Skip to main content

10 Most Unbelievable Plays in Super Bowl History

Jermaine Kearse Super Bowl XLIX

In the biggest NFL game on the biggest stage, these plays made us all shake our heads in disbelief

1. David Tyree's Helmet Catch

Super Bowl XLII - Feb. 3, 2008 - Glendale, Ariz.

Plaxico Burress caught the game-winning, 13-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants the improbable win over the previously undefeated Patriots, but it wouldn't have been possible if not for Tyree's miraculous 32-yard, helmet-aided catch two players earlier. Give Eli Manning plenty of credit to for not only making the throw, but for staying upright in the pocket in the face of multiple pass-rushers.

2. Jermaine Kearse's Circus Catch

Super Bowl XLIX - Feb. 1, 2015 - Glendale, Ariz.

The inexplicable pass play at the one-yard line will be the call that will live in infamy, but it wouldn't have been possible if not for Kearse's juggling act while on his behind two plays earlier. A seemingly solid defensive play by rookie safety Malcolm Butler turned into a catch for the ages by Kearse. Unfortunately for the Seahawks it ended up for naught, as Butler got his sweet revenge by intercepting Russell Wilson's pass to seal Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's fourth Super Bowl victory.

3. James Harrison's 100-yard INT Return

Super Bowl XLIII - Feb. 1, 2009 - Tampa, Fla.

Trailing 10-7 with 18 seconds remaining in the half, Arizona's offense was set up at the two-yard line seemingly in line for no worse than a tying field goal. Kurt Warner dropped back and tried to put his Cardinals ahead, only to have Harrison step in front of the intended receiver in the end zone and then proceed to ramble all the way down the sidelines for the touchdown. As damaging as the turnover was, all Arizona had to do was tackle Harrison to end the half, but the Defensive Player of the Year wasn't going to be denied, falling into the end zone as the clock hit double zeroes. A 10-7 lead turned into a 17-7 cushion and also help set the stage for even more heroics.

4. One Yard Short

Super Bowl XXXIV - Jan. 30, 2000 - Atlanta

One of the greatest Super Bowl plays ever based largely on the circumstances, it also ranks high on this list. Nursing a seven-point lead with time ticking away, St. Louis got the biggest tackle in Super Bowl history when Rams linebacker Mike Jones dragged down Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson a mere 12 inches shy of the end zone. Instead of the first Super Bowl to go into overtime, the Rams experienced the thrill of victory while the Titans dealt with the agony of defeat.

5. Santonio Holmes' Magical Feet

Super Bowl XLIII - Feb. 1, 2009 - Tampa, Fla.

James Harrison's INT return was more unbelievable, but it would have meant little if not for Holmes' powers of concentration and long frame. Trailing Arizona 23-20 following Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard TD catch and run, Pittsburgh got the ball back at its own 22 with 2:30 remaining. Following four Ben Roethlisberger completions, the longest being a 40-yarder to Holmes, the Steelers had first-and-goal at the Cardinals' six-yard line. After an incompletion, Big Ben lofted a pass high towards the back corner of the end zone. Holmes, using every bit of his 5-10 frame, including his fingertips and toes, to secure the football and, 42 seconds later, Pittsburgh's record-breaking sixth Lombardi Trophy.

6. Don Beebe Punks Leon Lett

Super Bowl XXVII - Jan. 31, 1993 - Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)

Dallas was already up 52-17 with five minutes left when Lett had a chance to add on even more. Lett scooped up a fumble by Bills backup quarterback Frank Reich and rumbled down the sideline. Thinking his path to the end zone was clear, Lett decided to showboat only to have Beebe track him down and knock the football out of his hand before he could score. Buffalo actually got the ball back as it rolled out of the end zone, much to Lett's chagrin and everyone else's utter bewilderment.

7. Tracy Porter's Pick-Six Seals it for Saints

Super Bowl XLIV - Feb. 7, 2010 - Miami Gardens, Fla.

ew Orleans was up seven with a little more than five minutes left only to watch Peyton Manning drive the Colts down the field. Seemingly poised to tie the game, Manning's pass on third-and-five from the Saints' 31-yard line was picked off by Porter, who ran it back 74 yards to stake his team to an insurmountable 14-point lead. Manning's shortcomings on Super Sunday are well documented, with this play serving as Exhibit A.

8. Garo Yepremian's Ill-Fated Pass Attempt

Image placeholder title

Super Bowl VII – Jan. 14, 1973 – Los Angeles

Miami was up comfortably 14-0 with a little more than three minutes remaining. Yepremian set up for a seemingly inconspicuous 42-yard field goal attempt, only to turn it into arguably the most awkward and ill-conceived pass ever. Washington recovered Yepremian's fumble and returned it for a score. Fortunately, Yepremian's faux pas didn't cost the Dolphins the Super Bowl victory or their historic, undefeated season. See the ill-fated pass attempt at

9. Julian Edelman’s Ridiculous Catch in Traffic

Super Bowl LI – Feb.  5, 2017 – Houston

New England’s record rally from 25 points down in the third quarter may not have happened if wasn’t for some incredible concentration by Edelman. Down 28-20 with the ball on the Patriots’ 36-yard line and 2:28 on the clock, Tom Brady dropped back and threw across the middle trying to connect with Edelman. Falcons cornerback Robert Alford tipped the pass into the air, yet somehow Edelman was able to corral the rebound despite the best efforts of three Atlanta defenders (Alford plus safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen). A potential game-sealing interception instead resulted in a 23-yard completion that was upheld upon review. Four plays later, James White’s one-yard touchdown run and subsequent two-point conversion pass to Danny Amendola tied the game with 57 seconds left, setting the stage for the first-ever Super Bowl to go into overtime.

10. Lynn Swann's Acrobatic Grace

Image placeholder title

Super Bowl X - Jan. 18, 1976 - Orange Bowl (Miami, Fla.)

It didn't result in a touchdown (or any points for that matter), but when it comes to highlight-reel, acrobatic catches, Swann is one of the pioneers. The Hall of Famer's grace and uncanny ability to go up and get the ball is unmatched, as evidenced by this leaping 53-yard reception he made against Dallas in Super Bowl X (courtesy of Pittsburgh was trailing 10-7 late in the second quarter at the time of Swann's spectacular catch, but the Steelers would score 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, highlighted by a 64-yard TD reception by you know who, and eventually win their second straight Super Bowl 21-14. Swann finished with four catches for 161 yards and the score, becoming the first wide receiver to be named Super Bowl MVP.