The 5 Greatest Individual Performances in Super Bowl History [VIDEOS]
Come Monday morning, there’s a chance a player like Aaron Rodgers or Clay Matthews or Ben Roethlisberger or Troy Polamalu will have etched their name on the Super Bowl MVP trophy with the kind of performance that will be remembered for years to come.
Or, perhaps, a more obscure player will rise to the occasion and leave an indelible mark on the most important sporting event of the year.
Here is our list of the five greatest individual performance in Super Bowl history, with apologies to Jerry Rice, who would have probably snagged the six and the seven spot.
5. Ray Lewis — Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XXXV
The Baltimore Ravens rode their bruising defense, led by linebacker Ray Lewis, to Super Bowl 35. Lewis and the boys on the other side of the ball didn’t disappoint in the big game, effectively shutting the New York Giants out. (New York’s seven points came on a kickoff return.) Lewis was everywhere during the Ravens 34 to 7 victory, recording 11 tackles, six assists and swatting down four passes.
4. Lynn Swan — Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl X
Wide receiver Lynn Swann is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite only once surpassing 50 receptions in a single season. The greatness of Swann was how he was able to make the most of his opportunities. Case in point, Super Bowl 10, a game in which Swann only caught four passes. However, the high degree difficulty of the receptions — and the fact that they went for 161 yards and a game winning TD — resulted in Swann being named MVP of the Steelers’ 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, and being recognized for one of the greatest individual performances in Super Bowl history.
3. Timmy Smith — Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXII
Running basically the same play — the counter trey — for most of his 22 carries, rookie running back Timmy Smith picked up a Super Bowl record 204 rushing yards, as well as two touchdowns, during the Redskins’ 42 to 10 annihilation of the Denver Broncos. Given the fact that Smith barely rushed for 600 yards over his entire career, he is easily the most unlikely player to make this list.
2. Steve Young — San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX
Steve Young tossed a Super Bowl record six TD passes during the San Francisco 49ers’ 49 to 26 Super Bowl 10 route of the San Diego Chargers. Young’s 325 yards passing and 49 yards rushing also marked the only time in Super Bowl history that the same player led the Super Bowl in passing and rushing.
1. Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers — Super Bowl XXIV
Joe Montana’s stats in Super Bowl 24 weren’t quite as gaudy as Young’s were in Super Bowl 29 — the 49ers’ QB “only” threw for 5 TD and 294 yards in his team’s 55 to 10 dismantling of the Denver Broncos. Nevertheless, Montana snags the top spot because he did his work against the defense which had allowed the fewest points in the NFL that season, and because he’s Joe Montana.
- Contributed by Jeremy Taylor