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Gametime
Published: Dec. 01, 2021

Super Bowl Stars: Heroic Players That Won the Game


One of the best parts of the Super Bowl is that, for better or worse, you never know what’s going to happen. One way or another, people lucky enough to get their hands on Super Bowl tickets are going to witness history. There is always a hero that emerges in every Super Bowl - we just don’t know who that’s going to be. That’s why we wanted to take a look back at Super Bowl stars of the past and the heroes who won the game for the team, even those heroes we never expected.

Doug Wiliams, Super Bowl XXII

Williams made history in this Super Bowl by becoming the first Africa-American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, which in itself made him a hero. But his performance was also exceptional in a 42-10 blowout win for Washington. While it’s since been broken, Williams set a Super Bowl record with 340 passing yards in the game.

Desmond Howard, Super Bowl XXXI

We pay so much attention to offense and defense that we often forget that some heroes play on special teams. Howard proved that when he played a critical role in Green Bay’s Super Bowl win over the Patriots. When New England cut the lead to six points late in the third quarter, Howard responded with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put the Packers up 35-21. It ended up being the last score of the game and a big reason why Howard had 244 return yards in the game and was named MVP. 

Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl XLIX

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Some of the credit for Butler’s heroics belongs to terrible play-calling by the Seahawks. Instead of trying to run the ball at the goal line with Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks tried to throw the ball to Jermaine Kearse for the game-winning touchdown. Butler jumped the route perfectly and intercepted the pass to seal the win for the Patriots.

Chris Reis, Super Bowl XLIV

There’s a good chance that even some Saints fans had never heard of Reis before this game. A lot of fans have probably forgotten his name since then. But nobody forgets what happened on the opening kickoff of the second half. Trailing 10-6 at halftime, the Saints tried a risky onside kick with Reis coming away with the ball. That play turned the momentum of the game around, helping the Saints win.

James White, Super Bowl LI

White was front and center in what is arguably the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The mighty Patriots were down 28-3 at halftime and looked dead in the water. But White would end up with 29 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and 110 receiving yards on 14 catches. More importantly, he scored a touchdown in the third quarter to jumpstart the comeback, which led to a game-tying score late in the game and then the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

Rod Martin, Super Bowl XV

Martin was a rather average linebacker, but he seized the opportunity during Super Bowl XV. He intercepted three passes from Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski in one of the best individual defensive performances in Super Bowl history. Needless to say, those picks made a huge impact in the Raiders pulling off the upset of the Eagles.

Jerry Rice, Super Bowl XXIII

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While it was John Taylor who caught the game-winning pass in San Francisco’s 20-16 win, it was Rice who was the hero for most of the game. The greatest wide receiver of all time caught 11 passes for 215 yards. On the final 92-yard drive that ended with Taylor’s touchdown, Rice had three catches for 51 yards, helping position the 49ers for the comeback win.

David Tyree, Super Bowl XLII

For most of his career, Tyree was a great special teams player and an adequate wide receiver. But when the Giants needed him the most, he came up with one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history. Granted, Eli Manning had to escape the pass rush and fire the ball downfield. But Tyree somehow caught the ball in traffic, pinning it against his helmet in order to maintain control of the ball and complete the catch. It’s an iconic moment in Super Bowl history and played a critical role on the final drive that gave the Giants a 17-14 win over the Patriots.

Mike Jones, Super Bowl XXXIV

The Rams won with their offense all season, but it was a defensive play that people remember most from their Super Bowl win. The Titans were driving down the field late in the game when Kevin Dyson caught a pass with the seconds ticking down. Jones was perfectly positioned and made the tackle on Dyson one yard short of the end zone, helping the Rams hold on for the win by the slimmest of margins.

Joe Namath, Super Bowl III

Namath might be the biggest hero in Super Bowl history. His team was a 19.5-point underdog, but that didn’t stop him from guaranteeing victory over the Colts. Of course, he delivered and was able to back up his promise. Namath threw for over 200 yards in the game while the New York defense had four interceptions to help give the Jets a shocking 16-7 win over the Colts in one of the great upsets in NFL history.


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