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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments: 40-31

As we get closer and closer to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Banshee Sports continues its countdown of the 50 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments.  Like the first installment, this group contains a mixture of athletic excellence, marketing genius and entertainment.

Without further ado, here are the Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments:  40-31.

40.  Silver and Black Star.  In 1981, the Oakland Raiders won Super Bowl XV, on the strength of Jim Plunker's arm and Rod Martin's defense.  By the time the Raiders faced the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, they had relocated from Oakland to Los Angeles and there was a new star in silver and black.  That star was running back Marcus Allen.  En route to a 38-9 Raiders' victory, Allen rushed for an astounding 191 yards and two touchdowns.  That performance allowed Allen to become the first Heisman Trophy winner to add a Super Bowl MVP award to his trophy collection.

39.  Bud Bowl.  All tolled, there were eight Bud Bowls played between 1989 and 1997.  The first Bud Bowl aired during Super Bowl XXIII.  The contest between Budweiser and Bud Light was announced by Bob Costas and Paul Maguire.  Although two alternate endings were recorded, the official record books record Budweiser defeating Bud Light by a score of 27-24.  Although the novelty of the Bud Bowls quickly wore off after the first few editions, those old enough to remember the original game remember it with fondness.



38.  Scoring Explosion in Super Bowl XXXV.  The New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens are both franchises who are historically remembered for their great defense.  But, when the two teams met in Super Bowl XXXV, it was a special teams explosion in the second half that made this game memorable.  In the third quarter, the Ravens' Duane Starks intercepted Kerry Collins' pass and ran it back for a touchdown.  This TD gave the Ravens a 17-0 lead.  That lead was immediately cut back to ten points when Ron Dixon returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a Giants' touchdown.  The Ravens immediately answered back with a kickoff return of their own for a TD that extended the lead to 24-7.  A Super Bowl record 21 points were scored in that 36-second stretch of game time.

37.  Elway Helicopter.  For folks under the age of 30, it is hard to imagine that the Denver Broncos' John Elway was once considered to be a guy who couldn't win the "big one."  When he took the field for Super Bowl XXXII in against the Green Bay Packers, Elway had no championship rings and had come up short in three prior Super Bowls.  As the third quarter drew to a close, Elway was in the midst of his worst Super Bowl performance to date.  Then the aging 37 year-old quarterback turned back the hands of time with a daring scramble that ended with a vicious hit and Elway helicoptering to the ground to set up a first and goal at the four yard line.  The Broncos would punch it in to take the lead.  Ultimately, the Broncos would need another dramatic drive to win the game in the fourth quarter, but Elway's helicopter was the most iconic moment of his first Super Bowl victory.
  
36.  It's a Touchdown, Holmes.  The Pittsburgh Steelers' victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLVIII has already made one appearance on this countdown.  With all the success in the franchise's history, this game-winning play seems to get short shrift in NFL lore.  Perhaps if Santonio Holmes had gone on to have a Swann-like career in the Steel City then this catch would be more legendary, but based on athletic excellence alone, this play deserves to be remembered.



35.  Denver Disaster.  When Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos onto the field to play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, the possibilities of a story book ending to a storied career were at the forefront of all the sportswriter's minds.  But, for Broncos' fans, what they witnessed was closer to Nightmare on Elm Street than to Cinderella.  The Denver Broncos came into the game as the favorite in Vegas, but the Seahawks defense absolutely manhandled Manning and company to start the game ... and to end the game.  The Seahawks scored 36 points before the Broncos finally got on the scoreboard on the last play of the third quarter.  Seattle won the game by a score of 43-8 to capture their first Super Bowl title.

34.  Buffalo Blunder.  In many ways, the Super Bowl is as much a spectacle as it is a sporting event.  In Super Bowl XXVI, the Buffalo Bills' star running back Thurman Thomas learned this the hard way.  Thomas had a pregame ritual of placing his helmet at the 34-yard line during pregame ceremonies.  Evidently that was of little concern to the production crew at the Metrodome.  In order to make room for Harry Connick to sing the national anthem, someone moved Thomas' helmet without telling him.  The Bills got the ball to start the game, and Thomas missed the opening possession because he could not find his helmet.  The Bills lost to the Redskins by a score of 37-24.  The result of the game certainly cannot be blamed entirely on the missing helmet, but the bizarre nature of this part of the Bills' cursed history is certainly noteworthy.  

33.  U2 Halftime Tribute to 9/11 Victims.  There is a reasonable argument to be made that our nation places too great an emphasis on sporting events.  But, it is undeniable that sporting events can unite and heal a hurting country.  In the wake of 9/11, sports served as a familiar comfort for millions of fans.  During halftime of Super Bowl XXXVI, legendary Irish band U2 added to America's healing with this moving performance.  No further commentary is really needed.



32.  Swann's Super Catch.  A good friend of mine once described football as "the ballet of champions."  Perhaps no other player in NFL history has embodied that description more beautifully that the Pittsburgh Steelers' Lynn Swann.  In Super Bowl X, the Steelers won a dramatic contest against the Cowboys by a score of 21-17.  Lynn Swann was named the MVP of the game, a rare a accomplishment for a wide receiver.  Swann had four catches and scored a touchdown.  Swann's most memorable catch that day was neither his longest play nor a scoring play, but it was one of the most graceful and athletic catches in NFL history.




31.  Lights Out.  Anyone who has ever set foot on Bourbon Street know that weird things can happen in New Orleans.  Super Bowl XLVII in the Louisiana Super Dome was clearly an example.  At the half, the Baltimore Ravens led San Francisco 49ers by a score of 21-6.  The Ravens started the second half by returning the kickoff for a touchdown that extended the lead to 28-6.  Then the lights went out at the Super Dome.  Literally.  After a thirty-four minute delay, the game resumed.  Evidently the extra rest suited the 49ers.  The 49ers mounted a furious comeback and trimmed the lead to 28-23 at the end of the third quarter.  In the end, the Baltimore Ravens held on for a 34-31 victory, but that did not prevent Ray Lewis from publicly declaring that the NFL orchestrated a conspiracy to hand a Super Bowl to San Francisco.  

Moments 50-41
Moments 40-31
Moments 30-21
Moments 20-11
Moments 10-1


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