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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments: Top 10

The big game is nearly here.  For two weeks, Banshee Sports has been celebrating Super Bowl 50 by counting down the 50 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments.  It is finally time to unveil the top 10 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments.

Wardrobe Malfunction
10.  The Runaway Diesel.  Ten years after the 1972 Dolphins capped off their perfect season by defeating the Redskins in Super Bowl VII, the two teams squared off for a rematch in Super Bowl XVII.  Trailing 17-13 in the fourth quarter, the Redskins faced a fourth and one from the Dolphins' 43-yard line.  Head coach Joe Gibbs chose to go for it.  Quarterback Joe Theismann handed the ball to John Riggins.  The legendary hogs offensive line opened up a hole and The Diesel rumbled forty yards for the go-ahead touchdown.  The Redskins would eventually tack on another score to win the franchise's first Super Bowl by a score of 27-17.

9.  Wardrobe Malfunction.  For dedicated football fans, Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Patriots and the Panthers is best remembered for Adam Vinatieri's game winning field goal with four seconds to play in the game.  But, for most Americans it was Janet Jackson's exposed breast that was the lasting image from this game.  At the end of halftime's final dance sequence, Justin Timberlake placed his hand on Janet Jackson's chest and pulled away the fabric.  We will never know if this was an intentional publicity stunt or whether it was truly a "wardrobe malfunction" as the performers claimed.  We do know that network TV was forever changed by the event.

8.  Montana to Taylor.  The San Francisco 49ers trailed the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13 with just 3:20 remaining in Super Bowl XXIII when they got the ball on their own eight yard line.  Joe Montana proceeded to lead his offense on an 11-play drive that used up nearly all of the remaining time on the clock.  With just 34 seconds remaining, Montana connected with John Taylor on a 10-yard touchdown pass.  The dramatic victory made the 49ers the first NFC team to win three Super Bowl titles.

7.  Going Out on Top.  John Elway had an outstanding career from start to finish, but his legacy changed dramatically in his final two seasons.  In Super Bowl XXXII, Elway got his first ring.  In Super Bowl XXXIII, he became a legend by winning his second championship in the final game of his career.  In this game, Elway didn't just manage his team to a title.  Elway propelled his team to a 34-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons and earned a Super Bowl MVP along the way.

6.  Gulf War Anthem.  Super Bowl XXV in Tampa was special from start to finish.  The game itself was worthy of a top-five place on this countdown, but the historic tone of the game was set at the singing of the National Anthem.  This game was played in January of 1991, shortly after the start of the first Gulf War.  With the nation at war, there was an enhanced sense of danger and heightened security in the stadium that the nation was not accustomed to in the pre-9/11 world.  When Whitney Houston took the stage, there were no bells and no whistles.  Just the purity of her voice and unadulterated patriotism.

5.  Goal Line Interception.  It is hard to put recent events into their proper place in history.  The temptation is always to view those things that are most fresh in our minds as the greatest or the best.  To counteract that tendency, I pushed this moment from Super Bowl XLIX further back on this countdown.  Fortunately, the wise advisors who contributed to the final list put this moment into its proper perspective.  When the Seattle Seahawks had the ball second and goal on the one yard line with 30 seconds to play and a timeout in their pocket, it seemed all but certain that they would punch it in to win their second straight Super Bowl.  But, instead of pounding the ball with Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks called a pass play.  Malcolm Butler, an unheralded Patriots cornerback, stepped in front of Russell Wilson's pass and sealed a victory with a goal line  interception.  Although much of the postgame focus was on the Seahawks' play calling, Butler deserves his due for making one of the great defensive plays in the history of the Super Bowl.

Scott Norwood in despair
4.  Wide Right.  The Buffalo Bills' big game struggles have already made several appearances in this countdown.  The first of the Bills' four consecutive Super Bowl losses came in Super Bowl XXV against the New York Giants.  This game was one of the most heartbreaking losses in Super Bowl history.  As with other fanbases in the Rust Belt, being a Bills fan takes a special kind of dedication.  When Scott Norwood lined up to kick a 47-yard field goal with just seconds remaining in the game, it appeared that Bills fans were finally going to get a reward for all of their devotion.  But, the kick sailed wide right.  The New York Giants won their second Super Bowl in five years, and the Bills started down a path of heartbreak.

3.  Stopped Short.  When you think of NFL history, the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans are not franchises that come immediately to mind.  Nonetheless, when these two teams squared off in Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome, they delivered one of the most dramatic finishes in Super Bowl history.  Kurt Warner and his St. Louis offense were known as "The Greatest Show on Turf," but it was the defense that ultimately sealed the victory for the Rams.  The Tennessee Titans trailed by a score of 23-16, but they had the ball at the 10 yard line with six seconds remaining.  Steve McNair completed a slant pass to Kevin Dyson who was headed towards the end zone.  Then Mike Jones grabbed Dyson and dragged him down inches short of the goal line and a tying score as time expired.  

2.  Namath Guarantee.    The 1966 season was the first season where the NFL champion met the AFL champion in what was to become known as the Super Bowl.  In the early days of the game, the NFC was considered to be the dominant league and winning the title game was deemed to be merely a formality.  The NFC's Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls by convincing margins.  Then Joe Namath boldly declared that his AFC champion New York Jets would win Super Bowl III over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.  Namath was true to his word.  The Jets delivered a 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts and cemented Broadway Joe's place in NFL history. 

1.  A Giant Catch.  We have reached the #1 spot in the Banshee Sports Super Bowl Countdown.    It may seem hard to believe that the top moment in Super Bowl history would have come in the last few years, but David Tyree's "Helmet Catch" in Super Bowl XLII was an example of athletic excellence that truly captured America's imagination.  Heading into Super Bowl XLII, the New England Patriots had a perfect, undefeated record.  The Super Bowl and the New York Giants were the only thing standing between the Patriots and immortality.  And then Eli Manning and David Tyree combined for a super human Super Bowl effort.  The "Helmet Catch" kept the Giants' desperate, final drive alive, and allowed the Giants to clinch a victory in Super Bowl XLII.  It wasn't just the acrobatic catch that made this play special.  It was Manning's scramble and escape.  And, it was the moment and the opponent that elevated this play into the top spot on this Super Bowl countdown.

Moments 20-11
Moments 10-1

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