According to most Americans, the final game of the National Football League season is the most attention-gathering sporting event on the planet. Naturally, that honor falls on the FIFA World Cup, a tournament watched by billions. But, concerning games happening on North American soil, the Super Bowl undoubtedly takes the cake as the most attention-inducing happening in the sporting arena.
It is hard to articulate to non-Americans the importance of the phenomenon known as the Super Bowl in American culture. To quantify the role it has played since its birth in 1967. With sports betting now becoming legal in most US states and various crazy prop bets for the Super Bowl getting listed at high-end sportsbooks, its popularity will likely surge even more. That much is evident by America’s residents betting close to $8 billion in 2022 on this event.
What follows is a list of the ten most shocking, history-making, and jaw-dropping occurrences that have transpired during the fifty-plus Super Bowl games that have happened so far.
10. Lynn Swann Makes A Leaping Catch
Modern NFL fans probably have never seen the swift and high-leaping Lynn Swann’s catch in Super Bowl X. His acrobatic move featured on NFL highlight reels helped the Steelers regain a lead on the Cowboys in the 1976 game and aided Swan in becoming the first wide receiver to snag the Super Bowl MVP trophy.
9. Vinatieri Starts The Patriots’ Dynasty
In 2002, Adam Vinatieri kicked off the Pats’ dynasty with a stunning 48-yard game-winning kick against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
8. Norwood Misses For The Bills
Described as – Wide Right by sportscaster Al Michaels is a reference to Scott Norwood’s missed 47-yard field goal attempt at the very end of 1991’s Super Bowl XXV. The missed field goal gave the Giants the win over the Bills, and it became synonymous with this early-1990s NFL final, a moment millions of NFL gamblers lost money.
7. Santonio Scores With Seconds To Go
In 2009, a year when Bruce Springsteen performed at Super Bowl XLIII, the Steeler’s Santonio Holmes made an incredible catch for a six-yard touchdown with only thirty-five seconds on the clock to give the pride of Pittsburgh their sixth Bowl trophy as they beat the gritty Cardinals 27 to 23 on that Sunday night.
Though this is not an in-game moment, in 2004, likely the most-discussed occurrence was Janet Jackson’s nipple reveal at the halftime show for Super Bowl XXXVIII, in which the Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29. At that time, this was the most-watched NFL game, with 144 million viewers.
Of course, the first touchdown in the first-ever Super Bowl deserves to be mentioned here. The person responsible for it was Max McGee, the Packer’s wide receiver who wasn’t even supposed to play in the game but caught a 37-yard pass to open it and land a spot in the history books.
The Super Bowl trophy carries the Vince Lombardi name, a person that won the National Football League five times. And he is an undisputed icon of the game, one that gets celebrated half a century following his death. Lombardi nabbed two Super Bowl wins, with his second being the more memorable of the pair, as it was his last game as head coach of the Packers.
After his game-winning interception in Super Bowl XLIX that gave the Patriots the win over the Seahawks, the undrafted rookie from West Alabama, Malcolm Butler, stated that he had a vision before that game that he would make a big play, and it came true. The rookie picked off Russell Wilson in what is, without question, one of the wildest Super Bowl finishes of all time.
Super Bowl XXXIV gets best remembered for its final play, in which St. Louis linebacker Mike Jones stopped Titans’ wide receiver Kevin Dyson just one yard short of the goal line and denied a game-tying touchdown for the Titans in a play that now gets called – The Tackle.
The Helmet Catch is probably the most legendary NFL moment, with David Tyree skillfully completing a leaping catch via a pass from Eli Manning by pinning the football to his helmet as he falls to the ground. It was the highlight of Super Bowl XLII and one that yet has to get surpassed in NFL championship history.
There was likely little doubt in most readers’ minds that something other than the Helmet Catch would earn the top spot on this list. Other moments that failed to cut but are worth a mention are the Patriot’s staggering 2017 comeback and Marcus Allen’s 74-yard run in 1983.