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The Best Individual Performances in Super Bowl History: 50-41

Posted on January 31, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Bart Starr was the MVP of the first Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate stage for a NFL player to have a performance for the ages.

It does not have to be a superstar or future Hall-of-Famer, but role players or players that have been overshadowed throughout their careers can step in to the limelight and put together a game that fans watching on TV or in the stands will never forget.

With the help of Bob McGinn’s The Ultimate Super Bowl Book, I have comprised the 50 Greatest Individual Performances in Super Bowl History.

In this list will not only be players that won the Most Valuable Player award in the Super Bowl, but players from losing teams that gave put their teams on their back but fell just short of winning the Lombardi Trophy, through no fault of their own.

Also, there will be performances that could have been recognized as a MVP performance but were overlooked in favor of others.

In essence, just because there have been 44 Super Bowls, does not mean all 44 Super Bowl MVP winners on this list.

So with no further interruption, here are the 50 Greatest Individual Performances in Super Bowl History with today’s installment focusing on 50 through 41:

50. Roger Craig-Running Back, San Francisco 49ers, XIX
Craig became the first player in Super Bowl history to score three touchdowns in one game.

The versatile running back ran the ball 15 times for 58 yards and rushed for a two-yard touchdown run to go along with seven receptions for 77 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers’ 38-16 win over the Miami Dolphins.

49. John Stallworth-Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers, XIV
Though he only caught three passes in the entire game, Stallworth made his presence felt in the fourth quarter of a tight contest with the Los Angeles Rams.

Trailing 19-17 early in the fourth quarter, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw launched a deep pass for Stallworth, who caught it beyond the hands of Rams safety Rod Perry at the Rams’ 32-yard-line, and ran it in for the go-ahead touchdown.

Following an Rams turnover and facing a 3rd-and-7, Stallworth caught another deep pass from Bradshaw, this time for 45 yards that put the Steelers at the Rams’22-yard-line and lead to the game-clinching touchdown, a one-yard touchdown run by Franco Harris.

Stallworth finished with 121 yards on three catches, averaging 40.3 yards per catch, in the Steelers’ 31-19 victory and fourth Super Bowl title in six years.

48. Eddie George-Running Back, Tennessee Titans, XXXIV

Though the Titans fell one yard short of sending their Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams to overtime, they would have not a chance to do that if were not for Eddie George.

The Titans running back ran the ball 25 times for 98 yards, 77 coming in the second half on 21 carries, and scored both of Tennessee’s touchdowns as the Titans came back from a 16-0 deficit to tie the game at 16, only to lose 23-16.

47. Mike Vrabel-Linebacker, New England Patriots, XXXVIII

Vrabel made two huge plays in the Patriots’ 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers, one on defense and the other on offense.

Late in the first half, Vrabel sacked Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Richard Seymour, leading to the first touchdown of the game, a 5-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Deion Branch.

Mike Vrabel helped the Patriots both offensively and defensively in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Then in the fourth quarter with New England down 22-21, Vrabel lined as an eligible tight end and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brady that put the Patriots back ahead.

Vrabel finished the game with six tackles, two quarterback sacks, a forced fumble, and a 1-yard touchdown reception.

46. Antonio Freeman-Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers, XXXII
While Terrell Davis was the star for the Broncos in their 31-24 upset over the Packers, Freeman’s performance should not be overlooked.

Freeman caught nine passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns, and also returned six kickoffs for 104 yards, giving him a total of 230 yards, the third most in Super Bowl history.

45. Deion Branch-Wide Receiver, New England Patriots, XXXIX
Branch tied the record for most receptions in a Super Bowl as he caught 11 passes for 133 yards as the Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years.

Branch made his impact on the Patriots’ opening drive of the second half as he caught four passes for 71 yards as part a nine-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a touchdown that put New England ahead 14-7.

Then in the fourth quarter, Branch made a 19-yard catch that turned into a 34-yard play when a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty was added on to the play, which helped lead to Adam Vinatieri’s 22-yard field goal that provided the difference in New England’s 24-21 win over the Eagles.

44. Jack Youngblood-Defensive End, Los Angeles Rams, XIV
Continuing to play with a hairline fracture in his left fibula he suffered in the Divisional Playoffs, Youngblood plays every defensive play in the Rams’ 31-19 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although he only makes three tackles, Youngblood’s effort is regarded as one of the gutsiest performances in NFL history.

43. Reggie White-Defensive End, Green Bay Packers, XXXI
Following Desmond Howard’s 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that increased Green Bay’s lead to 35-21 over the New England Patriots, White sacked Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe on back-to-back plays forcing a punt.

White then added another sack on the Patriots’ last drive of the game, setting the record for most quarterback sacks in a game to secure the Packers’ 35-21 victory and their first Super Bowl title in 29 years.

George Sauer was the go-to receiver for the Jets in Super Bowl III.

42. George Sauer- Wide Receiver, New York Jets, III
With primary receiver Don Maynard hampered by a pulled hamstring, Sauer stepped up and became quarterback Joe Namath’s go-to receiver in the Jets historic upset of the Baltimore Colts.

Sauer caught eight passes for 133 yards, six of those for first downs, including back-to-back catches totaling 25 yards on the Jets’ lone touchdown drive and his longest reception, a 39-yard catch, that helped set up kicker Jim Turner’s third field goal of the game in the 16-7 win.

Sauer’s eight receptions stood as record for most receptions in a Super Bowl until Bengals tight end Dan Ross caught 11 passes in Super Bowl XVI.

41. Bart Starr-Quarterback, Green Bay Packers, I

Starr was the MVP in the first two Super Bowls that were won by the Green Bay Packers, with his best performance coming in the Super Bowl I against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Starr completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and threw two touchdowns, both to Max McGee, and on one scoring drive, completed four 3rd down passes which lead to a 14-yard touchdown run by Jim Taylor.

Starr ran his streak of passes without an interception to 173 attempts before he was intercepted by Chiefs cornerback Willie Mitchell in the fourth quarter, but it was a small blip on a day where the Packers quarterback complied a 116.2 quarterback rating in the Packers’ 35-10 win over the Chiefs.

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