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The Best Individual Performances in Super Bowl History: 20-11

Posted on February 03, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Jim Plunkett was named MVP of Super Bowl XV.

Welcome to the fourth installment of the 50 Greatest Individual Performances in Super Bowl History.

Today’s installment takes a look at performances 20 through 11:

20. Rod Martin-Linebacker, Oakland Raiders, XV

The Raiders linebacker intercepted Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski three times, the most interceptions in a Super Bowl, to help Oakland defeat Philadelphia for the Raiders’ second Super Bowl title in five years.

Martin’s first interception came on the third play of the game and his 17-yard return to the Eagles’ 30-yard-line lead to an Oakland touchdown.

His second interception ended an Eagles drive in Raiders territory and was converted into a 46-yard field goal by Chris Bahr, and his third interception allowed for the Raiders to run out the clock in their 27-10 victory over the Eagles.

19. Thurman Thomas-Running Back, Buffalo Bills, XXV
Much like his team, Bills running back Thurman Thomas had his best performance in his team’s first Super Bowl.

Thomas ran the ball 15 times for 135 yards and one touchdown, a 31-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter, and caught five passes for 55 yards, totaling 190 yards of total offense on 20 touches, averaging a 9.5 yards every time he touched the ball.

The great performance of Thurman Thomas in Super Bowl XXV is often forgotten because the Bills lost the game.

On the Bills’ ill-fated final drive of the game, Thomas ran for 33 yards as Buffalo drove from their own eight-yard-line to the Giants’ 29-yard-line before Scott Norwood missed his 47-yard field goal as the Bills lost the first of four straight Super Bowls by the narrow score of 20-19 to the New York Giants.

If Norwood’s kick had sailed through the uprights, Thomas in all likelihood would have been named the game’s MVP

18. Jim Plunkett-Quarterback, Oakland Raiders, XV

The former #1 pick and 1970 Heisman Trophy Winner took over the starting job after Raiders quarterback Dan Pastorini broke his leg in the fifth game of the 1980 season and lead the Raiders to a Super Bowl title.

In the Super Bowl, Plunkett complied the third-highest rated quarterback performance in Super Bowl history with a 145.0 rating as he completed 13 of 21 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, including a then-record 80-yard touchdown pass to running back Kenny King.

Plunkett was chosen as the game’s MVP over his teammate Rod Martin in the Raiders’ 27-10 win.

17. L. C. Greenwood-Defensive End, Pittsburgh Steelers, X
Packers defensive end Reggie White holds the official record for most quarterback sacks in a Super Bowl with three, but the record really belongs to L.C. Greenwood.

Greenwood sacked Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach four times for a loss of 29 yards in the Steelers’ 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X.

The reason that Greenwood does not hold the record is that quarterback sacks were not officially recorded as a statistic until 1982 and this Super Bowl occurred in 1976.

16. Joe Montana-Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers, XXIII

This was the only Super Bowl in which Montana did not win the MVP award, but “Joe Cool” lived up to his nickname as he lead the 49ers on a 11-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in the last minutes of their 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Montana went 8-of-9 for 97 yards (the 49ers were penalized 10 yards for an ineligible receiver on the drive) and threw the game-winning touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining.

Montana finished the game with a then-Super Bowl record 357 passing yards on 23-of-36 passes and threw two touchdowns as the 49ers won their third Super Bowl of the 1980s.

15. Terry Bradshaw-Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers, XIII

In the week leading up to Super Bowl XIII, Cowboys linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson said that the Steeler quarterback “couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘a’”.

But it was Bradshaw who had the last laugh as he Bradshaw set Super Bowl records for passing yards and touchdown passes as he completed 17 of 30 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns, despite committing three turnovers, as the Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 for their third Super Bowl title of the 1970s.

Bradshaw joined Packers quarterback Bart Starr as the only players to win back-to-back Super Bowl MVPs the following year as threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-21 passing to lead the Steelers to a 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

14. Tom Brady-Quarterback, New England Patriots, XXXVIII
For the second time in three years, Brady led the Patriots to a game-winning field goal in the final seconds for a Super Bowl title.

Unlike his MVP performance in XXXVI when he threw for only 145 yards, Brady set the record for most completions in a Super Bowl with a 32-of-48 for 354 yards and three touchdown performance.

With the game tied at 29-29 and 1:08 to go in regulation, Brady completed four of five passes for 47 yards to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 41-yard field goal to give New England a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers and earn the second MVP for Brady.

A strong second half by Drew Brees lifted the New Orleans Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV.

13. Drew Brees-Quarterback, New Orleans Saints, XLIV
Brees’ stats in the first quarter reflected his team’s slow start as he completed three of seven passes for 27 yards as the Saints fell behind to the Indianapolis Colts 10-0.

But Brees got on track in the second quarter as he completed 13 of 15 passes for 137 yards and lead New Orleans to two field goals to cut the Colts’ lead to 10-6.

Brees was even better in the second half as he completed 16 of 17 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, with his one incompletion in the second half being a drop by running back Reggie Bush.

Overall, Brees went 29-of-32 for 261 yards in the final three quarters and completed his last 10 passes to finish the game with a 32-of-39 for 288 yard performance to tie the record for most completions in a Super Bowl and be named the game’s MVP as he lead the Saints to a come-from-behind 31-17 win.

12. Timmy Smith-Running Back, Washington Redskins, XXII
The rookie running back did not know he would be the starting running back until head coach Joe Gibbs told him right before the Redskins started their first drive of the game.

Smith made his coach look like a genius as he set the Super Bowl record for most rushing yards in one game as he gained 204 yards on 22 carries in Washington’s 42-10 blowout of the Denver Broncos.

In the Redskins’ record setting 35-point second quarter, Smith run for 122 yards on just five carries, which included a 58-yard touchdown run and a 43-yard run which lead to the last touchdown of the quarter for Washington.

Smith added a four-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, two plays after a 32-yard run.

In Super XXXIV, Kurt Warner became the first quarterback to pass for 400 yards in the Super Bowl.

11. Kurt Warner-Quarterback, St. Louis Rams, XXXIV
Warner completed his Cinderella season by throwing for the most passing yards in Super Bowl history.

Warner became the first quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in a Super Bowl as he threw for 414 yards, 277 in the first half, on 24-of-45 passing.

Warner only completed five passes in the second half, but two of them were for touchdowns, a 9-yarder to Torry Holt, and a 73-yard bomb to Isaac Bruce with 1:54 to go in the game, that proved to be the difference in the Rams’ 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

What makes this performance even more remarkable is that Warner played with separated rib cartilage due to the fierce pass rush from the Titans.

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