Toodles, Miss Aguilera. Thank you for joining us on Adrian Hasenmayer's VIP list of all-time Super Bowl chokes, blunders and embarrassing moments.
Super Bowl XLV - Star-bungled banner
Was she a jinx? Pittsburgh fans may get that feeling after witnessing the unthinkable — the talented Christina Aguilera actually botching a line from the national anthem before the game. This is a singer who has been performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in public since age 7. And even better, she has done the song proud several times in her youth at Pittsburgh Penguins, Pirates and (you guessed it) Steelers games. This night, her flub foreshadowed a sloppy Steelers loss.
Super Bowl VII - The ultimate football folly
The 1972 Dolphins are the only team ever to end the regular season and playoffs unbeaten and untied. However, their kicker stole the show with one of football's enduring bloopers. In cruise control up 14-0 in the fourth quarter vs. the Redskins, Miami kicker Garo Yepremian (No. 1) lined up for a simple field goal to ice the game. His kick was blocked into his panicked hands, so the undersized kicker feebly tried to pass. Only the ball slipped from his hands into those of Washington's Mike Bass (No. 41) — who ran for a TD to cut Miami's lead in half with 2:07 left. Miami ran out the clock to finish 17-0, saving its poor kicker major grief.
Super Bowl XL - Choke on this, ref!
Ben Roethlisberger's first Super Bowl win came with help from the beleaguered officiating crew. It was a tough day for the zebras (we'll allow them to remain anonymous), who botched several key calls — whiffing on Big Ben's phantom go-ahead TD plunge in the second quarter (one replays showed he clearly never deserved), nullifying a late catch by TE Jeremy Stevens with a ghost penalty (taking away field position inside Pittsburgh's 5-yard line) and whistling Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck on a mysterious personal foul during an INT return, leaving fans sleepless in Seattle.
Super Bowl XXVII - Leon Lett's premature celebration
It didn't change the outcome by a long shot, instead only the reputation of Cowboys Pro Bowl defensive lineman Leon Lett. With Dallas en route to a dominating 52-17 rout of the Bills, Lett (No. 78) grabbed a fourth-quarter fumble and headed unchallenged for a long return for a certain TD ... that is, until Lett slowed down to celebrate (or gloat, depending on your point of view) around the Bills' 5-yard-line. What Lett didn't know was that Buffalo WR Don Beebe (pictured) hustled from the other side of the field and batted the ball from Lett's big paw, turning a TD into a touchback and entertaining the remaining masses worldwide.
Super Bowl XXXVIII - Footing the loss
Sometimes the little things can come back to kick you in the backside. Ask Panthers kicker Jon Kasay. He may be Carolina's all-time scoring leader, but at the end of Super Bowl XXXVIII Kasay made a mistake that may have cost his team a chance at a title. After Carolina had just scored a thrilling game-tying TD, knotting the score 29-29, Kasay made a major kickoff boo-boo — booting the ball out of bounds, giving Tom Brady's Patriots excellent field position at their 40 with just over a minute left. Tommy Boy coolly led the Pats into field-goal range, giving Kasay's counterpart Adam Vinatieri a game-winning 41-yarder that left the Panthers kicking themselves.
Super Bowl XIII - Jackie Smith drops the ball
With the Steelers and Cowboys trading TDs and leads in a wild first half, it seemed the first offense to blink would be the Super Bowl loser. Enter tight end Jackie Smith (pictured). On the Cowboys' opening drive of the second half with Dallas down 21-14, QB Roger Staubach again marched "America's Team" downfield against Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" defense. But on a critical third down deep in Steelers territory, Staubach laid a perfect pass into the belly of the sliding Smith — who inexplicably dropped a pass most Americans of any age could catch. Smith (an eventual Hall of Famer) reacted in obvious horror, and having to settle for the field goal Dallas never regained the lead in a 35-31 loss.
Super Bowl XXXIX - Cry, Eagles, cry!
Freddie Mitchell, who dubbed himself "FredEx" because he "always delivers," couldn't back his Super Bowl week smack directed at no-nonsense safety Rodney Harrison, one of the NFL's toughest hitters. The intense Harrison fed off the jibberish, taunted Mitchell constantly and even caught more passes from Philly QB Donovan McNabb (two INTs vs. Mitchell's one catch). Mitchell was cut in the offseason and never played another NFL down. As for McNabb, Philly trailed 24-14 late in the fourth quarter. Needing two scores, McNabb's Eagles performed the least hurried hurry-up offense seen in a big game, leaving the QB to fend off rumors that he heaved in the huddle.
Super Bowl XXV - Scott Norwood, wide right
Everyone knows the story too well — especially in northern New York. With the high-powered Bills hustling downfield for one final go-ahead score against the Giants, Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas got the Bills into position for a potential game-winning field goal by reliable kicker Scott Norwood (pictured, No. 11). But with just seconds left, Norwood's 47-yard kick sailed wide right, robbing Kelly, Thomas and the rest of the four-time Super Bowl losers their best chance to win a championship. Norwood would redeem himself the next year with a big field goal in the AFC title game, but does anyone remember that?
Super Bowl XXVII - Thomas doesn't walk the walk
Before Super Bowl XXVI Bills star RB Thurman Thomas was openly complaining that he was not getting enough publicity — then went out and rushed for only 13 yards (after, of course, famously misplacing his helmet as the game began). As bad as that was, Super Bowl XXVII may have been even worse for Thomas because of who he was playing against. In a head-to-head matchup with Emmitt Smith, Thomas was outrushed 108 yards to 19 in a Bills' blowout loss to the Cowboys, and pretty much gave up any claim to being the league's elite runner.
Super Bowl XXX - Neil in agony
The Steelers were poised to take a third-quarter lead over the heavily-favored Cowboys when Steelers QB Neil O'Donnell (the NFL's all-time leader in fewest INTs per pass attempt) began giving away footballs like Thanksgiving turkeys. The lucky guy? Unknown DB Larry Brown, the only man in sight for a horrible, game-changing INT. The pick set up an easy Dallas TD to make the score 20-7. Late in the game with the Steelers again driving, O'Donnell found Brown for a second time, again with nobody in the same ZIP code, as the pick led to Dallas' game-clinching TD. The cherry on top: The poor passer threw one more pick on the game's final play. — Adrian Hasenmayer