just to the right of the post, giving New York the win.
Super Bowl XXVI: Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24
You could say that the most memorable play in this game was a one-yard run by Bills second-stringer Kenneth Davis on the team’s first play of scrimmage. Why? Because Thurman Thomas, the Buffalo’s star running back, wasn’t on the field because he couldn’t find his helmet, setting the tone for Washington’s eventual comfortable win.
Super Bowl XXVII: Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17
With the game already pretty much decided, Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett picked up a fourth-quarter Buffalo fumble. Seemingly home free for a return touchdown, he started slowing up near the goal line. But despite his team’s huge deficit at the time, Bills’ receiver Don Beebe hustled down the field and knocked the ball out of Lett’s hands for a touchback.
Super Bowl XXVIII: Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13
In this direct rematch from the previous year, Buffalo looked ready to avenge their blowout loss when they went in at half up 13-6. But Thurman Thomas lost a fumble on the Bills’ first possession of the third quarter. Cowboy defensive back James Washington scooped it up and went 48 yards for the game-tying TD, and Dallas would roll from there.
Super Bowl XXIX: San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26
Steve Young wasted little time in his first appearance as the Niners quarterback in a Super Bowl. On the game’s third play from scrimmage, he hit Jerry Rice in stride for a 44-yard touchdown pass. It would be the first of his Super Bowl-record six touchdown passes that night.
Super Bowl XXX: Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
As has happened so many times in Super Bowl play, a tight game was broken open by a defensive play. In this case, Larry Brown’s first of two interceptions of Steeler quarterback Neil O’Donnell set the Cowboys up for a third-quarter touchdown. That put Dallas up by 14 points and they salted the game away from there.
Super Bowl XXXI: Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21
This game was hyped as Brett Favre’s first Super Bowl appearance, and he did throw two touchdowns for the Pack. But his teammate Desmond Howard made the ultimate play in the fourth quarter, when he took a kickoff back 99 yards for a score. That shut down the Patriots comeback hopes for good.
Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
Denver quarterback John Elway had been on the wrong end of three Super Bowl blowouts, and he seemed determined not to have that happen again.
Super Bowl XXXIII: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
John Elway went out on top with his second straight Super Bowl win. And he was part of the key play in this one as well when he launched an 80-yard bomb to Rod Smith for a second-quarter score. It put Denver up 17-3, and the Falcons had no chance after that.
Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
They say football is a game of inches, and this game proved it. With five seconds left, the Titans had one last chance to tie the game from the Ram 10-yard line. Steve McNair completed a pass to Kevin Dyson, but Ram linebacker Mike Jones made a sure tackle of Dyson about a yard of the goal line to preserve the Ram win.
Super Bowl XXXV: Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7
The Ravens defense hounded New York quarterback Kerry Collins from practically the first snap. It culminated when Duane Starks took one of Collins’ passes back 49 yards for a score in the third quarter. New York didn’t score an offensive touchdown all game long.
Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
A back-and-forth game coming down to a field goal is the ultimate test of a kicker. Nobody was better in those situations than kicker Adam Vinatieri. His 48-yard boot as time expired gave the budding Super Bowl dynasty of the Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady, and coach Bill Belichick their first championship.
We hope that NFL sports bettors have enjoyed this second installment of our best Super Bowl plays of all time. If you would like to continue reading, here’s where you can check out the final installment of this series.