Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Top 10 Super Bowls of All-Time: No. 10-6

The Super Bowl is by far the most watched sporting event in the sports world.  With the 50th Super Bowl set to take place on February 7, 2016, in California, I thought I'd take the time to rank my Top 10 Super Bowls of all-time. With this being such a long article packed with information, I decided to break it up into two pieces. So without further adieu, here is the first part of my Top 10 Super Bowls in NFL history!

#10 Super Bowl VII - Miami Dolphins 14 Washington Redskins 7
Image result for Garo Yepremian

1972 was a very special year for the Miami Dolphins as they finished the regular season 14-0. In the playoffs, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers were no match for the 'Phins as they kept on winning and boasted a 16-0 record heading into the Super Bowl.

Now just one win away from the first perfect season in NFL history, the Dolphins had one last challenge in the Washington Redskins. The game was a low-scoring affair as the Dolphins held a 14-0 lead with less than three minutes in the game. As Miami attempted a de facto game-sealing field goal, the kick was blocked.

Kicker Garo Yepremian scooped up the loose ball and desperately tried to throw it downfield. However, the ball slipped out of his hands and he accidentally batted the ball up in the air. Redskins defensive back Mike Bass was there to catch the ball in the air and run it back for a touchdown with 2:38 left in the game.

Despite the late Washington score, the Dolphins would prevail 14-7 to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history and complete a perfect 17-0 season. Dolphin safety Mike Scott was named MVP after recording two interceptions for a total of 63 yards. Meanwhile, Garo Yepremian all but guaranteed himself a spot on NFL Follies with his mishandling of the block kick in the fourth quarter. That play itself was just as memorable as the 'Phins undefeated season.

I will also mention that Miami played the entire postseason without its starting quarterback, Earl Morrall. Instead, the Dolphins were led to glory by a future Hall of Famer and soon to be legendary quarterback by the name of Bob Griese. To this day, the 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated!

#9 Super Bowl V - Baltimore Colts 16  Dallas Cowboys 13

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This afternoon game between the Colts and Cowboys featured a Baltimore rally in the fourth quarter. After the Colts tied it up at 13 with a little under eight minutes left in the game, both offenses stalled.

With 1:09 left in the game, Dallas QB Craig Morton dropped back on 2nd and 35 from his own 27-yard line and looked for one of his leading receivers in Dan Reeves. He hooked up with Reeves but the ball deflected off of the receiver's hands right into the palms of Baltimore linebacker Mike Curtis.

Now with the ball already in Dallas territory, all Baltimore had to do was run down the clock and kick the Super Bowl-winning field goal. As the clock stood still at nine seconds, rookie kicker Jim O'Brien trotted onto the field. The Super Bowl and a chance at immortality among Colts fans rested on his right foot.

O'Brien took a deep breath and nailed the 32-yard attempt right through the uprights with five seconds left in the game. Dallas would do nothing with its last offensive play and the Colts were crowned Super Bowl Champions. Baltimore linebacker Chuck Howley would be named MVP thanks to his two interceptions for 22 yards. This would be the first and only time they claimed a title for the city of Baltimore before moving to Indianapolis in 1984.

#8 Super Bowl XLIII - Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Arizona Cardinals 23
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In a game that saw linebacker James Harrison run an interception back for 100 yards, the Steelers took a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter. Then, the fireworks began.

A Kurt Warner touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald and a safety made it 20-16 Pittsburgh. Then, with 2:47 left in the game, Warner again found Fitzgerald for the go-ahead touchdown. The game was now in the hands of Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger. "Big Ben" took what the Arizona defense gave him and slowly drove Pittsburgh up the field with a combination of short and intermediate passes.

Surely enough, the Steelers were soon on Arizona's six-yard line with less than a minute to play. On first and goal, Big Ben targeted star receiver Santonio Holmes and watched as the ball slipped through the hands of the wide-open receiver in the left corner of the end zone. On second and goal, Big Ben had plenty of time to throw. Seeing Holmes in the right back corner of the end zone, he again looked his way.

Roethlisberger threw it over three Cardinals defenders and somehow completed it to Holmes for a touchdown! Holmes did an incredible job of keeping both of his feet in bounds and Big Ben put the ball only where his receiver could get it. It was a great job on both ends.

With a 27-23 lead, the Pittsburgh defense quelled Arizona's last rally to win the franchise's sixth Super Bowl (which is the most among all NFL teams). Santonio Holmes was named MVP for his nine catches for 131 yards and his game-winning touchdown.

#7 Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens 34 San Francisco 49ers 31

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It was a very emotional postseason for the Baltimore Ravens as team captain, Ray Lewis, announced he would be retiring after the season. Using this as their motivation, the Ravens collided in New Orleans with a 49ers squad that had been jump-started with the emergence of rookie QB Colin Kaepernick.

This Super Bowl matchup was also intriguing because it pitted brothers Jim Harbaugh (head coach of San Francisco) and John Harbaugh (head coach of Baltimore) against each other. This prompted many to dub this "The Harbaugh Bowl".

The game looked to be a rout as Baltimore wide receiver Jacoby Jones ran the second half opening kickoff all the way back to stretch the Ravens' lead to 28-6. Shortly after a sack of Kaepernick on the ensuing 49ers drive, the strangest occurrence in Super Bowl history took place.

The lights in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome went out for 22 minutes, causing a 34-minute game delay. Once play resumed, the 49ers came back to life and snapped for 17 unanswered points. After a failed two-point conversion intermeshed between a couple of Baltimore field goals, San Francisco found themselves on the Baltimore goal line down 34-29 with less than three minutes in the game.

Three downs came and went and now fourth and goal with the Super Bowl on the line had arrived. Kaepernick took the snap and looked for receiver Michael Crabtree on the fade route. The pass fell incomplete and to be honest, it looked like there may have been some defensive pass interference that inhibited Crabtree from making the catch.

Regardless, Baltimore took over and ultimately took a safety to kill the clock. With the score 34-31 and four seconds left in the game, Baltimore punted it off to former star returner Ted Ginn Jr. There would be no Auburn-Alabama heroics from Ginn as he was dragged down at midfield to end the game.

The Ravens had brought a second title to Baltimore since their move there in 1996. Joe Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP for his 22 completions on 33 attempts for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Maybe most importantly, this Super Bowl victory gave older brother John Harbaugh bragging rights over Jim at the next Thanksgiving family gathering.

#6 Super Bowl XXXVI - New England Patriots 20 St. Louis Rams 17
Image result for adam vinatieri super bowl kick

After losing starting QB Drew Bledsoe in Week 2 of the season, the Patriots came in as 14-point underdogs to the St. Louis Rams. However, the Patriots did not get the memo as they brought a 17-3 lead into the fourth quarter.

This was all behind second-year QB Tom Brady, who had barely played a game his rookie year and who the Patriots had selected 199th overall in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. This no-name kid from Michigan was out-dueling the Rams' great QB Kurt Warner.

When the fourth quarter rolled around, the Rams woke up and were able to tie the game at 17 with 1:37 left in regulation. The Pats had the ball on their own 17-yard line. It was now decision time for New England's second-year head coach Bill Belichik. Would he take his chances in overtime or give his young QB a shot to drive down the field?

Belichik chose the latter and the stage was all Brady's. Methodically, the 24-year-old Brady executed the two-minute drill masterfully and put the Pats on the Rams' 30-yard-line with seven seconds left.
Now, from 48 yards out, it was up to kicker Adam Vinatieri. He trotted out onto the turf and remained calm in the biggest of moments as he drilled the game-winning field goal right down the middle to win New England's first Super Bowl in franchise history!

Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP after going 16 of 27 for 145 yards, one touchdown, and an incredible fourth quarter drive. He and Belichik did not know it at that moment, but it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship and a formidable Patriots dynasty.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my first ever Top 10 article! Part 2 will be coming real soon! So stay tuned!

*All stats accredited to pro-football-reference.com & Wikipedia.com

*All photos accredited to miamiherald.com, abcnews.go.com, youtube.com, upi.com & bostoniano.info

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