Super Bowl Sunday. The pinnacle of sports excitement. Every mistake or accomplishment that is made throughout the year means absolutely nothing once the Super Bowl kicks off.
Every Super Bowl possesses its own identity. But keep in mind, not every Super Bowl game has been a good one. In fact, there have arguably been just as many bad games as good ones. The team that ends this 2011 season by raising Mr. Lombardi’s trophy will take their place amongst the games greatest. It will remain to be seen, however, if their journey will be filled with impressive moments and specific plays that will live on forever, catapulting them into the upper echelon of Super Bowl match-ups.
In an effort to celebrate the great American game that we have all grown to love, this list reflects back on the five greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history.
1. Super Bowl XXIII – 49ers 20, Bengals 16
The game will forever be remembered as “The Drive” – when Joe Montana showed his brilliance during a fourth-quarter game-winning drive. Down 16-13, San Francisco got the ball on their own 8-yard line with 3:10 on the clock and marched 92 yards down the field in under three minutes. They then scored the winning touchdown orchestrated by a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds remaining in the game. It was the most memorable scoring drive this extravaganza had ever witnessed.
On January 26, 2006, NFL.com ranked this game No. 1 on its list of the Top 10 Super Bowls of All Time.
2. Super Bowl XXII - Redskins 42, Broncos 10
Who could forget Doug Williams? Not only was he the first African-American quarterback to ever start and win a Super Bowl, but he also became the first player in Super Bowl history to pass for four touchdowns in a single quarter, and throw four in a half.
Williams guided a Washington team trailing by 10 points in the first quarter, to scoring 35 points in the second to clinch the lead. No other Super Bowl team has ever matched that number of points in a single quarter. Needless to say, Williams finished as the Super Bowl MVP.
3. Super Bowl XLIII – Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
After the Cardinals gave up 10 points early in the game, it appeared to most fans that this would be a blowout. However, after a number of big plays, crucial calls, and instant replay reviews, the Cardinals managed to keep the game close. They were on track to secure the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Down 23-20 in the final minutes, Pittsburgh wide receiver Santonio Holmes made an amazing touchdown reception over THREE Arizona defenders in the final minute for the Steelers’ win.
During the play, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger froze the defense with a pump fake and later found Holmes in the corner of the end zone.
4. Super Bowl XLII – Giants 17, Patriots 14
Before Super Bowl XLII, not too many fans were familiar with New York Giants receiver David Tyree. Tyree had a mere four catches during the regular season and only one in the Playoffs. Tyree had three catches in the Super Bowl, including one for a touchdown. The one that made him a national sensation, however, is the 32-yarder on a third-and-5 play with 1:15 to play and the Giants trailing the then-unbeaten Patriots 14-10. In the play that has become known as “The Helmet Catch”, Tyree leapt, got his hands on the ball, then pinned it against his helmet, first with one hand and then the other. All the while, Harrison was pulling Tyree to the ground by the arm.
However, "The Helmet Catch" was just part of what made this game great. The New England Patriots entered the game undefeated and seemed to be on their way to immortality.
The Giants’ victory in this enthralling contest ended the Patriots' unbeaten run and prevented them from becoming the first NFL team to go 19-0 for the season.
5. Super Bowl XLIV - New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
Sure, it's the players that win games, but opposing teams should never underestimate the brains on the sidelines. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton knew that he would need the odd trick up his sleeve if he was to organize an unlikely victory against the Indianapolis Colts. His brazen decision to start the second half with an onside kick began the Saints’ astonishing comeback.
Late in the fourth quarter, as the Colts were driving for the tying touchdown, Saints cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted a Peyton Manning pass and raced 74 yards for the score that would decide the game.
Having been down 10 points in the first quarter, the Saints tied a record for the biggest comeback win in Super Bowl history, and their 25 points in the second half became the fourth highest total.