Super Bowl Clutch  

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Top 50 clutch moments in Super Bowl history: 1-10

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Our look at those who came through at the key moments on the game's grandest stage concludes with the 10 greatest clutch moments in Super Bowl history.

10. The easy way or the Elway


Game: Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
Date: Jan. 25, 1998
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

John Elway's determination helped the Broncos pull off an upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Packers in one of the most thrilling Super Bowls ever played.

After three previous Super Bowl setbacks, Elway finally earned a Super Bowl win and added an iconic moment in the triumph. With the score tied at 17-17 in the third quarter, the Broncos had a 13-play, 92-yard drive to retake the lead. The key play was an 8-yard scramble for a first down by Elway. During the play, Elway dove for the first down, got hit by Packers defenders Mike Prior and LeRoy Butler, and spun through the air. Following Elway's dramatic "Helicopter" play, running back Terrell Davis scored on a 1-yard run and the Packers were left chasing the game.


9. Harrison goes the distance


Game: Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Date: Feb. 1, 2009
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

This clash that a case easily could be made that it's the greatest of all the Super Bowls turned in the Steelers' favor thanks to two unforgettable plays.

The second, of course, being Santonio Holmes' game-winning touchdown catch. The first being James Harrison's momentum grab right at the end of the first half. The Steelers led 10-7, but the Cardinals were stationed at Pittsburgh's 1-yard line with 18 seconds remaining in the first half. Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner threw a pass intended for receiver Anquan Boldin, but Harrison was there for the pick and rumbled down the sideline 100 yards for the dramatic interception return for a touchdown. The then-longest play in Super Bowl history -- since broken by Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII (see play No. 42 on this list) -- increased the Steelers' lead to 17-7 at halftime.


8. Big Rig Rollin'


Game: Super Bowl XVII: Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17
Date: Jan. 30, 1983
Location: Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, Calif.

With the Dolphins leading 17-13 with 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Redskins faced a fourth-and-1 situation at the Dolphins' 43-yard line. This dilemma called for the running back affectionally called "The Diesel".

Pro Football Hall of Famer John Riggins took a handoff from quarterback Joe Theismann, ran over Dolphins defensive back Don McNeal and then raced to the end zone for the decisive score. Riggins was a workhorse in the Redskins' first Super Bowl win, carrying the ball a Super Bowl-record 38 times for 166 yards.


7. Vinatieri's boot kickstarts a dynasty


Game: Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
Date: Feb. 3, 2002
Location: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

With an era of success that includes six Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl wins beginning with this game, the Patriots' win over the Rams doesn't seem like the historic upset that it was at the time. Not many figured that the upstart Patriots with an unknown quarterback named Tom Brady would be much of a match for the "Greatest Show on Turf."

However, Brady put the Patriots into positionl late in the game for the upset, and kicker Adam Vinatieri came through with the game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired to deliver New England its first Super Bowl win. The victory kickstarted the Patriots' dynasty that lives on to this day.


6. Big Ben phones Holmes


Game: Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Date: Feb. 1, 2009
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

The Steelers prevailed in this thrilling Super Bowl showdown on a spectacular touchdown catch along the sideline by Santonio Holmes, who dragged his toes in bounds before falling out of bounds for the winning score.

It was an incredible play at a crucial moment, coming with under a minute left in regulation. Holmes had four catches for 73 yards on the Steelers' game-winning drive, and finished the game with 131 yards, earning Super Bowl MVP honors.

With the win, the Steelers became the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls.


5. 'Joe Cool' comes through


Game: Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
Date: Jan. 22, 1989
Location: Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami

Down 16-13 with three minutes remainin in the game, the 49ers got the ball at their own 8-yard line. Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana lived up to his "Joe Cool" nickname, deftly driving the 49ers 92 yards for the winning score in a tightly contested Super Bowl rematch with the Bengals, who the 49ers faced in Super Bowl XVI seven seasons prior.

Montana capped the 92-yard drive for victory with a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining. A win the following year -- a 55-10 hammering of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV -- solidified the 49ers' status as the "Team of the '80s."


4. You shall not score


Game: Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Date: Jan. 30, 2000
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.

Like Super Bowl XLVIII after it, this breathtaking Super Bowl featured some career-defining big plays -- see No. 22 on this list (Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce for the winner) and No. 32 on this list (Steve McNair's great escape) -- but the greatest tackle in Super Bowl history is the one that sticks out most.

With five seconds remaining in regulation, the Titans faced a first-and-goal situation from the Rams' 10-yard line after the aforementioned McNair play. McNair connected with receiver Kevin Dyson, who for a brief moment appeared to have a clear path to the end zone, but Rams linebacker Mike Jones stepped up and made an open-field tackle at the 1-yard line, preventing the game-tying touchdown and saving the Super Bowl win for the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams.


3. The Butler did it


Game: Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Date: Feb. 1, 2015
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

After the Patriots grabbed a 28-24 lead just before the two-minute warning, the Seahawks still had plenty of time to mount a game-winning drive. When Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse made a ridiculous catch for a big gain, it seemingly set up the Seahawks for the winning score. Instead, on a second-and-goal play from the 1-yard line, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson' quick slant pass was picked off by Patriots rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler. It was shocking development, and a play call that will be debated for as long as the game of football is played.

Butler's timely interception gave the Patriots a fourth Super Bowl title in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, and helped ease some of the pain that came from New England's loss in the Super Bowl in the same building seven years prior.


2. The helmet catch


Game: Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
Date: Feb. 3, 2008
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

A funny thing happened to the Patriots en route to perfection.

A frantic 12-play, 83-yard drive led to a shocking victory for the Giants. It was highlighted by one of the most spectacular plays in NFL history: A 32-yard completion from quarterback Eli Manning to receiver David Tyree. The play was unique at both ends. Manning magically escaped the grip of the New England pass rush, then heaved what appeared to be a desperation pass deep down the middle of the field, where Tyree leaped and used his helmet to gain control of the ball and somehow maintain possession.

Four plays later, the Giants scored the winning touchdown to prevent the previously unbeaten Patriots from attaining 19-0 and pro football immortality.


1. The guarantee


Game: Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
Date: Jan. 12, 1969
Location: Orange Bowl, Miami

The third AFL-NFL Championship Game -- and first to officially be called the Super Bowl -- was expected to be a total boat race like the previous two (courtesy of Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers), with the established NFL showing the upstart AFL which league was superior.

Quarterback of the heavy underdog Jets, Joe Namath, saw things differently and guaranteed a Jets victory. On Super Bowl Sunday, Namath followed through on that bombastic boast to lead the greatest upset in league history.

The Jets' win validated the AFL and more importantly, the merger of the two rival leagues. On a grander scale, Namath's guarantee served as the catalyst for the massive, unofficial national holiday event that the Super Bowl is today.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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