Since Super Bowl I in 1967, the “big game” has become the premier stage for NFL players to either create or cement their legacy. The first 47 Super Bowls are full of special Super Bowl performances. Some were by familiar names that used the Super Bowl to either put a stamp on a Hall of Fame career or propel them into a spot in Canton. But not every Super Bowl hero was a household name before their performance on the big stage. There have been several players whose otherwise unspectacular career includes one shining performance in front of one of the largest television crowds of all-time.
In this article and the second part (which will be posted later this week), we are looking specifically at the 50 best individual performances on offense in a Super Bowl. This list includes only offensive performances and not kickers or special teams players.
To develop the list we did take into account game statistics, but also looked at game situations when analyzing which players and moments were worthy of inclusion. For example, though Joe Montana tossed five touchdowns as the 49ers routed Denver in Super Bowl XXIV, he actually was ranked higher in other Super Bowls because his performance in critical moments was instrumental to their victory.
In ranking performances whether the team won the game was considered, but there have been some Super Bowl performances by players on losing teams that were clearly among the most important. One thing that received little consideration was who was awarded the Super Bowl MVP as there have been numerous occasions when the MVP award has gone to someone other than the player who seemingly provided the best performance.
So below is a countdown of performances 50-26.
50. Colin Kaepernick – San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XLVII – 16-28, 302 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 7 rushes, 62 yards, 1 TD
If he has been able to lead the 49ers to a final touchdown and victory over the Baltimore Ravens, Kaepernick’s performance in his first Super Bowl would have certainly been higher on the list. However, even in defeat the first year starter led his team to a near-comeback victory using both his arm and feet.
49. Mark Rypien – Washington Redskins – Super Bowl XXVI – 18-33, 292 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Utilizing a talented receiving corps that included Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, Rypien picked apart the Buffalo Bills with a pair of touchdown passes and time consuming drives to lift the Redskins to their third Super Bowl in a decade (all with a different starting quarterback).
48. Kurt Warner – Arizona Cardinals – Super Bowl XLIII – 31-43, 377 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
For a fleeting moment, it appeared that Kurt Warner was going to be the first quarterback to lead two different franchises to Super Bowl victory. He and the Cardinals played well enough to win, but a late Pittsburgh drive denied them of victory. Interestingly enough, Warner holds the record for the top three passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history with his 377 yards in Super Bowl XLIII ranking second.
47. Rod Smith – Denver Broncos – Super Bowl XXXIII – 5 rec., 152 yards, 1 TD
While Terrell Davis and John Elway are the best remembered offensive players from their back-to-back Super Bowl wins, receiver Rod Smith also played an important role in their win over the Falcons. His 80-yard reception in the second quarter helped break the game open and he finished with 152 receiving yards.
46. Michael Pittman – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Super Bowl XXXVI – 29 rushes, 124 yards, 0 TD
While the defense garnered all the headlines during the Buccaneers victory over the Raiders, Michael Pittman was the workhorse for the offense. He rushed for 124 yards, including 75 in the first half as the Buccaneers established control of the contest. Read the rest of this entry →