The NFL’s Super Bowl annals are teaming with acts of valor, which have served as inspiration for our great country for over 40 years. While the world’s greatest athletes have showcased their greatness in several Super Bowls, they have also provided moments that have embarrassed and disgraced their respective fan bases throughout the years.
Below are the five worst plays in Super Bowl history:
Leon Prematurely Lett It Go in Super Bowl XXVII
Had this blunder taken place in 2013 as opposed to 1994, “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen soundtrack would’ve likely been heard blaring from Leon Lett’s headphones before the game.
Late in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills, Lett recovered a fumble on the Dallas Cowboys’ 35-yard line. As Lett crossed the 10-yard line, he slowed down and held the ball out attempting to emulate teammate Michael Irving’s celebratory prancing promenades into the end zone. Bills’ speedy wide receiver and “special teams demon” Don Beebe chased him down and knocked the ball out of his hands and caused him to lose the ball just before crossing the goal line. The ball went through the back of the end zone causing a touchback.
Though the Cowboys held a 35-point lead over the Bills at the time of Lett’s mental lapse, the fumble negated an opportunity for the Cowboys to claim the record for most points scored in a Super Bowl. The most points ever scored in a Super Bowl are 55 by the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV.
The Cowboys would eventually fall three points shy of the record, defeating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII by the score of 52-17.
Super Bowl VII Was Almost Too Perfect
(Garo’s Gaffe 1:58 Mark)
The Miami Dolphins managed to manufacture uncertainty in a game they clearly dominated into the final moments of the fourth quarter. The Dolphins proved to be the better team the majority of the contest against the Washington Redskins though there were just 21 points scored between the two teams. The 21 points scored in Super Bowl VII remains the lowest scoring Super Bowl to date.
Leading by the score of 14-0, the Dolphins attempted to commemorate their 17-0 season by attempting a 41-yard field goal to make the score 17-0. Unfortunately, Dolphins’ kicker Garo Yepremain had his field goal blocked and returned for a 49-yard touchdown by Redskins cornerback Mike Bass.
What became known as “Garo’s Gaffe” nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but had no bearing on the final outcome of the game. The Dolphins won Super Bowl VII by the score of 14-7. In addition to the ’72 Dolphin’s distinction as the only team to finish the season with a perfect record, the Dolphins also hold the Super Bowl record for the amount of time they held the opposition scoreless. The Redskins did not score a touchdown
Jackie Smith Earns the Title “Sickest Man in America” in Super Bowl XIII
Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith spent the majority of his career as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and was set to retire following the 1977 season. The Cowboys managed to lure Smith back onto the field to fill one of their spots as a reserve tight end.
It appeared as though Smith had made the right decision to play one more season as the Dallas Cowboys earned the right to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII. With the Cowboys trailing the Steelers late in the third quarter by the score of 21-14, Roger Staubach threw the ball to Smith who was wide open in the end zone. The ball ricocheted off the chest of the then 38-year old tight end, and fell incomplete.
While Smith sat on the ground in disgust, Cowboys’ play-by-play commentator Verne Lundquist characterized Smith’s reaction to the dropped pass with words that would live in infamy. Lundquist said of Smith, “Bless his heart, he’s got to be the sickest man in America.” The Cowboys went on to win the game by the score of 35-31. The Steelers win in Super Bowl XIII went a long way toward cementing their status as the team of the ‘70s.
Super Bowl XXXVIII Demonstrated the Importance of Execution on Special Teams
John Kasay’s kickoff in the final moments of Super Bowl XXXVIII was probably no better than what would’ve happened had Rick Ankiel lined up in his place, and simply threw the football down the field. After the Carolina Panthers orchestrated a 63-yard drive to tie the game up with the New England Patriots at 29 points apiece, Kasay made the unconscionable mistake of kicking the football out of bounds on the kickoff. The Panthers incurred an illegal procedure penalty, which gave the football to the Patriots at their 40-yard line with just over one minute remaining in the game.
Six plays and 37 yards later, the Patriots were in field goal position. Adam Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal gave the Patriots the lead and the win by the score of 32-29.
Scott Norwood’s Kick Sails Wide Right in Super Bowl XXV
Last but certainly not least is Scott Norwood’s failed field goal attempt in Super Bowl XXV. With eight seconds remaining on the clock and the New York Giants leading the Buffalo Bills by the score of 20-19 Scott Norwood lined up to attempt a 47-yard field goal which was the greatest distance he’s ever tried on grass.
Parcells “iced the kicker” by calling a time out but it wasn’t Parcells’ strategy that was responsible for the missed field goal. Though Norwood missed the field goal, it was later discovered that the holder was unable to turn the laces toward the goal prior to the kick. The indelible image of the Bills walking off of the field without the Lombardi Trophy perfectly encapsulates the team’s four-year reign over the AFC, which unfortunately ended without a Super Bowl win.
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