Groundhog Day 2017: 10 Super Bowl Moments We Want to Re-Live
Groundhog Day has become more synonymous with re-living things than anything else. Which Super Bowl moments do we wish we could see again?
The Super Bowl is less than one week away. All of the excitement, the fanfare, the commercials, Lady Gaga at halftime, and everything else that goes with it is rapidly approaching. Families get together all across this nation to reminisce, eat, drink, and fill out gambling pools. Oh yes, and to watch the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots for the right to call themselves. Champions.
Today, however, we take a walk through memory lane. After all, that’s what Groundhog Day is for thanks to Bill Murray. Who cares about six more weeks of winter when you can talk about the great moments of the past and re-living them—especially when those moments are Super Bowl related.
You know what’s great about Super Bowls gone by? The moments. Those timeless moments that live on forever. No matter when you starting watching the big game, you have those plays of significance for you. They may have happened for your team, they may have stuck with you as a football fanatic. But they are there, and they always will be there.
Here we are going to countdown through history. Specifically, we are counting backwards through the top ten moments in Super Bowl history that we want to relive. Let’s get right to it
10. Bart Starr Throws First Touchdown
We all remember firsts in our lives: our first kiss, first love, first house and so on. At No. 10 we remember the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.
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The location was the Los Angeles Coliseum, and since the NFL hadn’t merged with the AFL yet, it was known as the AFL-NFL World Championship game. Tickets were $12, it wasn’t a sellout, and it was the only one to be broadcast on two networks. That’s right, both NBC and CBS televised the game, since NBC held AFL game rights and CBS held NFL game rights.
The first score in the history of the big game came on the second drive. (Check out an archived version of the play by play here). After driving into Kansas City territory, the Packers faced a third and three for the Chiefs 37. Quarterback Bart Starr dropped back to pass and found Max McGee over the middle to put the Packers up 7-0.
Green Bay won the game 35-10. Below are highlights from the game, starting with the touchdown to McGee.
9. Dan Bunz – “The Stop”
Here’s one for the older crowd: Bill Walsh took over the 49ers in 1979 after the team had finished 2-14. In only his third season, he completed the improbable turnaround and led the Niners to their first Super Bowl appearance. With his young quarterback, some guy named Joe Montana, they went to the Pontiac Silverdome to take on the Cincinnati Bengals.
The first half saw San Francisco go up 20-0, but the Bengals wouldn’t go away. They scored on the first drive of the second half to make the score 20-7 and were driving late in the third quarter. The Bengals drove the ball all the way to the San Francisco three yard line. From here came the most epic goal-line stand in Super Bowl history, which included two stops on the 1-yard line. Here we have the stop made by linebacker Dan Bunz.
Third down was the play that stood out. Ken Anderson dropped back to pass and hit Charles Alexander in the right flat. It would have been a touchdown, but linebacker Dan Bunz had other ideas. He stood him up just outside the goal line, making it fourth down. They couldn’t get in on fourth and goal either, leaving the 49ers with a huge boost in momentum. Montana and company went on to win and become the team of the 1980s.
8. John Riggins – “70-Chip”
Super Bowl XVII came in January 1983, and at the end of a strike-shortened 1982 season. Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins took on Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins. It was a back and forth game that went into halftime with Miami holding a 17-10 lead. The second half was all Washington, as they started a furious comeback with a Mark Moseley third quarter field goal.
The Dolphins held a 17-13 lead as the game entered the fourth quarter. With a little more than ten minutes left in the contest, the ‘Skins faced a fourth and one from the Dolphins 43. We all know that is the area of confusion. It’s too far for a field goal, but punting the football might only net twenty yards if it goes into the end zone. What if you punt, and Miami scores again? What do you do?
Joe Gibbs decided to trust his bell cow John Riggins, behind the offensive line known as the “Hogs.” They called the play that came to be known as “70-Chip.” Riggins took the ball off of the left side, broke through an early tackle and took it to the house, putting the Redskins away to stay. The Redskins take home the championship, and Riggins is the MVP with 166 yards rushing. The play is one of the iconic plays in Super Bowl history.
7. Elway Goes Airborne
As great of a regular season quarterback as he was, John Elway ran into bad matchups in three previous attempts at the Lombardi Trophy. He was beaten by increasing deficits by the Giants, the Redskins, and the biggest being a 55-10 loss to the 49ers. At 37 years old in 1997, everyone knew that Elway was in the twilight of his career. Getting him a title was on everybody’s mind.
The Broncos headed into this game on a mission. In he third quarter with the game tied at 17, Elway gave us the iconic moment that stayed with us for many years after. On third and six from the Packers 12, Elway scrambles after not finding an open receiver. At the end of the play, he takes a hit from safety LeRoy Butler that sends him flying through the air. He picks up the first down and comes up pumping his fists. Take a look at the play:
The Broncos won, and it ended with Pat Bowlen’s famous quote, “This one’s for John!” While it may have been for John, the famous Denver quarterback and current executive did more than his part to make it happen, this play being the first bit of evidence. What a great night in the history of the NFL for an iconic player.
6. Kevin Dyson Comes Up One Yard Short
The number six choice comes from the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV. Following the 1999 season, Dick Vermeil brought his “Greatest Show on Turf” offense with the Saint Louis Rams to face Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans. Vermeil was widely known as one of the most likeable coaches in the game, and many thought that the explosive Rams offense would walk away with the title rather easily.
For a good portion of the game, that is exactly what happened. A third quarter touchdown from Kurt Warner to Torry Holt put the Rams up 16-0. It wasn’t until late in the quarter when Eddie George ran a touchdown in to make the score 16-6 as the third quarter arrived.
The Titans fought back to a 16-16 tie just before the two-minute warning. Al Del Greco hit a 43 yard field goal that brought the game even. On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Warner hit Isaac Bruce to put the Rams back up by seven.
Then, the Titans took over with 1:48 left. McNair and company went on a nine-play romp that left them at the Rams 10 yard line with :06 seconds left. On the final play, McNair hits Kevin Dyson running a slant from the right side. Unfortunately for Titans fans, Dyson is stopped at the one, and all we are left with is the image of him attempting to stretch the ball over the goal line. A great moment for one side, sad for the other, but an iconic image nonetheless.
5. Marcus Allen Reverses Field and Takes it Home
Jan. 23, 1984 was the date of our next moment, Super Bowl XVIII. The Los Angeles Raiders took on the Washington Redskins. For our younger readers, the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles prior to the 1982 season, so this was only their second season in the glamour of L.A. Al Davis had to fight for the right to move in court, so an underlying plot was Al Davis receiving the trophy from commissioner Pete Rozelle if the Raiders won.
Win they did. “Just Win Baby” was Al Davis’ mantra, and the Raiders beat up the Redskins by the score of 38-9. Our moment came at the end of the third quarter. It’s not that the game was tight, it’s that this run was just so great to watch. The Raiders took over from their own 26 yard line after the Redskins turned the ball over on downs. On first down, Jim Plunkett handed the ball to future Hall of Famer Marcus Allen. The play was designed to go off of the left side, but the Redskins were there to stop it. Allen reversed his field and…just made everyone look silly.
74 yards later the run is a thing of beauty and a touchdown for the Raiders. Allen finished the game with 191 yards and two touchdowns, earning him the MVP award. He also gave us our No. 5 moment.
4. David Tyree Helmet Catch
There is a faction of the country that will hate this choice at number four, and a different faction that will love it.
Super Bowl XLII was the scene for the matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The Patriots were favored in this one and were looking to complete the first undefeated season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. This was one of those matchups, though, where the upset was always a possibility. Michael Strahan and that pass rush were the formula to getting Tom Brady off of his game. Add the Boston vs. New York element to it, and this one was set up to be a night to remember.
And it was a back and forth game. Let’s go to the fourth quarter. The Giants took over on their 17 with 2:39 left to play. They had moved the ball up to their own 44 and were faced with a third and five. Eli Manning took the snap, somehow avoided the pass rush and heaved a desperate pass in the direction of David Tyree and Rodney Harrison. Everybody knows what happened next.
How Tyree hung onto that place we will never know. Four plays later, Manning hit Plaxico Burress from 13 yards out for a score, giving the Giants the win and ending the Patriots undefeated season. This play will linger on in our memories for a lifetime.
3. Malcolm Butler Saves the Day
Nobody can say I don’t give equal time to Patriots fans. Here is your moment at number three.
This truly was a memorable moment, and it was just a couple of years ago. Super Bowl XLIX faced off two great coaches in Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. The Patriots were looking to “Do Their Job” and bring home another title, while the Seahawks were looking for back to back Lombardi trophies after destroying Denver one year earlier. There were plenty of storylines. Russell Wilson vs. Tom Brady, the new generation vs the old was one. Darrelle Revis was finally in a position to win his coveted Super Bowl title, and these were just two storylines.
The game lived up to its billing, staying tight right up until the end. It went back and forth, with New England taking a three-point lead with a little over two minutes left. The Seahawks took the ensuing drive all the way down to the Patriots one yard line. It was second and goal to go. With Marshawn “Beastmode” Lynch, the Seahawks were going to power it in and take home the championship, right? Not exactly. Butler made the pick and sent the Seahawks home questioning Pete Carroll angrily.
2. Scott Norwood – “Wide Right”
Here is a moment that is ingrained in the memory of football fans from western New York.
The 25th edition of the big game pitted the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants. The Giants were looking for their second Super Bowl title, and the Bills were starting what would be four straight trips to the big game. Their high-powered “K-Gun” offense was set to be a big test for Lawrence Taylor and the New York Giants. That defense was directed by some guy named Bill Belichick, for our younger audience that might not be aware.
The Giants game plan was to slow the Bills air attack down. Thurman Thomas was allowed to run wild, and he did to the tune of 135 yards. In return, however, the Giants were physical with the Bills receivers in order to keep them from running away with the game. On offense, New York kept the ball away from Jim Kelly and the Bills. How much? They controlled the ball for 40 minutes.
Even with that, the Bills scored one point per minute, and at 20-19 were driving to win the game. With eight seconds to go, they found themselves with a 47 yard field goal attempt by Scott Norwood to win the game. Then, the kick happened.
That one-point loss would be the closest the Bills would get to winning any of their Super Bowl games, getting blown out in the next three. It was certainly a moment that no football fan will soon forget.
1. Joe Cool Wins Super Bowl XXIII
Our number one moment comes from what turned out to be coach Bill Walsh’s final game in the NFL. That was a major storyline, and another plot was the coaching matchup. Sam Wyche had served on Walsh’s staff, and now was the head coach of the Bengals, who faced the 49ers in this game. Had the student learned from the professor? Wyche brought with him his new (at the time) no huddle offense that had turned heads all season.
Despite two talented offenses, this game was rather slow for three quarters. They exchanged field goals until a Stanford Jennings kickoff return for a touchdown put the Bengals up 13-6 after three quarters. In the fourth, a Jerry Rice touchdown reception tied the game, and the Bengals broke the tie with a Jim Breech 40 yard field goal.
At 16-13, the 49ers took over from their own five yard line with 3:10 to go. What happened from there was a two-minute drill for the ages. Take a look:
We have all watched our teams run the two-minute drill and wondered why they are moving so slow. They allow so much time to come off the clock it’s amazing anyone ever scores with it. This is a clinic on how to run the drill. If this didn’t earn Joe Montana the nickname “Joe Cool”, nothing will. This is how you get the job done in a big spot.
Honorable Mention: Garo Yepremian Loses His Grip
Here is your honorable mention just because it was so funny. This final moment goes back to January 1973. Yes, that means we are talking about the 1972 Dolphins, who were looking to complete their perfect season against the Washington Redskins. Everyone knows that they finished with a perfect record, so there is no reason to make the result dramatic. The Dolphins won, 14-7.
The moment came with just over two minutes remaining and the Dolphins holding onto a 14-0 lead. Kicker Garo Yepremian lined up for a field goal from 42 yards away. Unfortunately the kick was blocked, and there was a mad scramble for the football. Yepremian recovered it, but then he apparently forgot that holding onto the ball is a key part of playing football.
Yes my friends, the ball slipped out of his hands like a child. The Redskins did run the play back a touchdown, but the Dolphins hung on to win and preserve their perfect season. But that was funny, you have to admit. Even the perfect season has some pretty imperfect moments along the ride. This was certainly one of them and a moment worth recalling.