The Super Bowl has been home to some of the greatest comebacks and dramatic examples of athleticism of all time.
Though the NFL is in a controversial position these days with many of its right-of-center fans, there will still be millions of Americans tuning in for this Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots.
Both teams have had strong seasons, and the Patriots are vying for their sixth Super Bowl win. They are led once again by quarterback Tom Brady, an athlete still defying the odds at 40 years old.
With so much at stake this year, there are sure to be some unforgettable moments on the gridiron, perhaps even a few that challenge great Super Bowl moments from the past that are studied by fans and athletes years after they happen.
Here’s a look at some of the most unforgettable Super Bowl moments ever.
Super Bowl X (1976). Future game show host Lynn Swann of Pittsburgh commandeered three of the biggest deep-ball catches in football history, with easily the most impressive occurring at the end of the second quarter of this game. Terry Bradshaw made a nice throw, but Swann seemed to almost float several feet off the ground when he got it and eventually brought the ball down. He lost it — briefly — only to snap it up and haul it in. Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers — 21, Dallas Cowboys — 17.
Super Bowl XXIII (1989). Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers were down 16-13 to the Cincinnati Bengals when the cool-as-could-be Montana sliced through the opposition, only to later fire a dart to John Taylor in the back of the center of the end zone. That sent coach Bill Walsh gleefully away, in his final NFL game, with his third NFL title overall.
Super Bowl XXXIV (2000). This was the kind of loss that could haunt a lesser player. The Tennessee Titans were down 23-16 against the St. Louis Rams, and there were only six seconds left on the clock. A pass was thrown to Kevin Dyson, who gave the Titans a glimmer of hope to tie the game as he made his way toward the end zone. Tackled in the legs just before entering for a touchdown, Dyson stretched himself as far as he could, landing the ball less than a yard away from the end zone. It was a devastating moment as a chance at victory slipped through the hands of the Titans and their fans. The good news: It led to one of the best “picture perfect” moments in NFL history.
Super Bowl XLII (2008). Down 14-10 to the undefeated New England Patriots with less than two minutes left, warrior quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants, literally surrounded, launched a missile down the middle of the field. David Tyree bobbled the ball — at one point with one hand — and ended up on his back. But he never lost it, and the Giants didn’t either, in a momentous upset.
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Super Bowl XLIX (2015). So recent, so exceptional: A New England Patriots’ rookie cornerback intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line with 20 seconds left on the clock — resulting in a 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks. After the game had almost been called in favor of the Seahawks, Patriots player Malcolm Butler managed a last-minute interception no one saw coming. With the Seahawks only yards away from a victory-sealing touchdown, Butler intercepted the ball — winning the game for the Patriots.
Super Bowl LI (2017). It was arguably the greatest football comeback of all time. The New England Patriots walked into the game as four time Super Bowl champions. The Falcons walked in as a team who had only been to the Super Bowl once before in their history.
Patriots fans were crushed as they watched the Falcons run circles around the Patriots for almost entire runtime of the game.
Brady began working like a madman and firing out missiles to his teammates. He led the Patriots in the final stage of the game to fill a 25-point deficit and push the game into overtime. The Patriots had always been well-known for their comebacks, but this was unbelievable. Heading into overtime, Super Bowl LI became the definition of a nail-biting game.
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Falcons fans watched as a victory slipped through their fingers, and Patriots fans watched their fortunes change in mere moments.
It was running back James White’s touchdown from two yards out that cemented the score at 34-28. It was a comeback that will never be forgotten, that will forever be studied, and one which has already become legend in the Patriots’ history. It was a performance and an example of a team coming together in a tough time the Eagles should be worried about going into Sunday night’s game.