The Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in professional sports. It’s easilty the biggest stage in the NFL as 100-plus million viewers tune in each year. That puts added pressure on players to perform, and the fact of the matter is that some just can’t handle it.
That is going to be the focus of this article. I’m going to go over some of the biggest choke jobs in Super Bowl history. Sometimes the winning team can make a great play and it’s not a choke by the losing team, but I’ll try to eliminate these cases from my list. Here are the top 10 chokes in Super Bowl history in my opinion.
Ranking third in the NFL in scoring defense (12.4 PPG) and fifth in total offense, the Dolphins were held to just 185 total yards in a 3-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in New Orleans. They would obviously be motivated from this experience the following year, going 14-0 and winning the Super Bowl to become the only team to ever go undefeated for an entire season.
Peyton Manning and the Colts went 14-2 during the regular season and were the clear favorite to beat the feel-good story New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. Indianapolis took a 10-0 lead and appeared ready to cruise to victory. Instead, the Saints would tie a Super Bowl record for largest comeback by fighting back to win 31-17. Tracy Porter sealed the win with a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter.
O’Donnell entered Super Bowl XXX as the NFL’s all-time leader in fewest interceptions per pass attempt. However, he threw three costly interceptions, including one to defensive lineman Larry Brown that was returned to the Pittsburgh 6-yard line. Dallas won the game 27-17 thanks to those three gifts from O’Donnell.
Dallas blew a 13-6 halftime lead by getting outscored 10-0 after intermission to lose 16-13. Two second half interceptions by Baltimore’s Rick Volk and Mike Curtis helped spark the comeback. Also, Johnny Unitas found John Mackey on a 75-yard touchdown in what was the biggest play of the game.
Give Kasay credit for nailing a 50-yard field goal as time expired before halftime, which cut New England’s lead to 14-10 over Carolina. However, with the score tied 29-29 with 1:08 left, the Panthers kicked off to the Patriots. Kasay’s kick went out of bounds, setting up New England at the 40-yard line. Tom Brady would drive his team down the field to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 41-yard field goal.
The Eagles finally broke through and made the Super Bowl after several trips to the NFC Championship game prior. Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens were in the primes of their careers and were poised to capture that first elusive Lombardi Trophy. However, the two would fall short, losing to the Patriots by a final of 21-24.
Jim Breech’s 40-yard field goal with 3:20 remaining gave the Cincinnati Bengals a 16-13 lead over the San Francisco 49ers. The Bengals would even pin the 49ers at their own 8-yard line on the kickoff, forcing Joe Montana and company to go 92 yards to beat them. Montana did just that, capping an 11-play, 92-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left. While Montana threw for a Super Bowl-record 357 yards and two touchdowns, it was Jerry Rice who would be named MVP after catching 11 balls for 215 yards.
This game was known for David Tyree’s catch on 4th and a mile that prolonged the New York Giants’ final drive. Plaxico Burress would catch the game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning with only seconds left, sealing the 17-14 victory for New York. New England was trying to become the first team in NFL history to complete a 19-0 season, but they just fell three points short.
The Colts were 15-1 and listed as a heavy 18-point favorites over the underdog New York Jets. Baltimore came in with the league’s top defense and second-best offense. “Broadway” Joe Namath backed up his prediction of guaranteeing a win in the Super Bowl, leading the Jets to a 16-7 upset victory over the Colts.
Matt Bahr gave the New York Giants a 20-19 lead with a 21-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. Buffalo’s no-huddle offense would respond, marching down to set up Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt with 7 seconds remaining. Norwood missed wide right, capping off what would be the first of four straight losses in the Super Bowl for the Bills.