When arguably the greatest play in Super Bowl history is crucial to the winning drive against an undefeated, seemingly invincible team, you've got a valid case for this one being the best ever. After New England took a 14-10 lead late in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning led the Giants on a gritty 12-play, 83-yard drive in the final minutes. It included his improbable escape from the clutches of the Patriots pass rush and 32-yard heave that David Tyree somehow caught and held to his helmet as he was tackled by Rodney Harrison. Four plays later, Plaxico Burress caught the winning TD with 35 seconds on the clock, ending New England's dream of 19-0 perfection.
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Super Bowl XLIII, 2009
That inexplicable thing called momentum probably never felt so real and fateful as it did on a remarkable 100-yard interception for a touchdown by Steelers NFL defensive MVP James Harrison. It happened on the final play of the first half, turning a likely four-point Cardinals lead into a 10-point edge by the renowned Steelers. It certainly gave everyone watching, all over the world, the feeling that momentum had swung fatefully to the Steelers' sideline. But everyone was wrong. Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald refused to fold, leading the way to a 23-20 edge late in the fourth quarter. And then just as suddenly, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes four times in what would be the game-winning drive, including a tip-toeing touchdown reception as Pittsburgh won its second Super Bowl in four seasons, and record sixth.
3 of 10Mark Cowan/Icon Sports Media
Super Bowl XXXIV, 2000
Kurt Warner and the Rams' Greatest Show On Turf offense were leading 16-0 in the third quarter when Steve McNair rallied his Titans, who tied the score at 16 with 2:12 left in the game. Warner responded with a TD bomb to Isaac Bruce on the Rams' next play. McNair refused to give in, driving the Titans to the Rams' 10 with six seconds remaining. Wide receiver Kevin Dyson caught a pass at the five, but fell an agonizing half-yard short of the goal line as Rams linebacker Mike Jones, in one of the Super Bowl's great defensive plays, made the game-saving tackle as time expired.
4 of 10NFL/NFL
Super Bowl XXIII, 1989
The score was only 3-3 at halftime, but fireworks were in store. After the Bengals went ahead 16-13 on Jim Breech's 40-yard field goal with 3:20 left in the game, Joe Montana saved the 49ers in perhaps the greatest individual moment of his career. The otherworldly cool, efficient quarterback drove his team 92 yards in 11 plays, culminating with a 10-yard TD pass to John Taylor with only 34 seconds left.
5 of 10John W. McDonough, Al Tielemans/SI; James D. Smith/Icon SMI
Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2003
The furor over Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at halftime overshadowed a thriller that started slowly. After a record 25 minutes and 55 seconds of scoreless play, the two teams exchanged 24 points in the final 3:05 of the second quarter, with the Patriots grabbing a 14-10 lead. By the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 29. The contest wasn't settled until there were four ticks left on the clock. Adam Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal gave the Patriots their second championship in three seasons.
6 of 10Lou Witt/NFL; Tony Triolo/SI
Super Bowl III, 1969
Time has distanced fans from the reality of just how monumental the Jets' 16-7 upset was in the first officially-named Super Bowl. Brash Jets quarterback Broadway Joe Namath famously guaranteed victory over the 13-1 Colts, who had allowed the fewest points in an NFL season. He delivered in workmanlike fashion by relying on his ground game, eight receptions for 133 yards by receiver George Sauer, three field goals by Jim Turner, and an opportunistic defense that picked off Colts QBs Earl Morrall and John Unitas four times.
7 of 10Tony Triolo, Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Super Bowl XIII, 1979
The play could have tied the score at 21 late in the third quarter and, perhaps, punctuated Jackie Smith's storied career with a happy exclamation point. But Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach screamed and convulsed when his easy touchdown pass bounced off the Hall of Famer tight end's hands. Coach Tom Landry winced. Broadcaster Verne Lundquist captured the pained emotion of the moment perfectly: "Bless his heart. He's got to be the sickest man in America." He was. Dallas settled for a field goal and though it scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, so did the Steelers, who won the shootout, 35-31.
8 of 10Jim Turner, Dave Cross/NFL
Super Bowl XXV, 1991
The Bills' first of four straight Super Bowl appearances was their best chance to win one. They were 13-3 and had handled the Giants during the regular season. New York was forced to turn to backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler after Phil Simms was lost to injury for the season. But the Giants masterfully used a ball-control offense to keep Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas off the field for 40 minutes 33 seconds and led 20-19 in the final seconds. Yet, they still weren't safe. Kelly led one last desperation drive only to watch Scott Norwood's winning field goal attempt of 47 yards sail infamously wide right.
9 of 10John Iacono/SI
Super Bowl XIV, 1980
The 9-7 Rams came close to pulling off an upset that would rank with the Giants over the Patriots. Los Angeles led Pittsburgh 13-10 at the half and twice in the third quarter, but Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw, who had been picked off three times, ultimately prevailed. His 73-yard scoring bomb to John Stallworth gave Pittsburgh the lead for good early in the fourth quarter, en route to a 31-19 win.
10 of 10Bob Rosato, John Biever/SI
Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002
Kurt Warner and the favored Rams outgained Tom Brady and the Patriots 427 total yards to 267, but had to rally to tie the game at 17 with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter. Brady, who had taken over for Drew Bledsoe as the Patriots' starting QB earlier in the season, began building his legend as a clutch performer by driving his team to the Rams' 30 without the benefit of timeouts. Brady spiked the ball with seven seconds to go and Adam Vinatieri booted a 48-yard field goal. It was the first Super Bowl to be won on the final play.
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