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Ten most iconic moments in Super Bowl history

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As Super Bowl LV approaches, with two teams full of playmakers and names who will be remembered for decades, both coaching staffs will be dreaming up designs and strategy ahead of the biggest day of the year.

As we await the game, let’s take a look back at the 10 most iconic Super Bowl plays in history.

10. Super Bowl XVII – John Riggins 42-yard TD on 4th and 1

We start our list strong, very strong in fact, with Washington Redskins power back John Riggins. A player that some people refer to as the original ‘Beast Mode’ (apologies in advance, Seahawks fans), made the most iconic run in Super Bowl history in Super Bowl XVII against the Miami Dolphins.

Washington were trailing 17-13 in the fourth quarter. They found themselves on fourth down, having already given it to Riggins three times in a row. On fourth and one, they gave it to him again, and he broke off a 42-yard rushing TD, leaving unfortunate defensive back Don McNeal in the dirt.

The final score was 27-17. Riggins was 33 years old in the 1982 postseason, and he was an absolute workhorse, receiving 30 carries or more in every single game on their way to winning it all. He still holds the record for the most carries in the big game with 38, and produced 166 yards on his way to earning Super Bowl MVP. This run was the most iconic play in one of the greatest individual Super Bowl performances of all time.


9. Super Bowl XLIV – Saints surprise onside kick

This list isn’t just about the best football plays, or the coolest moments, we are looking at the most iconic Super Bowl plays – and this is one of those without a doubt.

The context, and the shift in momentum of this play are so powerful that you could argue that this play could be all the way up near the top.

In Super Bowl XLIV, the New Orleans Saints came out of half-time losing 10-6 to the Indianapolis Colts, with legendary QB Peyton Manning stood on the sideline, ready to receive the first possession of the second half.

This is when Saints head coach Sean Payton surprised every single person in the stadium with the ‘ballsiest play’ in Super Bowl history.


Punter and kickoff specialist Thomas Morstead was given the instruction to run ‘Ambush’ – a surprise onside kick to start the second-half. It was executed successfully, despite Morstead admitting later that he was ‘terrified’, and the Saints recovered it. They drove the rest of the field and after a six-play drive, QB Drew Brees threw a 16-yard touchdown to take the lead 13-10. They went on to win 31-17, and this play will forever be remembered as the one that shifted the momentum and started the Saints’ dominant second-half.

8. Super Bowl XXXIV – ‘The Longest Yard’ – Mike Jones’ game-saving tackle

One of just a few defensive plays that makes the cut, the St. Louis Rams appear on the list for linebacker Mike Jones’ last-second heroics in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Kurt Warner and ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ managed to put up just 23 points against the Tennessee Titans despite the HOF QB throwing for a then record-breaking 414 yards passing. As the game entered the final moments, the Titans were down 23-16, and they made it into the red zone, with quarterback Steve McNair primed to try and tie the game.

With six seconds remaining in the game, the Titans snapped the ball, with a chance to be the first team in history to walk-off to win the championship. McNair took the ball in the shotgun, and threw a slant to Kevin Dyson, who caught the ball just four yards from the endzone.

That’s when Mike Jones broke on the ball, and leapt towards the wideout, to make the most important tackle of all-time. He wrapped up Dyson’s legs, and pulled him to the ground, sending him spinning as he tried to reach back with the ball to break the plane. But he couldn’t reach.

The Rams won by the smallest margin imaginable, and Jones had made the greatest tackle, and one of the most iconic plays in Super Bowl history.

7. Super Bowl LII – The ‘Philly Special’

If you ask someone to name an iconic Super Bowl play there is a pretty high chance that this is the one that they’ll go to.

There’s the element of recency bias, but in Super Bowl LII we truly saw one of the most memorable play designs and calls ever made.

In a matchup against the absolute powerhouse of the New England Patriots dynasty – who we will be talking about multiple times on this list – the Philadelphia Eagles broke every rule.

The underdogs found themselves on a fourth and goal right in the shadow of the goal posts, towards the end of the second-quarter, trailing 15-12.

They called a timeout to discuss their strategy, as they wanted to go for it and try to put the pressure on, and avoid settling for field goals against Tom Brady and the Pats. In one of the most infamous and watched QB-coach interactions ever, backup quarterback Nick Foles – who had stepped in for MVP candidate Carson Wentz – asked the question “You want ‘Philly Philly’?”

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. The Eagles had to do a lot to pull out the win, with a final score of 41-33, making this the second-highest scoring ever Super Bowl. Nick Foles’ SB MVP-winning performance will go down in history, and this play was the one moment from the win that will never be forgotten.

6. Super Bowl LI – The Edelman catch

Possibly the most unbelievable play visually on this entire list, Julian Edelman made a ridiculous catch in what many believe to be the greatest Super Bowl of all time.

It is undoubtedly the best comeback in the history of the sport, and this play was a key moment in it, that will be remembered for decades.

The New England Patriots were trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 with one and a half quarters of football left to play. After a James White touchdown, a Stephen Gostkowski kick and a Danny Amendola touchdown, they had battled back to 28-20 with 5:56 remaining. A one-score game.

The Patriots got the ball back, and had under four minutes to try and tie the game, and then, with 2:28 on the clock, one of the most incredible catches in NFL history happened. Julian Edelman was running a route over the middle of the field, and when Brady’s pass was tipped, the slot receiver made an insane diving effort.

He was able to lunge through a pile of Atlanta bodies, and after a bobble just millimetres from the turf, he re-secured the ball, for a gain of 23-yards and a first down. This outrageous reception by Edelman wasn’t just a play that helped to achieve the greatest comeback of all time, it was also one of the most iconic Super Bowl plays in history in its own right.

Turn the page below to find out the five greatest plays in Super Bowl history…

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