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What is the Best Play for a Super Bowl to End?

By Raj Kumar Prasad - November 25, 2022

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The ultimate answer to the question of ‘what is the best play for a Super Bowl to end on is whichever gives you a victory on the Super Bowl odds. If you can pick up a win while also having it be on a miraculous ending that’s just more excitement though – and another reason to call in sick on Monday. 

There have been some great Super Bowl endings over the years and especially recently. Let’s take a look at some of the real – and hypothetical – best ways for a Super Bowl to end. 

One Yard Short 

There have been some great late TDs in Super Bowl history, but maybe the most memorable was one that wasn’t scored. Super Bowl XXXIV saw the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams (13-3) meet up with the Tennessee Titans who were also 13-3 that season. 

The Rams were up 16-0 at one point, then it was tied 16-16 before St. Louis regained the lead 23-16 on a 73-yard TD by Isaac Bruce. The Titans drove down the field to the Rams 10-yard line for the game’s final play, where Tennessee receiver Kevin Dyson was stopped at the 1-yard line as time expired. 

Who knows what would have happened if Dyson scored (missed extra point, Tennessee goes for two point conversion, Rams win anyway in OT) but St. Louis LB Mike Jones made sure that didn’t happen with perhaps the most clutch tackle in NFL history. 

Field Goals 

There might be nothing more excruciating than a field goal on the final play of the Super Bowl. It’s such a fine line between glory and misery which is only further exacerbated by coaches calling time-outs to try to ‘ice’ the opponent. 

There have been plenty of championships decided by a last second field goal dating all the way back to Super Bowl V when Colts kicker Jim O’Brien hit a 32-yarder that gave “Baltimore” a 16-13 win in a game that featured 12 Hall of Fame players. 

Adam Vinatieri represents the positive side of last second field goals in the Super Bowl. Vinatieri hit a 48-yard FG as time expired in Super Bowl XXXVI to key the win over the Rams in one of the biggest upsets of all-time and then added to his Hall of Fame credentials nailing a 41-yarder in Super Bowl XXXVIII with :04 left to beat Carolina. 

While Vinatieri heads to Canton, Scott Norwood goes to infamy. Even three decades later Norwood’s name is synonymous with “Wide Right” as in his 47-yard missed FG at the end of Super Bowl XXV in 1991 that preserved a 20-19 win for the Giants. The Bills would go on to lose four straight Super Bowls and who knows what would have been different if Norwood split the uprights in that spot? 

A Hail Mary 

There have been some individual catches that stick out from Super Bowl’s past such as Santonio Holmes’ 6-yard TD catch with :35 left to give the Steelers a 27-23 win over Arizona in XLIII. Perhaps the most famous Super Bowl reception of all-time wasn’t even a TD when the Giants’ David Tyree got a 32-yard gain by cradling the ball next to his helmet on New York’s game winning drive that spoiled the Patriots’ chance at becoming the NFL’s second undefeated season. 

Rob Gronkowski almost snagged two Super Bowl winning QBs at the end of XLVI and LII but both fell incomplete. There has never been a successful Hail Mary on the final play to win the Lombardi Trophy, so perhaps the greatest final play in Super Bowl history hasn’t happened yet. 

Doug Flutie is still remembered nearly 40 years later for his Hail Mary pass at Boston College in a game that was just the #10 team in the country vs #12, not even a bowl game. Many feel that single play got Flutie the Heisman (although he did throw for 27TDs which was a lot back then). Can you imagine the windfall for whoever grabs a last second Super Bowl Hail Mary – it’s an automatic spot in the Hall of Fame even for a third string player. 

Raj Kumar Prasad

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