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5 All-Time Super Bowl Moments… For Teams That Lost

Forget about any of these?

US Bank Stadium by Quintin3265 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

5 All-Time Super Bowl Moments… For Teams That Lost


Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Super Bowl Sunday has given us some of the most iconic moments in the history of sports. Plays that blow our minds, drop our jaws, and eventually become the stuff of legends with the passage of time.

And if you were to compile all of these such instances into one long highlight reel, you may notice something. These plays tend to fall into one of 2 categories. Many are the unbelievable, miraculous, or downright lucky plays that helped the eventual Super Bowl Champion secure victory. Most recently, think Edelman’s fingertip catch, the Philly Special, David Tyree’s helpful helmet, and Tracy Porter’s pick-six, to name a few.

The other plays that often come to mind are blunders of teams who cost themselves a chance to win it all. There’s the Seahawks throwing it at the 2-yard line, Scott Norwood going wide-right, Cam Newton seemingly hesitating to recover a fumble, and Tom Brady’s intentional grounding/safety on his first pass of the game.

And while I’m not typically one for moral victories, especially when a championship is on the line, I think that it’s worth it to recognize another set of Super Bowl moments. Let’s relive a few of the best plays from recent memory made on Super Bowl Sunday, but by teams that eventually lost. The plays that coulda, woulda, and shoulda lived on as football lore.

Muhsin Muhammad’s 85-yard TD Catch, Super Bowl XXXVIII

This touchdown catch by Muhammad not only gave the Carolina Panthers a 22-21 lead with just under 7 minutes to go in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, it still stands as the longest TD pass in the history of the big game. This moment may have weathered the test of time a bit better had Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri not stolen the show in the game’s final minutes, and stolen a victory away from the Panthers.

Jermaine Kearse’s Miracle Grab, Super Bowl XLIX

I mentioned Edelman’s and Tyree’s improbable catches, but this one (in all likelihood) should sit right with them in the Mt. Rushmore of Super Bowl snags. Kearse’s unreal play set up the Seattle Seahawks mere yards from the goal line with a minute to play and down 28-24 to New England. Unfortunately for Kearse, we didn’t even have time to process the gravity of what we had seen before we witnessed what ultimately became the signature moment of the game. To think what status this catch might have ascended to if Seattle just let Marshawn Lynch run the ball.

Devin Hester’s Kick-Return TD, Super Bowl XLI

The undisputed king of kick/punt returns, Hester became the first player to take the opening kickoff back for a touchdown in Super Bowl history with this 92-yard score. And for the Chicago Bears, it was as good as the night was going to get, as eventual-winners Indianapolis controlled the game the rest of the way (and made sure to not kick the ball directly to Hester again). This kick return is not only one of the most memorable plays made by a losing team in a Super Bowl, it’s also up there with the most electric plays made by a rookie in the big game.

Larry Fitzgerald’s 64-yard TD Catch, Super Bowl XLIII

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more monumental play in the Super Bowl that got lost in time like this one. With just under 3 minutes to play and in need of a touchdown to stay alive, Larry Fitzgerald took a 10-yard slant over the middle and torched the Pittsburgh Steeler defense to give the Arizona Cardinals a 23-20 lead. And, like other moments on this list, a last minute heroic drive put Fitzgerald’s efforts on our mental backburner. This game is remembered for James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the Santonio Holmes touchdown to win it with less than a minute to go. But let’s not forget Larry’s legendary play that could have been.

Robert Alford’s 82-yard Pick-Six, Super Bowl LI

28-3. A comeback of epic proportions. It’s easy to remember all the ways that Tom Brady and the Patriots climbed back into the fight in this game, and all the ways the Atlanta Falcons were complicit in their own demise. But before the comeback, there was a beatdown. And Robert Alford’s interception and subsequent score to make it 21-0 just before halftime sure felt like the first of several nails in the coffin before the Pats sprung back to life. Had the game stayed the course it was originally on, Alford’s interception may not have ended up as just a footnote on New England’s legacy.

Ryan Kelly lives in Cambridge, MA, a stone's throw away from his beloved Boston teams. When he is not working as an editorial assistant, he is providing commentary on the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins for The Turf.

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