Top 50 clutch moments in Super Bowl history: 31-40

This is a look at those who came through at the key moments on the game's grandest stage. We count down the most clutch moments in Super Bowl history, revealing 10 epic moments each week during the playoffs until unveiling the greatest moment the week before the big game.

40. Swann helps put game away

Game:Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
Date: Jan. 21, 1979
Location: Orange Bowl, Miami

Steelers receiver Lynn Swann's 18-yard touchdown catch off a Terry Bradshaw pass gave the Steelers a 35-17 lead with less than seven minutes to play.

Turned out, the Steelers really needed this play to secure victory -- the team's third Super Bowl win in five seasons. The Cowboys attempted a valiant comeback, scoring two late-game touchdowns to trim the Steelers' lead to four points, but Rocky Bleier recovered an onside kick in the final minute (see play No. 46 on this list) to finalize the win.

Swann's acrobatic touchdown catch helped solidify his reputation as a big-game performer. He had been MVP in the Steelers' win in Super Bowl X, and three years later supplied the winning score in one of the most thrilling Super Bowls ever played.

39. Throw it, Orr not

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

Joe Namath and the Jets pulled off the greatest upset in league history, but got a little luck along the way. With the Jets up 7-0, the Colts had sights set on an equalizer. Baltimore dug deep into its bag of tricks and pulled out a flea-flicker play that would ultimately alter the momentum of the game. Colts running back Tom Matte took a handoff from quarterback Earl Morrall, chucked the ball back to Morrall, who missed a wide-open Jimmy Orr and instead threw toward running back Jerry Hill and was intercepted by Jets safety Jim Hudson. Time ran out on the first half and the Jets used the gift to stake its claim to the unlikely title game win.

38. Can't take that to the Banks

Game:Super Bowl XXI: New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20
Date: Jan. 25, 1987
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

The Giants' "Big Blue Wrecking Crew" defense produced a signature moment as the franchise won its first Super Bowl -- and first NFL title of any kind since 1956. With the Broncos leading 10-7 and threatening to build to that lead, the Giants defense stood strong. The Broncos had first and goal from the 1-yard line. After Broncos quarterback John Elway lost a yard on a run-pass option play, the Giants halted Broncos fullback Gerald Willhite on second down for no gain.

On third down, the Broncos tried to run Sammy Winder on a sweep, but Giants linebacker Carl Banks stepped in and tackled the running back for a four-yard loss. That forced the Broncos to attempt a field goal, but the 23-yard field goal was missed by kicker Rich Karlis. The Giants followed that up by scoring 24 unanswered points en route to victory.

37. Great Scott

Game:Super Bowl VII: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
Date: Jan. 14, 1973
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

36. Return of the King

Game:Super Bowl XV: Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10
Date: Jan. 25, 1981
Location: Superdome, New Orleans, La.

With the Raiders up 7-0, quarterback Jim Plunkett threw a short pass to running back Kenny King, who raced to the end zone for a (at the time) Super Bowl-record 80-yard touchdown reception. The 14-point advantage was all the Raiders needed to become the first wild-card playoff team to win the Super Bowl.

35. Vinatieri comes up clutch, again

Game:Super Bowl XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Date: Feb. 1, 2004
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas

Just as he had done two years prior, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri booted his team to a championship. It was a frantic finish in Super Bowl XXXVIII, as the Patriots and Panthers combined for a Super Bowl-record 37 points in the fourth quarter. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady put the Patriots into position for Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal, which provided the winning points in what was one of the most thrilling Super Bowls ever played.

34. Harrison grounds the Eagles

Game:Super Bowl XXXIX: New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
Date: Feb. 6, 2005
Location: Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

It was last-chance saloon time for the Eagles, who were provided with one final opportunity to try to tie or win the game. On a third-and-9 situation with just 17 seconds remaining, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb's pass deflected off the hands of tight end L.J. Smith and into the awaiting arms of Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. Harrison had a dominant performance in the Patriots' third Super Bowl victory, recording two interceptions and a quarterback sack.

33. Smith grinds down Bills

Game:Super Bowl XXVIII: Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13
Date: Jan. 30, 1994
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.

During his MVP performance in the Cowboys' second consecutive Super Bowl win over the Bills, Smith carried the ball 30 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Never was his workhorse-like performance on greater display than on the Cowboys' go-ahead drive in the third quarter. On an eight-play, 64-yard touchdown drive, Smith carried the ball seven times for 61 yards, and capped that drive with a 15-yard scoring run that provided Dallas with a 20-13 lead. Later in game, Smith added his second touchdown run to put the game away at 27-13.

32. McNair's great escape

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

This is one of two clutch moments on this countdown that came from the losing side. No effort in Titans quarterback Steve McNair's career was a better microcosm of the varied abilities that he brought to the field than the play before Mike Jones' tackle of receiver Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line that halted the Titans' triumphant surge to glory in Super Bowl XXXIV.

The Titans' epic effort to tie up the game in the waning moments was highlighted by a third-and-5 situation from the Rams' 27-yard line with just 22 seconds left in the game. McNair collected a shotgun snap, went on a wild scramble that included somehow eluding the grasp of two Rams defensive linemen -- Jay Williams and Kevin Carter -- and then firing a first-down pass to Dyson to provided the Titans with one last opportunity to even the score.

31. Pick six illuminates defensive dominance

Game:Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
Date: Feb. 2, 2014
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

The Broncos entered Super Bowl XLVIII after having scored the most points in the regular season in NFL history (606). However, Seattle's powerful defense ruled the day, and it was Malcolm Smith's pick six in the second quarter that gave the Seahawks' dominant defense its signature moment. The play of the eventual game MVP gave the Seahawks a 22-0 lead, and for all intents and purposes put an end to the competitive phase of this shocking blowout.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content