Bills running back Thurman Thomas always put his helmet in the same place before the start of a game. But at Super Bowl XXVI it disappeared. (One theory is that it was moved to make room for the national anthem stage). By the time it turned up, the league MVP had missed the Bills' first two plays. It set the tone for Buffalo's 37-24 loss to the Washington Redskins.
2 of 7TOM PENNINGTON/GETTY IMAGES
Super Bowl XLV — Unusable Tickets
It looked like a new Super Bowl attendance record was going to be set in 2011 — until 1,250 temporary seats at Cowboys Stadium were declared unusable. Many fans were relocated, but 400 had to watch on TVs. (They received refunds of three times the value of their tickets.) So a crowd of 103,219 saw the Green Bay Packers beat the Steelers, or 766 fewer than witnessed Super Bowl XIV.
3 of 7DAVID E. KLUTHO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Super Bowl XLVII — The Night the Lights Went Out
Beyoncé's halftime performance in 2013 was lights out. Literally. Shortly after she left the stage, the lights in the Superdome in New Orleans went out. (It turns out faulty equipment was to blame, not Beyoncé.) Baltimore had just taken a 28-6 lead on the San Francisco 49ers, but the 34-minute delay killed the Ravens momentum. The Niners stormed back to get within two points but ultimately lost, 34-31.
4 of 7HEINZ KLUETMEIER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Super Bowl XIII — Smith's Slip-up
When Jackie Smith retired, he held the record for career receptions by a tight end. But he may be best known for a ball he didn't catch. The Cowboys were trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-14 in the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII. Smith was wide open in the end zone when Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach hit Smith right in the numbers with a pass — which he dropped. The Cowboys had to settle for a field goal and ended up losing 35-31. It was the last game played by Smith, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1994.
5 of 7WALTER IOOSS JR. FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Super Bowl V — Blunder Bowl
Sometimes even elite pro athletes make mistakes. That was never more apparent than when the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys in a game so error-filled it was nicknamed the Blunder Bowl. The two teams combined for 11 turnovers. Dallas had more penalties (10) than first downs (nine) and still only lost by a field goal. Fittingly, a defensive player from the losing team, Chuck Howley, was named MVP.
6 of 7JOHN W. McDONOUGH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Super Bowl XXVII — Getting Ahead of Himself
You can't blame Leon Lett for wanting to celebrate. His Dallas Cowboys were blowing out the Buffalo Bills 52-17 when the defensive tackle scooped up a fumble with a clear path to the end zone. But maybe he should have waited until he actually scored to start celebrating. Instead, he slowed down and held the ball to his side, allowing Bills wide receiver Don Beebe to run him down and knock it out of his hand. Lett didn't get his touchdown, but the Cowboys' win was a nice consolation.
7 of 7KATHY WILLENS/AP
Super Bowl XLIX — He Called What?
With less than a minute remaining in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seattle Seahawks were trailing the New England Patriots 28-24. But they were in good shape. Seattle had the ball at the New England one-yard line, three downs to work with, and one of the best running backs in the NFL. But instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called for a pass play. Malcolm Butler intercepted quarterback Russell Wilson's quick throw, giving the Pats the title.
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