The biggest sporting event in the United States is the Super Bowl. The culmination of the NFL season has become a pseudo-holiday for many people around the country. Sure, there are the parties, the food, the commercials, and the halftime shows… but it all comes down to the game and the amazing plays that define it.
Sure, there have been some stinkers in the past, but generally, the two best teams duke it out over four quarters to become the Champion. It’s the most exciting Sunday of the year.
Speaking of when it’s played, where do you fall on the debate of when the game should be played? Sundays, as tradition dictates, or Saturdays so you can recuperate after all the food and beverages consumed? A survey of over 2,000 NFL fans found 48 percent would like to see the big game move to Saturday. That would likely help out the 14 percent of Americans who say they call out “sick” the next day.
As you wait for the Eagles and Chiefs to square off for 2023, you may wonder what the best Super Bowl plays of all time are, and StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites. We put together this list of the most memorable and record-breaking Super Bowl plays of all time below. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The List: Best Super Bowl Plays of All Time, According To Sports Experts
1. David Tyree’s Helmet Catch
This moment during Super Bowl XLII is widely regarded as the best Super Bowl play of all time and the most dramatic catch in football history. This single play wraps up what makes football so great.
The GOAT of catches started with Eli Manning’s trust in Tyree: “The drive’s most memorable play, and arguably the greatest of all time in Super Bowl history, saw Manning somehow escape pressure from the Patriots pass rush and launch the ball downfield on a prayer to David Tyree, who pulled off that catch – a stunning, one-handed grab on the side of his helmet – for a crucial 32-yard pickup on third-and-five,” says Sky Sports.
The microsecond-by-microsecond account is as follows, “As the ball landed in Tyree’s hands, Harrison swiped to knock the ball out. He pulled Tyree’s right arm away from the ball, and the ball moved onto Tyree’s helmet. Tyree still had a light hold with his right hand and pressed the ball into his helmet as he fell to the ground. The ball seemed glued to Tyree’s helmet as he fought to get his hands in a better, more firm position,” points out Bleacher Report.
The NY Post adds, “The Patriots were 1:15 away from completing a perfect season. Then, a miracle changed Super Bowl XLII — and history. After improbably freeing himself from the grasps of multiple New England defenders, Eli Manning heaved the ball downfield and connected with David Tyree, who pressed the ball against his helmet and somehow held onto the ball.”
What’s the most memorable Super Bowl moment you ever saw live?
We’ll start: The David Tyree helmet catch 🔥
— FlashPicks ⚡️ (@flashpicks) February 6, 2023
2. Santonio Holmes’ Picture-Perfect Catch
Much like David Tyree’s catch, wide receivers make some of the most unbelievable plays in the sport. Santonio Holmes’ play was no different, sealing the Steeler’s victory over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
“Santonio Holmes pulled in the Super Bowl MVP award for the Steelers that year, on the back of one of the most outstanding catches ever seen on the game’s most prominent stage. Trailing 23-20 with 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tossed one to the back corner of the end zone, which Holmes was just able to bring in,” according to Sportscasting.com
“This game came down to a final drive by the Steelers that was punctuated with Holmes’ touchdown reception in which he went airborne in the corner of the end zone and managed to keep his feet in bounds after he landed,” says Athlon Sports on the remarkable winning reception.
A thing of beauty, “Holmes reached up with his arms fully stretched above him, and was on his tip-toes about two inches from the back pylon and even closer to the sideline. The ball stuck, and he fell out of bounds. Touchdown,” adds Franchise Sports.
Santonio Holmes incredible game winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIII (2009) pic.twitter.com/woFSmYmH96
— Silence The Critics Sports 🤫 (@STCSports_) October 11, 2022
3. Malcolm Butler’s Goal Line Interception
A play from Super Bowl XLIX that rocks Seattle Seahawks fans to their core. Was it a bad offensive call or an amazing defensive read? Probably a little bit of both.
“Russell Wilson took the snap in the shotgun and fired to his right, as Ricardo Lockette came off a slant behind a pick. It looked like he was going to make the catch and give the Seahawks the lead with 20 seconds left in the Super Bowl. Instead, rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler made one of the greatest defensive plays in NFL history,” says Twinspire Edge.
A perfect read from the rookie, “With Seattle on New England’s one-yard line with a few seconds left, it appeared that the Seahawks would emerge victorious. However, Butler saved the day with a perfect read and an unforgettable interception,” notes Athlon Sports.
“The Seahawks coach foolishly decided to pass from the 1-yard line, instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch, in the closing minute. The decision led to a Malcolm Butler interception that clinched a thrilling 28-24 Patriots’ win in Super Bowl XLIX,” adds the NY Post.
🗓 February 1, 2015:
Malcolm Butler’s interception at the goal line seals a 28-24 Patriots (-1.5) win over the Seahawks at Super Bowl XLIX.
This would be Tom Brady's 4th Super Bowl win.pic.twitter.com/F8KWbUmL6X
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) February 1, 2023
4. The Longest Yard
They say football is a game of inches. Sometimes those inches feel like steel walls that you can’t get through, and Titans fans remember in Super Bowl XXXIV where they were just one yard short.
“At the Rams’ 10-yard line, with six seconds on the clock, quarterback Steve McNair quickly got the ball out of his hands, finding receiver Kevin Dyson at the three-yard line, who seemed set to streak into the endzone. Not so. Rams linebacker Mike Jones came up with a clutch tackle, dropping Dyson short of the goal line and the Rams held on for a stunning win,” explains Sky Sports.
It really was as dramatic as it seems, “Tennessee draws up a play that gets the ball to Kevin Dyson cutting into the end zone—but just as he’s about to break over the goal line, the Rams’ Mike Jones stops the receiver. ONE. YARD. SHORT,” says Men’s Journal.
Bleacher Report adds, “The tackle saved the game for the Rams and left the Titans a mere one yard short of tying the game and having a shot at winning the Super Bowl in overtime. It will go down as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.”
“The longest yard”, 21 years ago today in Super Bowl XXXIV was one of the best endings in sports history!#BovadaSportsHistory #NFL
— Bovada (@BovadaOfficial) January 30, 2021
5. The Philly Special
“You want Philly Philly?” A play that is cast in Philadelphia lore. A trick play that was pulled off by the Super Bowl LII Eagles squad between backup QB Nick Foles and his Coach, Doug Pederson.
The Sportster points out the play’s memorability: “There are very few plays in NFL history that are known simply by their play call name. However, the Philly Special is one of those plays.”
The play was laid out like this, “The Philly special is a trick play in which, while Foles is pretending to adjust the offensive line, undrafted rookie running back Corey Clement takes a direct snap, runs left, and hands it off to the third-string Tight End Trey Burton who then throws it to the wide open QB who had leaked into the flats,” explains Franchise Sports.
“Nick Foles’ suggestion to Doug Pederson they fire up the Philly Special reverse pass resulted in the most memorable trick play in Super Bowl history,” adds Yardbarker.
Five years ago today, The Philly Special was born 🦅
📹: @NFLFilms pic.twitter.com/bOqN7Bl4CC
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 4, 2023
- The Sportster
- Franchise Sports
- Sky Sports
- Men’s Journal
- Bleacher Report
- Twinspire Edge
- Athlon Sports
- NY Post
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