The Super Bowl is coming up, a time when football steps into the ultimate spotlight (though many watch for memorable commercials). There have been some spectacular plays that make these games stand out in our memories, featuring players on both sides of the ball. Here's our Top 15:
Never Ever Give Up... Even Down By 35 Points: Super Bowl XXVII
Most of the plays on here are from winning team players, but this is one who didn't let up despite being on the other side of a lopsided score. Dallas was humiliating Buffalo, 52-17. The Bills were still trying to compete, but the Dallas defense collapsed the pocket, substitute quarterback Frank Reich got hit from behind and the ball was knocked loose. Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett picked up the ball and looked to score unimpeded. Disgusted Buffalo players began walking off the field as the play unfolded. But not Bills wide receiver Don Beebe, who raced about 90 yards to track down Lett just as he was about to cross the goal line. Lett, unaware that he was being followed, decided to showboat by holding the ball out to his side and Beebe knocked the ball out just before he scored. It was a moral victory, as the score remained 52-17.
Allen's Video Game Run: Super Bowl XVIII
There used to be a video game series called Tecmo Bowl and a skilled player could make running the length of the field look easy. Marcus Allen did something like this against Washington. He received a handoff, began running, realized there were no running lanes, doubled back and ran backwards, shedding one tackle. He then reversed course and made a bunch of Redskins tacklers look like idiots as he ran 74 yards en route to the end zone. The game was well out of hand in favor of Oakland, but it was still an amazing Super Bowl play.
The Longest Yard: Super Bow XXXIV
There were six seconds left as St. Louis led Tennessee 23-16. With time for one final snap, the late Steve McNair was able to step and throw a pass to wide receiver Kevin Dyson. There would be no miracle though, as Mike Jones was able to tackle Dyson at an angle before he reached the end zone and hold him as the wide receiver tried to twist and stretch to get the ball across the goal line, where he would be one yard shy. Everybody then breathed again as St. Louis celebrated on the field.
Adam Kickstarts the Dynasty: Super Bowl XXXVI
What you have to understand is that Adam Vinatieri wasn't even supposed to be there at that moment. New England wasn't supposed to beat Oakland. Thanks to Tom Brady and the Tuck rule, they did. They surely were NOT going to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. It happened. OK, they were, without a shadow of a doubt, going to get squashed by the St. Louis Rams, who had what was dubbed "The Greatest Show On Turf." They matched them with physical play and there they stood after Brady coolly led them down the field in a tie game. With seven seconds left, Vinatieri came out to kick what could be the game winning field goal. He was unfazed; he kicked a game-winner against Oakland in a driving snowstorm. One snap later, the ball sailed through the uprights and the New England dynasty was on.
Porter Picks Off Peyton: Super Bowl XLIV
Peyton Manning was supposed to be the smartest quarterback in the NFL. Which is why he must have been so embarrassed at how the Super Bowl ended for him against the Saints. He did his usual pre-snap antics, caught the snap and threw a perfect spiral towards Reggie Wayne. Problem was, Tracy Porter was anticipating the throw, so he stepped in front of it, caught it and ran it back for a back-breaking touchdown. Manning is still stuck on one Super Bowl.
Desmond's Dagger: Super Bowl XXXI
The Patriots were playing the Packers. Green Bay had raced out to an early lead, but New England was trying to make a game of it. Patriots superstar running back Curtis Martin scored to make it 28-21, Green Bay. On the ensuing kickoff, Desmond Howard ran it 99 yards to give the Packers a lead they would not relinquish. The final insult for New England? After the loss, head coach Bill Parcells essentially quit his job after the game and wound up as the head coach of the Jets -- where he then lured away Martin.
By His Tippy-Toes: Super Bowl XLIII
Well before the debacle of joining the Jets, Santonio Holmes made himself a household name in Pittsburgh with his amazing catch to give the Steelers a win over Arizona. The Black and Gold were in the Cardinals' red zone and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lofted a pass into the end zone that just eluded the fingertips of an Arizona defender as Holmes corralled it. Showing amazing body control, Holmes was able to get both feet inbounds, just by the tips of his toes.
Ingram Fights Through: Super Bowl XXV
Of course everyone remembers what happened later: Scott Norwood, "Wide Right." This play was a huge one for the Giants in their quest to upset the juggernaut Bills: Jeff Hostetler threw a pass to Mark Ingram, who then refused to go down, making his way through at least five Buffalo tacklers. Impressive.
Air Elway: Super Bowl XXXII
This was John Elway's last chance to not be seen as a Super Bowl loser, having been on the wrong end of three previous games. He made the most of it, including a game-changing scramble deep in Green Bay territory that saw him being hit so hard he spun in the air like the blades of a helicopter. Elway landed in one piece; Terrell Davis ran it in soon after and ended up a legend.
Taylor Briefly Overshadows Rice: Super Bowl XXIII
John Taylor played in the shadow of Jerry Rice during his career. However, it would be Taylor who hauled in Joe Montana's pass to cap off the 49ers' miracle drive to lead San Francisco past Cincinnati. Rice got the last laugh as the MVP, though.
The Grace of a Swann: Super Bowl X
The Steelers relied on a rough-and-tough defense, but it was an amazing offensive play that helped Pittsburgh win this one. Terry Bradshaw lofted up a pass and Lynn Swann made this catch after having it bobble off his hands. He still had the concentration to track the ball afterwards and catch it while bouncing off a Cowboys defender. Nobody made fun of his name after that.
Devin's Opening Dash: Super Bowl XLI
The lightbulbs were popping as the Indianapolis Colts kicked off to begin the game. Return man Devin Hester caught it and then turned on the jets to run the length of the field for a touchdown. You just KNOW Colts fans at the game got back from the refreshment stands or restrooms and immediately asked, "WHADDYA MEAN WE'RE DOWN 7-0 ALREADY?!"
The Whole 100 Yards: Super Bowl XLIII
Momentum is huge in football, and Arizona looked like it was going to grab it by the throat against Pittsburgh. Kurt Warner engineered a drive that had the Cardinals at the Steelers' goal line with little time left in the second quarter. Warner floated a pass that looked like it could be a touchdown, but Steelers linebacker James Harrison intercepted the ball and proceeded to run the length of the field with what may have been the entire Cardinals team in pursuit. He finally fell into the end zone to give Pittsburgh a cushion that they would later need for Santonio Holmes heroics.
Riggo's Run: Super Bowl XVII
Washington running back John Riggins was known for being a character -- he even told a Supreme Court Justice to "loosen up" -- but there was nothing relaxed about this situation for the Redskins. It was late in the game and they had a 4th-and-1 situation while trailing Miami, 17-13. Quarterback Joe Theismann handed the ball to Riggins, who shed one tackle and then ran the ball in for a Super Bowl-deciding touchdown.
Using His Head: Super Bowl XLII
So much of this play was memorable. My unfiltered thought process as it unfolded: "Uh-oh... the pocket's collapsing in on Eli Manning, looks bad. He's about to be dragged down by Vince Wilfork. WAIT -- he's free! He's throwing the ball! A Giant's trying to catch it... great, he's got Rodney Harrison draped all over him. HE CAUGHT IT! Did he? Wait... the replay is showing he caught it by TRAPPING IT ON HIS HELMET. Who is this guy? David Tyree? Who is he? It's good? I love David Tyree!" While it didn't win the game, it extended the New York possession enough for Manning to throw the game-winning TD to Plaxico Burress and end New England's quest for a perfect season. That was Tyree's last catch in the NFL, but oh what a catch.